Not into hanging out at the gym? Neither are we. The good news (or bad news, if you’re trying to make excuses) is that there are tons of other ways to get in shape, especially with summer on the way. And it doesn’t have to feel like a chore. To help you get off the couch, and feel a little better about indulging in fried foods and festival beers all summer long, we’ve put together a part two of the best gym-free ways to stay fit in Toronto.
Join a running club
Running seems to be gaining a lot of traction among urban dwellers, and it’s no wonder why: it can be done almost anywhere and minimal gear is required, making it a lot more accessible than most outdoor activities. It’s also something you can indulge in solo or with a group of friends. If you’re feeling social, or need something to stay motivated, try joining a running club like Parkdale Roadrunners, Nike Run Club, or Toronto Beaches Running Club (to name just a few). It’s not only a great way to get yourself out there and meet other runners, but if you’re a newbie, groups like these can teach you how to warm up and pace yourself, so you can push it without pulling a muscle.
Hit the Harbourfront
We can’t think of a better way to spend a summer evening than being out on the lake gazing back at the city. But you don’t need a yacht or sailboat to take in Toronto’s killer skyline, and it can even be part of your workout. Every Thursday and Friday evening from June to September, the Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Centre offers “social paddles,” where you can rent a paddleboard or kayak for a discounted price. You’ll paddle with a small crew to Centre Island, which will help strengthen your core and give you a gorgeous view of the city as the sun starts to set. As an extra perk, when you land back at the Harbourfront, beef and veggie burgers will be cooking on a nearby grill.
Take an outdoor yoga class
Flow Active, an activewear store in Bloor West Village, offers free yoga in High Park every Sunday starting in June. If you can pull yourself out of bed and make it to the north end of the park by 10 a.m., you’ll find about 50 to 100 other yogis laying their matts on the grass in a semi-circle around the day’s instructor. But despite the crowd, the sprawling outdoor setting means there’s tons of room to perfect your poses, without worrying about hitting your neighbour. They even set up speakers, so if you’re new to the practice, you’ll have no trouble hearing the instructor. Flow Active partners with a variety of studios and independent instructors, so you can expect a new style of yoga every week.
Combine the two
Think you’ve mastered yoga or balancing on your paddleboard? If either of those activities isn’t challenging enough for you, try combining the two. SUPGirlz, which welcomes males and females, offers on-the-water paddleboard yoga classes off Kew Balmy Beach, so you can perfect your downward dog with the ducks. If you’re willing to commit, you could also try their Social and Fitness series, where they try something new on the board every week, from yoga and pilates to hula hooping and high heels.
Do the backstroke
Summer’s almost here and forecasters are predicting a scorcher. If you’ve been dreaming about the beach all winter, why not work on your bod while there? Despite some local skeptics, Toronto’s waters are great for swimming. In fact, eight of the city’s 11 beaches have received the internationally recognized Blue Flag approval, meaning they meet a strict set of environmental and safety criteria. Cherry Beach, Hanlan’s Point, and Woodbine Beach are just a few that offer clean, shallow waters for perfecting your backstroke. And if the weather isn’t ideal, Toronto is also home to 65 indoor pools. Just like the beach, they’re free (or only require a very small fee), so there’s no need to get a gym membership to do laps.
Learn to fight
Build muscle and confidence while learning how to defend yourself in martial arts classes. There are multiple styles of martial arts, so if you’d like to try out a place before making any commitments, most offer free trial periods. You’ll find out pretty quickly that it’s not for the faint of heart, which is one reason it can be so rewarding if you stick with it. If you’re up for the challenge, you can find locations at nearly every end of the city. Hoping to spar close to Toronto’s core? Check out Krudar Muay Thai in Kensington, Toronto BJJ across from Christie Pitts, Krav Maga Toronto on Dundas West, or Elite Martial Arts on the Esplanade.
Dance like Beyonce
Sweat it out and learn how to shake it on the dancefloor? Talk about killing two birds with one stone. But at Elevation Dancentre near Bloor and Dovercourt, you don’t just learn how to dance well—you learn how to dance like Queen Bey. The two-hour dance classes—also known as “Beyography” classes—take place a couple of times a week, and will teach you the moves to Beyonce hits like “Freakum Dress,” “Single Ladies,” and “Run the World (Girls).” And the best part? It’s only $20 per class.
(Main image courtesy of Harbourfront Canoe & Kayak Centre`s Facebook)