Best Acupuncture: Jian Zhong Yan at Thuna's Wholistic Centre 298A Danforth, 416-456-3978
Photo: R. Jeanette Martin
If your fear of needles has prevented you from feeling the healing rush that comes with acupuncture, you can allay your neurosis now that Jian Zhong Yan is in the house. He has 25 years under his belt as a heart surgeon in Shanghai, and the man's steady hands and clinical approach to tapping your energy points will reassure even the biggest baby.
BEST YOGA STUDIO: Jivamukti Yoga 5 Shuter, 416-530-0039
There are lots of great yoga studios, but let's face it, yoga isn't yoga if you're only doing the exercise part. Like, toning your abs isn't a quick route to self-realization and neither is doing a downward dog and then trundling off to talk about how enlightened you are over latte. Few studios do what Jivamukti does -- make sure you do call-and-response chanting before each class, and listen to an oral meditation on kindness and acceptance. Yeah, it can be kind of annoying sometimes, but stretching here is more than a physical challenge. And they rub you with really great-smelling stuff during class. In second place, the 5:30 pm advanced Anusara class Tuesdays at the Yoga Studio (40 Eglinton East, 416-322-9936). Beginners are best off at parks-and-rec centres like Cummer Park Community Centre ( 6000 Leslie, 416-395-7803) or the Beaches Rec Centre (6 Williamson, 416-392-0740). You can't beat $61 bucks for nine classes. www.toronto.ca/parks/torontofun.
BEST HEALTH FOOD STORE: BIG CARROT 348 Danforth, 416-466-2129
Maybe it's the inspiring co-op structure or the fact that it helped develop the first and only natural mall in the city, Carrot Common, whose courtyard doubles as a great place to people-watch or get a 10-minute shiatsu treatment under the trees. Maybe it's the amazing selection of organic produce, the aisles of GMO- and refined-sweetener-free foods. Or the fact that it's out-and-out banned those ingredients, plus about a dozen more. Did we mention that the supplement and body care sections are so big and bountiful, they basically have their own separate stores within the Common (where super-knowledgeable staff dole out advice to boot)? If any locally owned health store can steal customers away from corporate mega-grocers and keep 'em, it's this one, and we love 'em for it.
BEST WAY TO WORK OUT YOUR KNOTS ON A BUDGET: Shiatsu School of Canada 547 College, 416-323-1818
Back riddled with so many knots we could tie you up and call you macrame? You've probably spent a fortune on massages that only seem to rub the surface or you're too broke to seek help and have made do with getting your dog to walk on your spine. Have we got the compromise for you. The Shiatsu School of Canada holds a weekly student clinic where an unprecedented 75 minutes of healing time costs a mere $30. No, it's not as cheap as the 10-minutes-for-10-bucks deal at the school's professional clinic (and at lots of other massage spots around town), but no one offers you an hour and a quarter of blissed-out pressure-point treatment at that price.
Best Aromatherapy: Patricia Miller 458 Eglinton West, 416-485-0600, www.patriciamiller.com
Patricia Miller , whose name is now synonymous with aromatherapy in Toronto, has put in 25 years researching the botanic super-powers of essential oils, with great success. Not only does she teach others, but her wisdom has also manifested itself in the form of a full line of skin-specific beauty products. Check out her 4,000-square-foot bi-level clinic and boutique and see (sorry, smell) for yourself.
Best dance studio: Dance Teq 470 Queens Quay West, 416-361-9498
Dance in just about any form is a fabulous way to keep in shape, but there aren't a lot of places for adults to take classes. Specialty schools like Arabesque Academy or Flow Fitness teach belly dance, and some gyms also offer lessons, but these can be pretty hit-and-miss. In an environment that doesn't specialize in dance, students are usually beginners who tend to come and go, and the class doesn't advance quickly. Your best bet for the less exotic genres of ballet, jazz and hiphop is Dance Teq , where classes start at 12 bucks for an hour and a half, an awesome price for any exercise class. Classes are given in the same studios used by the National Ballet, and you can be relatively certain that the teachers are competent and know what they're doing, even though the atmosphere is pretty relaxed. "Beginner" actually means "really hard" in ballet, so start at pre-beginner. Jazz is a little easier.
Best Hotel for Quickie Sex: Travelodge Toronto Downtown West 621 King West, 416-504-7441
If you and your horny lunch date prefer burning calories to consuming them, then the Travelodge at King and Bathurst is made to order. Where else in the downtown core can you find a hotel that's far from enquiring minds (and eyes), with outdoor access to rooms providing a splash of seedy-motel appeal? Even better, day rooms are available from 10 am to 3 pm for a hard-to-resist rate of $55 (plus tax). Check in and get off.
Best Place to Find a Drag Queen on Her Smoke Break: Channel 501 501 Church, 416-944-3272
Come the weekend, the entire Church Street strip between Wellesley and Carlton becomes a stomping ground for these sardonic lip-synching sweethearts of the stage. But you need look no further than the sidewalk outside Channel 501 (formerly Bar 501) to find the hard-working man behind the woman behind the man enjoying a fag. Bette Davis would be proud.
Best Place to Pick Up Drama Queens: George's Play 504 Church, 416-963-8251
Although they really are everywhere, it's likely that you'll find the scream of the crop at hot spot George's Play , especially on Friday and Saturday nights, when the drama factor goes up as the drinks go down. Good luck.
Best Public Bathrooms for getting off: The Women's, anywhere
Granted, public washroom sex isn't everyone's cup of tea, but some of you out there love it, for whatever reason: you just cannot wait until you get home, the alleyway is cold and/or dirty, plus your 'nads get tingly from the idea of public sex. Whatever. Girls' washrooms are often relatively clean, which is nice, and have lots of stalls to choose from, which means the odds of someone forcing her way into yours while someone is being penetrated with something are pretty slim. It helps to be a lesbian, but modern times being what they are, there shouldn't be any trouble sneaking in someone of the less fair sex.
Best sex shop: Come As You Are 701 Queen West, 416-504-7934
Or best place to learn how to give anal massage. Butt massage is just one of the workshops offered at the fabulous cooperatively owned Come as You Are . Other classes are offered on female ejaculation and Japanese rope bondage. Where else can you buy dildos, butt plugs, harnesses, nipple clamps and lube from a staff of extremely knowledgeable, disability-friendly folks who genuinely care about your health, and also perhaps check out an art exhibit? If you need to go to the bathroom while you're there and you use a wheelchair, it's all good. If you're female and more the shy type, Good for Her offers seminars, too, and is a more womancentric environment with, like, herbal tea.
BEST MAKEOUT SPOT:
On a church wall near church street
Because it's so risky and sexy, especially if you tell your girlfriend that you used to be Catholic. (That will really turn her on.) And, best of all, you can get tangled up in the vines growing on the wall.
The rooftop above the Orbit Room 580 College, 416-535-0613
You can sneak out of the Orbit Room patio and climb up the stairs. No one really goes up there, but you can hear all the noise from the street, especially on weekends. It's perfect if you get off on having sex in public places. Bonus: there's a bakery next door, and when you're done you can sneak down the back and grab a freshly baked loaf off the racks!