“Dorm-cersizing”: The Art...

“Dorm-cersizing”: The Art of Staying Fit in Small Spaces

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By Erin Rebello

With the weather getting cooler and many university students away from home and living in cramped dorms, getting your 30 to 60 minutes of daily physical activity can be tough. Add in the fact that university itself takes up so much of your time and energy, and it seems just about impossible to leave your dorm and head to the gym. But what if you didn’t have to; what if you could stay fit while staying home? Well you can, and it’s something I like to call dorm-cercizing!

Instead of requiring tons of equipment, machines, or space, dorm-cersizing works with what you have at your home/dorm to establish a routine that keeps you healthy, even if you can’t workout outside or at the gym. Below are a few routines you can get started on without any prior training or knowledge. You typically won’t require any equipment to start, but might want to add in an inexpensive yoga mat or handheld weights if it’s something you plan to keep up with on a regular basis.

Whenever starting a new exercise routine, it is important to take it at your own pace and listen to your body. An injury can mean days of recovery without being able to exercise!


The best way to start and end any fitness routine is with a set of full-body stretches. Although they may seem tedious, stretches are crucial to getting the blood flowing and rolling out any cramps pre-workout, as well as preventing future cramps post-workout. Additionally, if you find that yoga and flexibility is something you really enjoy, or would like to explore further, you can also build a full workout routine with only stretches.

  1. Start with ten toe-touches. Don’t worry too much about actually touching your toes, but make sure that you’re reaching for them. You’ll also want to be sure to keep both your legs and back straight. If this is easy, try touching the floor!
  2. Then put one hand on your hips and stretch your other hand over your body. Do this ten times for each side, and try holding it for 1 to 2 seconds each time
  3. Now for arm stretches! Stretch one arm across your chest towards the other side of your body, and use the other arm to clamp it in place. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat with the other hand.
  4. Body circles are up next! Start by standing straight and tracing big circles with your arms, making them smaller and bringing them together with each rotation until you’re tracing smaller circles. Repeat but with making circles in the opposite direction. Make these same circles with other parts of your body! Try doing leg circles by balancing on your other leg, and hip circles by creating a hula-hoop motion with your hips.
  5. After that you’ll want to do some stationary lunges. Stand up straight and take a big step forward as far as you can go. Make sure that the knee of your front leg doesn’t go past your toes to ensure the best stretch. Repeat for the other leg.
  6. Finally, sit on the floor with both of your legs together and out in front of you. Keeping your knees and back straight, reach as far as you can towards your toes. Try holding it for 5 seconds.

Cardio and Strength Building

After you’ve warmed up, it’s natural to want to kick things up a notch, which is where cardio and strength building comes in! Cardio is strenuous and continuous exercise that keeps your heart and lungs healthy, and includes forms of exercise like cycling, swimming, and running. On the other hand, strength building exercises use short bursts of power to build muscle tone, and include weightlifting and core training. In combination, cardio and strength training work together to improve your level of fitness both inside and out.

  1. Start with 20 jumping jacks. These simple yet powerful moves are a great way to get your blood pumping. Increase the amount as needed.
  2. Then hit the floor and do 30 mountain climbers. Start off in the top portion of a push-up position. Stay upright and bring one knee to your chest at a time, as if climbing something, and alternate legs at your own pace.
  3. After that it’s onto 20 squats. Keep your back straight and feet a shoulder width apart, then bend your knees and lower your hips as low as you can before getting back up. If you’re looking for a challenge, try doing this with a 2 to 5-pound weight in each hand.
  4. Next up in the routine are 20 burpees. Start with doing a push up, then get to your feet and jump as high as possible, reaching your hands towards the sky before coming back down and repeating the entire motion.
  5. Don’t forget your planks! For planks, you’ll want to start in a pushup position. Instead of doing push-ups again, bend your arms at the elbow. Hold yourself up with your leg, upper arm, and core muscles. Try holding this position for at least 30 seconds each interval.

Although these are just a couple of ways to get active in your dorm, mixing and matching these exercise moves into your daily workout routine will help you stay fit, regardless of how much space you have. Happy dorm-cersizing!

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