Written by Ashley Dier | Academy Of Lions Media Team | Toronto

Community: a group of people in a defined space all having a particular characteristic in common. Organically, this group will typically develop a sense of belonging as a result of sharing common goals, interests and attitudes. Add sweat, burpees and lions to this definition and you have: CommUNITY Class.

New to the programming at Academy of Lions are CommUNITY Classes. Created as a way to break down barriers surrounding health & fitness and to help build positive relationships, the CommUNITY classes are...totally... free. Class creator and Academy of Lions co-founder, Dhani Oks describes why he felt the need to develop this community.  “The reason you open a business is because you want to do things that you believe in - even if they don’t make sense financially. The freedom to follow your vision for the world unhindered by anyone’s limitations. I was personally transformed by a fitness based community and am grateful for these things in my life. I think Academy exists to break down the personal and social barriers around getting healthy, fit & happy.  That’s why we’ve always given away at least 20% of our time & services away for free.  It breaks down barriers and especially excuses.  And we know good things will happen from that - for the member, for us and for the community at large,” he said.

Like Dhani, I too was transformed by a fitness based community. A fitness for free approach immediately breaks down the barrier of cost, creating an opportunity for anyone to join, to be a part of a community and potentially become transformed themselves. Accessibility to a fitness class, taught by talented coaches, surrounded by like minded individuals regardless of whether it's in your budget or not that's CommUNITY.

CommUNITY classes focus on form, cardio, mobility and body weight training and for many, serve as a compliment to their pre existing fitness routines. Sydney Allen-Ash has been attending CommUNITY classes since their inception. A boxer and runner Sydney has been athletic since childhood and uses the CommUNITY classes as a means of cross-training. "My relationship with fitness over the past four years has looked like everything from running 6 days a week to training for boxing two hours a day 4 days a week and at some points just doing nothing at all. More recently (thanks to the community classes) I have been working out 3-5 times a week, with 60% of that being at AoL and the rest being at my school’s gym or running," she said.

Don't think you need to cross-train? Think again! Cross-training is an important step towards injury prevention. It can help address and strengthen muscle imbalances, help loosen tight muscles, and increase flexibility and mobility. Cross-training makes you stronger, improves your efficiency, makes you faster and even more of an athlete! CommUNITY classes are perfect for those looking to add a little cross-training to their lives, but also great for those new to a gym as well.

As a busy student, Sydney is budget conscious (who isn't really) and was looking for a low cost, positive, gimmick free workout where she could maintain her fitness. A workout environment where it was less about what you were wearing and more about what you were doing. "I’m broke and wanted to maintain a level of fitness that won’t make my sports completely unbearable once I have time to go back them. But also I have always been curious about the stuff that goes on in classes at AoL so the CommUNITY classes are a nice little sneak peak. Hopefully once I graduate I can afford to take some different classes," Sydney said.

Just because the workouts are free, doesn't make them easy. The classes typically consist of metabolic conditioning (METCON) and high intensity training (HITT) and can include ring-work, box jumps, skipping, push-ups, and everyone's favourite...burpees. "The workouts are always pretty tough, so that vibe is intense during the workout but so good by the end of it because...we were all in it together," Sydney said. That all "in this together" vibe is entirely what the CommUNITY classes are all about, well that and maybe a few burpees.

Interested in finding out what the buzz is all about ? To learn more about CommUNITY classes and to register for an upcoming class, click HERE.

The CommUNITY Class schedule:

Tuesday 8:30pm                                                               

Thursday 8:30pm

Saturday 3:00pm

Sunday 3:00pm