VIEWS FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY GYMBAG
When I officially signed a statement that said I would no longer be competing for Canada in gymnastics, I was a 22 year old retired athlete living in Toronto without actually having lived in Toronto. The 12 years that came before that very moment were a blur of suitcases, gyms, temporary bedrooms, airports and an air tight training schedule. When I was ‘home’, I was up at the crack of dawn and driving to and from training straight to school and back to the gym. The Toronto I knew consisted of highways and the bubble around the University of Toronto that kept me in a 1km radius downtown.
So exciting, I know.
But then I found myself finishing up University and entering the ‘working world’ with no curfew, entire weekends ‘off’ and the time (and energy!) to get to know this city. And I finally really met Toronto - allow me to re-introduce myself.
There are so many things I love about this city, but we are definitely not known for being the most healthy & active place to live. Trust me, to all my friends out West that I’ve ever debated – I get it. You have oceans and lakes and mountains and trails and parks that are not only stunning, but make it easy and inspiring to get outside when you don’t go through 6 months of frozen tundra like we do. Insert all the other stereotypes here.
Even despite the winter blahs, I find motivation to keep moving in the people and places that make up this incredible community. Whether you live in the 6ix or you’re just visiting – these are my 5 fave spots that my gym bag is always welcome, any day of the year.
Whether you’re coming to or from a workout or just want to feel good about what you’re putting in your body, Bolt is the place to be. They have a ridiculous amount of choices for you and all of them are nutritious, gluten-free and plant based. Winning. My go-to is definitely the cold-pressed juice that preserves all the live enzymes and nutrients. And just so yummy. Try the Pina Vida!! Follow it up with the R+R Booster that promotes healthy digestion and you are SO good to go.
Strive Life isn’t a boot camp, it’s not a gym. It’s a team. Whether you know someone or you don’t or it’s your first time or your 50th – this group of people are striving to become healthier individuals together. They are life athletes. The founders customize classes that rely heavily on building the proper foundation and technique for movements, while putting you through the paces with HIIT circuits. You name it they got it – tires, chains, kettle bells, resistance bands. Every day is different and designed to make you stronger. They have built such a welcoming and positive community for anyone of any fitness level to partake - that you always leave feeling like a better version of yourself. Sweatier than ever before, but better ;)
There are a gazillion coffee shops in Toronto, but I would travel across the city in rush hour (now that’s love) to spend time in this cozy, espresso hangout. The incredible energy hits you in the face when you come through the door and you’re completely hooked. I can’t stop smiling every time I step foot in the place. Yes – I’m a caffeine addict. No – I’m not a coffee snob. However, I do appreciate how much everyone who works there LOVES coffee and their customers. It deserves all caps. It’s a family affair. We are devotees to this awesome group of people, who have put their heart and soul into their business. After a long and busy day, I get my best work done sitting at the wooden counter in the window listening to the hustle and bustle of people coming and going and the laughter coming from behind the bar. I’m an Americano kinda girl, but the Cortado is to die for when I’m in a rush! And for all you tea drinkers, I have not forgotten about you! There is a chocolate chai that makes my mouth water when I smell it, but if that’s not your thing they have dozens to choose from.
It’s not a secret – I have a sweet tooth. I am a big believer that we are what we eat, which is why I have this love hate relationship with sugar. With that said, I indulge myself in moderation (most of the time) because I really am committed to feeling good every day, especially about my body. Sugar, as incredibly delicious as it tastes in the moment, makes my body feel awful a few hours later. I turn into a sluggish version of myself and real talk – it’s pretty hard on my digestion. Take it from the girl who has had constant issues with her stomach, it’s not cool. And then one day I stumbled upon Sugar Loaf, which clearly states on their sign, that they are a ‘Non-Traditional Artisanal Bakery’. Everything is made fresh in-house with no preservatives or chemical additives. Ok – I had to go in now. They were selling fresh focaccia bread with herbs and tomatoes right out of the oven – just as if I was walking the streets of Italy. And flourless chocolate brownies? Sometimes I think we work our bodies and minds so hard we forget to treat ourselves. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself. You totally deserve it.
Alright I know this is #6 and I can’t really take my gym bag here, but I couldn’t leave it off the list. I don’t know how they do it, but they make the best Kale Salad in the city. I have tried numerous times to re-create it, but I’ve failed miserably every time. Gusto 101 is a busy, popular and very trendy restaurant in the west end so when I’m on my way home, exhausted and sweaty from having taught a spin class, I grab this one to go. Ask for the Off the Menu items if you’re staying next time….so worth it promise ;)
By: Alexandra Orlando