Studio owner Zahra aims to help empower the women she works with, whether she’s helming her annual makeup drive for a local women’s shelter or while teaching the sinuous art of belly dance at her studio. Since 2001, her Zahra’s School of Dance has helped women celebrate their bodies, with special workshops led by international belly dance icons in addition to her regularly scheduled classes and workshops. In all classes, instructors teach graceful moves that centre on the lower body and focus on the waist and hips. Higher-level courses incorporate props such as veils and tambourines, eschewing the most basic belly-dancing prop, a T-shirt with six-pack abs drawn on it. Specialty classes, meanwhile, may combine belly dancing with various different dance genres. Most of these are age-appropriate for kids.
Upon entering Me First Fitness, awarded the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 Diamond award for Best Boot Camp from News Advertiser, guests notice a distinct absence of rows of people doing the same exercises over and over on the same machines again and again. Here, patrons battle their own body weight with TRX suspension cords, swing kettlebells, jump rope, and pummel punching bags to whip into shape. The staff of certified and specialized trainers pushes patrons to achieve healthy lifestyles through personal-training sessions and high-intensity boot-camp classes. They boast that no two workouts are the same, preventing minds from getting bored and bodies from becoming accustomed to the movements, thus rendering workouts less effective. To supplement their body-sculpting workouts, the trainers motivate guests to change their diets, equipping them with healthful meal plans and recipes, and raiding secret storage lockers full of Twinkies.
Extreme Fitness sets Toronto's calories ablaze at the 13 renovated, multimillion-dollar locations peppered throughout the greater suburban area. Each facility hosts a menagerie of group fitness classes, which can be taken à la carte or bundled into a gym membership. Muscles loosen up in hot-yoga classes or bulge into sinewy symbols of might in outdoor boot camps, where students soak up vitamin D or distill Capri Sun from the sun's rays. To make sure members get the most of the gym's myriad amenities, personal trainers kick off fitness journeys with their Smart Start program, taking BMI measurements and analyzing heart health and oxygen uptake to give patrons a clearer picture of how much and what types of exercise they need to hit their goals.
After working up a calorie-blasting sweat, members can retire to the steam rooms or whirlpool tubs to soothe sore muscles. The internet business lounge lets people catch up on email while sipping a rejuvenating smoothie from the juice bar, and the basketball courts host pick-up games where adults can show underdog teams of fifth-graders that it takes a little more than pluck and an adorable animal sidekick to win games.