Being a student at HBS is, among other things, a constant struggle between work-life balance, with the former more often than not winning the battle. In an effort to help us improve our odds at balancing the two, HBS Health Services hosted itsannual “Harvest of Health” fair this past Wednesday, September 10, providing everything from shiny Granny Smith apples to helpful information on dental and skin care, not to mention the opportunity to check your cholesterol.

As a second-year myself, I vaguely remembered attending the fair last year, but am sad to report that despite the very practical information and services available at the fair, my first-year health regime quickly degenerated into a pathetic attempt to finish reading my cases while hunched over the Stairmaster at Shad. In an effort to turn over a new leaf this year, I set out to take a closer look at the fair with the goal of achieving a higher retention rate.

While I kept busy stocking up on my annual supply of apples, health bars and M&Ms, many of my more industrious classmates took the opportunity to engage in some of the more comprehensive health exams and explore the information booths at the fair. Emily Andrus O’Loughlin (OI) was pleased to learn about the nutrition programs available to students and also took the opportunity to complete a few of the wellness tests available at the fair. “The health fair was a worthwhile way to spend a half hour. Since all the Harvard health organizations were consolidated under one roof, it made it easy to get quick information as well as immediate results for general wellness tests like my cholesterol and bone density,” explained O’Loughlin.

Will Uppington (OH) found the time to have his blood pressure taken and received a complete examination of sun damage to his skin. As a result of the examination, Uppington plans to start wearing daily sun protection.

“What was nice about the fair,” reflected Uppington, “was that you could engage in health screenings and remember what you got. Whenever I have gotten a physical in the past, my doctor would tell me I was just fine, but generally didn’t give me any of the details. At the fair, it was great experiencing the details for myself.”

Having completed the booth rounds and health screenings as well, I took a last opportunity to dip into the M&M bowl and attempted to sneak out a corner of the tent. As the Health Services Fair committee had no doubt designed, I quickly discovered that it was not in fact that easy to exit.

Instead, a very friendly member of the Holyoke masseuse team jumped in my path and asked, “I assume you are here for a massage?” A free offer for a massage on HBS’ ticket is something I immediately recognized would not come often in life – and thus immediately sunk into the massage chair. What followed was a heavenly 15 minutes leaving me refreshed, relaxed and determined to jump-start a much healthier second year.

While perhaps not all students experienced a complete transformation as fellow classmate Bryan Sanchez (OB) described – “I walked in a sick man, and walked out healthy, ” – plenty of HBS students seem to be on their way to a healthier, and with any luck, more relaxing year.