The deafening sound of crashing weights. Ripped, shirtless athletes. Casual conversations about snatches and jerking. Walking into a CrossFit box for the first time can be a confusing and intimidating experience. RedLeaf Fitness, Toronto’s newest gym, is out to change all that.
“The current dominant discourse around mainstream fitness culture is intimidating, elitist, exclusive, and plagued with gimmicks,” explains CEO and Founder Sean Blinch. “And the current image around both mainstream fitness and CrossFit appeals to too small a margin of Canadians and often makes people feel sidelined before they can realize their own potential. RedLeaf Fitness is out to change this. Fitness can and should be for everyone.”
Inspired by a desire to create a shift in ideology in the Canadian fitness industry, Blinch and his team set out to create a place that would feel welcoming to anyone, no matter their fitness level. And they gave themselves a seriously lofty goal: to positively impact one million Canadians.
“Our mission is about motivating people around the true spirit of fitness – embracing and enjoying the process and making an adventure out of getting fit,” he explains.
RedLeaf Fitness was designed to promote community throughout. A significant amount of space is dedicated to a hang-out area with two long wooden tables, a plush chocolate brown couch, and two comfy leather chairs, making it the perfect space for a post-WOD debrief, pre-workout catch-up, or even a midday pop-in for one of the delicious drinks from their smoothie and coffee bar (Station Cold Brew will also be available on tap soon).
“We know that families are forged around the dinner table, so we aimed to build a space that offers both the robust durability of a bare-bones box and a warm and welcoming feel,” Blinch explains.
Walk through the spacious locker rooms (with towel service, showers, dark wood cubbies, and hair dryers and straighteners in the women’s room) to get to the main gym. On your way, you’ll pass by the co-ed infrared sauna, perfect for relaxing and catching up with other members after a tough workout.
The community vibe continues in the gym where two class types often run simultaneously, with both classes warming up together.
“Running the classes at the same time solves the biggest issue of all: time,” Blinch explains. “No matter what time of day you need to train we’ve got you covered.”
“The philosophy around the programming at RedLeaf Fitness is all built around routine and promoting working out often, as much as four-to-five times a week,” Blinch tells us. “We can do this because the types of movements people will see day to day in our classes deeply consider the week of training as a whole.”
There are two main types of classes at RedLeaf Fitness: RedFit and CrossFit Sport.
RedFit is the best choice for newbies. Classes feature a combination of movements that build strength, burn calories, and improve cardiovascular endurance. The RedFit class follows a unique stripe system, similar to a martial arts belt graduation, that helps all levels of fitness reach movement benchmarks safely. Members progress through stripes as they begin to demonstrate safe, quality movement.
Blinch explains: “The RedFit classes are flexible and welcoming to all levels of fitness, and focus on fun, calorie burning workouts that people can go through at their own pace.”
CrossFit Sport is for the more experienced athlete and features functional movements performed at high intensity. Workouts are based on movements such as gymnastics, weight lifting, running, rowing, and more, and follow a year-long progression that is written around the movements athletes will face every year in the CrossFit Games Open. To access this class, you’ll need to have earned Stripe Level II or higher.
“The CrossFit Sport classes allow us to cater to the highly mature CrossFit athletes who are looking for a competitive, often technical and strategic atmosphere while still having a ton of fun,” says Blinch.
Other classes include Olympic Lifting, Gymnastics, and Yoga.
RedLeaf Fitness opened to the public on July 10.