First of all, I’m sorry that you’re going to be singing THAT song for the rest of the day, but the YMCA is definitely worthy of a post. (Furthermore, I’ve never seen any cowboys or construction workers in it, although a nice policeman smiled at me as I went in the other day. What is it about those uniforms…?)
One of the things Ged was adamant about during our time in Toronto was that we would attend a gym. However, there was the slight problem of membership – although gyms aren’t particularly expensive, you are tied in for a length of time far outwith the six months we’re staying here.
It was a TV show where the kids were going down the Y to shoot hoops (see how with the local lingo I am now?) which gave us the idea of investigating a little further. And we are very happy we did.
For $109 CAD (about £68, if Mr Osborne stops mucking around with the economy and the pound doesn’t slide again. Thanks for that, Chancellor), the two of us get full access to the Y with a membership policy which we can cancel with a mere two weeks’ notice.
And the goodies in store are amazing. Forget all the ideas we have about the YMCA in the UK. This is not a drop-in centre to help those down on their luck. Not only is there a gym for those hoop-shooting kids, but there is a full programme of classes, a weight room, cardio machines, running track, swimming pool and workout machines. It also gives us free entry into some of the talks and programmes the Y runs.
Best of all, however, is the rooftop garden: an oasis of wild Canadian plants carefully tended by the volunteers who help make the Y so special. Surrounded by the skyscrapers of downtown, the garden makes a unique spot to escape, with the gentle tinkling of a water feature making a lovely backdrop to yoga practice.
Yeah… I just said that. I think Toronto’s hipster vibe is getting to me.
Despite the many hipsters in this city, the Y’s gym-goers are a wide range of ages, shapes, races and sexualities – a true melting pot, in fact – and thankfully far removed from the nightmare stereotype of fit bods in competition with each other to have the best six-pack going. I’m fairly sure that for several of my fellow workout buddies, the best six-pack going is Molson Canadian.
That’s not to dismiss the amazing work that you see going on around you. It’s not much for some, but at my grand old age, it was at the Y that I finally ran 5k, inspired by the middle-aged people lapping me on the track. I think that makes me the first in my family to do it. I also have some decent guns going and as for that six-pack – Keith’s IPA is better than Molson Canadian.
Special thanks go to Jess, my kettlebell instructor, a volunteer at the Y who I can truly call awesome. She planks and lifts weights at the same time, for heavens’ sake! That is worth the A-word. And also to my Thursday night cardiofit-arriba (ie. zumba) instructor, Karina. This class is fantastic. Not only could she teach Shakira and Beyonce a thing or two, but half the class would be in her backing group. I sometimes think I should be paying for the entertainment value as hips shimmy and legs lunge.
I can’t get “pumped” or “stoked”, as Jess seems to think we should be by the prospect of exercise (I mean, do I look crazy? I’m in agony here), but the relaxed atmosphere makes exercise a lot more bearable. And I’m already sadly thinking: “Only ten more KB classes to go…”