Wild fitness trends across Canada

Vacay.ca writer Sarah Deveau masters the knee hang at Trapezium in Montreal.

Today’s fitness fanatics are no longer satisfied with boot camps and traditional weight lifting routines, and instead are seeking workout options that push the limits of both their physical and mental abilities.

I found this out first hand while in Montréal, Québec when I visited Trapezium, a unique indoor recreational trapeze gym offering daily group and private classes for beginners and advanced flyers to learn the basics and hone their skills in this rigorous art.

Climbing a 70-foot metal ladder that shook at my every step, I was soaked with sweat before I even stepped off the tiny platform at the top. Helped by owner and instructor Simon Fortin, I grasped the bar with one hand, leaned out over the net and tried not to panic.

At the call of the second instructor, I stepped off the platform grasping the trapeze bar tightly, summoning all of my strength to pull up my lower body and wrap my legs over the bar at the apex of my swing.

Again and again I failed, slamming my shins into the bar before dropping into the net below. Again and again I was reattached to safety ropes and sent up the ladder for another attempt. Finally, when I thought my battered body could take no more, I finally managed to swing my legs through and over, mastering the knee hang. I released my hands and swung upside down, utterly exhausted and completely exhilarated, every muscle in my body already screaming in protest at the strain.

Flying through the air with the greatest of ease not your thing? Here are four more Canadian fitness companies offering unique ways to challenge yourself and amp up your workout.

The world is your gym

At No Limits Alternative Fitness Concepts in Calgary, parkour or free-running enthusiasts (called “tracuer” for males or “tracuese” for females) practice moving through an environment by vaulting, rolling, running, climbing, and jumping. This gym offers fundamentals training and a controlled environment for learning new skills and perfecting complicated movements. Strength conditioning is an important part of the gym’s philosophy as well.

“Parkour and Free-running is an incredible way to keep in shape and also express your own personality through movement,” says Operations Manager Amanda Holmedal. “Whether you’re male or female, young or old, there is a place for parkour in everyone’s life.”

Primal Fitness in the city

In an industrial building in Toronto, members of StrengthBox can be found climbing platforms, walking and squatting on elevated beams and learning how to move fluidly through transitions from one movement to another. Though the MovNat philosophy (literally a combination of the words Move Naturally) appears to be a cross between CrossFit and Parkour, this fitness system is based on using the full range of our natural human movement abilities such as walking, running, balancing, jumping, crawling, climbing, swimming, lifting, carrying, throwing, catching, and self-defence.

Small group classes focus on strength training, metabolic conditioning, and running the occasional obstacle course – all during intense metabolic-conditioning workouts and learning how to move gracefully and naturally.

“We don’t just train muscles, we train movements,” says StrengthBox founder Greg Carver. “Gaining real-life athleticism not only makes everyday tasks seem easier, the skills and strength acquired could literally save your life.”

Mama said knock you out!

In Winnipeg the Canadian Fighting Center is capitalizing on the current popularity of mixed martial arts (MMA) by offering classes in Muay Thai and MMA for men, women and children. Run by Giuseppe DeNatale, a World Champion Muay Thai Kickboxer, DeNatale founded the gym in 2002 and recently renovated the center to create a state-of-the-art, world class training facility. Members can take classes designed to increase their strength and anaerobic fitness and master a variety of fighting techniques and skills.

A little bit of everything

Vancouverites can mix up their training by using a variety of techniques and philosophies at Tactix Gym. The 6,000 square foot facility offers a variety of fitness and fighting programs such as CrossFit, Cardio Kickboxing, Body Conditioning; plus Krav Maga self defense, Kickboxing, Boxing Conditioning/Circuit, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Kali.  They even plan to introduce a dance program in the fall.

“Results, camaraderie and community are the words most often expressed by all our members,” says manager Murray Sogen. “Some people come for the fitness, but also learn new invaluable self-defence or fight techniques. Others come for the fight programs, but also get an incredible fitness/conditioning workout.  Our gym is one of a kind – we offer it all under one roof.”

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Sarah Deveau is the author of two financial guides: Sink or Swim: Get Your Degree Without Drowning in Debt and Money Smart Mom: Financially Fit Parenting. She’s a prolific freelance writer, and her work has been published in Today’s Parent, Parents Canada, Style at Home, and Airdrie Life, as well as most major Canadian daily newspapers, including the National Post. She has contributed to dozens of parenting websites and blogs across Canada, and appears regularly on radio and television shows such Breakfast Television and Global.