Best of Toronto: Fitness professionals, trainers and coaches

Like to get your sweat on? Lucky for you, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to ways to do so in this city. CrossFit, yoga, Pilates, running, weights, or all of the above — and more, there are professionals that can guide you through your journey towards optimum health. Which is a good thing, because the right trainer or instructor can help you find the shortcut to a body beautiful, but also help prevent you from having to find the best physiotherapist in Toronto, if you know what I mean.

It is their job to understand the human body, and interpret it for their clients. As a fitness professional myself, I’ve had the privilege of working with some incredible individuals from a variety of disciplines.

Here, in no particular order, are the best of the best:

Amber Joliat  

If you are looking for a workout that moves your soul as well as your body, then look no further than a class with Amber Joliat. Creativity, magic and all things mystic are the elements that she breathes through life both in and out of the studio. That’s reflected by the enthusiastic community she has built around her.

As the owner and creator of Misfitstudio, Amber brings two decades of experience as a teacher of dance, yoga, and Pilates to her students. She has also created a blend of all of these methodologies known as Fusion and trains others to teach it.

The goal of her Misfitmethod of movement is to inspire her students to move their bodies and feel free to unravel their minds. She is known for classes that are as rigorous as they are fun. If her killer ab sequences don’t have you feeling seriously sore (trust me, you’ll definitely feel the effects), the deep belly laughs you experience during her uplifting workouts certainly will do the trick.  

Dhani Oks 

To say that Dhani Oks has gone to extremes to hack the human body would be an understatement. He has traveled to Bulgaria to train with Olympic weightlifting champions and coaches, run a marathon without really preparing for it, has gone without food for seven days and experimented with every diet you can think of. All of this to explore his physical limits and prove that even a (self-described) former fat kid with asthma can do some cool things. The good news is that he has figured out what works, so that his clients don’t have to waste their time with what doesn’t.

Dhani founded Academy of Lions to bring his approach to the people: CrossFit, weight lifting, metabolic conditioning, and running. It’s definitely not easy, but it’s simple. The space is as no-nonsense as the philosophy: a place to do work, more reminiscent of a Communist prison or maybe the training montage in Rocky IV. If that floats your boat more than fancy machines, tanning beds, and copious piles of towels, then this might just be the community for you.  

Eva Redpath

It only takes a few moments with Canada’s only Nike Master Trainer, creator and owner of Body Conditioning By Dancers, and award-winning fitness trainer at the glossy Equinox clubs in Yorkville and on Bay Street, to realize that Eva Redpath is a one-woman fitness phenomenon. A source of seemingly boundless energy and knowledge, she brings a solid dance background and true passion to her classes and personal training sessions.

Eva’s studio-inspired workouts (a particular favourite of hers) will make you a believer that you don’t need to lift weights to work your muscles to exhaustion. She's often featured on the pages of popular health and fitness magazines and on TV shows, as well as hosting her own digital series on Coral TV "Get Fit in the City".

She is also known to lead regular fitness retreats to enviably hot and sunny locations. Redpath's ultimate goal is to empower women to achieve their personal best and strives for this through every facet of who she is. If you ask Eva, she'll tell you she's just getting started.

Jordan Symonds

With a list of qualifications as impressive as his stature, Jordan Symonds is head coach and co-owner of Reebok CrossFit Liberty Village. Whether he’s running the workout of the day for a group of the area’s residents or young professionals, or personal training session tailored precisely for an individual, he is always looking for unique ways to motivate, educate and elevate his clients.

He also strives to create a true sense of community at RCFLV. This includes running a CrossFit class for new mothers, combining the daunting task of sometimes carrying two fussy babies at a time while coaching a group through an hour of deadlifts, kettlebell swings and more. Now that’s multitasking. Jordan has an incredibly keen level understanding of functional anatomy, and is one of the most intuitive trainers I have encountered when it comes to diagnosing potential issues and correcting form. Jordan motivates his clients to start training, and then truly elevate their overall fitness game so they keep training. 

Brittany Coughlan

A Pilates instructor since 2009, Brittany is known for her creative and challenging sequences on both mat and reformer, and aims to give clients that magical feeling she felt herself after her very first Pilates class: of strength, support, and possibility. This led to her group classes and private sessions at Body Harmonics (where she also received her certification) and other studios became wildly popular. So much so, in fact, that in 2014 she opened her very own boutique studio, Fine Tune Pilates.

The chic, bright, little space is designed for personalized movement training, where Brittany can work one on one (or with a duo) to align, strengthen and balance based on the needs of the individual. She has a specialized background in pre- and post-natal Pilates, but can tailor a program to suit everyone from serious athletes to absolute beginners. “From the moment we wake up, until the time we go to sleep at night, we are moving,” she says. “When we choose exercise that better aligns the body, and strengthens the muscles that help us move throughout our day, we look balanced and feel our finest.”

Couldn’t we all use a little fine-tuning here and there? You can also find her movement expertise on YouTube with fellow instructor Andrea Palen, Pilates for the People.

Rejean Chiasson 

There is jogging…and then there is running. If you’re serious about running, whether it’s completing your first 5K or your first sub-3 hour marathon, you want to know Rejean Chiasson. A humble person, this New Brunswick native started running 10 years ago while in the Canadian Forces and has never looked back. He ran his first marathon in 2011, then in 2012 he claimed the title of Canadian Marathon Champion and is also a four-time Canadian Half Marathon Championship medalist. (Just writing that makes me tired!)

Chiasson has trained with Canada’s top running coaches, as well as in Ethiopia under the guidance of Jama Aden, coach of multiple world-record holders and Olympic medalists. Now, he brings all that wisdom, experience and a philosophy of “Run hard. Live small. Dream big.” to his own coaching work. You can find him as head coach of Nike Running Club in Toronto (a veritable sensation on the streets of “The 6” in recent years), as well as co-founder and head coach of Pace & Mind, a “tough love” coaching service for distance runners.

Whether you work with him online or in person, Coach Rejean can help you work on aspects of pacing, cross training, mental state and nutrition to help improve your performance both on and off the road.  

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