Sweat & Tonic @ The Well Review: Hot HIIT Pilates Is The Class You Didn’t Know Existed, Needed

Hot HIIT Pilates studio with mats and blocks laid out at Sweat & Tonic's The Well location.

This Sweat & Tonic Hot HIIT Pilates at The Well review is part of Class Action, FLEETSTREET’s workout review series. We get sweaty to give you the low-down on what the workouts are really like. 

The Studio – Sweat & Tonic at The Well

Walking through The Well to find the Sweat & Tonic studio, you don’t feel like you’re in Kansas (or Toronto) anymore. My mind takes me to London or New York City, wandering through malls that don’t feel like malls. Think Victoria Gate in London Town or Hudson Yards in NYC. (In fact, Bloomberg called The Well “Toronto’s Answer to Hudson Yards.”) Despite being home to fitness studio Sweat and Tonic, healthy saladerie Mandy’s or the meditative Arcadia Earth, The Well isn’t short for “wellness.” Instead, it’s named after the area, as it sits on Wellington Street, framed by Spadina Avenue, and Front and Draper streets. It’s pretty massive, at 320,000 square feet of retail and food space, with 1.2 million square feet of office space and 1,700 residences that draw 22,000 daily visitors. 

Admittedly I had a bit of trouble navigating the space. To find Sweat and Tonic, my recommendation is to go up the escalator from the corner of Spadina and Front to the second floor, then lean left and you’ll eventually see the S&T sign on a storefront corner. You’ll be able to hear any classes going on and see large screens of beautiful people exercising. Walk through the doors, you’ll see a smoothie bar on your left and the studio check-in desk on your right.

The 25,000-square-foot Sweat and Tonic space is gorgeous. It’s so beautiful that I want to move in. And, theoretically, I could work there for just $185 a month (see full rates at end). That includes access to a contemporary modern décor work area with a bar with its private call booths (which I took advantage of for a Zoom call with my partner in crime Danielle Goguen) and unlimited daytime classes. Meeting rooms are extra at $30 or $50 per hour, depending on the room booked. However, that S&T membership is wayyyyyy cheaper than We Work’s (without workout classes) at $25 a day.

The Sweat and Tonic work area at The Well.

But it’s the fitness space that makes me swoon: a yoga/Pilates studio, HIIT studio, indoor cycling studio (with over 75 bikes) and personal training room. On top of that, the spacious locker rooms have complimentary toiletries (heavy lifting reserved for your workout, not your gym bag), as well as rain-style showers and Dyson hair dryers. 

If a workout studio could be equalled to a spa, this is it. 

Grab my glam squad; I’m ready for the women’s change room.

Class Action: We try Triple Sweat at Sweat and Tonic.

The Workout – Hot HIIT Pilates 

Admittedly I have no idea what HIIT Pilates means before I sign up for the class. I mean, I know what high-intensity interval training is, and I know what Pilates is. But Pilates, to me, is the antithesis of HIIT. It’s not about speeding through moves or getting the heart rate up. It’s about going through the full range of motion with resistance on both the flexing and elongation of muscles. And the longer it takes to do a move, the freaking harder it is. So, going fast doesn’t really make sense to me initially. Have you ever done “feet in straps” or hundreds? Pilates is a workout that feels as good as it feels hard. It never feels like punishment or that I just need to get through these next 30 seconds. I also wasn’t sure about the heated room. I still don’t understand why people want to exercise in high temperatures when they’re not training for a destination fitness event in a warmer climate, even after writing this article “Thinking About Exercising In The Heat? You Should Read This.”

But I was intrigued. Sweat and Tonic’s site describes the class this way: “We bring HIIT training into the heat of the hot yoga studio to turn up the burn in this S&T favourite. Expect short bursts of high-intensity exercises that focus on stabilizing, strengthening and toning the whole body – all while moving (and sweating) to the beat.” 

Queensberry Rules boxing studio review: Let’s not throw punches – it’s hard.

Expect to do the typical Pilates mat moves, such as glute bridges, rolling-like-a-ball, hundreds, roll-ups, roll-overs, leg circles, single-leg stretches, leg kicks, saws, leg circles, clams, swimming and more. In addition to increasing tempo, you’ll also be doing low-impact cardio like marching on the spot, lateral shuffles, skaters and lunge kicks – all done within the space of a yoga mat. There are more intense moves like burpees and jumping jacks, but you can make those low impact by stepping instead of jumping. Mood lighting is also an experiential tool for the Chroma Hot HIIT Pilates classes. Mats, resistance bands and blocks are provided, but you can bring your own mat or mat cover if you wanted. A water bottle would be encouraged as it’s a heated studio with cardio.

And my instructor Megan van der Baars (who also handles PR for the studio) tells me after I tried the class that the infrared heat is meant to increase the intensity and challenge of the class. She encourages participants to focus on breath work and intentional movements (which sounds very Pilates to me). She also says that by working out in different environments and temperatures, the body learns to adapt and improve fitness for when the heat hits in the summer. And there are some claims by infrared product companies that by setting the body’s temperature higher means increasing the metabolism. I don’t know when I’ll be doing intense Pilates intervals in a naturally hot climate, but I’m a Yes Person when it comes to fitness. If I can physically do something, then why not at least try it?

The best gyms in Toronto: Where the city’s fitness pros work out.  

We Tried It

Like most Pilates classes, we started on the mat. Unlike most Pilates classes, we started with a Britney Spears track. The temperature soon went up to a balmy 98 degrees. Micromovements were on the menu for this 50-minute class, with pulses for things like crunches and squats, along with core-focussed moves peppered between, like roll-ups, bird dogs and boat holds. But burpees and shavasana were also part of class.

Speaking of polar experiences, the music is what you might expect in an indoor cycling or boot camp class. It’s high energy, even when you’re on the floor. Between beats and pulse crunches, it’s there I realize what a skill it is to be in a high-energy environment but be focused on minimal movement including breath. Usually in a class with that kind of music, you use it to push you through the full movements and fatigue. But when lying or on all fours on the floor, the tempo of the music is like a rep tool. Keeping the mind collected and counting the repetitions when the music could push your body to compromise form is a definite skill. It was a keep-calm-carry-on mindset that I’d never experienced in fitness class before, making it not just a physical class but a mental one too. I thought that was pretty cool. 

Afterward, my muscles felt tight and engaged, and I did feel just as tired as if I had taken another HIIT class with compound movements and intense cardio, even though the Pilates moves felt more grounding than exhaustive. I immediately grabbed a recovery drink at the smoothie bar. I deserved it.

Loft barre review: It’ll keep you on your toes.

The Verdict

Hot HIIT Pilates is perfect for someone looking for variety in their workouts. It could be an active-rest day or low-impact day. Beginners might like the challenge and can follow along easily, but Pilates fanatics will appreciate a new way to engage the core and experience the mind-body connection. Who wouldn’t like it? I would recommend circuit-training aficionados to keep in check their expectations of what a HIIT class is, especially if they’re used to heavy weights. Since Pilates combines strength with flexibility, understanding the movements is key. Sweat and Tonic members love it; so much so that it’s offered 14 times a week at The Well location.  

Sweat and Tonic, two locations in Toronto (plus a third one Yorkville to open in spring 2025), $32 for a drop-in class, monthly packages range from 9-to-5 day membership $165 a month to $275 a month unlimited class access.