The Best Fitness Bootcamp in Toronto
The best bootcamp fitness classes in Toronto prove that most of us probably aren't army material, but allow us instead to channel Stallone and shed a little summer beer-weight. I faced facts long ago: I will never follow in my father's footsteps. But if G.I. Dad taught me anything, it's "Do what you love, kiddo" and military servitude just didn't shake my tree.
There's something to be said, however, for basic-training style workouts to deliver fast full-body results. Fitness classes based on army drills aim to wrestle the soldier out of soft-bellied participants one tricep-dip at a time. So, after 2 weeks of daily bootcamping, did I prove to be all that I could be? I'll admit that I may still question authority. And my jumping jacks will always be lopsided. But the head-to-heel throbbing muscular pain must mean something. Pain equals gain, right? SIR! YES! SIR!
Here's my list of the best fitness and body bootcamps in Toronto.
Best Body Bootcamp - Christie Pits and 12 other downtown locations
Don't let Chuck catch you slacking, private. He has a no-sympathy sergeant quality that whips participants through a full-hour of drills. Although I'm told that classes typically consist of 80% women, a recent class is a pretty even male/female split. Through the use of resistance bands, drills can be tailored to each person's level. Plus, you don't have to lug hefty hand weights halfway across the city. Groups meet in several downtown parks throughout summer months and in adjacent community buildings during winter.
Fit Chicks - Bickford Park and other locations
"Head Chick" Amanda takes our measurements and weight (ugh!) and helps us set personal fitness goals in the first class. The women-only classes are supportive and exercises are all adjustable based on individual levels. That doesn't mean it's easy. This is still bootcamp, after all, you pansies. We flow through cardio drills, strength training and yoga stretching to a soundtrack of dance-pop. Programs run in downtown parks and last 4 weeks. I'm sticking with these chicks for the whole month!
Fit Family (Belly Bootcamp) - High Park and other locations
Pre- and post-natal women collect in High Park to participate in low-impact bootcamp classes that aim to curb inevitable pregnancy weight gain. While the goal is fitness, the vibe is fun and I suspect that many come primarily for the social interaction. The workout is just a bonus. New moms tote along little ones and baby-gear, and the instructor's duties bounce between babysitter and drill sergeant.
Extreme Fitness (Doggie & Me Bootcamp) - Withrow Park
As a dog owner, I understand that exercising your pet can sometimes trump your own workouts. Combining the two is a brilliant idea conceived by GTA gym chain, Extreme Fitness. My terriers may not gain military discipline, but enjoying the outdoors together is a close second. The third of three Doggie & Me summer classes takes place August 28th. Non-members are welcome. Extreme also offers specialty Upper Body and Ball Bootcamp classes that are included with a gym membership.
Soldiers of Fitness - Taylors Bush Park and other locations
The name says it all. This ain't no bikini bootcamp. This is the closest you'll get to basic training short of enlisting. Soldier of Fitness guarantees the results of their 4-week programs (running every weekday). I guarantee that you'll get dirty. True military style drills and camo "uniforms" round out a complete body-conditioning regime that even includes self-defense. Acquire combat-esque skills that are probably useless in your 9-to-5 office job, but are great for bragging rights.
Urban Playground Fitness - 195 Church St
Indoor bootcamp classes offer year-round element-defying workouts at Urban Playground's brand-spankin'-new Church Street studio. Owner Lindsay tells me that the women-only space is only operating in its second month. A small group assembled for a mid-day bootcamp where we rolled through sets as a team, swapping ample high-fives. Urban Playground's schedule is packed with group fitness classes, including Hangover Cure conveniently timed for sleeping off booze-headaches first.
Body Buster Fitness - High Park and other locations
Award winning Body Buster provides co-ed full-body workouts through a mix of cardio, strength and endurance drills. Members sign up for 2-day or 3-day per week programs running 4 weeks. Little extras include fitness assessments, nutrition guidance and access to an online members-only zone. If you end up AWOL, don't fret. Instead of shining the boots of your entire unit, you can easily attend a make-up class.
Metro Life Fitness - Sorauren Park
While one of the most fun and upbeat of all of the classes, Metro Life's workout combination did not lack intensity. Emma, owner and bootcamp bombshell, is immediately likeable, and I find myself aiming to please her with deep lunges and perky jumps and hustle. This is a challenge, considering I am typically grouchy at 6:30am. Workouts wind down with ample yogic relief against a gorgeous sunrise backdrop.
Bikini Bootcamp - The Beaches and other locations
Small class sizes and a regime tailored to women, Bikini Bootcamp is ideal for new recruits. Shaping up for the beach happens in pretty parks, not stuffy gyms. The 8-week program assists participants through fitness goals from an initial one-on-one consultation and fit-test to a post-camp follow-up. Specialty bootcamps for couples, corporate groups, and men will be available at Toronto locations in the future.
CrossFit - 32 Logan Ave
The absence of signage makes Cross-Fit's industrial digs feel like a secret military base camp. My bootcamp instructor seems unimpressed by my shaky arms as I attempt a heavily assisted chin-up. I may be in over my head. But, beyond his intimidating pipes and dentist's-dream smile, he's nice and really, really patient. These classes aim to prepare members for cross-fit training (the more hard-core and acrobatic bread-and-butter of the business). Alternating drills of double-under rope-skipping, running and weight lifting are all timed, allowing us work on personal bests. I am just pleased to have not fainted.
Flirty Girl Fitness (Bikini Bootcamp) - 462 Wellington St W
Bikini Bootcamp, one of dozens of girl-powered fitness classes at Flirty Girl, aims to sculpt doughy bodies into swimsuit shape. As swim-friendly days become numbered, I began to question my ability to obtain a bikini-worthy body before the end of summer. But, I was fooled by the princess-pink chandeliers. Despite ultra-feminine surroundings, the instructor was tough and the drills challenging. We were reminded of our svelte-body goals as we used weights, resistance bands and balls to tone and tighten. Other classes include Pole Dancing, Hottie Boxing and Chair Striptease (you might just discover your inner Pussycat Doll).