Healthy Canada: Toronto
From sprawling parks and raw restaurants, to healthy hotels and fun fitness events, here’s how to stay healthy in Toronto, Ontario
The best of Toronto
R&B Singer-songwriter and born-and-raised Torontonian Jully Black has opened for Kanye West and performed for the Queen, but her proudest moment this year was joining her niece in running across the finish line of downtown Toronto’s Sporting Life 10K on Mother’s Day, in honour of her sister, an avid runner who passed away 24 years ago. Here are just some of Black’s favourite get-fit-in-the-city activities.
Strike a pose at Moksha Yoga: “This helped me make the connection with my spirit,” says Black of this Canadian brand of hot yoga with more than 15 locations in the Toronto area. “It really helps me deal with the stresses of being in the music business.”
Get active outdoors at Riverdale Park: Black is a big fan of this popular multi-use green space that’s close to downtown. “There are people playing soccer and a whole bunch of hills,” she says. “You can run hill sprints, do laps [on the track], or put your yoga mat down and do poses.”
Grab some healthy takeout at Taste of the Silk Road (341 Danforth Ave.): “People go in and say, ‘Can we have The Jully Special’-which is a soup with lots of garlic, no salt,” says Black of this Chinese restaurant that’s happy to modify meals to suit dietary restrictions.
The Thompson Hotel (550 Wellington St. W, in King West area): Sure, the rooftop infinity pool is nice, but the real healthy draw at this downtown hotel/residence is the full-service yoga studio-one of three locations of local chain 889 Yoga. Adjoining the roomy 24-hour fitness centre, it offers daily yoga and Pilates classes, as well as spa treatments and a boutique selling cute clothes, eco-friendly beauty products and other lifestyle items.
The Bickford Flexitarian (326 Harbord St., South Annex): This bright-yet-cozy neighbourhood hot spot aims to have something for everyone on its diverse brunch, lunch and early-dinner offerings. From divine raw vegan breakfast waffles to a roasted- chicken sandwich with mayo and coleslaw, the menu has plenty of this-or-that options to suit those who are gluten intolerant, vegan or just plain fussy.
Belmonte Raw (1022 Queen St. E., Leslieville): Carol Belmonte has won accolades across the city for her flavourful, mostly organic juices (and the “cleanse programs” she offers) decanted into sleek glass bottles and available for delivery. Drop by this Leslieville eatery if you want to enjoy raw vegan salads, wraps, noodles and nutrient-packed chocolates.
Ursa (924 Queen St. W., Trinity-Bellwoods): Meals that are gourmet while still being good for you are the name of the game at Ursa, which boasts “modern preparations of foraged, sustainable and self-farmed ingredients.” Portions are accordingly modest, so come prepared to splurge and end up pleasantly satisfied, but not stuffed-even with dessert and a cocktail.
Sporting Life (2665 Yonge St., Midtown): The spacious flagship location of this four-store chain stocks sporting equipment for all seasons, plus activewear, streetwear, footwear and outerwear from mainstream as well as less common brands including Nike, James Perse and Adidas by Stella McCartney. You’ll also find Canadian brands Mackage, Arc’teryx and Fig Clothing.
Atelier Lolë (88 Yorkville Ave., Yorkville): Drop in to the new Yorkville location of this Montreal-based activewear brand to try out the comfy yet stylish fitness studio-to-streetwear created by fashion designer Andy Thê-Anh and his team.
Energia Athletics (164 Danforth Ave., The Danforth): A fitness studio with a mission, Energia is committed to the benefits of cross-training. Running clinic participants are encouraged to boost their training plans and help prevent injury with in-house yoga, kettlebell and spinning classes.
In Studio (470 Queen’s Quay W., Waterfront): You no longer need to be a dance pro to train with the National Ballet-well, to train in their studio, at least. This new fitness centre offers classes that cover classical ballet, jazz, Pilates and cardio-oriented dance for beginner through advanced levels.
Toronto healthy events calendar
Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon, October 20: Run the half or full marathon, or 5K, in this flat and fast Boston Marathon-qualifying race. Plus, get a glimpse of some of the world’s top runners.
Enbridge CN Tower Climb for United Way, October 17, 19 and 20: Test your legs and glutes as you ascend the 1,776 stairs of this Toronto landmark while raising money for a good cause. Last year, more than 11,000 climbers raised over $2.4 million.
Monster Dash, October 27: Get into the Halloween spirit at this family-oriented charity fundraiser at Sunnybrook Park to support the Change for Kids campaign at Holland Bloorview Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital. It offers chip-timed 5K and 10K routes plus a “spooky mile” for kids. For a fun twist, finishers’ medals double as bottle openers.