Graduate student Anna Ivanova uses virtual workouts to help relieve stress during the pandemic.

Finding balance with physical exercise

“I was never good at working out. Every time I was about to go to the gym, I would always come up with an excuse to postpone the workout. Last winter break, however, my sister introduced me to some YouTube fitness classes, and I actually had fun doing them with her. I realized that, to me, working out in my living room was much more enjoyable that dragging my feet to the gym.

Just like in the lab, [my advisor] encourages us to do our very best but is always respectful of our limits.

When COVID hit, I knew I had to do something to keep me in shape, now that I was spending all my days on the couch. I signed up for Wellbeats,  an online class platform that MIT offers [as part of its virtual fitness offerings]. Soon, I was doing their online workouts almost every day. Some of the time, I am joined by my roommates. The workouts provide a great way for us to bond, take a break from work, and relieve some of the stress that tends to build up so quickly these days.

More recently, my advisor Ev Fedorenko has started to lead her own workouts for the lab over Zoom. She carefully walks us through every exercise, showing how to do it correctly. Just like in the lab, she encourages us to do our very best but is always respectful of our limits. So, not only am I the most fit I’ve ever been in my life, but I’ve also been able to connect with my lab in a new and meaningful way.”

Anna Ivanova is a graduate student who studies how the brain processes language in the labs of Evelina Fedorenko and Nancy Kanwisher. She is also an editor and regular contributor to the MIT Grad Blog.