Karen Kwan is a Toronto-based freelance writer covering travel, health, beauty, fitness and lifestyle for outlets including iRun, VITA Daily, CBC Life, Flare, Canadian Living, Glow, Elle Canada, Huffington Post and Metro. She also blogs on her lifestyle site, HealthandSwellness.com, You can follow her on Instagram @healthandswellness.com and Twitter @healthswellness.
Toronto has been my home for nearly two decades and I've seen it grow so much. It's such a vibrant city with lots to explore, especially when it comes to staying fit. When in T.O, and looking for fun ways to get active, there are almost too many fun workouts to choose from but tasked with making an itinerary for one day, I chose three workouts that'll provide a nice mix (cross-training is key!) and in different areas of the city. Toronto is very much a city of neighbourhoods, and it's good to get out of the downtown core so you can experience the city much like a local does.
I'm a runner and have completed several marathons and half-marathons, so naturally my cardio for the day was going to be a run. Besides, running is a fantastic way to see any city. I started out my day with a short 6.8k out and back run along the waterfront, which is currently being redeveloped by the city. While I most often head west along the Martin Goodman Trail (and where you will eventually reach the pretty Humber Bay Arch Bridge and enjoy a fantastic view of the downtown skyline from across the lake, this morning I chose to head east along the central waterfront.
One of my favourite spots along this section is at HTO Park where you'll find the cheery yellow umbrellas and get a great view of the CN Tower. Be aware that you'll find little shade running along the waterfront in the summer months and in some stretches, there are few options if you need a washroom break. There are a handful of water fountains (with running water only in the spring, summer and fall), though, and few stop lights, so you can count on keeping your heart pumping. Calories burned: 396.
After a pit stop at home to shower and get changed, I made my way uptown by car (although you can easily take the subway to Eglinton Station) to attend a Build class at Surfset Toronto in the Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood. I've been to Surfset a few times and have found the classes to be a great way to work out the core and help develop balance. The Build class had us working on our arms and core (moves included tricep curls and mountain climbers, all while balancing on the board) and I found myself feeling spent as I walked out of the studio.
Post-workout, I walked down to grab lunch at Fresh, a delicious vegetarian resto with a few locations around the city. Also around this uptown neighbourhood? There's a movie theatre, some decent shopping (used bookstore or two, Urban Outfitters and Sephora) and if you're looking for another workout in the hood, check out SpinCo for a heart-pumping Spin class (great music playlists!). Calories burned: 224.
02 Bloor St W, Toront
After running a few errands and a stop at home, in the evening, I took the subway midtown to 889 Yonge for a restorative yoga class. This studio is in Rosedale, which is mostly residential, but if you're looking to do some shopping and possibly some celeb spotting, you should poke around Yorkville, which is just a few minutes' walk south of the studio. Here you'll find luxury boutiques such as Chanel and Gucci but also Canadian retailers such as Roots, MAC, Kit & Ace and Hudson's Bay. Be sure to stop into Sorry Coffee Co (it's attached to Kit & Ace) for a beverage and people make it a point to stop into Black Camel in Rosedale to fill their cravings for their substantial and tasty sandwiches in Rosedale.
889 Yonge St, Toronto
As for working out, 889 Yoga is a gorgeous airy space where there is a lifestyle goods shop on the street level and upstairs are studio spaces. I'm not a regular when it comes to yoga, but I know that every time I do practice, I think "Wow, I should do that more often." After getting my cardio and core work done earlier in the day, a restorative yoga class was the perfect way to end a day with some quiet time and gentle stretches, with the help of props such as bolsters and cozy blankets (so welcome given the cold winter weather). Calories burned:67.
From there, I headed home feeling calm and restored. Total steps for the day: 14,718. And total calories burned in my workouts: 687. (And keeping up with workouts and burning those calories is essential in Toronto where there are so many great restaurants!).
But there are so many other neighbourhoods to explore in the 6; don't limit yourself to just these ones. Some other of my favourite things to do in the city that I think you'll enjoy?
Spend an afternoon at the Historic Distillery District. Head here to explore the beautiful historic buildings, cobblestone streets, art galleries, shopping (add to your wardrobe with style finds at Gotstyle), delicious food and drink (grab a cocktail in the summer kicking back at the huge patio at El Catrin and chocoholics must make the pilgrimage to SOMA Chocolatemaker).
101 Portland St, Toronto
Do a tour for Instagram photos. Every 'grammer appreciates a good wall. And several are concentrated downtown in Toronto within walking distance. First, do a walk through Graffiti Alley in the Fashion District (head to Rush Lane at 513 Queen St. West) where you'll find the about one kilometre filled with street art. Nearby, there's a mural of Lucy from Peanuts on Portland St. just north or King St. W. on the east side of the street (it's beside the restaurant Gusto 101), and Kate Moss, also on Portland, just south of King St. W. on the west side. Head a few streets east to live music venue the Cameron House, where you'll find the cheerful This is Paradise mural on the side of the building.
Hit up a game. We've got the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, and the Toronto Blue Jays, so sport fanatics, you can get your fill and enjoy a cold one alongside local fans. Tie in your game day or night with a visit to the CN Tower (although thrill seekers will need to budget more time if you're keen to do the CN Tower EdgeWalk -- I'm not afraid of heights but some of the Edgewalk poses had even me shaking with fear!).