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Want to spend your lunch breaks hiking up heights of Kilimanjaro? In Toronto, that’s becoming a reality as one gym takes fitness to new heights. Altitude Athletic will be the country’s first facility to bring the mountains closer to you — it’s a high-altitude training concept simulating peak conditions in a room that’ll take your breath away.
Altitude training isn’t anything new and has generally been used by pro athletes who have access to high-tech equipment. And maybe you’ve seen an ultra-serious exerciser wearing an elevation mask on a run. Altitude Athletic, slated to open by the end of the year just steps from St. Lawrence Market, is proving it doesn’t just have to be for athletes who are competing at elevated levels but for anyone looking to improve any aspect of performance, whether it be speed, power, or endurance.
How does all of this work? Altitude Athletic has what are known as altitude chambers — tightly sealed rooms that reduce the concentration in the air to create a lack of oxygen, a “hypoxic environment” something like you might find a few thousand feet above sea level. Altitude Athletic explains it as “resistance training for your endurance” because, by reducing the oxygen percentage, you’re adding resistance to your workout. So, whether you’re on their outfit of Technogym bikes and treadmills or doing floor exercises, your heart will pump as if you’re doing a full-on HIIT class... but while only going at half the intensity.
Classes have altitudes from 6,000ft. all the way to 20,000ft., or you can train at a specific altitude of your choice. They’ve got everything from cardio-based classes with Altitude Spin and Altitude Run to strength-based classes, where you can train like a mountaineer and feel as if you’re climbing at Everest Base Camp (which sits at about 17,500ft.).
Altitude Athletics doesn’t just want to make you feel good physically but mentally too. That’s why the space is carefully designed to feel as peaceful as it would be at the top of a mountain peak. Sure, the views might not be the same as they are out West, but at least you don’t need to tread much further than downtown (near King and Church St, to be exact) to hit peak fitness. In addition, they’ve got all the necessary amenities — rain showers, towel and locker service, and a café to serve your pre- and post-fuel needs.
Classes aren’t in session yet, but you can already take a peek at their schedule to get a feel for what you can expect, and if you like what you see, membership sign-ups are live. We’ll see you at their Colbourne St base camp this fall; make sure to take a deep breath before coming in.