No running shoes required! 5 fitness classes to help you tone, tighten and condition your body
Our mission to help you find the best fitness classes continues! It’s fair to assume that if you’re not interested in performing at a star athlete–like level, but still appreciate the art of a great workout, your exercise goals probably revolve around toning, sculpting and tightening your muscles. Thankfully, a whole crop of fitness methods and classes are available, from the newly trendy stand up paddleboarding movement, to the ever-growing popularity of the ballet-style workout. Best of all? No running shoes required.
If visions of the perfect ballerina body have been dancing in your head since seeing Black Swan, it’s time to try a ballet-inspired workout. Barreworks, which just opened its stunning studio in Toronto, combines cardio, muscle sculpting and yoga/pilates moves into a one-hour workout for a perfectly toned and sculpted body. You’ll go from first position stretches to muscle-trembling core conditioning poses and back again, all while using two weighted balls and resistance bands to complete the exercises. Cheerful instructors—all of whom move with enviable dancer’s grace—keep you motivated throughout, as do upbeat pop songs. And while you’ll use the barre to stretch and balance, no dance skills are necessary—but you’ll certainly feel the ballet burn the next day.
Barreworks ($21 for a single class, barreworks.ca)
Whether you’re taking to the waves on the coasts or the placid lakes of Central Canada, there’s one water sport that caters to all types of aquatic terrain: stand up paddleboarding. This complete workout not only engages your arms and core, but by constantly finding a balance on the board, your legs and glutes are always engaged as well. And did we mention that S.U.P.s (Stand Up Paddleboarders) have long been touting the meditative qualities of the sport as well? Even better, if you spend the summer perfecting your paddleboard skills there’s all the more reason to try your hand at it during a tropical retreat during the winter. So make like Jennifer Aniston—who was one of the first celebrities to take to the sport—and get on a board this summer!
Aerial silks may look like a dreamy way to glide though a workout—it is, after all, the art of climbing and cascading through long sheets of hanging flexible fabric. But the trick to every graceful performance is a strong and intensely toned body. So it makes sense that Toronto’s Extension Room offers both aerial silks skills workshops and body conditioning classes so you can better master the circus-like technique.
However, if you prefer to keep both feet on the ground, the Allegro ballet boot camp class is owner Jennifer Nichols’ calling card—it’s a full body ballet-based workout that’s geared to giving you those long, lean dancer’s muscles. It’s a lesson in how much strength is required to look so graceful (Nichols would know—she just came back from Versailles, where she danced with Opera Atelier). And her lofty new Distillery-area studio, complete with white-washed walls and chandeliers, brings a distinctly European feel to each class.
Extension Method (Single classes from $16, extensionmethod.com)
If one-size-fits-all is not really your thing, or if you’re interested in taking your yoga skills to the next level, try Mysore-style yoga at Toronto’s Ashtanga Yoga Centre of Toronto. Mysore classes aren’t led, which means that people who participate can move at their own speed and focus on following their own breath—one of the fundamentals of Ashtanga yoga. You’ll also benefit from more one-on-one time: instructors are always on hand and move around the room offering individual adjustments and encouragement. As your flexibility and strength improves, new positions are added to your sequence—just as newly toned muscles will be added to your body.
Ashtanga Yoga Centre of Toronto ($40 for an introductory one-month pass, ashtangatoronto.com)
Sometimes a little variety is the best way to target all the different places you want to tone—which is where a gym with a full suite of fitness class offerings comes in handy. For those in British Columbia, the Steve Nash Fitness World & Sports Clubs are where you want to be. Designed by NBA all-star Steve Nash himself, the clubs offer more than 100 classes that capture both cutting-edge-of-fitness trends and expert training in tried-and-true workouts. From aerial yoga to more than a half-dozen varieties of pilates (hello, sculpted bod!) to a class that will target just about any body part you can think of, these clubs have you covered.
Steve Nash Fitness World & Sports Clubs (multiple locations; $25 for non-members, stevenashfitnessclubs.com)