For those of you who’ve been following my fitness journey closely from losing 100+ lbs, to running the Scotiabank Toronto full marathon, you’ll know that my health and fitness are my priorities numero uno.
But after months of doing the same types of exercises at home, I decided my workout routine needed some spice.
As you may know, earlier this year when my heartmate and I left our condo and moved into our home in Toronto, we lost the building amenities such as our gym, steam room, yoga room and sauna. *Cringe* we sound so spoiled, but it wasn’t like that — the building wasn’t fancy or anything, it was like most newer Toronto condo developments, which include full amenities.
With that said, for the past six months or so I’d been working out in our basement with some equipment we purchased. A bench, plated weights, yoga mats, some dumbbells, and ankle weights (for those work-from-home days).
Normally, my workout of choice is running. But that type of receptive motion can only develop my body in a limited way. Specifically, it strengthens my legs, core and glutes, but lacks in the general upper body department.
When my heartmate and I first moved to Toronto, I joined a yoga studio and fell in love with it. I coupled three runs per week with three hot yoga classes. It seems solo-style workouts were more my thing, opposed to group activity and class-based fitness. And I actually think this is quite typical behaviour for a self-proclaimed perfectionist — only being able to compete with yourself (consciously I know there’s no such thing as attaining perfection, so I’m working on going with the flow more).
Funnily enough, this year was the first year I started phasing out a lot of those cardio-based workouts in lieu of more weights-based and plyometric training. And, after six months of doing the same types of workouts, mostly basement weighted workouts + bodyweight plyometrics, I wasn’t seeing the results I‘d expected to see.
This sparked my desire to integrate more dynamic and group-based fitness classes into my workout regimen. I knew I needed to spice things up, just like with any routine you might fall into. I needed to move my body in new and challenging ways, and maybe group-based classes would motivate me further. Maybe.
What initially brought me in through the doors of Equinox Yorkville, was the launch of a new workout class: Pilates Remix.
The marketing and PR team reached out asking if I’d like to attend, and the timing was perfect. Goodbye old habits, hello new challenges. What started with sampling one class, developed into five. Maybe it was my addictive personality, maybe it was the endorphins or my love for fitness and personal development. All I know is that the first class I tried, Pilates Remix, was challenging (in a good way), and the Equinox facilities were conducive to personal progress — in all ways.
I thought I’d share my honest review of the classes that I tried here for anyone who might be considering joining an Equinox or trying some of the classes out for themselves.
Pilates Remix at Equinox
The ultimate core workout. Throughout the class I literally felt every core muscle imaginable burning up. It was surprisingly more challenging than I expected. I figured after my years of yoga practice that this class would be a cinch, but it was just different. More up-tempo, more high-rep circuit style training, and holding positions that strengthen the core muscle group. We also worked our glutes, legs, and upper body throughout the workout, but the crux of it was centred around developing a stronger core and improving your balance.
True Athlete at Equinox
I had absolutely zero expectations going into this class. And in full honesty, what drew me in was the name, lol! I remember reading it and saying to myself; “What other kind of athlete is there? I want to be a true athlete”! The day I tried this class, as I approached the front desk of the gym to check in, the class instructor was there; Sylva. The first thing I noticed was how fit she was and how sculpted her arms were. We chatted briefly about the class. She told me to grab a “weighted club” and to get ready for one of the most intense classed I’d ever try.
Sylva was right, it was intense, and was unlike any class I’d ever taken before. I couldn’t even conceive some of the workouts we did. The “weighted club” was used to train us the same way athletes train. The class combined circuit training with high-pressure and high-intensity moves using the club. It challenged my core, my upper body, and helped improve my range of motion. This class was one of those where you feel the burn the entire next day. I liked it, a lot. Truly. I liked that it was unique and trained muscle groups that wouldn’t normally be challenged from the basic bench-pressing or jump squats, you know?
Boxing at Equinox
Holy burn. This Boxing Class at Equinox was my first ever boxing class, and I’d always wanted to try a good one. It just always looks so bad-ass when you see a boxer training. And honestly, this class was equally challenging as True Athlete. It was also very intense, and similar in that it centred around high-rep moves. I’m not even kidding when I say that I thought the warm up was the workout. I thought I was going to die, literally, within the first 15 minutes. I was so out of breath and for the most part, all I was doing was punching a bag! Though, that’s not all we did.
What I loved about this class was the dynamic nature of all the moves. It combined solo punching bag workouts with pairing up with a buddy and practicing moves on each other. We also used medicine balls passed back and forth as we did crunches. We strengthened our upper body with a variety of pushup style workouts, and we incorporated on the spot cardio with high-rep leg movements.
Jock Yoga at Equinox
I’d heard from the team at Equinox that this was one of their most popular classes (you could tell by the number of registrants – it was packed), but ultimately this class was just not for me. I said this would be an honest review so I just want to be straight up with you guys. It had nothing to do with the instructor, he was fab, and the pace of the class was challenging, again in a good way, but the workout style just didn’t jive with me — and that’s O.K.! Not every class will suit every person’s needs.
My perception of yoga is formed from all of my past experiences, and this was just unlike any of them. This was about integrating moves like pushups, plank, and high-rep core crunches vs a hot-yoga moksha or bikram method class. It was very structured, which I appreciated, but this class was really about the workout, vs the “honouring yourself” and “pushing further on the exhale” style of yoga class I was used to. I definitely recommend it for people who ARE looking for that added strength training and high-rep, high-intensity from their workouts, or maybe even for people who’ve never tried yoga before. Just be aware that the two are very different — both great in their own ways.
Ropes and Rowers at Equinox
This was the class I was looking forward to most. I’d heard really great things about it and truthfully, more than anything, I wanted to finally use those ropes! After attending all of the above classes, at this point I already felt like a true athlete, and I was ready to look like one as a I mastered this class. I didn’t master the class, lol! But it was the most fun!
The instructor, Mark, made all the difference. He was so involved and you could tell he was passionate about being there and helping us throughout the workouts. This was a pure HIIT circuit class that worked the full body, combining rowing machine exercises, weighted plyometric moves, and of course, the ropes. It was challenging but also so fun. This was also one of Equinox’s most popular classes, with actually more registrants than spots available in the class! I was lucky to get a spot!
So, are the classes at Equinox really worth it?
Given the fact that I can get Monica from Friends competitive, I didn’t really feel that way during the workouts. I was so focused on doing the moves correctly and keeping up with the pace of the classes and challenging my body in ways it wasn’t used to. The Equinox classes really shifted my mindset on group fitness.
Out of the classes I tried, the two that I loved most were the Ropes and Rowers, and True Athlete. But honestly each of them were great in their own ways.
I liked that I challenged myself this way. The early mornings, cold days, and making my way to the facilities downtown were all worth it. I could’ve stayed at home and worked out with the equipment we have, but I knew it wouldn’t result in developing myself on a more profound level. We grow from new experiences and challenging ourselves in different ways. Equinox facilitated this for me, and I would go back absolutely any day.
Nick Joly | Inspired by Nick
be good to your body