World Class Fitness Destination: Toronto!


So sure, this is not a comprehensive list of all the exercise and activity options while visiting Toronto. For example: the whole question of winter. I have no idea what the hell Canadians do about that. Does shivering count as cardio?

In fact, this is just a crapload of inexpertly taken camera-phone photos as we continued to enjoy our Toronto house-swap adventure. But I did at least have fitness in mind as I snapped a few of them. And I've organized them by Healthy Activity Theme. So potential Toronto visitors who are concerned about over-consumption of tempting treats like poutine and canine testicles may find some reassurance that you can make up for dietary sins with lots of exercise.

So, ready for our Toronto tour?

Toronto Gyms and Health Clubs


They have lots of gyms here, and if you are actually searching for one I suppose you could check this round-up of fitness centers in Toronto. But guess what? It happened there was a workout room FREE downstairs in the very building we are staying in.  We are all about free.

Ready for some murky camera-phone selfies to prove that I actually worked out?



However, the tragic downside to our handy condo workout room:


Yep, it's a securely locked thermostat. And I don't care what 21 degrees centigrade means in real life, it is too f--cking hot in there.

Parks and Islands

Three are lots of green spaces, trails, gardens, and bodies of water in Toronto for those who like to walk, run, kayak, bike, rollerskate, pogostick, or otherwise ambulate in the outdoors.









And some of the parks featured these interesting installations:


Which I first thought might be related to hydration. But when no water was forthcoming, I realized they were modern art sculptures!

The wry reinvention of concepts such as  "thirst" and "convenience," and the playful way expectations were subverted, yet in a different sense, fully confirmed: these were far more refreshing that any cliched "drink of water on a hot day" could ever be!

Or, um, not. Gotta confess, post-modern art is always a little confusing to me.





Ugly picture of a pretty location, but basically: if you go out to The Beaches area you can jump in the water or stroll the boardwalks or do paddle-board yoga or sail or fly kites or use one of the approximately 7,876 volleyball courts there. There also appears to be a high dive for people more adventurous than we are.



Or, if you are concerned that you are shrinking or growing inappropriately...


You can go to a special park created just to help you find out. Canadians think of everything!


(The Lobster may have turned suddenly Lilliputian, but I am almost 170 somethings tall! Which sounds like a really big number! I'm thinking my ignorance of the metric system is not necessarily a bad thing).

But aside from measuring ourselves and going for runs in nearby parks and working out in the sweaty gym, our main exercise was Sightseeing and eating obscene portions of frozen yogurt and drinking beer. Which brings us to the next part of our tour:

The Hell with Cars! 




Do Your Sightseeing on Foot or by Bicycle And Use Public Transportation!

So yeah, true confessions: we did indeed do the "hop on, hop off" tourist 3 day dorkathon thing to get oriented when we first arrived. But even those days we mostly hopped off and walked our asses all over town because tour buses are really freakin' slow.  We thought about renting bikes, which in my mind counts as exercise. We were momentarily tempted by the bike trails and a few streets with nice wide bike lanes. But there were too many other urban streets with no bike lanes that looked scary so we ended up staying in our comfort zone--which is hoofing it and using subways and streetcars as necessary. (The Toronto subway system is very convenient and much like the familiar San Francisco system so it was easy-peasy to navigate).

However, the natives were a brave and active bunch who embraced urban cycling with style!



And they seemed to have a hell of a good time doing it.


However, like any North American community, Toronto did have a few citizens who seemed strangely sedentary despite all the temptations to be active.  Sadly, none of these folks moved a muscle the entire time we observed them.




But given the unusually low ratio of cars to pedestrians and bikes: most Toronto folks seemed to be refreshingly free of auto-addiction.

However, help me out here Canadians: what's up with the pedestrian timidity?

Most Canadians we observed were either too polite or too chicken to jay-walk--even when there were huge gaps in traffic and there was no inconvenience to, or threat from, oncoming traffic. Is jay-walking punishable by death in Canada? If so, perhaps we should cut it the hell out.

Neighborhoods and Sights

So where is it fun to go and what should you see when you decide to walk your ass off in Toronto?

We got the impression you can go pretty much anywhere!  Canadians: are we being naive? Did we just get lucky?

No matter where we wandered we found an interesting blend of old and new architecture, great food, public art, and greenery. The city is diverse, multicultural, and vibrant. Yet it seems curiously safe and clean and friendly!

In all our wandering, this is about as creepy as it ever got:




So yeah, you may have to go elsewhere for a "Top Toronto Sights" sort of list, as we are mostly about walking around neighborhoods and we are liking pretty much everywhere we go.

This is a paragraph you can ignore if you are never going to Toronto, but for those who are considering it: we've enjoyed strolling around the Annex (where our house-swap place is), Yorkville, Cabbagetown, Roncesvalles, Leslieville, The Beaches,  (aka The Beach), the Harbourfront, the Distillery District, Old Town, Whatever You Call Basic Downtown Where People Go to Work and wander the Mall, Little Italy, Little Portugal, Chinatown, Kensington Market, Queen Street West, Ossington, Church and Wellesley...

And we still have more to see! (The islands, several museums we have our eyes on, the Canadian National Exhibition, etc.)

Anyway, a few random pictures of some destinations your feet and a strategic subway token or two can take you:




(And no, we didn't go up to the top of the tower and even if we had there was no f--cking way we were doing anything called the Edge Walk).










Note: I could not take a picture in Leslieville without a stroller in it.














Oh, and how to know you've found a hipster 'hood?

Well, one hint... while looking at this oddly familiar display at a shop full of cute collectibles I was trying to remember what retro art movement these exemplified:



Yep. Turned out to be carefully curated vintage... Paint by Numbers. Gotta love those clever hipsters.

(Warning: The whole related question of Healthy Eating in while Traveling in Toronto?  Coming soon, to a tedious health blog near you! And those of you who are brave enough to venture over to the Cranky Fitness Facebook Page may have noticed: random trip photos, like some virulent virus, are starting to multiply over there as well, though who knows how long that will continue. )

Thanks for indulging me! How do you guys stay fit when you travel? And how was everyone's weekend?

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