Toronto's best online fitness classes

Let’s Get Digital

Cardio, bodybuilding, yoga and body-weight blasts, all streamed directly into the comfort of your living room

By Jean Grant| Photograph by Jess Baumung
| September 15, 2020

Working out at home has never been easier. These homegrown fit freaks are streaming their sweat sessions, and the masses are tuning in. Here are nine reasons why you should, too.

Toronto's best online fitness classes
Maddie Lymburner, free

Workout style: Accessible and fun, with minimal equipment Signature move: Mountain climber. “It’s a full-body exercise with a focus on the core” How to stay fit during a pandemic: “Moving your body in any way you enjoy is so important. You don’t need fancy equipment to feel good”

“I was a competitive dancer growing up, and in 2018, when I was about 22, I started posting YouTube fitness videos. They caught people’s attention, and I hit a million subscribers a year ago. By the time the pandemic hit and gyms closed, I had built up a huge library of no-equipment workouts, and my following jumped to 4.5 million. Recently, I started posting more dance-inspired workouts set to popular songs. My followers have said those videos are the ultimate escape from what’s going on in the world.”

Toronto's best online fitness classes
Photo by Noel Araquel
Ivana Krunic & Jesse Dunphy

@fitsqr, free;, $39.75 per month

Workout style: High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and cardio Signature move: Ivana: Deadlift. “I’m all about efficiency.” Jesse: Squat press. “It’s an explosive, full-body movement” How to stay fit during a pandemic: Ivana: “Schedule your workout and treat it like an appointment.” Jesse: “What you eat is also important. Avoid the snack aisle”

Jesse: “A mutual friend introduced us in March 2019 because he knew we both wanted to move into fitness. We met for coffee and decided to open our own training studio, Fitsqr, in Yorkville.” Ivana: “We opened in January, but had to close permanently in April. Now we do workouts on Instagram Live and upload all the videos to our website, where we run a subscription-based service. We wanted our workouts to focus on body sculpting and fat burning—you only need 30 minutes. We can reach so many more people online than we ever could with our gym.”

Toronto's best online fitness classes
Kenzie Forbes

@kenziefitness_, free

Workout style: A mix of cardio, bodybuilding, HIIT, Pilates and yoga Signature move: Pull-ups. “Because they make me feel strong” How to stay fit during a pandemic: “Make sure whatever you do is sustainable. Try different activities until you find something you enjoy that’s easy to stick to”

“Three years ago, I was introduced to weight training as a way to recover from an eating disorder. I started an Instagram page where I’d post workouts. They were terrible quality, but people were receptive, and I gained 10,000 followers in my first year. Covid has been the busiest period of my career by far. I wasn’t prepared for how crazy it would be. Apart from Instagram, I create customized training regimens for clients, and I couldn’t keep up, so I’m working on developing an app. I also sell my own line of resistance bands. My April restock of 5,000 sold out in six hours.”

Toronto's best online fitness classes
Photo by Patrick K. Leung
Queenie & Jonathan Phair

@phairyoga, free; Zoom, $45 per month

Yoga style: Vinyasa (Queenie) and restorative (Jonathan) Signature pose: Jonathan: Twists and binds. “I like to be wrapped in interesting shapes” How to stay fit during a pandemic: Queenie: “Be compassionate with yourself. It’s okay to not have the motivation to do what you used to do”

Jonathan: “We went to the same university, but fell in love when we were both working in Asia after graduating. Queenie took me to my first yoga class in Shanghai.” Queenie: “We moved back to Toronto in 2015 and started teaching yoga and running yoga retreats in Morocco and Peru. Now we’re offering free classes over Instagram, as well as paid Zoom classes for clients. Yoga’s all about deep inhales and exhales, which isn’t exactly Covid-friendly in studios.”

Toronto's best online fitness classes
Photo by Amin Photo by Amin
Beverley Cheng

@beverleycheng, free

Workout style: Powerful, functional exercises Signature move: Pull-ups. “Women are just as strong as men” How to stay fit during a pandemic: “Follow people who inspire you with positivity—not a 24-inch waist and big butt”

“I played competitive rugby until the end of university. After that, I got a job in insurance. In 2014, I started a fitness blog. Three years later, I was making as much from Instagram sponsorships as I was from my day job, so I quit. When gyms closed in March, I started posting free workouts on my Instagram. I’m also working on a fitness retreat in December, with 10 people at a huge lodge in B.C., where it’s easy to social distance.”

Toronto's best online fitness classes
Photo by Jess Baumung
Sasha Exeter

@sashaexeter, free

Workout style: HIIT and strength training Signature move: Squats. “It makes me feel powerful” How to stay fit during a pandemic: “Don’t pay attention to trends. Instead of running, hiking or walking 10,000 steps a day can be an effective workout as well”

“Growing up, I played tennis at the international level. After I was on bed rest with a kidney disease in 2009, I started a fashion and beauty blog as an outlet. After a year, I began sharing about my condition and return to normal life. The pandemic has been challenging because I’ve had to shoot all my content without my great team of photographers and stylists. People like a glimpse into your real life, especially when you’re a single mom to a toddler. Other parents feel less alone when they see me going through similar challenges.”

Toronto's best online fitness classes
Katie Crewe

@katiecrewe, free

Workout style: Strength training Signature move: Push-ups. “When I’m not pregnant, I can do all kinds of silly versions like clapping and superman push-ups” How to stay fit during a pandemic: “Be realistic and listen to your body. You don’t need to always have super-intense workouts”

“I was an active kid but became sedentary in university without scheduled sports and activities. Afterwards, I made it my mission to get back into shape. I became a fitness coach in 2016 and started sharing my work on Instagram. I realized my workout videos were doing really well and started doing more of them, keeping the vibe approachable and goofy. These days, with Covid and being eight months pregnant, I’m encouraging physical movement but not trying to push anything too intense. The pandemic has made me more empathetic to the struggle to get motivated.”

Toronto's best online fitness classes
Saman Munir

@sfm_fitness, free

Workout style: HIIT combined with body-weight exercises Signature move: Push-ups. “All the way. They’re fast and effective for building strength” How to stay fit during a pandemic: “Have a positive mindset. There are always going to be tough times, but it’s important not to give up”

“I began making hijabi beauty tutorials on YouTube eight years ago. When my third child turned four, I hit the gym to get back in shape. My husband mentioned that there weren’t many Muslim fitness influencers, so I posted my workouts, too. I enjoyed it way more than the beauty stuff. My following spiked two years ago, when I collaborated with sportswear brand Under Armour. I helped them develop a sports hijab, which came out in August. I got my personal training certification a year ago, and I have 13 regular clients—11 of whom signed up during the pandemic.”

Toronto's best online fitness classes
Joanna Wilcox

@ketoincanada, free

Workout style: Strength training Signature move: Handstands. “They require strength and balance. Plus they look cool” How to stay fit during a pandemic: “Don’t go back to the gym if you don’t feel comfortable. Walking is super underrated, especially when combined with simple body-weight exercises”

“In December 2016, I saw an emotional eating counsellor and started a fitness Instagram to stay accountable. I ended up losing 60 pounds in my first year and gained 60,000 followers. They connect with me because I’m a regular person—I’ve never been an athlete. I’m just fighting the good fight and trying to stay active and healthy as I get older.”


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