While I used to pride myself on being able to get to the gym through rain, snow, sleet and once even a small tornado, winter has been slowing me down. Shorter days and colder temps have me ditching my 6:00 a.m. trip to my local bare-bones gym for an extra hour in the warmth of my bed.
Throughout the month of December I hit 7 Toronto fitness studios to try 7 types of classes in an attempt to snap me out of my funk. Each class taught me new exercises, helped me correct my form, and forced me to rediscover my self-discipline. Now, I can return to my no-frills gym with some refreshing routines and tested techniques because, let’s face it, Toronto classes aren’t cheap. However, I also feel more motivated than ever to work these classes into my schedule and invest in my fitness in 2020.
Here are 7 Toronto Fitness Classes That Got Me Out Of My Workout Slump:
1. Studio: Drop Boxing
What I learned: Easy & effective sets
My usual gym routine involves some light jogging and maybe a few dumbbells, so by signing up for a boxing class at Drop Boxing, I was really throwing myself into the ring. Much to my surprise, the class was a combination of floor exercises and boxing moves. And while I did love the punching portion of the class, the part I plan on bringing back with me to the gym is the floor work. I appreciated the easy-to-follow, high-intensity sets, usually comprised of three simple exercises, that when combined really tested my endurance and had me working up a sweat – something I had been struggling to do on my own lately.
2. Studio: Lagree
Workout: The Lagree Method
What I learned: How to target the right muscles
Flying solo at the gym for so long, I often forget to properly tighten my core and squeeze my glutes throughout my workout. This results in less effective gym sessions and occasional back pain. Lagree was the perfect place to go back to basics and re-learn how to concentrate on each individual muscle. Set on a souped-up pilates reformer, the session focuses on “blocking” movements based on body parts (AKA performing all leg exercises, then all core exercises, etc.), and performing small, intricate movements with quick transitions in between. Since my class, I’ve been able to recognize when I’m engaging my muscles make the most out of every little movement.
3. Studio: Burnout
What I learned: How to conquer new equipment
If you haven’t heard of Burnout before, I promise you will soon. Sure to be the next must-try workout in Toronto, this intensive climbing class is the only one in the city using this high-tech TS VersaClimber with a touch screen which monitors your workout and can sync with your phone to show you the results. Nothing jolts you awake quite like climbing. Mixing floor work and vertical cardio, my instructor Monica got me out of my comfort zone and forced me to try new equipment I didn’t even know existed! I can honestly say I will never be afraid to try another machine at the gym again.
4. Studio: Orange Theory
What I learned: Effective cardio & endurance
Primarily praised for its scientifically-proven results, Orange Theory has been on my to-do list for quite some time. The name of the game at Orange Theory is to get yourself in the “Orange Zone,” which is where you’re working at 84-91% of your Maximum Heart Rate (as determined by your heart rate monitor). This is the sweet spot for you to continue burning calories after the class is over. I had never watched my heart rate during a workout and was blown away by my results. Seeing myself slip in and out of the Orange Zone kept me constantly motivated but also stopped me from overexerting myself. For the first time, I understood what an effective cardio workout actually feels like.
5. Studio: CORE
Workout: Core Tone
What I learned: How to reimagine standard equipment
If you’re not big on running, worry not, because I also tried CORE, which incorporates inventive use of equipment and forces you to rethink your typical workout. Setting the machines to Dynamic Mode and turning up the incline, we performed multiple sets of lower body, arm and core workouts that required complete control over my muscles and a level of concentration I didn’t think I could pull off at 6:00 a.m.
6. Studio: Barre Belle
Workout: Barre X
What I learned: Simple patterns and stretching
As an anti-flexible non-dancer I was understandably nervous about Barre Belle. However, this class came to me highly recommended and I wanted to test my strength. Much to my surprise, my lack of ballet skills didn’t hinder my participation in the class at all. This class was a combination of simple patterns that I could easily follow and even work into my own gym routine. I also appreciated how the class incorporated so much stretching and lengthening. Although it seems like a no-brainer, a lot of fitness classes skip out on a proper stretch at the beginning and end. Stretching is absolutely my weak point and it was nice to be reminded of how critical it is for a solid workout.
7. Sweat and Tonic
Workout: Slow Burn
What I learned: How to push my limits
With all the hype around Sweat and Tonic, I couldn’t pass up this one on my grand tour of Toronto gyms. I mean, they have meditation pods, Consonant facials, and a Nut Bar in the lobby! And the class didn’t disappoint either. In the dimly lit HIIT studio bright and early on a Friday morning, I got my butt kicked by Tiana’s Slow Burn class. Much like the name implies, this class takes it nice and slow as you push your muscles to the max. Lunges, pikes, squats and planks proved to be harder than ever as I was forced to focus on each movement, hold each position, and breathe through the discomfort. Now that I’ve discovered my limits and pushed passed them, I can’t wait to head back and try this class again.
(Story by Contributing Editor, Jordana Colomby)