“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, we have all been subject to the type of perspiration we’d like to never experience again.
But a hard-earned sweat is what these Toronto studios promise to give you thanks to their packed schedules filled with killer workouts.
So, throw on your favourite moisture-wicking t-shirt and get ready for the best kind of sweat. 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 a well-known brand, even being featured in a Chainsmokers music video starring instructor Karyn Nesbit. And the party doesn’t stop in Toronto, they bump the tunes in Yorkville and on King Street. But don’t expect something that’s equivalent to the commuter bike ride to your friend’s BBQ — you’re in for constant exertion during these fun-loving but hardcore cycling classes.
“I went Wednesday and it kicked my butt… again.” It’s not uncommon to hear about these type of experiences at TKMT Downtown (check out their other studios uptown and on the Danforth!). But these irresistible, return journeys for more butt-kicking are a testament to the high-quality classes being offered at this studio. Their hour-and-a-half sweat session begin with all-levels conditioning, where you focus on building strength and stamina before splitting off. Don’t worry — they’ll make sure you are well prepared for the workout no matter what skill level you’re at: TKMT will have you take 10 beginner classes before moving on to anything more advanced.
This LA-based brand has expanded to Canada, bringing their Instagram-worthy aesthetic and fast-paced classes to TO. A combination of ballet and Pilates, Pop Physique is the perfect place if you’re looking for some full-body toning. And this may be the best part: curated playlists with all the latest hits will have you pulsing and tucking to all your favourite artists. At this boutique studio—with airy windows that let you check out the busy Yonge and St Clair are neighbourhood—you can expect to feel burning in muscles that you’ve never felt before.
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 as of 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. MISFITSTUDIO is a unique studio in Toronto’s West End, and between their two locations (both along Queen West, one at Bathurst and one on Ossington), they offer over 65 classes per week. Trendy, soulful, and artistic, this studio 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 bet will be Fusion or Get Sweaty BOSU. Bonus: working out in a converted church with a curated set-up of plants and a vintage photo collage is a pretty nice touch.
This welcoming studio in the Annex 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. And the Hot Core might be one of the best and sweatiest classes in the city — working your way to a peak pose under the careful guidance of the excellent instructor, this flow always delivers. 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.
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 in Forest Hill or King West 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.
Totum Life Science
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.
This sleek 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 classes, woah — take Precision Running (an hour-long instructor-lead 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).
Academy of Lions
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.
Get ready to feel empowered with SPINCO’s 50-minute intense workout on the bike. You’ll work your butt, core, and arms, and bring out the weights, too (this is a full-body muscle burn, folks). All the instructors have their own style and playlist, but you can always count on being motivated and energized. And if you’re unsure which instructor is best for you, they’ve got a new-rider special where you get to ride unlimited for two weeks! Check ’em out on Yonge St. and Spadina Ave.
The Attic at lululemon
lululemon is no longer your favourite yoga store (okay, it still is), but their Queen shop is also a community hub and yoga/fitness space. Unique to this location, The Attic offers a range of classes, including circuit training, HIIT, boxing, and even Drake Yoga (sorry, no actual Drake appearances). Fitness trainers from all over Toronto host classes here, so it’s a great way to get a feel for the city’s fitness community. And if running is your thing, they also have a free run club every Monday, rain or shine!
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 the hottest boxing gym in the city. If you’ve done a workout in their hot room you’ll know what we’re talking about! Though, if punching bags isn’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, ropex, 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.
Known as 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, on the joints. 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 a good sweat.
**Updated by Diana Ghidanac, October 2018