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.
Instructor Keri explained how the machine worked and all the benefits that went with the ancient looking device. After expressing interest (and fear) towards it, she decided to move our pilates workout onto The Reformer. Joy.
The Reformer is made up of a carriage that you lie down on and a bar where you prop your feet up. Hooking springy gears to the carriage takes the resistance up a notch to make the pushing or pulling harder. There are hand grips that can be used as well to work out your arms when your legs need a rest.
I'm going to be honest, this was a tough workout. When you first start pushing down on your legs to move the carriage up and down, you can tell that it's going to be a good workout. A few reps in and you feel the burn. Luckily, Keri went through the workout treating it almost like a yoga class. Soothing music and her even more soothing voice kept me calm and my breathing slowly paced. Moving us from our backs, to our sides for individual leg work outs to putting our legs in the hand grips for a whole new experience, Keri made sure every area got a workout.
Here's a short snippet of my inner thoughts:
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.
10 a.m. -- This is comfy. I wish I could do more workouts lying down. Wait...no. Not like that....
10:02 -- Oh...once you hook these gears on, the carriage suddenly gets harder to move.
10:05 -- Jeez this place is so gorgeous. I could totally live here. I mean there's no kitchen but...whoops, reps already, huh? No one will notice. ...Eight, nine, ten!
10:14 -- Okay, this machine totally isn't so scary! Putting TV's on the ceiling would rock.
10:20 -- Stretching our "shoulder girdles"? Did I bring mine?
10:35 -- Keri! You are not counting properly! Aw....I can't stay mad at you!
10:40 -- Having my head on this squishy ball is pure heaven. All this pain is SO worthy just a few minutes of squishy ball time.
10:47 -- Using my arms to pull this thing only reinforces the fact that I have absolutely no upper body strength. No wonder I sucked at pole dancing.
10:50 -- The more reps I do with this weighted ball, the shorter my arm span gets.
10:52 -- Just when I think I'm failing at fitness, Keri gives me a huge smile, a thumbs up and a "Great job, Bianca!" She's just the bestest.
10:55 - With my feet hooked into the hand grips and legs up in the air, I'm pretty sure I look like I'm trapped in an archaic torture chamber.
11:00 - Yay, cool down time. I gotta find more workouts where I can be on my back. No! Not in that context....shut up.
End Result: Not as bad as I had assumed. In the first ten minutes of the class I was sure that by the end my charlie horses would have charlie horses. While my arms are a little sore, my legs are doing great. By the end of the night the thighs feel tight but it's gone in the morning. All my appendages feel wonderfully stretched out.
Effort: Lying down, the effort is all in how many reps you're able to do. You feel the burn but it's everywhere except your lungs. I sometimes find myself short of breath so this was perfect. The burning sensation in the arms and legs are practically mandatory but as long as you remember to breathe and pace yourself, you'll definitely be able to power through.
Return Trip?: I would definitely try to come back. If not to feel amazing after conquering The Reformer, then to take Keri's class again. She was able to tell right away if I was pushing my limit and was continuously giving great tips on how to modify movements while still challenging myself.
Follow Bianca Teixeira on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BeeLauraTee