Ultimate Athletics is a new fitness club on Yonge street south of Summerhill. If there is one thing I know about folks who live in Rosedale (besides their love of big homes and old money), it's that they are a fit bunch, at least one would think so given the number of health clubs in the area.
As a matter of fact, Ultimate Athletics' owners (and life partners) Paula Ryff and Vlad Radanovic recently departed from the former Extreme Fitness club at Yonge and St. Clair (now part of the Goodlife empire). Both are teachers and trainers with a long history in the fitness industry and a loyal following. Prior to Extreme, both taught classes at the renowned Body Alive, and Al Greene, who was the owner, is now part of the team at Ultimate Athletics.
Unlike the big box chain gyms, Ultimate Athletics is intended to be a more intimate neighbourhood club. The staff member who gave me the club tour told me they are like a family, and during my visit it certainly seemed like staff and members were all on a first name basis with one another.
The club, located on the second and third floors of the building, is clean and elegant in an industrial-chic kind-of-way but entirely unpretentious. Change rooms have showers and some complimentary beauty products, as well as rental lockers and those available for day use. There's a large studio for group fitness classes on the second floor and a generously equipped weight room on the third floor along with a spinning studio with 35 state-of-the-art spin bikes and a Pilates studio with 10 Allegro Reformers.
Management advised me to attend a Pilates class taught by Paula on the reformer. With almost 40 years on this earth and two C-sections under my belt (pun intended), I'm always happy to get a good core workout. While Pilates has fallen out of favour with many fitness fanatics who discovered it's not the most efficient method for shedding fat, the practice - best suited as a rehabilitative activity and/or functional fitness/sport performance enhancer - is clearly still being embraced by this crowd: all 10 Reformers at this Tuesday lunch hour class were full.
The other participants are all in the 30-60+ age bracket and fit as a fiddle. The class is among the toughest Pilates workouts I've done, and I am humbled to say that some of the silver haired participants kicked my butt. In fact, a few of the exercises were so challenging, they left me wanting to shout expletives. I definitely left feeling tighter around the middle. My only complaint is that given the level of difficulty of the class, I would have liked a bit more stretching at the end. Fortunately, I still woke up the next day with all my moving parts in order.
Paula explained that they consciously designed the class schedule to address all fitness goals and ability levels. Along with Pilates Reformer classes, there are Pilates mat classes, yoga, spinning, Kettle Ball classes, aerobics, athletic conditioning, stretch, TRX, and Barre classes.
Despite my lack of pedigree, the clientele are warm and friendly. While in the change room after the class, a fellow class participant asks how I enjoyed it. When I admitted I found it tough, she laughed and tells me that not only are Paula's classes all that tough, they are entirely different each time. Ah, one of the hallmarks of a good fitness instructor!
For anyone working or living in the Rosedale area feeling limited by workouts in a generic gym, check out Ultimate Athletics. This club is the real deal: personalized service from fitness professionals who really know their stuff and are committed to building a community.
Monthly memberships are $180 per month while a year paid in full is $1,430. Class packages are also available with a single class for $20, 5 classes for $95, and 10 classes for $180. Pilates reformer classes for members are $20 each, or 10 classes for $180, or 20 classes for $340 and $25 each, 10 classes for $240, and 20 classes for $460 for non-members.
Photos by James C. Lee