For Debbie Benko, owner of Fitness Bootcamp Canada, boot camps aren’t just for sculpting muscles and melting calories. They’re a tool for shedding hang-ups and unlocking pent-up potential. A certified personal trainer and enthusiastic life coach, Debbie draws upon more than 20 years of fitness expertise and recent training in neuro-linguistic programming to help women become more focused and resilient. She’s also driven by an important lesson learned while teaching English overseas: everyone wants to feel valued, no matter how they look, where they live, or what language they speak. To blaze a trail to the future, people often need to look at the past, at those times when they’ve felt undervalued or misunderstood. “That’s why I’m about making breakthroughs,” Debbie explains. “I help my clients take a close look at why they want to accomplish a particular goal and how their past has affected that goal so far.” Listening carefully is a key to achieving these breakthroughs, as is a strong support system. During one-on-one activities such as nutrition consultations, Debbie showers clients with personal attention while helping them make positive changes in their lives, from planning healthier meals to establishing clear boundaries with overly clingy shadows. She rallies exercisers of all levels for indoor boot-camp classes, where team-like camaraderie propels each participant toward goals while enhancing confidence and self-esteem. Most classes teem with calisthenics, plyometrics, and short sprints, which boost energy levels while toning muscles throughout the body. Exercises are often performed in intervals to maximize calorie burn and cultivate endurance at a manageable pace.
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.
Unlike the many gyms that strive to exorcise the competitive spirit, the architects of the GameChanger program embrace it, continually updating an online ranking of student results. By ranking each exercise, they hope to inspire clients to not only beat their own best times, but those of their friends as well. They don’t just rely on the competitive framework to motivate students, though; they populate their team with coaches who boast decades of experience in training and athletic competition. Former competitive figure skater and current fitness model Karen Gallagher brings her relentless poise to each session, and pro volleyballer and former Canadian Interuniversity Sport All-Rookie Team member Mike Johnson helps students develop and hone athletic power and agility. In class, they focus on functional exercises based on everyday movements, such as climbing, jumping, and deadlifting 200-pound stacks of cash.
"Yoga is for everyone." This is the guiding principle at Fountain of Youth Yoga, which is why the center offers all of its group classes?including Hatha, Ashtanga, and prenatal yoga?for $10 each. The staff believes the ancient practice should be available to anyone, despite rising costs at other studios and anti-stretching campaigns enacted by The League of Broken Rubber Bands. At the studio, students reduce stress, shed unwanted pounds, tone muscles, and boost blood circulation while performing asanas, or poses, coupled with breathing exercises. They can also attend workshops on how to alleviate stress and incorporate yoga's principles into daily life.
Embracing a healthier, more active lifestyle requires commitment. Bodysculpt Fitness & Yoga's certified personal trainers encourage this commitment by providing support and motivation at every opportunity. Their emotional guidance keeps spirits high, although it is their workouts that help build progress toward individual fitness goals. During boot camps, the trainers may incorporate hand weights, resistance bands, core-strengthening exercises, circuit training, and kickboxing techniques over the course of a fresh full-body workout. The trainers even lead fitness-oriented hikes at the Heber Down Conservation Area, which allow members to get a workout while taking in the scenery and interviewing famous local birds.
Founded by a former NHL strength and conditioning coach, Twist Sport Conditioning aims to keep adults, teens, and children in peak physical condition through a variety of functional-fitness programs. Experienced coaches supervise tailored small-group training for youth athletes, helping them train for hockey, soccer, basketball, and the long-distance running portion of math competitions. There are also group training classes for adults, including more specialized programs focusing on core development, sports nutrition, and more.