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Whether you’re between jobs, just starting out in a new field, or stuck in a dead-end job—we’ve all felt it. Stress. Even those of you who claim to have the best job in the world have faced it. Sadly, stress is one of the main common denominators for all of us, and if you’re anything like me, you might feel trapped when you experience it. I wish I could give you a magical solution to all of your problems and relieve all of your stress—but I’m in nursing, not wizardry. I can, however, point out a pretty good strategy that will likely help.

Drumroll…it’s exercise! I’m sure I’ve lost some of you already, but hear me out! Studies show that getting enough exercise can help you manage whatever stress it is you’re experiencing. Most adults need about 150 minutes of physical activity a week to stay healthy — and this includes a healthy brain.

Now, I know what you’re thinking — because every time in the past that I’ve read a post just like this one, I’ve rolled my eyes so hard that I could almost see what the inside of my head looks like. I’m not here to condescendingly wag a finger in your virtual face while harping at you to get off the couch. If getting exercise is going to help you in any way, you’ll have to want to do it. Getting exercise can be exciting, and doesn’t have to involve tedious, repetitive routines that somewhat remind you of the horror that was your 7th grade gym class, shudders. The thought itself aggravates my asthma… Has anyone seen my inhaler? Anyways, here’s a list of my personal favourites that will keep you coming back for more!

1. Pole Dancing
Yep. You read that right. Studios such a Brass Vixens have a number of locations scattered about Toronto, and even have locations in Mississagua and Vaughan! Pole dancing will work every muscle in your body—including obscure muscles whose existence I’d never really acknowledged before, (outside of abstract anatomy classes anyway), until I took a pole dancing class. It is a wonderful mix of dance, body-weight lifting, and muscular endurance training all rolled into one. Side bonus: not all of us (ahem…raises hand) are gifted with natural sex appeal and charisma, and so a class like this also has you covered for unleashing your inner sex bomb.

2. Indoor Rock Climbing
Places like Boulderz Climbing Centre, Joe Rockhead’s Indoor Climbing, The Rock Oasis Inc., and The Toronto Climbing Academy have you covered for all of your climbing needs. Going for a solid climb will have your muscles rock hard in no time. It will not, however, help curb your tendencies to use bad puns. In all seriousness though, the sense of accomplishment that you feel from finishing a climbing route is almost as good as the adrenaline rush from the height. Now, if the thought of tall heights make you queasy, this one can still be for you! Many climbing gyms also offer bouldering, which is a ropes-free option and doesn’t not involve significant amount of height in your climb.

3. Barre Fitness
Barre classes are a good combination of dance (specifically, ballet foundations), yoga, and Pilates. If you’re wondering why it’s called Barre, well, it’s because it literally involves a ballet barre. You can ensure an awesome workout with one of these classes, while also improving your posture! Studios in Toronto such as Barreworks, and Barre Beautiful have many great classes to offer.

4. Sky Robics
If there’s any activity that I did as a kid that did not feel like I was working out, it was jumping on a trampoline. Some may hate on the nostalgia, but I say in this case the nostalgia gets a pass. It’s for a good cause, after all! Bring back that feeling where you forget that you’re exercising with a Sky Robics class, offered by Skyzone. You can’t help but smile from ear to ear the whole time. Seriously, this class is the epitome of anti-stress.

Okay, so I’m sure there are a good number of you readers who are thinking, “This is all well and good… but I don’t have the cash to fork out for this kind of stuff multiple times a week!” Never fear: apps like Fitset and ClassPass have you covered for discounts and deals, as well as getting you in touch with even more “I can’t believe it’s actually exercise!” fitness classes and gyms.

In a world where stress seems to be inevitable, you have the power to put it in its place — or at least lock it away for a few moments every week.

Kristen is a nurse living in the GTA. When she isn't busy working in the hospital, she can be found scouring the streets of Toronto for new and delicious eats, style hunting from Kensington Market to Queen Street, or twisting and bending in many of Toronto’s finest group fitness classes. From health and wellness to nightlife and adventure, she’s all about it.

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