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.



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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: Jogi Health and Wellness Activewear Line

Oh, Joe Fresh Style. Just when we thought we had all the accessories, work outfits and cute bathers that we needed, you went and did it again. Enter the 42-piece Jogi collection. And to be clear – it’s pronounced Yo-gi, not Jo-gi. Clever, aren’t they?

True to Joe Fresh style, this new line of health and wellness accessories is very reasonable. How affordable? Nothing’s priced over $45.


Sold at select Loblaw stores, don’t let the name mislead you; the collection spans well beyond yoga gear. Here are some of our favourite items:

Yoga gloves, $10. For those readers who are hot yogis, you know the feelings of frustration when you’re schvitzing during downward dog. These gloves grip the mat, keeping you firmly in place. There are also yoga socks to boot. No pun intended. $10



Now we wouldn’t use the term “lazy” since we are talking about activewear items. However, something about “convenient” workout kits gives us the extra boost to get moving. Jogi launched such workout sets as the Step Set shown above, that comes with the right equipment for the focused workout you are looking for. The Elemental Jogi Kit, for example, features a non-slip yoga mat, two yoga bricks and a yoga strap to improve strength and flexibility. $40

The cardio kit also does the “convenient” trick. We can improve our cardio endurance and performance with a jump rope, or neoprene ankle or wrist weights for some added oomph. Finish it off with cushioned push-up bars, and our workout for the day is done. $25

Finally, the universal balance board. Taking us back to the playground days, these funky-looking boards are a fun way to work on your balance and core. $20


With so many different workout options, our excuses are limited. The pieces are cute, in pretty colours that motivate us to create our own gym and get jacked. Pronounced j-acked, not y-acked.

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