A community presence in Ottawa for more than 140 years, YMCA-YWCA of the National Capital Region remains true to its mission of physical and social enrichment for men, women, and kids of all ages across all seven of its facilities. Staff members uphold the YMCA’s core values of honesty, acceptance, and fairness as they invest in their community’s children and strengthen family bonds critically weakened by overzealous games of Monopoly. They pump up adult fitness regimens with aquatic fitness and boot-camp classes, personal training, and full gymnasiums outfitted with equipment for basketball, soccer, and rope skipping. They’ve also filled their fitness centres with free weights, cardio equipment, and weight machines. When they’re not helping adults trim down waistlines during yoga, boxing, and salsa-dance classes, staff members are getting back in touch with their inner children. They stimulate imagination, mental development, and growth as they lead children’s day camps, after-school programs, birthday parties, and outdoor education.
These YMCA-YWCA outposts are dedicated to helping all members of the community. They provide those in need with emergency and youth housing, employment services, and domestic-violence support programs. They further strengthen and unite the Ottawa community through the YActive Assist program, which adjusts membership rates to help families that can’t afford the full cost of any of YMCA’s progressive programs.
The Athletic Club strives to help burn-feelers of all abilities attain their fitness goals with a plenitude of fitness classes and equipment, keeping their doors open until midnight through most of the week. Patrons enjoy access to an array of luxurious amenities, including a spacious multisport gymnasium and a child-care centre. A club tour familiarizes newcomers with the facility's sprawling layout. Hearts get ticking on the club’s 160 pieces of well-maintained cardio equipment—outfitted with individual televisions—and over 200 weekly group fitness classes helmed by expert instructors that encourage participants to box, cycle, and Pilates their bodies into sweat-gilded temples.
A unique AntiGravity yoga class employs a silk hammock to help sun saluters as they strike inverted poses and make shadow puppets with their toes. Pellucid saltwater pools accommodate leisurely lap swimming and experiments testing the buoyancy of various cheeses, and a separate women’s-only aquatic area offers an array of aqua-fit classes that sculpt muscles with subaqueous exercises such as pool-noodle wrestling. After a workout, gym-goers can revel in the soothing vapours of the steam and dry saunas in the changing rooms or mill about the WiFi-enabled Members Only lounge. The Athletic Club contributes to global and local nonprofits, expanding the reach of its health initiative from gym members to those in need.
Andrea Harper wears many hats, but they are all connected by a common thread—or pole, as the case may be. She is a certified personal trainer, nutrition and wellness specialist, and pole-fitness instructor, whose fascination with physical health centers around empowering spins. As the owner of Cherry Blossom Pole Dancing Studio, Andrea passes on the moves that made her one of Canada's top 16 pole dancers at Miss Pole Dance Canada 2010, leading women of all backgrounds through lessons designed to strengthen their bodies, self-esteem, and sense of rhythm. During pole-dancing classes, she and her team of instructors take pupils from the fundamentals to advanced techniques, such as convincing your brain that the floor is actually the ceiling. She limits class sizes to 10 students within the hot-pink-and-green studio, ensuring that everyone is able to pair up with a pole. The pole isn't the only gravity-flouting tool at Andrea's disposal, though; she also schedules courses that rely on aerial silks and hoops.
To put a personal touch on twirls, she offers parties replete with dance routines and fun props for all occasions. These soirees readily accommodate groups with 1,500 square feet of space and were suggested by the Ottawa Citizen as one of the top three creative bachelorette-party ideas.
Venk Prabhu, founder of Shanti Tea, envisions tea as a ritual, as a space that should be honoured. He respects this belief by travelling the world to source his fair-trade, sustainable, and certified-organic teas, curating and collecting distinct blends after steeping himself in the culture, traditions, and stories of the places they’re grown. In addition to a wide roster of green, black, white, and red-all-over teas, herbs and spices add extra aroma to blends and range from the familiar lavender or clove to the more esoteric and medicinal eyebright, yarrow, and st. john’s wort. Certified organic matcha from Japan’s Aichi Prefecture facilitates formal and casual tea ceremonies in three different grades, from straight matcha to blends with blueberry or cocoa. Cofounder and naturopathic doctor Priya Prakash blends wellness teas, as well as Ayurvedic teas that fit within Ayurvedic medicinal tradition. Shanti Tea also educates its customers with regular workshops that include tastings and blending lessons.
A renowned competitive fighter in the world of sport karate in the 1980s, Steve Anderson stays active in the modern martial-arts community by leading self-defense classes for children and adults with a team of experienced instructors. Kids as young as 3 years old begin their long journey toward wearing black belts and regular belts in the Little Dragons class, soon progressing to the Little Ninjas level and, finally, the youth karate program that aims to build their mind, body, and spirit. Students 14 and older can fine-tune their bodies and skills in several versions of kick-boxing classes, from the fast-paced cardio class to sessions at bags, where fighters learn to defend themselves in the case of a couch-cushion uprising.
At Play It Again Sports, locally owned and operated for 20 years, athletes suit up to conquer challenges on the ice, in the field, or on the court with new and used gear from major-league brands such as Bauer, Reebok, and Adidas. An ever-rotating inventory keeps lockers stocked with spare balls, dressers filled with run-ready shorts, and dens populated with gleaming treadmills. Proud recipients of the Gold Standard Store award, amiable staffers stand ready to answer questions or assist with fittings, ensuring that each athlete leaves with the appropriate gear for their needs. Neglected equipment ready to leave storage spaces and rejoin the sporting life can be traded in for cash or credit for gear, completing the ethereal Circle of Sports.