I think that finding the perfect studio or workout routine is comparable to dating. A friend may introduce you, it may be an easy online interaction, or, you simply like what you see and decide to give them a try! But you ultimately have to be both mentally and physically committed. So, you go through the motions. You either end up in a situation where you’re staring at the clock praying for it to be over or you leave sweating having just had the best full-body workout! Trial and error ladies, trial and error. It’s the only way you find the right one – the one that makes you want to keep coming back for more.
I’ve lived in Toronto for almost five years and have tried my fair share of yoga studios, gyms, workout routines, apps, etc. I’ve been around the block once or twice with a few of them. I loved finding studios that offered a two-week free trial (great for my bank account) and didn’t require a commitment to an over-priced membership afterward. That being said, I’ve found myself falling for studios that I know won’t be good for me (budget-wise) but have satisfied my list in more ways than one – well worth it!
So, let me break down my gym history to you and how I found the perfect one(s)...
The one that doesn’t require commitment. Whether you take advantage of a gym subsidy through work, use the gym in your condo, workout in your own home or utilize the great outdoors, the bottom line is you like options. You go out as many times per week as you’d like, rendezvous during lunch, go over early in the morning, or find yourself making it work late at night. Try adding some of these into your rotation:
1. Test drive a few local gyms. Many of them offer trials so keep a few on rotation or find ones with a budget savvy membership – you won’t feel like you’re committing (Goodlife, The Gym at 99 Sudbury, just to name a couple);
2. Print workout sheets or download fitness apps and follow along at the gym or outside (ToneItUp daily workouts are my go-to);
3. Roll out a yoga mat at home and use whatever you have in the condo (chairs, towels, stacks of books etc.) to help get your fit on (Women's Health Magazine, Shape Magazine, or YouTube videos uploaded by Victoria’s Secret and Popsugar – I love training like a VS Model!); or,
4. Join a running club! The distance will range, the cost is free, but clubs like Lululemon, Adidas Runners Toronto and Nike Runner’s Lounge don’t require a commitment and provide a great opportunity to get your fit on and meet new friends!
The Casual Friend
Ah, the causal relationship that only requires minimum to medium commitment. You’re paying for a flex pass, buy a groupon, class packages, or simply drop in as you see fit (see what I did there). You like to keep your options open and keep it slow and casual. I get it, we’re all busy and often can’t find the time or energy to give everything we have to just one person no matter how good they are and how good your body feels afterward. So, if you’re not in a place in your life to spend $200+ but enjoy the casual fling of meeting up a couple or few times a week, then get your flirt on with a few of these ideas:
1. Hello, ClassPass! With 3, 5, or 10 classes per month, whatever suits your fancy, you have access to hundreds of studios from cycling, barre, yoga, boxing and more;
2. Y-not YYoga? One of the many wonderful yoga studios in Toronto, Yyoga offer a 5 or 10 class pass (most yoga studios have similar options). You save 10-20% off the drop-in rate, you can choose from a variety of yoga classes, and they even offer fitness classes like cycling, barre, pilates, TRX, and the list continues – trying to keep it casual here but they make it hard not to fall for them!;
3. App & Program. You buy it and choose to use it or lose it. You’ll be gushing over this one with your girlfriends every chance you get! Kayla Itsines is on the move and her social media following and daily posts prove she’s the one you want to keep around. Whether you stay causal or find yourself committing more and more, you can choose to join the #BBG community monthly or quarterly, or start with a 12-week program – no long-term commitment here. I’ll warn you now, even though you commit casually, each session will feel like a lifetime!
The Real Deal
The one you wake up for, get excited about, makes you feel good, leaves you sweating, and ultimately the one that made you commit. A studio or gym that was worth the search! They either make you move things around to avoid breaking the bank or they fit just right. Whatever the case, you’re left feeling satisfied and enjoy the commitment. Here are a couple that I define as the real deal:
1. F45 in Liberty Village stole my heart. The atmosphere alone gives you a high, the 45-minute workout has you gasping for air and smiling through the tough parts, and the trainers are committed to you 100%. They offer a free two-week trial with no strings attached - they’re confident you’ll stop looking once you’ve given them a chance. Your first two weeks are the honeymoon stage that eventually never ends. They’ll charm you with their fitness knowledge, they’ll have you focusing on your posture and engaging your core, and provide you with that reassurance and boost you need. They’re everything you’ve ever wanted and more. If you’re looking to get in shape, stay in shape, and pay a little extra – this is your commitment. Look for Umi and Liz, major crush on those two!; or,
2. Purely because they’re the best, my go-to yoga studio, PureYoga. Leave it to Lisa Walker, teacher/owner, to add a little sass and excitement into your class. It was love at first sight and my boyfriend and I haven’t stopped loving since. This hot yoga studio is unlike any other, and each class is hotter or cooler depending on the style of yoga you’ve chosen. A variety of classes ranging from a calm but warm flow to a butt-kicking core or power class (Jaffer’s classes are my favorite – bring two bottles of water). If you’ve had a long day, you simply head over to the one you’ve committed to and leave it to them to make it better. Lisa’s PureBeat’s class does just that. It's an hour long class accompanied by a wicked playlist, high-energy, tons of laughs, and a detox session like no other. This studio has it all and it’s why you’ll want to commit.
Photos by: Saudia Baksh