Explosive kicks. Gravity-defying backflips. Raucous beats. Capoeira matches act as a colourful form of cultural expression in addition to a powerful form of self-defence. Though Marcos Martins—also known by his capoeira name, Paraiba—was born in Brazil, it wasn't until he moved to Canada as a child that he discovered capoeira. At 14 years old, he began training with Mestre Barrão, an internationally renowned capoeirista and the founder of Axé capoeira, which has schools around the world. Marcos went on to open Axé Capoeira Toronto, where he carries out his mentor's mission to preserve capoeira as a fighting style, art form, and vital part of Brazilian culture.
During beginner capoeira classes, the instructors teach the form's basic martial arts and dance moves, as well as musical elements and basic aerobics. Advanced classes train students in the more tricky motions and the holistic knowledge necessary to advance in capoeira's belt system, such as how to predict gravity's current strength before executing a backflip. CapoeiraFit women's-only classes impart self-defence skills during high-energy, whole-body workouts that focus on core muscles. In kids’ classes, wee ones cultivate self-esteem as they train their bodies and learn capoeira's noble history. The classes also engage youngsters' creative instincts as they sing, dance, and learn to play instruments.
Named after the word tula, which signifies balance, Tula was created to promote guests' inner and outer harmony and well-being. After a Pilates or Hatha- or flow-yoga class?available in a hot or temperate studio?patrons can indulge in spa treatments ranging from herbal body wraps to Ayurvedic facials and massages. Each location evokes a soothing, nature-inspired look, characterized by wood flooring and water fountains. The studios' radiant heating panels, natural cleaning products, and organic spa products also speak to a desire for balance with the earth.
Tula has built a loyal local following for both its yoga classes and spa services. The Tula West location made a list of Best Health magazine writer Kat Tancock's favourite yoga studios. Studio director Isabel Lambert's "meticulous approach" to sugaring was praised by Fashion Magazine in 2010, and the establishment was voted Best Hot Yoga by BlogTo in 2012, along with Toronto's Best Workout Studio by Now.
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 team at Toronto Adventures create winter, summer, spring, or fall fun adventures by taking urbanites out of their condos and A-frames and into the area's nearby-yet-faraway outdoor streams, trails, and forests. In winter, the guides lead groups snowshoeing in the Humber Valley and Copeland Forest, and in warmer months, they glide teams over two rivers for kayaking and canoeing adventures. Paddlers cast gentle ripples over waters that harbour salmon and turtles while admiring shores that shelter deer, foxes, and blue heron.
Summer enthusiasts can also bask in the warm weather by sailing on Lake Ontario in keelboats, staring directly into the sun, or standing astride a paddleboard at Sunnyside Beach. For land lovers, guided hikes explore the Humber and Rouge valleys as well as the Bruce Trail. Toronto Adventures also offers adventure bus trips, dogsledding, stand up paddleboarding, hiking, and sailing.
Raindance began as a thought experiment: can you make a movie with no money or experience, and without going to film school? 22 years, later Raindance now has 12 film networking and training hubs worldwide, and runs the largest indie film festival in Europe, the Raindance Film Festival. They provide hands on training, networking events, financing opportunities, and an innovative Membership program to help new and emerging filmmakers get their projects made.
Raindance's practical filmmaking and writing workshops break the daunting cinema-creation process into digestible workshops as industry professionals help to elevate the aptitude of independent filmmakers. Students can select courses that teach film industry basics including how to build a budget, choose a camera, and promote themselves. As a non-profit training and networking organization that works to promote and support filmmaking throughout the world, many classes conclude with networking sessions at local bars where participants can trade business cards to further their cinematic pursuits.
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.