College Athletes Graduate to New Forms of Exercise: Millenials Search for the Work-Life Balance

We’ve all most likely grown up hearing some version of the nostalgic musing that “college is the best four years of your life.” I always appreciated my mother’s opposing view: "let’s hope not or there’s not much in life to look forward to!" While I feel lucky to have truly loved my college experience, I’d also like to think that life only gets better with age.

There is one aspect of those four years, however, that does feel irreplaceable. In college, I was part of a dance company that (arguably) practiced the same amount of time per week as a varsity sport. The experience was priceless; I was able to choreograph and dance with a diverse group of talent. While I miss the dynamics of the group, I still see friends from the company quite frequently. What I can’t replace, however, is the experience of performing.

Friends who were college athletes have expressed a similar feeling of loss. As one friend put it —nothing beats championship competitions where you are pumping with adrenaline from not only the game, but from playing the game with your friends.

For many young adults, the monotony of the work-life balance can be both surprising and frustrating, even if you love what you do. The loss of a strict workout regimen and a fun physical release only adds insult to injury. An athletic outlet in the post-college world can be a challenge to find, although some manage to participate in an overwhelming number of marathons and triathalons …

A few years post-college, however, my friends and I now agree that all hope is not lost. While my “dancing days” are of the past, I would never want that void to feel permanent. It has been a bittersweet challenge to find new experiences. 

For many, competitive races provide a much needed, goal-oriented structure in the midst of the emotional ups and downs of the work-place. I have noticed, that post-college, these races are becoming increasingly trendy—I have fewer friends who have not participated in a marathon or triathalon (myself included) than those who have. A number of friends actually describe their race experience as more addicting and fulfilling than their college/varsity team sport. 

I personally have found a new passion in yoga. While similar to dance in many ways — it allows me to continue to stretch and work on core strength — it also provides a new element of mental calmness that I appreciate more at this point in my life. The post-college world has led me to healthier lifestyle in various ways, and I have enjoyed the challenge of finding a new routine. I love watching my dance company perform when I return to visit my alma mater , and I am still promising myself that I will take a dance class soon. But surprisingly I may actually choose a yoga class over a dance class at this point in my life  – and I may even enjoy it more. 

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Perry Nagin

After working as a middle school science teacher in Manhattan, I worked in research at the International Trauma Studies Program as well as in the Pediatrics Department at NYU/Bellevue. I am currently a medical student at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia.

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