Sometimes, Toronto moves at a breakneck pace – speeding like a Line 2 subway car headed for the bright lights of Bloor-Yonge. It’s bold, brash and charged with urban energy. Other times, the city grinds to a frustrating halt – like when you’re stuck in bottleneck traffic on your evening commute through the 401.

This “stop-go-repeat” cycle is a part of everyday life in the Six. And most times, we accept the dizzying highs and patient lows with admiration. But oh man, is it ever nice to escape the grind every once in a while?

That’s where Toronto’s health and wellness scene can help. If you’re exhausted by the rat race, overwhelmed by work, bombarded with personal issues, or maybe just not feeling your best right now, Toronto delivers a healthful concoction of experiences to recenter you.

Navigating the eye-wateringly diverse array of offerings can feel overwhelming (the last thing you want to feel when searching for wellness options). Luckily, we at Harvey Kalles can be your guide. As the premier realtors in Toronto, we’ve experienced every corner of the city, from the quietest Zen meditation spaces to the loudest fitness centres. These are a few of our favourite options for unwinding in the city.

Keeping Your Head Above Water: Schvitzes, Spas and Float Therapy

When we consider wellness, we tend to think of returning to nature – powering down those blue-light devices, setting aside our interpersonal issues and striving for something more elemental. For some, that means communing with the earth: the soil, rocks and trees (more on that below). But for others, it’s all about water…that primitive, all-connecting facet of life on earth.

There are plenty of places to aquatically unwind in Toronto. For a traditional old-world schvitz (read: a hot soak in a lavish bath), check out the Hammam Spa at King West and Portland, an ornate Turkish bath that blends relaxation with opulence.

For the quintessential downtown Toronto wellness experience, consider The Spa at the Old Mill. Don’t let the unimaginative title fool you. This Victorian-style spa straddling the Humber River is about as evocative as spas get in Toronto, chock-filled with historical charm, luxurious amenities and even a salt chamber.

Finally, you can float your worries away at one of the city’s many float centres. Some people swear by these sensory deprivation devices for recentering, reconnection and therapeutic relief. Others just like to tune out with a good float. Check out Float Toronto in West Queen West or H20 Float Studio in the Distillery District to give it a try.

Sweating It Out: Gyms, Fitness Centres and Team Sports

There are those who recharge by staying still, and those who recharge by doing the exact opposite. If you’re in the latter camp, your idea of Toronto health and wellness might involve squat racks, treadmills, Pilates classes, softball diamonds and Toronto bike tours. Thankfully, the Six is stuffed to its brim with gyms, fitness centres and rec leagues.

Head “back to class” at centres like Fit Factory (an uber-popular spot offering hundreds of classes a month) or ElleTO (a women-focused gym offering a slew of group classes), both on King Street. Sweat away the weekday stress at a budget-friendly Hone Gym or 24/7 mainstay like Fit4Less (both boast various locations).

And for a breath of (literal) fresh air, take your fitness outdoors – weather permitting. In summer, join one of TO’s many outdoor sports leagues to crack a bat, kick a ball or shoot a hoop on your journey toward wellness. For a more contemplative, sophisticated swing at the healthy lifestyle Toronto offers, skim through our list of the best public golf courses in Toronto.

A man exercises with battle ropes at a Toronto fitness centre

Mindful Matters: Yoga, Meditation and Sound Bathing Studios

Mindfulness is more than a buzzword. Studies show that meditative and mindfulness practices can actually alter neurological structures and activations in the brain, making people calmer, more focused and empathetic. (This Harvard Gazette article neatly summarizes the science behind it, if you’re interested). What’s more, mindfulness’ positive impacts don’t stop once you leave the studio; these practices can follow you through daily routines as you commute to work, deal with deadlines or keep your home safe and clean.

For yoga lovers who like a dash of exercise with their mindfulness (a “double whammy” in the wellness world), check out studios like Union Yoga + Wellness on Bloor, Yoga Tree Bay on Dundas West, or Modo Yoga. That last business has locations on the Danforth, in Bloor West, Rosedale and St. Clair.

If you prefer to cut straight to the meditation – no stretching required – take some deep breaths at meditation centres like Bodhi in North York or Kadampa in Little Italy. Alternatively, you can reach out to the Mindfulness Clinic near the Toronto General Hospital, which combines modern psychotherapy with mindfulness to address various mental health concerns.

Then, there’s a novel approach to meditation: sound bathing studios. A relatively recent addition to the Toronto health and wellness ecosystem, sound bathing is “a full-body meditative experience where people lie down and listen to resonant sounds.” Scientific studies show that the emerging practice can actually lower anxiety and stress. So far, we know of two dedicated sound bath businesses in Toronto: Kiko Sounds in North Roncy and Soul Sound Wellness up in Bedford Park.

Forging Your Own Path: Forest Bathing and Urban Relaxation

No one’s saying you have to fork over money to stay healthy and centred in Toronto. The city offers plenty of free opportunities to unwind, reconnect and stay active.

If you’re lucky enough to live in one of our top neighbourhoods for nature lovers, you have a world of relaxation at your doorstep. For everyone else, nature is a $3.35 TTC ticket away. Explore High Park by bike or Birchcliff by foot. Play some tennis in Trinity Belwoods or racketball in Riverdale. Catch a sunset at Ontario Place or a sunrise on the Martin Goodman Trail. Surrounded by all that greenery, you might even forget you’re in one of North America’s biggest cities.

Similarly, for a serene “forest bathing” experience, try hiking in the GTA through pristine spots like Rattlesnake Point, Rouge Valley or the East Don Trail. Forest bathing is a Japanese mindfulness concept involving immersing yourself in nature, and several studies show that the practice has appreciable health benefits.

Lastly, health and wellness always start at home. To find your own “sanctuary” in Toronto, contact the expert realtors at Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd.