Photo by Tyler Meuter

The initial plunge into the frigid water is an almost heart attack-inducing shock at 5:30 a.m., but with a few strokes my limbs feel warm and weightless. After a lap and a half, I am effortlessly propelling myself through the water, thinking about breathing, and only breathing. And possibly about how much chlorine I can ingest before I die. But during the moments when I’m not inhaling chlorinated water or drowning in an effort to keep my chin above the five foot water level, I’m calm, my mind is blank, and I feel no stress at all, which leads me to believe one of two things — I’m actually a fish in a human’s body or exercise is actually a brilliant idea. We’ll save the “why-I’m-actually-a-fish” editorial for a later date.

My roommate and I started our workout routine in February of our freshman year, after realizing that doing intermittent Pilates workouts in a dark corner of the study lounge was a tad sketchy. We progressed to more rigorous Pilates workouts in the fitness room of Smith Residence hall, and after moving into separate apartments the following year, continued to workout by swimming at the CRC.

Looking back at the past months of my routine exercising, these ritualistic workouts are not only an exercise in testing my physical abilities, but also an exercise in setting goals and being constantly aware of my physical and mental state.

Things are tough at Tech, and if you haven’t experienced it, you must be magical. Stress can get to the best of us. By the mere fact that we’re at this school, many of us are ambitious perfectionists and can drown in the amount of stress we face. Devoting your focus for a good half an hour to exercising can do wonders in eliminating stress and developing a consistent exercise schedule (and sticking to it) will improve your physical fitness and your overall willpower.

Exercising over the past few months became a healthy addiction. After going through a period of not exercising over the summer, there was a less than positive difference in my mood as well as my physical state. Once school started again and my roommate and I began swimming, I felt less anxious and less stressed than I had over the summer, despite the fact that this is my busiest semester yet.

I realized that exercise, and keeping my general mental and physical health in check, shouldn’t just be a priority, but a top priority. What is the point of working for everything that you’re working for, if you’re not healthy enough to work for and enjoy the profits?

Exercising was also a testament to my willpower. A few days ago, I realized that if I can wake up at 5:15 a.m. to jump into a freezing pool and exert myself more than I thought that I could, then I could achieve anything that I set my mind to. Granted, I always had my friend plugging along right next to me, but it’s difficult to get through anything in life without support.