The most intense at-home fitness classes from Toronto gyms for adrenalin junkies
Gyms are closed again, but a host of them are offering online workouts—from restorative yoga to gut-wrenching HIIT sessions—that will keep Omicron-induced existential angst at bay. Here are our favourite sweat-inducing sessions.
What to expect: Academy of Lions has adapted CrossFit for those stuck at home with no equipment on hand. Expect daily workouts that challenge strength and cardio endurance with burpees, squat variations and skipping. Regulars without home weights can get creative for floor-to-overhead movements using things like laundry detergent jugs and sacks of flour.
Top class: Learn how to walk on your hands by taking one of the Academy’s gymnastic handstand classes.
Cost: Free drop-in classes, or $135 for a Zoom monthly membership.
Schedule: See schedule here.
What to expect: This downtown gym has some of the best-produced and varied videos in the city. Workouts range from 45-minute HIIT sessions (featuring tuck jumps, mountain climbers and boxing combos) to slow yoga flows. For those with a stationary bike, they also offer Spin classes.
Top class: George Chaker’s Booty HIIT and Core HIIT classes aim to lift your butt or sculpt out abs in just 35 minutes, combining strength exercises and cardio bursts for optimal results.
Cost: $10 per online class, or unlimited access to S&T’s library of more than 2,000 classes for $19 per month.
Schedule: See the live Zoom class schedule here.
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 that aspiring athletes never plateau. Equipment—including dumbbells and a heavy weight, such as a kettlebell—is recommended.
Top class: One Academy co-founder Jesse Bruce (one of Canada’s top obstacle course racers) offers a weekly Everest class: a 75-minute marathon of structured HIIT circuits designed to fatigue just about every muscle of the human body. He’s an Energizer Bunny of pure, unfettered enthusiasm.
Cost: $16 per class or $89 a month for unlimited virtual and on-demand classes.
Schedule: See class schedule here.
View this post on Instagram
What to expect: Misfit has shuttered their Ossington studio and reinvented itself as an online-only offering, featuring dance-infused workouts that combine Pilates, yoga, and traditional exercises like squats and curls.
Top class: Their Shifted class will have you moving with intention and intensity. Expect jumping jacks, climbers and dance-like movements to get that glazed-doughnut glow.
Cost: $50 for five live Zoom classes, or $20 for Misfit’s on-demand video library featuring more than 250 pre-recorded classes.
Schedule: Weekly schedule available here; on-demand classes here.
What to expect: Body Mason’s Pilates classes bring the burn without any high-impact jumps—both your knees and your downstairs neighbours will thank you. The gym has streamlined their offerings down to three no-equipment-needed mat classes: one for beginners, the other for Pilates vets, and one that’s a happy middle ground.
Top class: Body Mason founder and retired modern dancer Emma-Kate Millar offers an energetic Body Conditioning Mat II class, which aims to build long, elegant muscles while correcting alignment and muscular imbalances. For those with nagging injuries, she suggests useful modifications.
Cost: $15 per Zoom class or a $99-per-month unlimited online membership, which comes with access to Body Mason’s video library of more than 200 pre-recorded classes.
Schedule: One to two classes per day; schedule available here.
What to expect: Contemporary dancer Ming-Bo Lam founded this on-demand dance, fitness, yoga and meditation online class repository at the beginning of the pandemic. The website—which lets you browse by difficulty level and class length—also offers mindful movement sessions to get you stretched and limber.
Top class: Lam’s Contemporary Choreo classes make dance approachable and fun—even for those with toddler-level coordination. These follow-along sweat sessions will get your blood pumping, and might even teach you a few moves to bust out when we can all go dancing again.
Cost: $5 per month gets you unlimited access to more than 70 videos.
Schedule: The on-demand catalogue can be found here.
What to expect: Box-fit training matches jabs, crosses and hooks with up-tempo beats. Undrcard strikes a good balance between technique-focused breakdowns and high-velocity cardio movements meant to push heart rates into the stratosphere. The gym closed its Toronto location last year, but it’s still going online.
Top class: Head Trainer David “Wild” Rose (no relation to Dan Levy’s Schitt’s Creek alter ego) kicks off his Boxing HIIT class with shadow skipping before progressing into punches and footwork. If the non-stop punching, pivoting, and slipping isn’t enough to make you break a sweat, the planks, jump squats, and plyo lunges surely will.
Cost: $24 per live class, $29 a month for an Undrcard Anytime membership with unlimited access to on-demand workouts.
Schedule: See the live class schedule here; on-demand classes are posted here.
What to expect: In its brick-and-mortar incarnation, Elle is a women-only gym in the Fashion District; online, they’re open to anyone who wants to sculpt a bubble butt. Classes range from weights-only strength sessions to equipment-free cardio classes.
Top class: There’s a reason co-owner Michelle Epstein’s 45-minute Bootcamp Class has become a pandemic favourite. This high-intensity, circuit-based class will leave you smiling from the endorphin rush—that is, after you catch your breath.
Cost: Pay-as-you-go for $5 per class, or access to their live classes and on-demand library for $20 per month.
Schedule: Find their weekly live class schedule here.
What to expect: A diverse crew of coaches with backgrounds in everything from gymnastics to boxing specialize in no-equipment classes that run the gamut from high impact (like Bodyweight HIIT) to low (like Power Pilates).
Top class: Any class from Harmony owner Ali Lubin is going to be a heart-racing blast. Lubin has a deep well of creative exercise moves, which means her classes are always fresh, fun and engaging.
Cost: $27 per class or $240 for 10 classes.
Schedule: Multiple Zoom classes offered throughout the day; check out the schedule here. You can also purchase pre-recorded classes starting at $10 through the website.
What to expect: This gym is dedicated to providing space for all bodies, regardless of age, income, gender or athletic history.
Top class: Designed to kick your metabolism into gear, Unchained founder Eddy Bucardo’s MetCon classes combine high-intensity anaerobic exercises with weight training.
Cost: A drop-in Zoom class is $25, and a $46 weekly pass includes two classes and a 30 minute one-on-one coaching session.
Schedule: Check out their Zoom schedule here.
What to expect: Philosophy owner Phil Ortwein rented out dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells to his members to facilitate the move online. That means he’s able to offer an expansive range of virtual classes, from yoga to box fit, as well as targeted strength sessions aimed at tightening cores, lifting booties and sculpting rock-hard abs.
Top class: Jill Saltzman’s Strength Bootcamp will push your muscles to their limit using a mix of weights and bodyweight exercises. Her eagle eyes are unfettered by webcams—she’s quick to correct form, even over Zoom.
Cost: $25 per drop-in virtual class, or $120 for a five class pack.
Schedule: Between two and four live Zoom classes a day. Booking for the classes is done through Philosophy Fitness’s app. See the schedule here.