When Laura Sigurdson was a teenager, her equestrian instructor encouraged her to strengthen her core by practicing yoga. Nearly a decade later, after losing her job, Laura turned to yoga to decrease her anxiety, and soon realized that opening a yoga studio was the rebound she had been seeking. She purchased an old garage and converted it into Iron Lotus Yoga. The facility was built primarily with recycled and reused materials, and its bathroom sink rests on an old fallen tree. Rainwater collected on the roof powers the toilets’ flushing.
During Iron Lotus Yoga’s classes, which take place six days a week, instructors help students build strength and flexibility through styles such as Vinyasa, restorative, and rooftop yoga, where students test their balancing skills while rooftop pigeons coo Enya. Alternatively, guests at the facility can soothe sore muscles with myofascial massage therapy administered by registered massage therapist Linda Sangwine, or enrich their skin with organic spa treatments conducted by a resident spa therapist.
As they enter the training circle at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby, trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
Certified personal trainer Katelyn Brown first immersed herself into the fitness industry in 2008. Since then, she's trained clients privately, has led groups through sweaty boot camps, and has even worked with hockey players off the ice, coaching them how to walk in public without checking pedestrians into walls. At Perseverance Fitness, she puts this experience to use helming signature BootyCamp sessions—all-women fitness classes that use body-weight movements to tone troublesome areas such as the arms, core, and backside. Katelyn, who is also a certified TRX suspension-training ambassador, also captains TRX boot camps, which allow participants to perform hundreds of exercises by leveraging gravity against body weight with a series of specialized straps and bands.
Though she was a university-educated professional and a proud mother of two, Chantel Waite was troubled when she looked in the mirror. At 132 pounds, her healthy frame didn't mirror the picture-perfect bodies of women depicted in the media. Searching for a boost in self-image and esteem, Chantel took up a pole-dancing class and was immediately hooked. She marvelled at her fellow classmates—strong, full-figured women who appeared so beautiful and powerful as they danced. As she continued to practice the art form, she began to appreciate her own body, embracing the awareness that beautiful women come in every size.
Today, Chantel shares her newfound sense of empowerment with fellow women, conducting pole-dancing classes at her own private studio, Allure Fitness. Amid soft carpets and curtained mirrors, Chantel guides ladies of all sizes through twists and turns in workouts designed to enhance flexibility, tone muscles, and boost confidence. Chantel always begins each course by simply having her students practice walking in an uninhibited way, encouraging them to dispel prior insecurities with their bodies and sexuality. Through group classes and parties, Chantel aims to create a supportive community among her students, free of competition, judgment, or aggressive thumb-wrestling tournaments.
Shamrock Counselling founder Cristina Rennie and her team specialize in equine-facilitated counselling (EFC) a traditional psychotherapy process that incorporates the reassuring touch of horses administered in a natural environment. A registered clinical counsellor and a chairwoman on the National Association for Equine Facilitated Wellness, Cristina translates the experience she’s gained in these roles into services for patients young and old struggling with life’s myriad issues and setbacks. As patients handle, groom, and play with their horsey partners, the natural emotional mirroring between horse and person can offer support, comfort, and a deeper understanding of what makes centaurs tick. Ultimately, EFC sessions can bring about positive changes in a person’s life, including improving relationships and self-esteem or reducing anxiety.
Gaetano Aramini’s website features a video of the trainer sitting on his clients, pinning them to the ground as they let loose onto punch pads strapped to the dedicated trainer’s hands. It's all in a day's work for Gaetano, a personal trainer who brings 29 years of martial-arts experience and a decade in the fitness industry to his job as head of his business. In addition to working one-on-one with clients, Gaetano also leads small-group personal-training sessions, which bring an element of camaraderie into the physical challenges. Group training takes place indoors, just like food fights and boot camp. The 60-minute boot-camp sessions led by Gaetano or another instructor are composed of half strength training and half interval cardio and designed to challenge a variety of levels. Patrons can complement their training with guidance from the on-staff holistic nutritionist, who imparts her dietary wisdom via video chat.
Apollo Athletic Club spans nearly 45,000 square feet of body-moulding fitness facilities enhanced by a stereophonic sound system, an abundance of natural light, and a layout designed to facilitate availability of equipment. The one-month membership requires no contract or crop-sharing arrangement, bestowing upon members a pass card that grants unlimited access to all of Apollo's fitness areas. Facilities include the weight room, outfitted with Hammer Strength and Cybex equipment, a 25-foot lap pool and three hot tubs, squash and racquetball courts, two steam rooms, a basketball court, and designated seniors- and ladies-only areas. Approximately 40 classes per week harness the power of group motivation and wind energy of simultaneous jump roping with strength training, Zumba, and six senior classes, such as Osteo-Fit, designed for those living with osteoporosis.