Alternative fitness options for those who hate the gym

By Cait Martin Newnham

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IAM Yoga is one of the few fitness studios near Ryerson University’s campus that offers an alternative environment to traditional gyms. (Cait Martin Newnham /Ryersonian Staff)

Going back to school can mean the abandonment of healthy choices for some Ryerson students who are overwhelmed by the daunting demands of academia. Dumbbells, rowing machines and treadmills are not for everyone, but alternative forms of fitness with reasonable pricing can be hard to find near campus.

Here are four fitness studios within a 15-minute walk from campus with unique approaches to exercise and enough variety in their class offerings to make their monthly passes worth the money.

Float Suspension Yoga

This studio teaches gravity-defying variants of traditional yoga, in which participants dangle gracefully in pseudo-yoga poses from hammock-like sheets of fabric suspended from the ceiling. The instructors require new students to attend an introductory course that familiarizes them with the OmGym Suspension System.

Amber Gotzmeister, owner of Float Suspension Yoga, says they “use the equipment as a support tool…to help expand people’s practice.”

Once float yogis have completed the introductory course, students can sign up for a variety of courses that focus on elements such as strengthening and lengthening, relaxation and stretching and posture. According to Gotzmeister, students can benefit greatly from the full spinal decompression that inversion therapy provides.

This studio is offering a student special at $45 for two weeks of unlimited suspension yoga. Each class is $25 and the $128 unlimited monthly pass ($115 with automatic monthly renewal).

Brass Vixens

Brass Vixens is a sassy studio that puts an emphasis on confidence in fitness. This pole dancing and fitness studio has a plethora of pole-centric classes, but they also offer fun fitness options including hip hop, burlesque, twerking, aerial fitness, splits training, hula hooping and traditional African dance classes.

Most pole fitness courses have prerequisite classes to introduce beginners to safe ways to approach the pole. Once members have passed the intro courses they can take classes that teach spins, choreography and inversions.

This studio does not offer a student special, but new members can buy an unlimited one-month pass to attend beginner classes for $79. After the initial month, the best deal is the regular one-month unlimited pass at $149 ($129 with auto-renewal). This is a steal considering they offer a high variety of quirky classes and more than 100 classes per month.

IAM Yoga

This zen yoga studio, which offers heated classes, is ideal for the winter season. Unlike other studios that warm their rooms using heaters near the ground, IAM Yoga uses panels in the ceiling to radiate heat evenly throughout the 38-degree room. Some yogis may prefer the tropical conditions, but there’s also room temperature classes for those who don’t want to sweat.

The studio offers several different types of yoga classes, including nighttime candlelit classes that will lull any anxious student into a serene sleep after their class.

“We may incorporate more core (into our Flow classes). Or if it’s a detox class, there are more twists involved,” Millie Stanisic, a manager at IAM Yoga, says. “It’s not bikram and it’s not moksha (release from the wheel of rebirth). Our yoga allows us to accommodate to various people in the room, (whereas) bikram can be quite militaristic.” IAM Yoga does offer classes with set sequences such as ashtanga for those who like to know which pose is coming next.

Individual classes are $17.70 each and unlimited monthly passes are $125. IAM Yoga offers another option, where “you trade your work at the studio for unlimited yoga,” Stanisic explains. They require four hours of volunteering each week and a three-month commitment.

OpenMat Mixed Martial Arts

This mixed martial arts (MMA) academy offers not only a variety of martial arts classes, but also a motivating community that supports fitness and self-defence. The blood, sweat and tears that go into practicing martial arts brings members of OpenMat Mixed Martial Arts together to reach their fitness goals.

OpenMat offers classes in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai and wrestling. The academy also has a class called FightFit that is a variation of circuit training and a female-focused self-defence course called Fight Like a Girl.

Prices start at around $20 per class. OpenMat does not offer special student pricing. However, new members can sign up for a free 30-day trial pass for twice-a-week beginner classes or one free private lesson.

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