“Not all sweat is created equal” may be a saying that Gatorade coined, but it sure is the truth. Be it clammy hands on a first date or those nervous beads along your forehead before a big meeting are the types of perspiration that make you feel weak, but a hard-earned sweat while working on your fitness is a different story.
Throw on your favourite moisture-wicking t-shirt and get ready for the best kind of sweat: one found at the best gyms and studios in the GTA. And remember: there are few things that look as good on a person as the rosy cheeks and dewy glow that can only come from a solid workout.
These 45-minute classes are no joke. With motivational instructors, great playlists, and all-around smiles, SoulCycle has become an iconic brand, even being featured in a Chainsmokers music video starring instructor Karyn Nesbit. And the party really heats up in Toronto; they bump the tunes in Yorkville and on King. With expertly-crafted playlists, occasional themes, and so many tapbacks, you’re in for constant exertion during these fun-loving but hardcore cycling classes.
With neon signs that flash out sayings like "Namaste Bitches" and exposed brick in the lobby, this is a hot yoga studio with a cool-kid identity. Gracing TO since January 2017, Pure Yoga’s Liberty Village classes are popular without being packed. And with instructors who are well-loved and established in the city’s yoga community, you can expect thoughtful sequencing and careful breakdowns of poses throughout your flow.
The MISFIT method is described by owner and creator Amber Joliat as a mind-body-soul experience, but you have to try it to know what she means. MISFITSTUDIO's unique studio in Toronto’s West End on Ossington offers over 65 classes per week. Trendy, soulful, and artistic, their programming fuses yoga, Pilates, and dance to take your workout to a deeper level. If you need a tip, when on the hunt for a really, really intense workout, your best bets will be Get Hot and Get Up, both cardio-intensive, full-body workouts with a hint of dance.
This welcoming studio in the Annex (or further afield in Oakville) will greet you with good vibes and honest intentions. And while Kula offers both heated and non-heated classes, we say you gotta get heated — even a beginner class of sun salutations and cool-down stretches is sure to get you a good sweat. But if you really want hot, the Hot Core might be one of the best and sweatiest classes in the city. Expect to see fellow yogis peeling off their t-shirts throughout class, taking water breaks, and wiping down sweaty forearms with towels as they attempt to hit a crow pose.
On the scene as of fall 2017, international phenomenon Barry's Bootcamp has wasted no time in making its signature HIIT experience the talk on the town. The Richmond and Yorkville outposts provides the same red-lit room, luxe amenities, treadmills, floor-based strength work, and quality instruction made famous by studios in Los Angeles, NYC, and London. With a different focus on the body each day (for example, Monday is Arms & Abs day), you'll definitely be coming back for more. Fitt Tip: stop by the Fuel Bar to grab a nourishing smoothie on the way out.
Are you a risk-taker? Do you love a good thrill? If so, we recommend dropping in for a climb at Basecamp for your next workout. This Bloor Street West climbing gym, formerly home to Toronto’s last adult film cinema, still has the marquee out front but inside, the blue and green 40-foot-tall walls are a little more PG. Flat climbs and easier routes are set up for beginner climbers as well as more challenging overhang climbs for the experts. But if you’ve never belayed before, sign up for a two-hour intro session that includes a harness and shoe rental.
Studio Lagree has a reputation for offering some of the hardest “Pilates” classes in the city. In truth, the classes are a blend of Pilates, cardio, and strength training, the unique creation of Sebastien Lagree. Approved by celebrities like Sofia Vergara and Kim Kardashian (and us, for what it’s worth), you’ll combine strength, endurance, core, and flexibility in one session. Take a class at any of their GTA studios and try out their moves like the “spider kick”, “flying scrambled eggs”, and “bear hug” on the Megaformer, the machine used during workouts to challenge and tone all muscle groups.
Finding one class that fits everyone’s fitness goals is a challenge, but Totum‘s five TO studios rock a packed schedule of classes in all varieties, from cycling to full-body bootcamp. Whether you want to work your upper-body strength in a TRX class or build some technique with boxing, you’re in for one heck of a muscle burn. Oh, and their 30-minute Shred class is crazy — a non-stop circuit using both bodyweight and free weights; it’s one of the sweatiest they’ve got.
Fit Factory Fitness's downtown studio has the urban-industrial feel, and they carry that vibe through their hardcore HIIT, boxing, and strength-focused workouts. Split between two rooms—the "Skill Room" and the "Drill Room", your workout with these high-energy instructors could lead you to the line of water-filled punching bags, bodyweight training between graffitied pillars, or some serious strength work with barbells, kettlebells, weighted sleds, and more. Every class, as you'll see, brings with it a rush of endorphins and lots of sweat. Fitt Tip: you might want to invest in a pair of boxing gloves unless you want to rent or buy theirs.
This sleek luxury gym (on Bay Street or in Yorkville) is perfect for those who like their workouts to be high-end; picture state-of-the-art equipment and trainers who really know what they’re doing. And the signature classes are hard to beat — take Precision Running (an hour-long, instructor-led class on the treadmill that plays with speed and incline to keep things interesting), Firestarter (30 minutes of cardio HIIT training with non-stop movements and innovative sequences), or the Ropes and Rowers (get comfortable on that rowing machine, folks).
This community space on Ossington doesn’t have fancy equipment. Instead, expect to pick up a keg or push a tire to get your body working. Created by friends Dhani Oks and Sohail Bastani, they encourage their group not to focus on fitness but on pure athleticism — and everyone can be an athlete here. CrossFit, the famed functional strength and conditioning program, may be intimidating to some, but Academy of Lions makes their approach as welcoming as possible, even offering a free class to come and try it out.
BOLO’s a boxing studio, blowout bar, and cafe all in one. What started as a pop-up has turned into a permanent location on Richmond & Peter streets, and they’re now one of the hottest workouts in the city. If you’ve done a session in their "hot room", you’ll know what we’re talking about! Though, if punching bags aren't really your thing, they also offer a variety of high-intensity circuit training and yoga that integrates boxing-inspired moves. Just make sure you stop by the cafe on your way out for a refuel; you’re going to need it.
Looking for an effective, high-intensity workout but always short on time? F45 might be the right fit. You’ll be in for 45 (sweaty) minutes of functional training that includes both strength and cardio. But you won’t be seeing ellipticals or treadmills on the floor; think kettlebells, hammers, ladders, ropes, boxes. There’s lots of room for creativity, so even if you’re used to a regular gym, you’re sure to be in for something new here. With over 3,000 different exercises and counting, the only thing that actually stays the same is the intensity. Bring a fellow fitness fiend and prepare for a motivating atmosphere and hardcore workout that surely will have you hooked! They are literally all over the city, so an F45 won’t be hard to find.
Ride Cycle Club has something that's hard to put into words: it could be called swagger and it might be influence. But whatever it is—with the curated playlists, amped up instructors, and micro-movements on the bike—you'll be locked in during your ride. Their Ossington studio offers classes from 45 minutes to a marathon-like 75-minute session, but no matter which you pick, the time always seems to fly by!
Known for being the first indoor rowing gym in the country, Jarvis St.’s SCULLHOUSE offers a unique rowing-based workout that’s high-intensity yet low-impact. Regardless of your fitness skills or rowing experience, their classes are pretty much accessible to everyone. Much like your fave boutique studio, each class has a different focus — they offering everything from restorative rowing (half rowing, half yoga) to Core Row, Classic Row, and more. It’s also founded by former Canadian National Team Rower Kristin Jeffery, so you can be sure you’ll be getting in an elite sweat.
**Updated April 2019.