The weather outside is sometimes frightful, and if your shape is feeling not-so-delightful, let it go, let it go, let it go — to one of the many indoor fitness facilities in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The newest kid on the toning block is Wellness Escape, part of the Grape Escape empire. Located above the bicycle rental shop on Niagara Stone Road, the facility still smells a bit like fresh paint — it’s that new.
Richard Mell, one of three owners of the expanding Escape realm, says his vision is of “smaller boutique-style classes,” with six to 10 people, citing an excellent teacher-to-student ratio. There are three main rooms: two smaller ones — one dedicated mostly to spinning classes — and one slightly larger one, for popular classes like POUND and yoga.
POUND, Mell explains, is a high-energy fitness class done to a percussion-focused soundtrack of current pop tunes. The fit entrepreneur enjoys these classes himself, he says.
Also on the schedule of “about 100 classes per month” are High-Intensity Interval Training, yoga, spinning, meditation, and stretch and unwind sessions. Monthly membership provides unlimited access to classes. The space also has change rooms and a shower.
Local trainers such as Rae Ann Reimer and Jacquie Goodman are among the instructors at the new gym.
True to their name, Grape Escape and Wellness Escape are also in the midst of building an escape room, themed around an old-fashioned barber shop. Mell says this new addition is slated to open in April.
Another summer business upping its winter game is Vino Velo, also on Niagara Stone Road in Virgil. Steve Irwin, a former bicycle racer and current cycling fanatic, compares the classes offered in the back building to riding outside. “This is indoor cycling, as opposed to spinning,” he explains at a Saturday morning class. “Rather than face you and yell at you over loud music,” Irwin joins participants in facing a large screen showing cyclists in stunning environments, such as the German road cycling team rolling through eight Italian towns. “It’s a bit like spin, but at the end you don’t hate me,” quips the whimsical former racer.
Along with his partner Pam Gallop, Irwin carefully sets up each rider, customizing the bikes to their needs and preferences. All levels are accommodated, including people with recent surgeries, and the “Cycling Grannies,” a group of regulars who recently reached the 100-km mark.
The rides are often paired with food from local eateries. “It’s like the carrot before the donkey,” says Gallop. Saturday’s ride was “Pedal and a Panini,” with arrangements made with Teenie Panini around the corner to expect the group for lunch. The price of the classes includes the food. “Pedal and a Pint” is in partnership with another neighbour, Silversmith Brewing. These pairings create community between the riders and within the neighbourhood.
Other opportunities for warm and out-of-the-wind, off-the-ice exercise include our own community centre, with dozens of classes per week, as well as the upstairs fitness centre, with a track, aerobic equipment, weights and more at a very accessible price.
For the bendy types — or those who would like to be more so — there are classes at FoxDen Yoga in The Village, as well as at the community centre. White Oaks and Vintage Hotels also provide a variety of gym amenities to local members as well as visitors to town.
Niagara Fitness and Rehabilitation on Mary Street offers several boot camp classes per week, as well as personal training options, including one-on-one training and group exercise classes for seniors. In order to achieve optimal health benefits and to improve functional abilities, the experts at Niagara Fitness encourage seniors to accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
And of course, when Mother Nature isn’t punishing us for our naughtiness, there’s nothing quite like taking a brisk walk on our local streets and recreational paths, and in our marvel-filled forests.