Functional Fitness on the Danforth

Located just steps off the Danforth, Energia Athletics is a multi-studio fitness facility that found its roots as a running retail store in Leslieville twelve years ago. Owners Jon Dunnill and wife Lea Amaral decided to direct their love of running into a business plan, and after several years moved the business to the Danforth where they opened an adjoining running studio. While Energia was founded as a studio for runners, yoga classes were soon added as a means to promote flexibility and proper stretching as a compliment to running. Ten years later, the expansion led to a move from Danforth Avenue to its current location on Pape. With increased studio space, Energia now offers classes in core, kettlebell, CrossFit, and Spin, making it unique in its promotion of cross-training through a variety of exercise styles.


Owner Jon had a lot to say about how a well-rounded fitness plan is crucial to maximizing one’s strength and endurance: “If you’re training regularly, you’re going to have increased levels of fitness through increased flexibility and training different systems in your body…all those things come together to give you a greater degree of fitness for injury prevention.” As an avid runner himself, Jon highlights how the greatest risk of injury comes from repetitive motions that can cause severe strain, such as joint issues from consistent running. Instead, with varying fitness plans, clients can improve their overall strength and enable each muscle system to support another. This trend is commonly referred to as functional fitness, and promotes movements that mimic and improve everyday life. By practicing activities such as kettlebell in conjunction with CrossFit and yoga, what results is an all-encompassing level of fitness that makes tasks like carrying groceries or building a back deck more accessible by incorporating a variety of different movements. Jon says that Spin is a great compliment because it is geared towards high intensity cardio, and therefore is great training for the cardiovascular system. Similarly, yoga develops flexibility, core strength, and a focus on breathing that too caters to an easier everyday lifestyle.


It is this very focus on functional fitness and all-round physical activity that gives Energia a competitive edge against conventional gym establishments located on the Danforth. “I think that people come to us instead because they like the idea of group fitness,” Jon says. “That’s what a lot of people find is lacking in a big gym; there’s more motivation when you book a time to attend a class, and having an instructor lead the class is very motivating as well.”


Jon says that a lot of their success can be attributed to support from the local community. “At least 50%-60% of clients live within a one kilometre radius of the studio, so there’s definitely a neighbourhood feel to it.” That said, clients come from all parts of the city, with proximity to Pape Station making Energia an easy location for commuters, which allows the unique vision of the studio to be enjoyed by any Toronto fitness buff. Within the ever-evolving Danforth community, Energia reflects the atmosphere of change in the area, and with that change comes a studio with an inclusive, welcoming environment that caters to a demographic as unique as the neighbourhood itself.

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