When I worked near Queen Street West and Bathurst Street, I would pass a sign on my walk that advertised classes at Barreworks Toronto. The woman on the sign is SO toned, glistening with sweat and in possession of a set of abs I want, so I took the stairs up to the studio two at a time. A feat I almost used as another entry for my workout diary. Seriously. So so many stairs.
I signed up for a Barreworks mixed level class and am told it's a good choice for a newbie like me. The instructor promises an hour of fun, serious core work and ballet-inspired barre stretches. Only opened since June of this year, the studio is the first of its kind in Canada. Developed from the super popular trend in the US, Barreworks promises a lean dancer's body through muscle sculpting, cardio training, core conditioning and deep stretching.
My class is at 10am on a weekday and I walk to the studio thinking that this means I'm all stretched and warmed up for the session. This is a very wrong assumption. Nothing could have prepared me for this class. To start, you need to grab props from their various locations. A mat (that I grew to hate), a resistance band (hated), two weighted balls (loathed) and another bigger ball (indifferent).
Using all the props repeatedly, what followed was the most intense, difficult and painful workout yet. We stretch, lunge, jump, lift weighted balls and pull on our resistance bands. We do push ups, squats, lifts, planks and downward dog. I sweat, huff, puff, grimace and try desperately to not look in the mirror. I literally have to stop doing what I'm doing because the burning won't stop. The instructor shows me ways to modify the moves to make them easier on my body. I nod, knowing I won't even do those.
POST CONTINUES BELOW SLIDESHOW
First up on my fitness calendar was hot yoga. Regular yoga was out of the question since the prospect of searing heat makes my heart flutter. (No seriously...tropical temperatures are a dream). Setting out to find a yoga studio that offers the sweaty class was easy and I settled on Hot Yoga Toronto in the Annex. You have the option of taking either a verbally taught or silently lead class. Personally, I opted for the class with words...it was going to be hard enough to follow. Read the full story
This week I decided to sign up for a spin class at Quad on King Street West. While I had no illusions about being a yoga newbie, I always like to think that I'm an excellent cyclist. Every summer on schedule, I decide to use a bicycle as my mode of transportation and pout until my dad unhooks his from the garage ceiling and cleans it up for me. Newly pumped and shiny, it will sit in my hallway unused because cycling around the city is dangerous and it's so much more fun to walk. But somehow I still like to think I could cycle if I really wanted to. Read the full story
When I first heard about the Aerial Strength class offered by Brass Vixens on Queen West, I have to admit, I pictured something totally different. Read the full story
When I decided to start writing this column, pole dancing was the first and foremost workout that I wanted to try. I enjoy a good night out at a club and might have even won a dance-off or two. So, yea I like to think that I can dance. I always figured that placed in front of a pole, I'd do better than alright. Read the full story
I should point out that two years ago, I decided hula hooping was the best way to achieve abs so I bought one, set myself up outside, began to hoop and as soon as it dropped to the floor (which was almost immediately) I said "Nope, this sucks" and left the hoop outside. Luckily for me, Toronto has classes to turn me into my pretend alter-ego of a hippie hula girl. Read the full story.
I signed up for a Barreworks mixed level class and am told it's a good choice for a newbie like me. The instructor promises an hour of fun, serious core work and ballet-inspired barre stretches. Only opened since June of this year, the studio is the first of its kind in Canada. Developed from the super popular trend in the US, Barreworks promises a lean dancer's body through muscle sculpting, cardio training, core conditioning and deep stretching. Read the full story.
A few weeks into my quest for the best workout, a workout buddy mentioned a machine called The Reformer. While describing its uses, I could not get the picture of an 18th-century torture device out of my mind. This week I was excited to try out MisFit Studio after being recommended by a friend. The studio can be found in an alleyway in a stunning converted old coach house. I initially signed up for a "Kick Ass Mat" class with no expectations whatsoever. When I arrived I was taken for a tour of the studio (did I mention it's gorgeous?) and came face-to-face with The Reformer. Read the full story.
Zumba. Everyone is always talking about Zumba. Whenever I mention my workout quest to friends and family they practically unite in saying "Zumba! Have you tried Zumba yet? Why haven't you Zumba'd?!" Well, listen up you guys, I finally went out and tested Zumba. Read the full story.
If you haven't heard about Kangoo don't worry, you're in a huge group. Not one person I've told of my escapade knew what I was talking about. You've probably seen women at trade shows standing in a booth repping the new workout wearing boots that resemble ski shoes with oval springs attached to the bottom. If you haven't, go to more trade shows! Free swag! Anyway those ladies sell Kangoo Jumps boots to be used while you run, walk or generally work out. Read the full story.
Months and months ago, I attended a show in Toronto where Billy Blanks was appearing for a motivational speech as well as autograph signing. For those of you who don't follow the lifestyles of the fit and fabulous (of which I am not, nor do I follow) Billy Blanks invented the workout known as Tae Bo. A fusion of tae kwon do and boxing, the workout is done to a hip hop soundtrack for extra energetic movements. There's punching, kicking, stepping, crunching and a lot more. Since 1975, Blanks has touted the workout as the "future of fitness" and comes complete with an incredible backstory that made me tear up during his speech. So I bought the DVD. And got it autographed. Sometimes I hate me. Read the full story.
Here's a short snippet of my inner thoughts:
10 a.m. -- Wow, this bar is pretty high. Let's hope she doesn't expect my leg to make it all the way up there.
10:02 -- Oh okay we're just going to jump right in?
10:10 -- Definitely overreached with these two-pound weight balls. Everyone would totally notice if I switched to one-pounders....right?
10:15 -- No way it's only a quarter after!!! Everything hurts. How is this possible only fifteen minutes in?
10:20 -- How does this feel? How does this feel?! How do you think it feels Instructor Lady?! It feels like *!%$.
10:30 -- I'm really going to miss having use of my arms.
10:37 -- I knew she'd make me put my leg on this bar. This knee is staying bent, thank you.
10:40 -- I'm doing it. I'm just going to leave. They can't stop me. I paid for this! I'm the boss!
10:45 -- Push-ups? Son of a B*%&$!
10:50 -- Wait....you can see my underwear through these tights? This class is my nightmare.
10:55 -- Since we're not facing the mirror (thank you higher power!) I'm just not going to do the moves. I'm lying on this mat NOT planking and lifting my leg. No way....no how.
End Result: I'm in so much pain. My arms, my abs, my thighs....everything is experiencing a dull burning sensation that the instructor tried to mask as accomplishment. The next day I can't take a step without moaning "my thighs!"
Effort: A lot. Like a loooooot. My lungs are heaving, my mouth is the Sahara and let's not even get into my limbs that are begging to be cut off. Everything is repeated, sped up and then reversed.
Return Trip?: No no no no. This was painful, embarrassing and not a lot of fun despite the great music. I feel bad considering the instructor did her best trying to make me smile and enjoy it but I've never felt so exhausted yet violent towards another person. I'm looking for a fun workout that gives me results but makes me want to come back. Not a torture session.
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