On Keeping Fit in St. Louis
Even though your days can be pretty busy with class and studying, there is still plenty of time for staying fit. You can squeeze in a workout before class, in between classes as your lunch break, or as a study break in the afternoon. If you like running or biking outside, Forest Park is absolutely beautiful and has a great running/biking paths (one loop is six miles) and is super convenient because it’s right next to campus and to where most students live. If you’re a gym rat, the Student Health and Athletic Center (SHAC) in the Olin Residence Hall (attached to the medical school building) has plenty of cardio machines and weights and is open 24/7 for students. A lot of apartment buildings in the area also have gyms in the building (Park Royal, Del Coronado, Montclair and others). If you’re more into group exercise, the BJC WellAware gym is a two-minute walk from campus and has tons of classes (spinning, yoga, power sculpt, power pump, etc.), and the student membership is less than $30 per month. There is a Pure Barre studio in the CWE, and St. Louis also has Class Pass if you want to take classes around the city. The Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) yoga club meets on the medical school campus (outside when it’s nice out!), and brings in a yoga teacher once per week. Basically, you have plenty of fun and convenient options. Definitely try to find time to stay active. It’s an awesome study break and a great way to spend time with classmates!
– Gabby A., M1
Student Health and Athletic Center
Whether you’re someone who works out consistently, or someone who is turning over a new leaf and trying to get fit, the Student Health and Athletic Center (SHAC) is certainly suitable. It’s not huge and fancy and (if you go between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.) you may become overrun by physical therapy (PT) students, but it has everything you need to get the job done. There are squat racks, pull-up bars, benches and plenty of dumbbells along with machines. There is also space for floor work and core work. Additionally, there are treadmills, ellipticals and rowing machines for those demonic individuals who enjoy cardio, and even a punching bag if boxing is your thing. Everything in the SHAC definitely gets a lot of use, and as a frequent SHAC user, I have no complaints.
– Julian C., M1
BJC WellAware Center
The BJC WellAware Center is a great option if you like taking fitness classes or working out in a bigger gym. You can try it out with the free trial, which allows you to take unlimited classes for one week. The classes include Zumba, spinning, yoga, high-intensity interval training, cardio, core and power sculpting. Class times ranges from 30 minutes to an hour. After my one-week free trial, I bought the BJC WellAware Groupon, which provided 10 hour-long classes for $19. I really like going to BJC WellAware because it’s affordable and clean. The instructors are friendly and experienced, and you’ll definitely get more fit!
– Teresa C., M1
Life is over; I’m now in medical school. False! Sports have always been a big part of my life and I honestly believe I have played more sports in medical school than I did in college. WUSM has a great intramural program for graduate students and includes a wide variety of sports. I recently finished up playing on a coed flag football team composed of M1s and M2s. Unfortunately, we lost in the championship but we still had a blast playing. Playing on an intramural (IM) sports team provides an opportunity to release some of that pent-up stress from medical school, have a little fun and get in a great workout. Lastly, I would highly recommend joining an IM team because it is the perfect escape from academics. It is so important to maintain a balanced lifestyle in medical school, and IM sports help me keep this balance.
– Maria S., M1
After a long day of being pelted with medical facts, sometimes the best way to give your mind a breather is to let your body take a few hits. Dodgeball is a great way to unwind with your classmates and to appreciate the capabilities of the human body you’ve been learning so much about. Accessible to first-timers and dodgeball veterans alike, dodgeball meets on a weekly basis and is a great way to get in some exercise while getting acquainted with students from all years of study. It’s organized by Dr. Robert Mercer, who also moonlights as our Physiology course master when he isn’t busy sharing his enthusiasm for dodgeball. If the idea of throwing things at your colleagues wasn’t reason enough come, Dr. Mercer also supplies pizza and drinks to help students unwind afterward. Dodgeball runs all year round within the climate controlled comfort of the Olin gym, so come join us and give it a try!
– Daniel W, M1
WUSM1 FC, the pride of St. Louis, is an eclectic group of footballers (soccer players) of various shapes, sizes and skill levels who share a passion for juego bonito. Ever since Dr. Lisa Moscoso made us famous in the first week, we haven’t looked back. Our texting list includes over 40 M1s, some M2s, a PT student, and a random consulting guy. We played twice a week until recently. Sometimes we have had as many as 30 medical students show up, and we also pick up St. Louis natives around the park. Our home stadium, located in Forest Park, sometimes has long or dry grass but is definitely playable! We just finished the summer season of an indoor St. Louis soccer league and started the winter season. It is a great way to bond with classmates, stay fit and have fun. Some of us soccer fanatics also go to bars like Amsterdam to watch big English and Spanish league games. It’s a 10-minute drive and we usually carpool. If you like playing FIFA as well, then WUSM is the place for you and WUSM1 FC will recruit you (although we can’t pay you, according to NCAA rules).
– Sebastian N., M1
Although you may not think of St. Louis as an ideal destination for golf, there are plenty of opportunities to play golf here. Forest Park alone houses two golf courses and one golf range. The Courses At Forest Park (also known as The Probstein Courses) is apparently renowned as the “Best City Golf Course in Mid-America” and offers golfers a challenging 18 holes with sometimes lush fairways and greens. Another, even closer, alternative is the Highlands Golf and Tennis Center, home to a scenic nine-hole golf course, a driving range (with around 15 synthetic turf mats to hit off) and a practice center. Calling ahead for tee times is not essential, but highly encouraged during the peak season. Also, be sure to bring your student ID to get the discounted student rate or check for twilight rates ($12 for 9 holes with a cart after 5 p.m., but these rates and times may change). So whether you’re a beginner or advanced golfer, take advantage of the two courses in Forest Park or the multiple other courses in the city.
– Sunny L., M1
There are plenty of opportunities to play tennis on campus and nearby. There are six courts at Hudlin Park, the small park just southwest of the Farrell Learning and Teaching Center (FLTC). These courts are not in tip-top condition, but they are free, open to the public, and conveniently located. They’re also lit up after dark with overhead lights. There are more courts in Forest Park at the Dwight Davis Tennis Center that are in better condition, but they require court fees. Students are also free to use the six courts at the Tao Tennis Center on the Danforth Campus. Reservations are not required at these courts, but the wait can get quite lengthy on weekends. If you don’t already have tennis partners, feel free to join the Ace Inhibitors on Facebook, where some students post when they want to get together to play tennis. If you’re looking for an even more competitive experience, WUMS has intramural mixed doubles tennis, so be on the lookout for information about that.
– Sunny L., M1
The basketball courts in the basement of Olin Hall conveniently convert into a badminton court. You can rent out nets and other equipment from the security desk with your WUSM ID. For the more avid badminton player, the undergraduate badminton club hosts multiple practices each week for both undergraduate and graduate students. Scheduled practices are Tuesday 6-8 p.m., Friday 6-9 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the gym across from the Schnucks on 6501 Clayton Road, between Skinker and Big Bend. The fee is $25 per semester or $3 per session.
– Sunny L., M1
There are a few gyms in St. Louis for climbers to do their thing, and quite a few medical students can be found after class and on the weekends brushing up on their technique. A good resource for new climbers and seasoned vets alike is the undergraduate climbing club. At the start of each semester, it offers some excellent deals to local gyms, namely Upper Limits and Climb So iLL. For instance, $35 gets you a biweekly pass and $135 gets full membership for the semester at Upper Limits. This compares to the full day rate of $16, and both deals include 20 percent off in the pro-shop as well, so it can really pay for itself in no time. For those looking to venture outdoors, Elephant Rocks has bouldering, ranging from V0-V9, about an hour and a half from St. Louis. Unfortunately, ropes are prohibited here, so for some lead climbing you can head out to the nearby Silver Mines park, which has about 20 routes for bouldering and roped climbing. Jackson Falls, about two and a half hours away, makes a nice day trip as well and has nearly 300 routes, ranging from 5.6-5.13. For the vertically inclined members of the class, there is plenty of opportunity to chalk up, hang out and go for a climb!
– Michael W., M1
As an open water swimmer and triathlete, I wasn’t entirely sure what a landlocked Midwestern city would have to offer me, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a HUGE endurance sport community here in St. Louis. I am a member of the undergraduate triathlon team, which has helped me meet a ton of great people and paid for me to travel and race. The Danforth Campus also has running and cycling teams that welcome graduate and professional school members. I swim with a masters team in Clayton and am constantly inspired by the phenomenal swimmers and multi-sport athletes I train with (a good portion of whom are physicians!). There is also an incredible cycling community here, and although the terrain is not what you would find in some other cycling hubs in the country, you will still find plenty of opportunities for group rides at any speed and any distance on just about any day of the week. Forest Park is great for run training, the roads are completely empty in the mornings for weekend long rides, and the Athletic Complex pool is always available for swim training. Area races are also frequent and well-organized, although you will need a car to transport yourself to most of them. If endurance sports are your thing (or something you want to dip your feet in), St. Louis will have everything you need!
– Jessica H., M1
There are lots of opportunities for people who are interested in all different styles of dance. The medical school has a group, Choreiform, that meets throughout the year to teach classes on campus and to perform at different events. There is a hip hop group, WUHUU, at the Danforth Campus that hosts auditions at the beginning of the year and does various shows and competitions. Saint Louis University is a short drive away and has a dance team, Xquizit, that also does competitions and shows on campus and around the Midwest. The City Dance Studio is also a quick walk away from campus and has hip hop, contemporary, jazz, popping and locking, and other classes at beginner and advanced levels for only $10 per class. A few medical students take these classes together and have joined one (or two!) groups. It’s a great study break and also a nice way to meet people outside of WUSM.
– Gabby A., M1