At the beginning of his fitness career, Conor Kelly was a walking paradox: an out-of-shape personal trainer. Though he had taken part in powerlifting and strongman competitions, he found that much of the weight he had gained over the years was fat rather than muscle. So, he became his own client. He observed how lean, toned people conducted their workouts, paying special attention to practices that weren't mentioned in mainstream gym classes. He spoke with other trainers to learn which strategies produced results, and which were ineffective fads. Eventually, he combined all of his research into a new philosophy—one that banished his excess weight, and became the founding principle of Evolution Fitness.
The method he created relies on personalization. Clients meet with him or another certified personal trainer for an initial assessment, during which they identify their goals and take several measurements. The trainers then plan workouts to address specific aims, whether it's weight loss or muscle sculpting. They coach their clients in a private studio with a mix of cardio intervals and strength exercises, keeping the routines varied and, to the best of their ability, fun. Nutritionist Dr. Abazar Habibinia also contributes dietary advice. His manageable tips work within the client's lifestyle, and refrain from stressful rules that prohibit your favourite foods unless you're eating them while doing a wall-sit. And, for those that can't commit to an ongoing, customized program, Conor and his team also host group boot-camp sessions.
Toronto Dance Salsa's roster of instructors and more than 70 dance volunteers spin, twirl, and dip more than 5,000 students each year, from both its 1,600-square-foot main studio atop the North York Civic Centre subway and three other area locations. During lessons, instructors concentrate on teaching pairs and singles leading-following skills, as well as basic body movement and styling. While all instructors have their speciality, they all share a passion for dance that kicked-started their careers, and—for many of them—led to performing as well as teaching. An even male-female ratio is emphasized during classes, with experienced volunteers able to jump in and exude a level of comfort and knowledge usually reserved for sweatsuit-clad professors.
To complement the artistic side of the studio, Toronto Dance Salsa also features a full roster of strengthening, conditioning, calorie-burning fitness classes. With a flexible schedule that includes morning, lunchtime, and evening classes, the DayFit program grants students of any schedule with energizing workouts. Power yoga and hatha yoga classes boost flexibility while centering the mind, and Core Fusion melds the ancient art of yoga with the core benefits of Pilates. True to its dance roots, the studio also offers Zumba, a Latin-dance infused class designed to burn calories through invigorating music.
In 2004, Warren Lee was a high-school teacher by day and a muay thai kick-boxing private trainer on the side. But demand for his private lessons grew, and eventually the one-man business blossomed into a full-time combat fitness business. Today, Lee runs Toronto Kickboxing & Muay Thai (TKMT) Academy at three locations, all of which provide friendly atmospheres for students to work up a sweat, shed stress, and learn self-defense. The staff credits its unintimidating and professional attitude with helping to draw an almost even split of male and female students—a rarity in martial-arts gyms.
All three locations feature pristine facilities and include men's and women's changing rooms and individual showers, as well as a boxing ring, grappling mats, thai pads, heavy bags, and an assortment of training equipment. The staff of committed instructors includes Ajahn Amnat Yodkwain, a former professional fighter and muay thai master who has trained in Thailand's combative arts since the age of 7. All of the academy's instructors possess CPR and first-aid certification and participate regularly in professional development. In order to join the team, they must also pass a series of rigorous tests designed to challenge their skills in muay thai, general fitness, and kicking cookie jars off the top shelf.
Reshmi Chetram has been dazzling audiences on the dance floor with vibrant costumes and explosive movements for more than 16 years. Following the fancy footsteps of her mother—who founded both the Tarana Dance Centre and Natya Arts Productions—she has studied classical Indian dance, Kathak, in New Delhi under the guidance of renowned Indian-dance guru Pandit Birju Maharaj. She has also studied Bollywood and contemporary Indian dance in Toronto and abroad. In 2008, she channelled her dance skills to create BollyFuze (formerly known as BollyFit), a full-body conditioning program that helps students of all ages and abilities get whipped into shape with a blend of traditional Indian dance moves and aerobic exercise steps. She and her team of certified BollyFuze instructors lead clients in burning calories and sculpting fitter physiques in classes including the high-intensity BollyFuze Cardio, low-intensity BollyFuze Rhythm, and fun-filled BollyTots.
Extending her knowledge beyond the workout studio, Reshmi hosts her own BollyFuze television series. She and her instructors lead Bollywood-dance-inspired workouts that patrons can join in the comforts of their own homes without needing to make 1,000 friends.
How does an old glass factory become a must-book venue in Toronto Life's annual wedding guide? 99 Sudbury’s owners would say, give it a makeover. They swapped the factory’s noisy machines for elegant furnishings, repurposed three sections of the building, and turned the straggling ghosts into coat checkers. The three sections they repurposed include a baroque lounge area, an art gallery with 17-foot ceilings, and a plush loft space aptly named the Glass Factory.
With the leftover space, they added a health-and-wellness centre and a 30,000-square-foot fitness club that has three weight rooms, two exercise studios, and a spinning loft. It even has a cross-training room with monster-truck tires, fire-truck hoses, kettlebells, punching bags, and TRX-suspension-training gear. The idea behind all of these additions was to create a hip atmosphere where people could socialize and have fun while statistically increasing their ability to lift up their cars when they drop keys under them. The effort helped 99 Sudbury catch the eye of various press outlets, and the Food Network even held its 10th anniversary at the spot.
The old saying “no pain, no gain” doesn’t hold much water for seasoned personal trainer Chas Cook, who instead opts for a “no pain, no pain” approach to fitness. During his 10,000 direct training hours as a personal trainer, he came to realize that the journey toward true weight-loss or injury rehabilitation is one without shortcuts—he discovered that forcing the body into overdrive mode doesn’t yield long lasting results. Rather, Chas works with clients individually to develop a custom program that highlights safety and holistic techniques. Chas works with his patrons from inside Inspira Athletica's private studio or the comfort of patrons' homes. During his workouts, which can include lifestyle coaching and nutrition advice, he’ll draw from more than 15 approaches to fitness that range from Pilates to kickboxing. As students ease into long-term healthy habits, resources such as newsletters, blogs, and continual assessments keep them more inspired than a tree-hanging kitten fresh out of a motivational seminar.