On Keeping Fit in Med School

Nice weather means it’s the perfect time for a pickup game of ultimate frisbee.

Medical school is a tremendous opportunity to make the most of yourself — and to beat the crap out of yourself! There are a number of powerful, convenient ways to stay (or get) fit at WUSM, some of which are below/in this section. Done right, many of your best days can be reduced to: train your mind, train your body, and fall into bed knowing you are better, faster, stronger. In brief, there are two gyms: Most students use the Student Health and Athletic Center (SHAC), which is free and open 24/7, and a few use BJC WellAware, which offers numerous fitness classes and nicer facilities, for a monthly fee. There are also two main student-initiated group classes: “WUSM Fit” offers a variety of high-intensity interval training routines and “Insanity!!!!!!,” runs multiple times each week in the Farrell Learning and Teaching Center (FLTC) third floor. (If you’re still reading, you need to join both groups on Facebook.) Numerous other options include yoga, intramural sports and running and bicycling in beautiful Forest Park. All of these can help you stay mentally and physically healthy, make friends through endorphins, and become the machine you were meant to be.

— Galen P., M1

Student Health and Athletic Center (SHAC)

For people who are pretty good at keeping up with an organized workout routine and for those who absolutely fail at it because the gym’s too far, too expensive, or just because it’s cold outside, the SHAC was designed for you. It is located inside Olin Residence Hall, which means that it’s connected to every single building on campus, so your commute to the gym comes down to a four-minute walk indoors. You can access it 24/7, and it’s free.

As a person who started from scratch, I can say that there is no such thing as gym-timidation in the SHAC. From the slender yoga addict to the (slightly bigger) rugby player, everyone’s welcome to work out here. The SHAC is also a great place to meet students from the entire medical campus, such as Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, MD, etc. You’ll often end up spotting one another when you go for that extra rep, or even partnering up (for future workouts/for life).

— Paolo D., M1


Even though WUSM is a wonderful place, the desire to run away strikes almost every medical student occasionally. With Forest Park literally right outside your door and seductive St. Louis fall weather beckoning, it’s easy to act on the urge to go for a run. Forest Park, host to the 1904 Olympics, forms the western border of the medical campus. For those of you unfamiliar with St. Louis, Forest Park is essentially Central Park, but much larger and much less busy. It’s also very possible to plan routes through the surrounding neighborhoods if you prefer a more urban running scene to trees, ponds and wild turkeys. St. Louis has many road races (from 5K to marathon to Tough Mudder) and the odds of finding a fellow med student to run one with you are pretty good. It’s fairly inevitable that you will a) spend lots of time sitting and b) consume a lot of calories as a medical student. Running is a great way to solve both of these problems. (Wait, are those really problems?)

— Jake G., M1

Intramural Sports

On WashU’s athletics website it reads “Intramural Sports are an enjoyable and relaxing way to get to know a lot of people through organized recreational activities.” This is a fairly accurate, albeit boring, description of what you get should you choose to play an intramural (IM) sport. I played IM Ultimate with a medical school team, the Herniated Discs (you’ll realize once you get here that medical puns are just the way of life now.) I not only got to meet some awesome third-and fourth-years, but some residents and even one attending. Games were once a week on the weekends and it was a great way to sneak in some exercise and fresh air. There’s also a variety of other IM sports including basketball, volleyball, flag football, track, etc., and the culture is incredibly open and spirited. In summary, if you do an IM sport you get exercise, fun and running around with new people for a pretty low time commitment — a fairly sweet deal!

— Katie S., M1


For any tennis players out there, we have a pretty great set-up, with six courts just a two-minute walk from school. As our free time becomes more limited in the next few years, I’m sure we’ll appreciate this proximity even more. It’s a great way to stay active or occasionally de-stress while (or instead of) studying for exams. There are plenty of tennis players in our class, so whether you played competitively in college, or your racquet has been accumulating dust since the end of high school, you’re sure to find someone at your skill level. For the more competitively inclined, the Danforth Campus has an intramural league and club team that medical students are free to join.

— Dylan P., M1


Physiology course master, Dr. Bob Mercer, has four clear passions: physiology (obviously), corny science jokes, snacks and intramural dodgeball. Dr. Mercer is so enthusiastic about the latter that he organizes casual dodgeball games for graduate students, post-docs and medical students. This allows us to engage in scheduled (good for us Type A personalities), fun exercise, rain or shine, as it is located in the Olin gym. Although there are some veterans who possess an almost embarrassingly high level of skill, the weekly dodgeball group is always in flux and welcomes players of all levels, from tournament level to the greenest rookie. Something else you will come to appreciate is that the games provide an opportunity to intermingle with graduate students in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, who are a fun, fascinating group of people with whom we rarely have the chance to interact. As another plus, the soreness you will sustain helps tremendously with identifying muscles and their functions for anatomy. And, as if you needed more incentive, Mercer provides the competitors with free beer and soda to help us rehydrate from the vigorous exercise, and pizza to nourish our weary bodies. Dodgeball is every Tuesday evening from 5-7 p.m. See you there!

— Victor K., M1