Life / Health

How to break a sweat while you break up the same old gym routine

With many gyms in Toronto crowded thanks to the onslaught of “January Joiners,” Metro decided to try a couple of alternative fitness options.

Tired of the same Top 40 songs while waiting for a turn on the elliptical? Luckily, you have options if you want a high-energy alternative workout in Toronto.

Ira Lamcja/ Metro

Tired of the same Top 40 songs while waiting for a turn on the elliptical? Luckily, you have options if you want a high-energy alternative workout in Toronto.

What: Daybreaker — 6 a.m. Dance Party
Sweat factor: Medium
Price: $$    
Would return: Definitely

A handful of people are crowded outside the entrance of a club on King Street West. The dress code is a mix of patent platform shoes, neon tights, sneakers and glitter.

It’s 5:45 a.m. and no, this isn’t the spillover from a rave the night before: We’re here for a yoga class and dance party before everyone shuffles off to work for the day.

Inside The Spoke Club, a guy in Hammer pants with international flags on them checks the guest list on his phone. “Boom! You’re in!” he shouts.

As people pile in, it quickly becomes hard to find room for a yoga mat. “There’s space for one more human here,” the instructor says, motioning in front of a DJ near the stage.

After an hour of easy yoga — sun salutations before the sun has even come up — we skip Savasana and instead partner up with a stranger to try the double chair pose for a little friendly competition with the rest of the approximately 150 people in the room.

After rolling up my mat I cheers with a shot of cold-brew coffee with my partner, grab a bottle of water and start dancing.

The music was a mix of EDM and pop, and surprises included a brass band busting through the dance floor, and the yoga instructor putting on a light show.

Daybreaker started in Brooklyn, and is now held in 15 cities around the world (in Canada, this includes Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver is coming soon). Cost varies between $25 to $35, and the next event in Toronto is Feb. 14, with the theme called Love Lockdown.

You’ll be buzzing with good vibes all day.  

What: Olympic-style weightlifting
Where: Kanama High Performance, Toronto
Sweat factor: High
Price: $$$$  
Would return: Yes

In the dojo-like space at Kanama High Performance, novices and national champions alike dedicate themselves to performing the two movements that make up Olympic weightlifting: the snatch and the clean and jerk.

For anyone not up on their terminology: both involve using explosive strength to bring a weighted barbell from the floor to a static position held over your head, all in one fluid motion. Even the beginner class at Kanama had a serious, stoic vibe to it.

Surrounded by an open, minimalist gym thick with chalk dust and adorned with multi-coloured bumper plates, the class was a quiet one at first. Silence punctuated by crashing barbells made up the soundtrack until the warmups ended. Then came the music — EDM and trance.

The session I attended was made up of four lifters (including myself), all young men.

Not once during the hour and a half class did the three other students congregate to chit chat or pull out their phones and text. Each one was solely focused on their little square of the gym and their own weightlifting form.

While some at Kanama are training for medals, those in the introductory class are there to learn under coach Rich Davidson — a competitive athlete at the national level.

Davidson first assesses your fitness and mobility level, then works to improve those while building the foundational movements for Olympic lifts.

Rich Davidson assesses your fitness and mobility level before you get a shot at the weights.

Ira Lamcja/ Metro

Rich Davidson assesses your fitness and mobility level before you get a shot at the weights.

This means breaking them down to their component movements, and practising those. Think of it like learning individual chords before putting together a song.

Davidson had me use a standard 45 lb Olympic bar with either no additional weight, or just a few 10 lb plates. The idea at first is to fine tune your weightlifting form — not heave enormous amounts of iron to boost your ego.

Cost is $200 to $350 per month, so the class is only for those who are ready to commit to heavy lifting.

Coach Rich Davidson started Colin on a standard 45 lb Olympic bar.

Ira Lamcja/ Metro

Coach Rich Davidson started Colin on a standard 45 lb Olympic bar.

The idea is to fine-tune your weightlifting form, Rich Davidson says, not to boost your ego.

ira Lamcja/ Metro

The idea is to fine-tune your weightlifting form, Rich Davidson says, not to boost your ego.

Want to learn more about training at Kanama High Performance? You can visit their website at kanamahp.com.

Ira Lamcja/ Metro

Want to learn more about training at Kanama High Performance? You can visit their website at kanamahp.com.

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