Equinox Fitness Toronto
Equinox, the U.S.-based fitness chain, opened its first Canadian location at Commerce Court a month ago. As a high-end club catering to the Bay Street folks with deep pockets and expense accounts, it offers all the luxuries you might expect. Elegantly designed with slate floors and dark wood paneling, the entrance includes a front desk staffed by friendly employees with a sumptuous lounge area and full-service juice bar and cafe off to one side.
The many floor-to-ceiling windows offer lots of natural light in most of the workout spaces, although located on the third floor you do not get the breathtaking views of the waterfront you find at the Toronto Athletic Club . Change rooms are equipped with a sauna, steam room, fluffy towels, and decadent Kiehl's body products, along with hair dryers, hair gel, spray and mousse, deodorant, mouthwash, and just about any other personal hygiene product you might need.
The club is spread out over two floors and facilities include two strength training areas, two cardio areas with numerous, brand-spanking new cardio machines - each with their own private television screen, a group fitness room, a spinning room, a yoga and Pilates studio, a room for boxing, and another one set aside for private Pilates sessions using Reformers and other apparatuses.
Midday on a Wednesday there is plenty of available space and equipment to use. It was recommended to me that I attend one of Equinox's signature fitness classes so I check out one called "Stacked" taught by instructor, Eva Redpath. The class is advertised as follows: " Consider yourself stacked. Hit the body with a healthy dose of high density training. With Sandbells as your medium, transform your body with 6 targeted movement complexes executed for 30 seconds each. Combine 2 Stacks with an active mobility warm up and a recovery stretch and your workout is DONE. "
Fourteen of us, including three guys, pack into the fitness studio and gather our equipment: Sandbells (sandbags), Body Bars, and mats. I noticed that most of the women in the class are tall and gorgeous enough to work on the runway rather than the floor of the TSX. I tried to rub out the oatmeal stains from my discount workout wear from Costco.
The class begins with a high-energy, dynamic warm-up. Eva is friendly and motivating, however, the volume is ear-drum busting and her choice of music is not to my taste. I prefer to exercise to the same music I enjoy listening to, which does not include aggressive house music. I can appreciate, however, that some people find it distracting to workout to music with identifiable lyrics and, instead, want something that just has a strong beat.
Eva carefully explains the format of the class: She demonstrates an exercise and we do it for 30 seconds, then we rest for 30 seconds while she demonstrates another, then we do the first exercise and add on the second, and so on and so forth until we are performing sequences of 4-5 exercises back-to-back for 30 seconds each. We do several of these stacks . Despite her instructions, it's a bit confusing, probably because we don't perform the new exercise she has demonstrated until we have first gone through all the previous ones.
More concerning to me, however, is the fact that with just 14 of us in the room and all of our equipment, things feel crowded. Should membership grow significantly, I could easily see how a workout at Equinox during peak hours could go from feeling stress-released to stress-inducing.
Memberships start at $160 per month while personal training fees are $100 and up per session, depending on the experience level of your trainer.
Overall, Equinox at Commerce Court provides ample equipment and amenities with all the sleekness and luxury you would expect from a high end club. If you have the resources to access Equinox and this type of club appeals to you, my advice is to join now while there is still space to spread out, before all of Bay Street does the same.
Photos courtesy Equinox / George Pimentel