Toronto Gyms’ Most Intense Home Fitness Classes For Adrenaline Junkies

Gyms are closed again, but a host of them are offering online workouts — from restorative yoga to heartbreaking HIIT sessions — that will keep Omicron-induced angst at bay. Here are our favorite sweat sessions.

Lions Academy

What to expect: Academy of Lions has adapted CrossFit for those stuck at home with no equipment to hand. Expect daily workouts that test cardio strength and endurance with burpees, squat variations, and jumping jacks. Weightless regulars at home can get creative with floor-to-ceiling moves using things like jugs of laundry detergent and bags of flour.
First class: Learn to walk on your hands by taking one of the Academy’s hand exercises classes.
Cost: Free walk-in classes, or $135 for a monthly Zoom subscription.
Program: See the schedule here.


sweat and tonic

What to expect: This downtown gym has some of the best-produced and most varied videos in town. Workouts range from 45-minute HIIT sessions (including tuck jumps, mountain climbers, and boxing combos) to slow yoga flows. For those with a stationary bike, they also offer Spin classes.
First class: George Chaker’s Booty HIIT and Core HIIT classes aim to lift your butt or sculpt your abs in just 35 minutes, combining strength exercises and bursts of cardio for maximum results.
Cost: $10 per online course, or unlimited access to the S&T library of over 2,000 courses for $19 per month.
Program: View the Zoom live class schedule here.


An Academy

What to expect: This gym is obsessed with progress. Their HiFlux program ups the game every four weeks by adding reps, increasing load, and decreasing rest time, so budding athletes never plateau. Equipment including dumbbells and a heavy weight, such as a kettlebell, is recommended.
First class: One Academy co-founder Jesse Bruce (one of Canada’s top obstacle course runners) offers a weekly Everest class: a 75-minute marathon of structured HIIT circuits designed to tire out just about anyone muscles of the human body. He’s an Energizer Bunny of pure, unfettered enthusiasm.
Cost: $16 per class or $89 per month for unlimited virtual and on-demand classes.
Program: See the class schedule here.


Unsuitable method

What to expect: Misfit has closed its Ossington studio and reinvented itself as an online-only offering, offering dance-infused workouts that combine Pilates, yoga and traditional exercises like squats and curls.
First class: Their Shifted class will have you moving with intention and intensity. Expect jumping jacks, climbers, and dance moves to get that glazed donut glow.
Cost: $50 for five live Zoom classes, or $20 for Misfit’s on-demand video library featuring over 250 pre-recorded classes.
Program: Weekly schedule available here; on-demand course here.


body mason

What to expect: Body Mason’s Pilates classes bring the burn without high impact jumps – your knees and downstairs neighbors will thank you. The gym has streamlined its offerings into three classes of no-equipment mats: one for beginners, one for Pilates vets, and one that’s a happy medium.
First class: Emma-Kate Millar, founder of Body Mason and retired modern dancer, offers a Body Conditioning Mat II energy class, which aims to build long, lean muscles while correcting muscle alignment and imbalances. For those with nagging injuries, she suggests helpful modifications.
Cost: $15 per Zoom class or a $99 per month unlimited online subscription, which provides access to Body Mason’s video library of over 200 pre-recorded classes.
Program: One to two classes per day; schedule available here.


Photo by @goingmyrightway/Instagram
Oaysis

What to expect: Contemporary dancer Ming-Bo Lam founded this repository of on-demand online dance, fitness, yoga and meditation classes at the start of the pandemic. The website, which lets you browse by difficulty level and class duration, also offers mindful movement sessions to stretch and limber up.
First class: Lam’s contemporary choreography classes make dancing accessible and fun, even for those with toddler-level coordination. These ensuing sweat sessions will get your blood pumping and might even teach you some moves to get out when we can all start dancing again.
Cost: $5 a month gives you unlimited access to over 70 videos.
Program: The on-demand catalog is available here.


Submap

What to expect: Box-Fit training combines punches, crosses and hooks with fast rhythms. Undrcard strikes a good balance between technique-focused breakdowns and high-speed cardio moves meant to push heart rates into the stratosphere. The gym closed its Toronto location last year, but is still online.
First class: Head Coach David “Wild” Rose (no connection to Dan Levy’s Schitt’s Creek alter ego) kicks off his HIIT boxing class by jumping in the shadows before moving on to punching and footwork. If the relentless punches, pivots, and slides aren’t enough to make you sweat, the planks, jump squats, and plyo lunges surely will.
Cost: $24 per live class, $29 per month for an Undrcard Anytime subscription with unlimited access to on-demand workouts.
Program: View live class schedule here; on-demand courses are posted here.


Elle Fitness

What to expect: In her physical incarnation, Elle is a women-only gym in the Fashion District; online, they’re open to anyone who wants to carve a bubble butt. Classes range from weight-only workouts to no-equipment cardio classes.
First class: There’s a reason co-owner Michelle Epstein’s 45-minute Bootcamp class has become a pandemic favorite. This high-intensity, circuit-based class will leave you smiling from the endorphin rush, that is, after catching your breath.
Cost: Pay-as-you-go for $5 per course, or access to their live courses and on-demand library for $20 per month.
Program: Find their weekly schedule of live lessons here.


Harmony

What to expect: A diverse team of trainers with backgrounds in everything from gymnastics to boxing specialize in equipment-free classes that range from high impact (like Bodyweight HIIT) to low impact (like Power Pilates).
First class: Any class from Harmony owner Ali Lubin will be a heart-pounding blast. Lubin has a deep well of creative exercise movements which means his classes are always fresh, fun and engaging.
Cost: $27 per class or $240 for 10 classes.
Program: Several Zoom classes offered throughout the day; consult the schedule here. You can also purchase pre-recorded lessons starting at $10 through the website.


Unleashed Athletics

What to expect: This gym is dedicated to providing space for all bodies, regardless of age, income, gender, or athletic history.
First class: Designed to rev up your metabolism, Unchained founder Eddy Bucardo’s MetCon classes combine high-intensity anaerobic exercise with strength training.
Cost: A walk-in Zoom class is $25 and a $46 weekly pass includes two classes and a 30-minute one-on-one coaching session.
Program: Check their Zoom schedule here.


Philosophy

What to expect: Philosophy owner Phil Ortwein rented dumbbells, dumbbells and kettlebells to his members to help with the online move. That means it’s able to offer a huge range of virtual classes, from yoga to box fit, as well as targeted weight training sessions aimed at tightening abs, lifting booties and sculpting hard abs.
First class: Jill Saltzman’s Strength Bootcamp will push your muscles to their limit using a mix of weights and bodyweight exercises. Her eagle eyes aren’t hampered by webcams — she’s quick to fix form, even on Zoom.
Cost: $25 per walk-in virtual class or $120 for a five-class pack.
Program: Between two and four live Zoom classes per day. Class reservations are made via the Philosophy Fitness app. See the program here.

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