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It can be intimidating. For women in particular the gym can be seem unsafe and unwelcoming. Lots of men feel that way too.

Still, because they feel they “should”, most people will gather their courage, head to the local big-box gym, and have a truly miserable time. Sometimes it’s bad enough they don’t come back for months. (Big gym owners actually count on this effect as part of their business model.)

It’s easy to feel intimidated by the grunting behemoths in the free weight area. Or by the female gym goers in their expensive stretchy gym wear. Even retreating to the relative serenity of the yoga studio can be spoiled by feeling inadequate to the flexible yogis.

This is why Iron Lion Training exists. To provide a safe, sane, and rational place for normal people to get fit, and feel awesome!

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Roasted Leg of Lamb

I was raised Catholic. I was baptised, confirmed, and went to confession a whole lot. I sang in the choir, was an altar boy for a couple of years, and made it through the Catholic school system until my last year of high school, when we moved to Hong Kong. Ritual played a huge role in my life as a boy – Sunday mass followed by family brunch only stopped happening after, at age fifteen, I declared I was too religiously-confused to be Catholic. I still enjoyed the brunches, though – hot dogs cut lengthwise and fried, milky scrambled eggs, stacks of buttered toast. As an adult, I realize that religious rituals are closely tied to feasting of some sort; they give a family a rare occasion to sit down and break bread together. So feasting with family is my religion now. The kitchen is my sacristy, our chairs are pews, the dinner table my altar. We eat beef roasts at Christmas. We eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. We eat lamb at Easter. And we give thanks to the farmers, the grocers, and the cooks.

Easter seemed like a weird holiday for me growing up. As a Catholic, I felt guilt because the main guy we all looked up to got himself killed for sins that we committed. It was still our fault to this day for that, so to pay our respect we ate a ton of chocolate, hopefully in egg form that a rabbit laid. Afterwards, for dinner, we would celebrate his life by eating lamb. (Actually, as a kid we never had lamb, we had ham. But Ham of God just doesn’t sound right). Lamb is also a harbinger of spring, it’s tender meat and mildy gamey flavour paring so well with spring vegetables like asparagus, wild leeks, and peas. Lamb is eaten the world over, but still is not as popular as beef, pork, or chicken. Hopefully we can change that, starting with recipes like the following.

Roasted Leg of Lamb
serves 8-10 people

I prefer to roast a leg of lamb on my charcoal grill, but I’m aware that not everyone has one of those. I do think every serious cook out there should think about getting a charcoal grill though, you can get a reasonably inexpensive kettle style at most hardware stores. The flavour of the smoke that licks the meat just isn’t replicated in the oven. Having said that, this recipe will also work beautifully in the oven, due to the flavour of the marinade. Plan to start marinating the lamb at least a day before cooking it.


lamb leg               1 pc (approximately 6 lbs/2.75 kg)
                              Ask for the shank end, and for the aitch bone to be  removed


green onion, sliced                          1 bunch
thyme, chopped                               ½ bunch
lemons, zested and juiced             2 pc
cinnamon, ground                          ¼ tbsp.
coriander, ground                           ¼ tbsp.
fennel, ground                                 ¼ tbsp.
cumin, ground                                 ¼ tbsp.
garlic cloves, minced                      ⅓ cups
olive oil                                              ½ cup
salt and pepper                                taste

The day before dinner:

Rub the lamb leg all over with the marinade, wrap in plastic and let sit in your fridge for at least 24 hours. If you have the time, 48 hours is preferable.

The day of:

Preheat the oven to 300°F. If using a charcoal grill, adjust the air flow to achieve this temperature.

Place the marinated lamb leg on a rack over a roasting pan and place in the center of the oven. If you are using a charcoal grill, place the lamb slightly beside the charcoal, to avoid flare-ups. Roast the lamb until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F (medium). Rest the lamb under foil for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving with the tzatziki.

makes enough to serve with the lamb for 8-10 people


½                         cucumber, grated and lightly salted
2 cups                 yogurt, thick Greek style
3 tbsp.                fresh mint, chopped
½ tsp                   garlic, minced
1 tbsp.                 lemon juice
to taste                salt and pepper

Allow the salted cucumber to sit for an hour. Squeeze the excess water out of the cucumber, then add to the rest of the ingredients and allow to sit for one more hour before serving on the side of the lamb.

Grilled Asparagus Gribiche
serves 8-10 people

My wife was a proclaimed asparagus-hater until she tried this recipe. Now she only mildly detests it. If you don’t have a grill, you can roast the asparagus in the oven until tender.


1 bunch               asparagus
2 tbsp.                 olive oil
to taste                salt and pepper
1                           lemon, zested and juiced
5                           eggs (one will be for the gribiche sauce)
4-5 tbsp.              gribiche sauce (recipe follows)
3-4tbsp                black olive tapenade (recipe follows)
8                           pickled white anchovies
½                          baguette, sliced into ¾ inch rounds
2 tbsp.                 chives

Heat the grill until it reaches about 400°F.

Cook the eggs for nine minutes at a light boil. Cool off the eggs in cold water, then when they are cool enough to handle peel them. Save one egg for the Gribiche Sauce. Slice the other four eggs into rounds and set aside.

Lightly oil the baguette rounds and grill until slightly charred. Cool down then tear into small croutons.

Prepare the asparagus by cutting or “snapping” the tough ends off. Season with salt, pepper, and olive oil and grill until slightly charred and cooked through. Dress the asparagus with the lemon zest and juice and then lay the asparagus out on a serving platter.

Arrange the sliced eggs over the asparagus, then “dot” the vegetables with the tapenade and the gribiche until they are all used up. Scatter the croutons over the plate, then artfully arrange the white anchovies. Sprinkle everything with chives and then serve.

Gribiche Sauce


1                            egg, boiled and peeled
1 tbsp.                  Dijon mustard
3 tbsp.                  olive oil
1 tbsp.                  lemon juice
1 tbsp.                  capers, chopped
1 tbsp.                  gherkins, chopped
1 tsp                     Italian parsley, chopped
1 tsp                     chives, chopped
1 tsp                     tarragon

Separate the egg yolk form the egg white. Chop the egg white and set aside.

In a small work bowl, mash the egg yolk with the mustard with a fork until smooth. Add the lemon juice and emulsify. Using a whisk, slowly whip the oil into the mixture until emulsified. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the egg white, and use as needed.


You can totally use store-bought for this, but if you have some time on your hands tapenade is a great condiment to have in your fridge.


½ cup                   black olives, preferably niçoise (Get them with the pit, then remove the pit yourself.
                              They are more flavourful this way.)
3 tbsp.                   capers
1 tbsp.                   garlic, minced
1 tsp                      anchovy puree, or two anchovy fillets
3 tbsp.                   Italian parsley, chopped
2 tbsp.                   chives, chopped
1 tsp                      chili, fresh or dried
1 tbsp.                   lemon juice
2 tbsp.                   olive oil

Puree all the ingredients together in a small blender, but leave slightly chucky. Alternately, chop everything by hand, then whisk in the lemon juice and the olive oil. Reserve until needed.

Orzo Salad with Peas, Chili, Mint, and Feta
serves 8-10 people

This is a nice and simple side pasta salad, and the leftovers are great to bring in to work for lunch the next day.


1 box (500 gr)     orzo pasta
4 pc                       lemons, zested and juiced
4 tbsp.                  olive oil
2                            fresh pepperoncino chili, sliced into fine rounds
                              (these aren’t that hot, but if you prefer, cubanelles are a little sweeter)
1 cup                    fresh mint, chopped
1 cup                    fresh watercress, cleaned and roughly chopped
½ cup                   italian parsley, chopped
½ cup                   green onions, chopped
500 gr                  frozen peas (look for the smallest variety)
2 cups                  feta cheese, crumbled
to taste                salt and pepper

Cook the orzo in plenty of boiling salted water. Drain and place in a mixing bowl. Stir in the olive oil, lemon juice, and zest. Boil the peas until cooked through, strain, and cool immediately in ice water. Add the peas and the rest of the ingredients into the orzo. Toss and season before serving.