You’re in Good Company!

** Sandy **

“In 2020, at the start of Covid 19, I took an online Functional Fitness class with Tonia. I have always been active but as I aged, my endurance and confidence were waning. I became less comfortable doing things like cross country skiing because my balance felt off. My posture was deteriorating and I was becoming quite stooped. 

Working through the online sessions with Tonia helped me realize that I could regain my endurance and confidence by building strength and focusing on better posture and balance. As Covid eased, my husband and I wanted to check off some of our travel bucket list items. One of those was to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. To help us prepare for this arduous four day hike, we started working out regularly with Tonia. She developed workout plans for us that focused on the things we needed to do to get ourselves fit for the hike. I am quite proud to say that although we were the oldest people on our tour, we did the hike with ease, even keeping ahead of people 30 years younger than us. 

We have continued to work out with Tonia regularly and have completed more bucket list travel adventures including some I would never have dreamed I would be doing. Aside from all our travel adventures, I now have more energy, I am more confident walking on icy or uneven ground, and I feel like I will be better able to age well and deal with whatever health issues might be in my future. 

Tonia has an amazing knowledge of the workings of the human body.  Her ability to adjust workouts to fit almost any challenge a person might have is nothing short of astounding.  She has an exercise or a stretch for everything from tight muscles to torn ligaments and many more serious issues a person might experience. It is the best investment I have ever made in terms of time and money. In fact, what Tonia has helped me achieve is priceless. I can only say Thank You, Tonia!”

– Sandy

– Zoom Class

** Dorothea **

“I’m so grateful for your classes, Tonia. I’ve never been an “exercise” type of person, but joining your class so many years ago was one of the best things I’ve ever done. A couple years later, my Doctor was surprised at the improvement in my bone density and attributed it to my participation in your fitness classes.

 More recently, at age 80, I’ve been attending physio for my scoliosis. The therapist is trained in the Schroth method of treatment, which entails getting into all sorts of weird positions and isolating and moving various body parts to deal with the curvature of my spine. I know I would not be able to assume these positions and reap the benefits if I had not kept up participating in your classes.

 Thank you for keeping me mobile and upright!!!”

– Dorothea

– Zoom Class

** Lynn G. H. **

As a 78 year old retiree with two full knee replacements and one hip replacement ,I am so very grateful for my twice weekly Zoom Functional Fitness classes with Tonia Leske. The session tapes are also provided to the participants so we can have availability of further exercise to fit our personal schedules.

I first signed up with Tonia almost two years ago after discovering her through a Zoom class offered through ELLA during Covid.

These Zoom classes are invaluable to Seniors like me who would otherwise not be exposed to the kind of exercise that is necessary to help us recuperate and keep us as fit as possible at this stage of our lives.
Tonia adapts each exercise for those of us with a variety of limitations so we can fully benefit from each session.

I strongly recommend Tonia’s class for seniors and others who will benefit greatly from this type of exercise.”

Lynn G. H.“

– Zoom Class

** Joan **

“I originally took Tonia’s Functional Fitness class through ELLA (Edmonton Lifelong Learners Association). I really liked the idea of a fitness class that would help me with daily activities, rather than just being an “exercise” class. I was pleased to find out that Tonia also offers the class via Zoom which allows me to participate from the comfort of my own home. She records all the classes and makes them available through YouTube. This allows me to do the classes when it is convenient for me, in case I’m not available at the actual scheduled class time. All I need is a chair and a pair of hand weights! The way the schedule is set up, participants can pay month to month. This makes it very convenient for people who travel or aren’t available year round.

The benefits of taking this class are numerous. Tonia ensures the content is suitable for all participants, regardless of injuries, abilities, etc. I had foot surgery a year ago and have been able to adapt all the exercises as I continue to get strength back in my foot. I have also had two scary falls in the last 6 months and am now working hard to improve my balance through the Functional Fitness exercises. The best part is I feel better and more confident about myself and my ability to do everyday things.

I am a very active 69 year old. However, as I age, I do find there are certain activities that are more difficult than they once were. So I am very appreciative of Tonia and her incredible knowledge of anatomy, fitness and seniors. And on top of all this, she is personable and enthusiastic! I would highly recommend her Functional Fitness classes.” 

– Joan

– Zoom Class

** Janet S. **

“Here is my first thought, that you are welcome to publish to them or to other seniors:

    Several years ago, some time after I had been saying to doctors that my heart was skipping beats, an Echocardiogram found my heart was indeed not functioning well and I was sent to a cardiologist. I kept requesting more help than a medication that was making my blood pressure too low, thus taxing my energy levels. I happened to find Tonia on the ELLA courses three years ago, and tried her class, as my husband was ill with cancer and told he would have to go to a hospice or be cared for at home, as there were no more treatments available to him. It was during Covid and we did not know that Palliative care hospices were in fact safe, even though many other seniors health care facilities were not and seniors were dying in them from Covid. So, we kept him at home. I knew I would need to be helping to lift him, and I did not have the strength.

     After the ELLA class, I continued with Tonia, as I could feel the difference, especially in my upper body where I needed it then. She also taught how to safely lift, to not damage muscles that were not used to it. I was able to help lift him, with his participation, also safely done. Thus we were able to keep him at home longer than if I had not been in Tonia’s classes.

     Then, about six months after he passed away, I was in a car accident, I was the only person in the car, and no other vehicles or walkers were involved. After the accident, I found my left hearing aid in the right pocket of the car door, and my right hearing aid in the grass outside the left window of the car. At the hospital, the nurses and physiotherapist kept asking if I had neck pain, as my head must have flipped from side to side, though I do not remember that, and I did not experience any pain or stiffness. My neck was fine. I attribute this to Tonia’s neck exercises, which she includes in every class. 

     I still take Tonia’s classes, as over the course of about two weeks, she will cover flexibility and strength exercises suitable for what is likely happening at that time of year, such as how to not fall when walking on an icy sidewalk, or how to garden safely, as well as generally keep you flexible and a little stronger than you were.

     A year ago, for the purpose of slowing my heart condition’s progress, I tried to enroll in the post heart failure exercise program in Edmonton. I was told that that is not done. There is nothing in Edmonton that focuses on and monitors heart prevention in helping a heart patient slow the worsening of a heart condition, thus potentially preventing heart attacks and strokes. You have to exercise regularly for exercise, even after diagnosis, to not be a problem for a heart patient.

     A year ago, I could not walk outdoors for more than a block without being tired. Now I walk 8 to 10 blocks with my puppy, who has also been a good influence. Tonia’s and my physiotherapists’ help to walk in the best way to not strain any part of your muscles and ligaments has made a huge difference in not making an old hip problem worse while walking.

My latest Cardio Stress Test showed marked improvement in my stamina (I believe to the surprise of the Cardiologist).

 Many thanks go to Tonia and my physiotherapist and my puppy. They are my team, and all are a needed part of it. Though if I had to pick one as essential, it would be Tonia, as her classes are much less costly than a physiotherapist and cover all parts of the body, as well as exercises specifically geared to challenges for older people, such as sitting down and getting up again. Tonia is more knowledgeable than many fitness teachers, so her advice is more likely to be accurate, and she listens well and gives good suggestions for specific issues. That is not to underestimate the very great value of getting help for specifics from a physiotherapist, as Doctors tend to not mention them as a resource, yet they are a very valuable and very well educated health resource. It is also not to underestimate the value of being able to go out for walks, and I know that I would not, without my puppy. That becomes a daily practice in walking safely.

Best of health to all reading this.” 

– Jan S. from Edmonton, Alberta

– Zoom Class

** Curt and Kerry **

“As we headed into our late 60s and welcomed our first grandchild, it became painfully obvious how quickly our ability to manage daily tasks was tanking. Body parts hurt, arthritis was setting in, and we became concerned about our future. 

Then we discovered Tonia’s functional fitness for seniors through ELLA. Finally, someone who understands seniors!!  We enjoyed it so much that we continued on in her twice-weekly Zoom classes. We now have a plethora of mini-exercises we can draw on every day to work on areas of concern to us.  We can do many of them anywhere, even in a waiting room or the car!  Tonia provides alternative ways to do most exercises for those people with limitations.  After 3 months, we both feel more confident, capable and less anxious about our future. Her focus on cardio, strength, flexibility and balance has been crucial for us to be able to perform daily functions more easily and enjoy the grandchild we waited so long for. Tonia’s program for seniors is a must for every senior trying to stay out of institutional care as they age.

And here is a picture of us sitting on the grass enjoying the tulips of Washington.  And we both got back up on our feet with much less effort than would have been required a few months ago.”

– Curt and Kerry

– Zoom Class

** Ruth and Roy R. **

“I “discovered” Tonia during Covid.  The Edmonton LifeLong Learning Association began offering virtual classes, and I registered for the Functional Fitness program that Tonia offered.  As an age 65+ senior, I have been very fitness focused for most of my adult life and have participated in many types of exercise classes.  I was so impressed with Tonia’s knowledge, instructional ability, attention to proper form and safety, as well as her wonderfully insane energy.  Immediately after completing the program through ELLA, I signed up for Tonia’s Monday and Thursday virtual Functional Fitness classes.  After hearing of my experience, my husband took Tonia’s next course that ELLA offered and subsequently joined me, participating in Tonia’s weekly classes.

These classes can be taken live, but Tonia also records and posts her classes to YouTube, so no excuse if the timing of a live class isn’t convenient! Tonia consistently encourages us to exercise safely and within our own ability but also challenges ourselves.  She regularly offers modifications of exercises to meet each participant’s specific needs. Functional fitness is my goal now and for the future.  Tonia is a cornerstone in supporting that goal. She has truly made a positive difference in our wellness and our lives.”

– Ruth and Roy R.

– Zoom Class

** Brenda C. **

“After knee surgery, I lacked confidence and knowledge as to how I could improve my strengths mentally and physically. Enter Tonia! She explains and demonstrates  how and why the exercises work, and she modifies them for beginner and intermediate levels. It didn’t take long before I saw improvement in my balance, arm and leg strength. Tonia and her classes are the exact fit for me!

My fitness journey with Tonia Leske started during Covid while taking an online Functional Fitness class offered through ELLA. Prior to my knee injury I was active but I wasn’t aware of the importance of injury prevention through warm up exercises or exercises specific to strengthening my knee. Who knew one needed to squeeze one’s glutes and have squishy knees while doing tricep and bicep sequences?

Tonia gives lots of encouragement during class – she finds humor in reminding us to breathe during our sequences. She catches me holding my breath nearly every time!

I really enjoy the fact that classes are available on You tube. I am able to access them any time of the day and from anywhere during my travels. I often use the 20-30 minute warm-ups prior to going skating and biking. The warm-ups allow me to be active without worrying about injury to my knees. Tonia and her classes have been an integral part of my recovery as I have become stronger and more knowledgeable about fitness. Tonia puts the FUN in Functional with her never ending smile and witty sense of humor.”

– Brenda C.

– Zoom Class

** Carol D. **

“I have been doing Tonia’s online classes since I met her in 2021 through the Edmonton Lifelong Learners Association (ELLA). As well as keeping me physically active, her classes helped me to stay positive during the Covid lockdown.

She focuses on functional movements, which target balance, stretching, cardio, and strength. She gives lots of modifications for injuries, surgeries, and arthritic joints, and lots of suggestions for doing the exercises when you have hurt your back or are out walking in different conditions like snow, ice or on sidewalks.

She is always encouraging and has a great sense of humour. It’s also fun to see her pets wandering in and out.

I am in my 70s and can still get up and down on the floor to play with my grandchildren and to run around with them in the backyard.”

Tonia records the classes so you can watch them later if you can’t make it live.

I really enjoy her workouts and hope to keep doing them for a long time.” 

– Carol D.

– Zoom Class

** Mary **

I’m quite lazy by nature and not very fit, but by the age of 60, I realized that I was losing upper body strength and that if I wanted to hold my grandbabies and keep up with them as they grew up, I’d have to make an effort to build strength and endurance. I’ve always been a walker, but with arthritis in my knee, that’s become a bit more challenging. 

I remember when I first began attending your class, I loved your message but hated making my body do it!! I told myself I’d have to give you a chance and so I continued to attend your classes.  I can honestly say that your class has made a huge difference in my life. I am still not very fit and somewhat overweight, but you’ve given me confidence and hope that I can deal with the inevitable process of aging and learn how to preserve function. I also appreciate being part of a community of seniors who are all trying to maintain their fitness….not so easy when you can see and feel it decline each year! 

Thanks for making your class available online through the pandemic, as well, by tackling the technology head on! It’s certainly a plus to simply walk downstairs and turn on my iPad!

Wishing you continued success!”

– Mary

– Zoom Class

** Bruce **

Four years ago, my wife Sandy took an online functional fitness course that Tonia was running through the Edmonton Life Long Learners Program (ELLA). The tips and pointers that Sandy passed on to me about how to walk properly by firing all the right muscles was the start of my fitness re-education which continues to this day. I had always been reasonably active, but Tonia has guided the re-development of my aging body to make it possible to achieve things that would have been very difficult without her knowledge and expertise. 

An example of this was when I successfully hiked the high-altitude four-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. She has also helped me recover from a fall that resulted in a broken wrist and a snapped tendon in my ankle. My doctor was not hopeful of full recovery without surgery but with Tonia’s expertise and guidance my ankle has healed almost completely. As a result, I was able to return to cross-country skiing, including  coaching children in the Jackrabbit Program for the Edmonton Nordic Ski Club. 

With her assistance I am overcoming a chronic neck condition and cervical vertigo by strengthening the muscles in my neck to better support my head and improve posture. When I look back to the level my body had deteriorated four years ago and compare it to now, it really has been a remarkable, gradual and achievable transformation. 

Tonia tailors my workouts to accommodate whatever is going on with my body on any given day. With her, I continue to maintain my fitness level to prepare myself for my next adventure. I recommend Tonia as a personal trainer and general fitness instructor, particularly for people who are aging, have chronic conditions or injuries. She is very mindful of the changes and limitations imposed by the aging process and focuses on helping maintain as much mobility and activity as possible, dramatically improving quality of life.

– Bruce

– Zoom Class

** Allan S. **

Allan has post polio syndrome, half his body has nerve and muscle atrophy – we went from complete exhaustion in 20 sec on a stationary bike, to him walking for 20 straight minutes outside. He can now hit some balls at the driving range again!  

“ Tonia’s personal training program has been incredibly helpful to me as I work to counteract nerve damage from post-polio syndrome. Her positive , enthusiastic ,  encouragement is a real motivator to keep me going!”

– Allan

– In Home Training

Course Testimonials

** Comments **

“This was a fabulous course. The instructor was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Her instructions were clear and handouts and pictures excellent. I learned that I could do a lot more with my body than I thought possible. Highly recommended!”


– ELLA Winter 2021

** Comments **

“I have taken quite a number of fitness courses over the years and I truly believe Tonia is the best instructor I’ve ever had. She was always prepared with a lot of material, was very knowledgeable about physiology and able to explain how the exercises related to the body, was very conscious of safety for those who had physical limitations and is providing a program for people to be able to carry on when the course is over. If Tonia provides any courses in the future, I would jump at the chance to enrol!!”


– ELLA Winter 2021

** Comments **

“Excellent class.”


– ELLA Winter 2021

** Comments **

“It’s very difficult to have much interaction in an online course with over 20 participants, but Tonia handled it well.”


– ELLA Winter 2021

** Comments **

“RE Quality of information – hand-outs to accompany the course are outstanding with detailed diagrams and explanation of movements.”


– ELLA Winter 2021

** Comments **

“Really just can’t say enough about this course. The instructor was simply fantastic. I am exercising in a whole new way. Tonia stressed the important parts about posture and the way to safely exercise again and again, always gave very clear instructions, and her handouts were amazing. I think I’ll use them for years.

Tonia was obviously very knowledgable and answered questions respectfully at the end of every class. I will absolutely take her classes again. Classes were geared for any activity level but mostly for >50 years of age which is applicable for the ELLA population. The instructor had a great personality that showed through in her classes and she was very well set up for the zoom presentations. She was just funny enough and her animals roaming around lent a wonderful ambiance to the course. 10 out of 10.”


– ELLA Winter 2021

** Comments **

“This is an excellent course for ALL seniors. Tonia is very pleasant, very knowledgable about her subject, very responsive to student actions and levels, and very clearly demonstrates all fitness actions she wants us to learn. She has put an amazing number of online ‘handouts’ for us to have after the course is over, which is very very helpful in keeping the gains we have made and continuing to improve.

Many people do not realize how effectively health can be helped greatly, to be maintained with the right fitness exercises and done regularly. She is a wonderful advocate for seniors.”


– ELLA Winter 2021

** Comments **

“Tonia did a good job of structuring the course for a broad range of abilities and physical limitations. She always had an option for the exercises she presented if participants were unable to do them as shown. She is extremely positive and encouraging, while able to offer specific suggestions for individual’s concerns re: mobility, injuries, age related conditions. Great instructor for this target market.”


– ELLA Winter 2021

** Comments **

“Tonia is amazing! She is so in tune with what we seniors need for flexibility and toning of our muscles. She provides excellent commentary on why we are doing certain movements and supplements our session with extremely useable hand-out material on the ELLA website. She is very approachable for personal questions and suggestions on how to improve our flexibility. I can’t speak highly enough of her instruction and assistance!!”


– ELLA Winter 2021

** Comments **

“Tonia Leske did an exceptional job:

her presentation style was very engaging. It’s not easy to make a connection in a participation class over Zoom but she managed to do it with a warm, inviting and engaging style.

the content was ramped up over the time of the course so that participants could build on each previous week.

Tonia always provided alternatives to activities. So for people who could not get to the floor she provided an alternative. If someone had problems with a particular joint – an alternative. Everyone was able to participate as a result.

She provided information but also materials so that participants could see what an activity looked like and remember how to do it.

I would certainly encourage ELLA to continue to bring her back. I see that she is in the Spring session and I have already enrolled. I would do so as well for fall and winter.”


– ELLA Winter 2021

** Comments **

“Tonia made the course interesting with a variety of exercises, stretches and balance exercises. Offered suggestions to make the exercise fit ourselves. Responded to questions. Was very available with her time. Great instructor.

Tonia was a fantastic instructor and is especially familiar with and tuned into the needs of seniors. Her enthusiasm is infectious and she spurred me to want to contiune on with the exercises even after the course is over.”


– ELLA Winter 2021

** Comments **

“Tonia was amazing! Her spirit and enthusiasm made physical activity seem not so difficult. She led us through strength training, balance, flexibility, deep tissue massage and general body movement that challenges all our body muscles. She worked from our heads to our toes!”


– ELLA Winter 2021

** Comments **

“Tonia was very careful to warn people of some things they should not do if they have certain problems, but the seated cross ankle stretch is not good only for people with hip problems, it is also bad for those who’ve had knee repacements, too.”


– ELLA Winter 2021

** Comments **

“Tonia’s instructions were very clear. I always knew the purpose of each exercise and how to achieve it. This made me confident that I could progress and not worry about injuries. The program was a good mix of strength, cardio, stretch and balance. The instruction accommodated all levels of fitness and physical abilities/disabilities.”


– ELLA Winter 2021