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Photo: Marc Brakels (Flickr). Creative Commons.

Five fun classes to get you moving this winter

By Devora Cascante on January 23, 2018

We all know we could use a little more activity in our daily lives but sometimes the motivation just isn’t there. When your workout is fun you’re more likely to go back and stick with it. Here are a five fun finds in the NCC that won’t feel like a chore.

Get into the hoop groove

Hooping is serious core work that doesn’t involve crunches. Sophie Latreille has been leading a hula hooping class at the Ottawa Circus School since its doors opened last June. Its a muscle toning, low-impact workout in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. And, don’t worry, the hoops aren’t those flimsy plastic ones from your childhood. Beginners use bigger and heavier hoops that rotate around the hips gracefully. Anyone can do it!

Here’s what a typical class experience looks like:

Cost: $15/class or $150 for 10 sessions. The winter session began on January 9, but registration is still open. Click here to register.

Time: There is a Beginner class on Mondays from 6–7pm and an Intermediate class on Wednesdays from 8:30–9:30pm.

Good to know: The Ottawa Circus School offers a variety of classes for kids and adults. You can also check out AcroYoga, Aerial Arts, Trapeze, Vertical Dance and much more.

The Ottawa Circus School is at 2275 Gladwin Crescent.


Dive right in

I guess in hockey mad Canada it was just a matter of time before underwater hockey became a thing. As you might guess, two teams compete to manoeuvre a puck across the bottom of a swimming pool into the opposing team’s goal by propelling it with a short hockey stick. Players wear fins, a mask and a snorkel so players can stay underwater the whole game. A mouth guard protects teeth from being hit by the puck and a glove on the stick hand protects from scraping the pool bottom. The challenge of holding your breath while trying to make a play for the puck helps swimmers manage their breathing underwater and promotes teamwork. Games have a reputation for being friendly. Players are mindful of water rookies and welcome newbies with peer coaching.

Plus, it’s easy on the joints and works out all your major muscle groups. Have a look:

The Gatineau-Ottawa Underwater Hockey Club offers a variety of programs for all swimmers ages 6 and up. There is a mandatory introductory program for adult beginners:

Cost: $40

Time: The winter orientation begins on January 26 and runs for three Fridays from 8–10pm. The first hour focuses on short instruction and skill demonstrations in the water. A game is then played in the second hour.

Good to know: Membership to CUGA (Canadian Underwater Games Association) is mandatory for all players at a $10 cost. This includes insurance coverage. Drop-in passes are $10–15 each or you can sign up for a whole session. Click here to register and learn more. See you underwater!

Games are played at the Gatineau Centre Sportif (850 Boulevard de la Gappe).


Live by the sword

I learned about Ottawa Swordplay (OS) through a friend who absolutely loves it. Think one part medieval warrior, one part ninja and one part… geek? Back in the day (the Middle Ages), skilled sword fighting techniques were learned by word of mouth. Noblemen paid big money to hire swordfighters to teach them these secrets. Some time in the 14th or 15th Century, a German sword master named Johannes Liechtenauer emerged as one of the most skilled players in the fencing arts world and is considered the founder of the most well-known German medieval combat system. He had many students and over time his teachings were written down. These manuscripts are still studied today and inform the practice at Ottawa Swordplay.

It’s no surprise that the founder of OS, Craig Shackleton, is a bit of a history buff. From learning how to make chainmail armour as a teenager to collecting replica plates and other artifacts, Craig felt compelled to share his love of this martial art and started OS when he moved to Ottawa in 2000. When you take a class at Ottawa Swordplay, you won’t just learn how to handle a sword but also the historical context behind those techniques.

All new students start at the novice level and there’s a free “Introduction to Swordplay” lesson available at the first class of each month. Check out the video for more info:

Cost: Novice classes run for 12 weeks and students can attend weekly for $240 or twice a week for $360.

Time: The winter session started on January 6 with classes on Tuesdays from 7:30–9pm and Saturdays from 1:30–3pm. Registration is still open. Click here to learn more.

Good to know: Wooden swords are provided for novices to use. If you decide to continue, synthetic swords are available for purchase and start at approx $130.

The Sword Hall is located at 1000 Brookfield Road, in the former Gabrielle Roy school.


Get a jump on it

I first tried trampolining with my then six-year-old son. It’s a fun, family friendly activity and Ottawa has several indoor trampoline parks to check out. Jumping on a trampoline is a low cardio activity with a high impact. You can burn a lot of calories without damaging those knees. It is also said to bolster your metabolism and boost your immune system while training the muscles in your abs, legs and glutes.

If you want to step it up a notch, check out Laws of Motion, Ottawa’s Trampoline, Tumbling and Parkour club. Developed in France, parkour reimagines the urban environment as an obstacle course navigated by bodily movements under, over, around, across and through its features. I’m not sure you’ll be able to scale Centretown’s rooftops anytime soon, but this video below highlights some mad tricks you could aspire to:

Cost: The winter session started on January 14. Interested participants can still register for classes subject to availability. Drop-in fees are $10/class for the open gym.

Time: Open gym runs for two hours on Mon, Wed, and Fri evenings as well as Sat afternoon.

Good to Know: No prior gymnastics experience is required.

Laws of Motion is at 1580 Michael St.


Kick up your heels

Whether it’s salsa, foxtrot, afrobeat, tango or hip-hop, everyone seems to be talking about the benefits of dance – not just on your body, but for your mind and mood as well. When you dance, your body moves in all directions, burning as many calories as you might on the treadmill or bicycle. It’s also a great social activity, even in a classroom setting. There’s little chance of attending a dance class and not talking to (and laughing with) the other dancers. There’s no shortage of dance classes in Ottawa offering almost anything you can imagine.

The Flava Factory is the “only dance studio in Ottawa dedicated to teaching and promoting the urban dance styles of Popping, Breaking, House, Locking, Hip Hop, Vogue, Waacking, and Dancehall.” I’m particularly drawn to their Heels class. You don’t need to actually wear high heels to the beginner class. It’s more about developing a strong fierce attitude, mixing in a bit of sass and breaking a sweat in style. You get to tone your body as you gain skills to kill it on the floor. Have a look:

Cost: You get nine classes for $96. The winter session started on January 8 but registration is still open subject to availability. Get in touch here.

Time: Intro to Heels is on Tuesdays from 8–9pm. Check out the full schedule here.

Good to know: Any of the blue classes on the schedule are suitable as drop-ins. The fee is $16/class. 10 and 20 class passes are available as well.

The Flava Factory is located at 1076 Wellington Street West.


What did I miss? I’d love to hear about what motivates you to get movin’ and why you stick to it. Leave a comment below.

Devora is passionate about fitness and teaches Group Power (a strength and movement training class) at the Taggart Family YMCA, where there are many ways to have a good time.