toronto row

This Toronto street might be the city's fitness row

Toronto has its fair-share of unique neighbourhoods and districts. From the Fashion District and the Castlefield Design District to the so-called Burrito District, it's pretty common to find similar businesses clustered around each other.

But there's one street that's been growing slowly over the past few years. Carlaw, in Leslieville, is already home to a slew of gyms and fitness studios - two more, however, are slated to open within the next two weeks, possibly making this part of Toronto the city's fitness epicentre.

Kelly Taphouse is opening MOVE, a women's-only fitness studio, on October 31. She's lived in Leslieville for the past six or seven years, but was unhappy with the neighbourhood's fitness offerings, especially for new moms - we all know Leslieville's filled with strollers. "I saw an opportunity to solve a problem," she says.

MOVE, which is going into 388 Carlaw, will focus exclusively on personal training and its signature group class, Get Strong. That's because Taphouse knows she needs to do something unique in order to succeed on this already crowded street.

Carlaw, for instance, is already home to Fortis Fitness, Dwell Gym, Rock Oasis, Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club, Aikido Shugyo Dojo, Primal Movement and MMA, the Cycling Gym and the Spirit Loft.

"The great thing is that we're really all offering something different, for the most part," says Taphouse. "And like it's fabulous because some people say Carlaw is Fitness Row and really, in the grand scheme of things, is that a bad thing? No, that's a fantastic thing."

Andre Talbot agrees Carlaw is concentrated with health centres. He and his partner Catalina Moraga opened Spirit Loft yoga studio five years ago. They were attracted to the neighbourhood because they felt it lacked fitness options and it featured lots of empty industrial buildings perfect for a studio.

"Now, obviously, we see Carlaw becoming a wellness and fitness kind of alley," he says. "And so it's interesting to see what's happening. I think it might also present some challenges for the amount of gyms opening up. But it's also a great opportunity to see if this part of the city will become a sort of destination hub for movement, health, wellness."

Like Taphouse, Spirit House offers something different. But Hone Fitness, on the other hand, is moving in too.

On November 1, Hone will open its second Toronto location at 181 Carlaw. Like its Yonge and Isabella outpost, it'll offer up its cheap ($10 to $20 per month), no contract memberships. And even though it's a standard gym, owner Jim Solomon thinks it'll fit into the neighbourhood.

"There are a lot of group fitness class places opening over there and we don't do that, right? We think with our price, we're pretty complementary to all that," he says.

Many fitness buffs look for ways to change up their workout, and Solomon hopes Hone can fulfil that need. "At $20 bucks a month, they can join our gym and do their classes separately."

Photo by Primal Movement by Jesse Milns.

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