Rave: Getting in shape for spring

It’s finally getting warmer out, which means it’s time for all of us hibernators to get back into a real fitness
routine (don’t give us that look) so we can fit into our swimmers from last summer (remember those?). One of the easiest, most enjoyable ways to get into shape is to run. Time spent outside in the great outdoors, no gym fees and all you need are two feet and a heartbeat (well, and maybe a few other things). Here are some tips for getting into the runner’s groove and excited about running. It IS possible to be excited about running, we promise.

Start small, work up
Everyone says start slowly and work your
way up to being a long-distance (or short-distance) runner. Starting out with short bursts of speed has been proven to build momentum, so try jogging for three minutes and sprinting for one. Couch to 5K is a helpful downloadable program for
people starting from zero and implementing a fitness routine into their lives,
at their pace. 

Go from this…

…to this!
Pick a kick-ass playlist

     You know the difference between Norah Jones
and
Girl Talk? One makes you want to jump in a bubble bath, the other makes you
want to do everything at hyperspeed. A good playlist can really make the
difference between a good workout and a great one, so make sure you have tracks
with good beats.
Podrunner.com is a great website for downloading running mixes
– you can even choose music to go along with your pace. Music selections range from 120 to 181 BPM. 


Run with friends
You just can’t sleep in if it means your
friend is left at the end of your driveway. She’ll kill you. So get a foolproof
way to get out there on the track, the street, the gym, the treadmill… running with
friends allows you to catch up while burning serious calories.


Ever heard of The Color Run?  If you and your friends are feeling adventurous, head down to
Montreal on Saturday, August 17 for the most outrageous 5K you’ll ever
join. Participants are encouraged to wear white, so when completely doused with paint during the run they can take home a colourful keepsake at
the end. 

Keep it consistent
You can’t just run a 10K every time you feel the urge. No
matter how ready to run you feel, overexerting yourself will just hurt you in
the long run. So use an app or website like mapmyrun.com to log your runs
every day (or every other day, every three days, we’re not perfect), making sure you’re not overdoing it and track
your improvements over time.


Wear the right gear
We’ve all had running shoes that just ended
up doing more harm than good. Nobody likes blisters or bruises (it’s almost sandal season!) so making sure you have reliable footwear is really important. We like Reebok RealFlex Strength TR shoes – they provide traditional flexibility and lightweight feel, plus extra mid-foot stability. Forget Red Bull – these will give you wings. And they’re cute.



City Living: Barreworks

Recently, a few of us were invited to try out the brand-new ballet inspired workout at Barreworks, which just opened down the street from our office at Queen and Bathurst (625 Queen St. W.). We were thrilled to be invited – not only do we enjoy keeping fit, but we also love trying any new type of workout. Variety is the spice of life, after all. Plus we posted about ballet style workouts way back when, so are pumped there’s a new dedicated spot in Toronto. 



We were a bit nervous about trying it, since none of us are dancers. We were worried about not being coordinated enough to execute tricky moves, or graceful enough to stand at the barre without falling over (seriously). Our worries were all for naught – as soon as we stepped into the beautiful, high-ceilinged space, we were made to feel completely at ease. 

Can’t do this? Not to worry! You’ll still feel welcome & have a lovely workout.



We were given a quick tour of the various studios and WOW! If working out in a pretty setting is integral to your commitment to an exercise routine, then this has got to be one of the best spots in the city. Cool, neutral tones, warm wooden floors and lots of mirrors and windows take you away from the hustle and bustle of Queen Street. 


Our teacher, the very energetic Paulina, introduced herself to us and explained her background in dance, including classical ballet training and modern dance experience, and her current quest to become a personal trainer. She has some enviable muscle definition and is definitely an inspirational instructor. 

Get gams like these.



Paulina told us that we’d be doing the mixed level class, which is perfect for beginners and people of all fitness levels. It’s an hour-long class, but they also offer a speedy 40 minute version and in both versions, you can increase or decrease the difficulty pretty easily. We were all pretty stoked – a 40 minute workout class that’s literally a 2 minute walk from our office? Just about perfect. 


Each students uses two weighted balls, a resistance band and a small exercise mat, and takes position at the barre in front of a long wall of mirrors. Paulina put on some fun dance music and took us through a dance-inspired warm-up. At first, we were all like, “oh yeah, we can do this. No problem”. Then the real work began, and the sweat started dripping down our faces. 

Tools to help tone and strengthen your way to a dancer-esque body.



The workout is a really accessible combination of yoga, Pilates, dance, body weight and other fitness class moves – think lunges, squats, leg lifts, bicep curls with weighted balls, etc. The lovely thing about Barreworks is that you’re always moving, your heart is pounding, and you exercise your entire body in steps. The emphasis is always on standing tall, staying square and in line, and focusing on small, tight, controlled movements. 

This move seriously burns your legs and shoulders.

By the end of it, everyone in the class felt tired and sore, but in an endorphins-pumping sort of way. We bounced down the three flights of stairs, feeling like a million bucks. It was a fun, non-intimidating workout that flew by – which is the best kind. We’ve already booked our next classes (easy to do online or by calling the studio). Now to choose between YogaBarre, SpinBarre and the Express class…





Barreworks is open now. Monthly memberships start at $199 for unlimited classes, while drop-in classes are $21 and packages start at $95 for five classes. If you’re new, you can try your first class for just $10. More info here.



City Living: Spring sports in Toronto

It’s almost time to pack up those skis and skates, and dust off your tennis racquet, volleyball, and running shoes. For the competitive types out there, this is the time to sign up for leagues or join a club. There is no better way to meet new people and learn to master a sport. If competition is not your thing, there are plenty of courts, trails, and fields to hit up should you get the itch to be active.  

Team sports

A number of us have taken part in sports leagues around the city, and we can’t think of a more fun and productive way to spend our weekday nights. The Toronto Sport and Social Club and Not So Pro Toronto Sports are probably the most popular sports leagues in the city, offering everything from dodgeball to floor hockey to indoor and outdoor ultimate Frisbee. Whether you sign up with a group of friends or as an individual (prices vary depending on sport, venue, etc.), it’s guaranteed, cheap fun. Going for a couple beers with the team after never hurt anyone, either. 

Tennis

Depending on how picky you are when it comes to surface and court conditions, there is a huge range of options for playing tennis in Toronto. If you’re playing a casual game with a friend, there is no shortage of courts at public parks around the city. Sure, your court might be made of cement and the net made of metal, but there will always be space to be found. Trinity Bellwoods (Queen West), Ramsden (Rosedale) and Jimmy Simpson Park (Leslieville) are a few city parks where you can play tennis for free. 

If you’re looking for lessons, tournaments, a partner or simply some better quality courts, there are lots of tennis clubs around the city. Sir Winston Churchill Park Tennis Club (Spadina and St. Clair W.) and Kew Gardens Tennis Club (the Beaches) are both very affordable options. Mayfair Racquet and Fitness Club is popular as they have four locations around the city, and Greenwin Tennis Club (Mt. Pleasant and Davisville) is known for its great clinics.  

High five, sister.

Golf

So when we say golf, what we actually mean is the driving range. While we wish we could say we enjoy a good round of 18 holes, our skills and patience are not quite up to, um, par. Instead, we love a good afternoon working on our swing and going through as many baskets of balls as our wallets will allow. Our personal favourite is the two-level driving range at the Polson Pier, a.k.a. the Docks. While there’s nothing fancy about it, it’s easy to get to and has a lovely view of Lake Ontario. Other ranges in and around Toronto include the Beach Fairway Golf Range (Victoria Park Avenue just south of the Danforth) and Launch Golf Centre (Vaughan), which is conveniently open year round courtesy of the personal heaters in each stall. Memberships, lessons and private parties are also available, making this a pretty great golf destination if you’re willing to make the drive.

 Much harder than it looks.
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Running

One of the things we love most about the spring is being able to run outdoors again. Our personal go-to is The Beltline, which is a trail that spans 4.5 km from Mount Pleasant and Merton St. all the way up to the Allen. Ravines, the boardwalk in the beaches, and pretty much anywhere in the city with minimal pedestrian and vehicle traffic are great options as well. 

If you’re looking to get more serious, or for company while running, the Running Room offers great clinics. Most groups require a fee to participate, but we’ve found that there are a few sessions per week where you can tag along with running groups (usually groups training for a race) at no cost.

They look so happy.
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Whatever sport you choose, remember that exercise is key to a healthy heart, muscles, joints, and mind. Find something you love and it will be easier to stick with it.


 

Rave: Hot Pilates

After a busy couple of weeks packed solid with running around at events, eating at odd hours and pretty much living in heels, our bodies need a bit of TLC. Luckily, we’ve stumbled upon a new workout to whip us into shape – hot Pilates.

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One of the main goals of Pilates is to develop and strengthen your core, with the end result being a longer, leaner and more toned figure. Like the name suggests, hot Pilates integrates the basic principles of Pilates but is taught in a room between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius, just like hot yoga. It gets pretty toasty but is also kind of nice, especially as the temperature drops.

Turning up the heat promotes a deeper stretch and greater intensity, while simultaneously detoxifying your body. Not to mention that Pilates is a go-to workout for some of our favourite toned celeb bodies including Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and Anna Paquin, to name a few.

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Moksha Yoga Uptown (1498 Yonge St., second floor) offers hot Pilates and is pretty much as green as it gets, for all you eco-philes out there. From bamboo flooring and VOC-free paints to filtered faucets and green cleaning products, the studio prides itself on being eco-conscious.


One of their hot Pilates instructors, Anna, throws in a little humour during the class, which is much appreciated when trying to hold a plank for an extended period of time. Moksha Yoga offers a one-month unlimited pass for studio newbies at $40 and individual classes for $17. 

Tula Hot Yoga (three locations, Duncan/Richmond, Liberty Village, Bloor/Ossington) offers a hot Pilates class and hot pricing; your first class is $10, second is free and they offer a variety of packages including early bird and lunch cards.

iam yoga (661 Yonge St., Suite 300) has a Core Flow Class which incorporates “sun salutations and poses that strengthen the core connected by downward dog flows, influenced by Pilates core work.”  For first-timers, one week of unlimited classes runs for $20, with class card options (10 for $160) and memberships (one month for $175).

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If you’re unsure about getting started with an intense hot Pilates class, but still want to introduce Pilates into your life, head to Body Harmonics. It’s a wonderful studio with two downtown locations (672 Dupont St. and 488 Eglinton St.), and has a wide variety of classes to make sure that you’re beginning comfortably and properly. The welcome package is a good option – you can try out an unlimited number of classes for two weeks, and you’ll shell out $49.99.



There are a few supplies you’ll need for class including: a yoga mat, two towels and a reusable water bottle. New to the Pilates or yoga game? No worries – most places offer all of the above for purchase or rent. 


One last thing – make sure you hydrate! We know it can be tough, but knock back a glass of water (or three) before the class.  Trust us, you’ll be glad you did. 

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With all the water consumption and detoxing, our skin will love us…and if we get some sculpted abs in the process, we’re okay with that too.





Rave: Ballet-Style Workouts

While it’s not yet technically the “New Year”, there’s something about September that urges us to make a resolution and start fresh. Perhaps it’s that we still haven’t shaken the feeling of going back to school and starting with a blank slate. Whatever the reason, our resolution this fall is to jump back on the workout wagon, because let’s face it, somewhere between burgers and beer at the cottage and many late, cocktail-filled nights on patios this summer, we fell off. 

Normally, this would sound like a drag, but we’ve found a cool new workout trend called The Bar Method that will get you sweating and feeling nostalgic for the good old days of pink tutus and ballet shoes (before they became a trendy alternative to heels).


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The Bar Method combines ballet, yoga and Pilates in an interval workout, and while new to us on the fourth floor, it’s actually been around since 1959! Now with over 60 locations all over the U.S and one in Vancouver, The Bar Method is quickly becoming the “it” workout. 

Drew Barrymore, Ginnifer Goodwin, Zooey Deschanel, Denise Richards and Anna Paquin are just a few of the celebrities that swear by this fat burning, muscle carving, body reshaping, arm sculpting, waist trimming, posture enhancing (shall we go on?) workout.


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Since we don’t plan on flying to Vancouver or New York to try out a class, we did our research and found a similar alternative in Toronto called The Extension Method. The studio, aptly named The Extension Room, is located at 530 Richmond St. W., and offers a variety of ballet-style workouts which include: Ballet Bootcamp, Ballet Sculpt and Classical Ballet Technique. 

Classes run for about the same price as Yoga ($17 for a drop-in and $170 for a month pass). The 267 Richmond St. location of Extreme Fitness also offers a selection of classes.


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You can also check out classes at the National Ballet of Canada, which offers seven progressive levels of classes, allowing you to advance at your own pace (we’re not Karen Kain after all). Classes run through the year in three terms of 15 weeks each and prices run from $350 to $1,285 per term, depending on the number of classes you take.

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For those who crave variety in their workout menu, City Dance Corps might be the one for you with Ballet, Ballet Boot Camp and Power Barre classes. All three are offered with a variety of drop-in rates and options ranging from $15.25 per class to $152 per month, allowing even the most commitment-phobic to lace up their pointe shoes.
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Here’s hoping our first resolution of fall sticks. If not, at least we’ll have a little fun stretching, sweating and pretending we’re prima ballerinas for the day.


Rave: Reebok EasyTone

Christina talks about her experience with our client Reebok’s latest fitness apparel line, EasyTone.

Background: The idea behind the line is that the clothes inspire women to move with intention. 
 
The ResisTone resistance bands in the tops are designed to improve posture and correct alignment during activity. 



The resistance bands in the bottoms are designed to tone and strengthen muscles while you move.
Christina’s experience:
To help me stick to my New Year’s resolution, I was given the opportunity to test out the recently launched EasyTone apparel from Reebok. 

Armed with Reebok’s black EasyTone capris and black EasyTone sleeveless shirt, I decided to put these clothes through the ringer. Over three weeks, I wore it to the weight room, spin class and the kickboxing studio.

 Reebok gear helped Christina pull this move off (almost).
My initial impression of the gear (before attempting to workout) was that it looked pretty cute, and I was excited to sport the outfit in public. The cut of the capris is very flattering and the top is the perfect length, hitting at the hip bone, just where I like my shirt to end. The fit was a little tighter than the usual workout gear, but after a few minutes of strutting around the house, I felt my inner fitness diva coming out.
After my first few workouts, I noticed I like these clothes better than other fitness clothing I’ve worn, hands down. The built-in resistance bands in the shirt made me stand up straighter (or while I was spinning, sit up straighter). I’m a bit of a sloucher, so anything that can improve this is a definite bonus! 
The resistance bands in the pants are invisible, which, in my opinion, made them more comfortable. I could feel them making my legs work twice as hard, and felt like they were toning even more intensely. 
Added bonus: the bottoms are made from thicker material than most other gear, causing any bumps or lumps (everyone has them!) to be flattened and smoothed out. I also noticed that sweat evaporated off the material very quickly. Amazing. 
Reebok spokesperson and trainer Julie Marsland with Sarah Kelsey
I recommend the EasyTone gear to anyone that wants a workout with added benefits, like improved posture or a toned derrière. Plus, the fact that they’re stylish helps when you’re hitting the gym, track, trail or even shopping for groceries!
EasyTone apparel is available at select Sport Chek locations across Canada.
EasyTone bottoms include pants ($79.99), capri pants ($69.99) and shorts ($54.99, coming in April).
EasyTone upper body apparel includes long bra styles ($64.99), short-sleeved ($59.99) and sleeveless ($54.99) shirts

Twitter: @ReebokCanada
Facebook: Reebok Women