◊ THE CLASSES: Iam Flow w/ Music (Downtown) & Classic Yoga Intermediate (Midtown) ◊
WHAT YOU NEED
Yoga Mat (at midtown location only)
Lock (at midtown location only)
We first noticed Iam Yoga walking through the PATH system on our way home in downtown Toronto. The modern and bright lobby with white leather Barcelona chairs and a colorful gallery wall of cheeky yoga quotes caught our eye immediately and we were like…”what is this” (said with Chef Louise’s accent from The Little Mermaid). After finding out that Iam Yoga has two locations, another on Yonge Street south of Bloor Street, we thought it necessary to pop into both locations to give a full review. We had very different experiences at each location actually, and felt surprised in many ways that they were the same company. For this reason, we docked marks in the Vibe section purely because it wasn’t super consistent, and also the Price section because the pricing options aren’t consistent or abundantly clear unless explained by a staff member. Both studios have elements that we loved including functional layouts and being beautifully decorated, but the crowds were super different and made us feel more welcome at one location than the other. Certain extras were included at one location, not the other, but the differences weren’t presented anywhere on the website to be able to pre-plan. The classes themselves tend to focus more on traditional yoga practices and both classes we took were a slower pace but highly effective in calming us down and getting us centred – which is the whole point of le yoga. The teachers were fab, super knowledgable and one of our favorite parts of the experience at both was how much we learned in either traditional yoga, or what we should and shouldn’t do as an expecting yogi momma.
The downtown location is wicked for the work crowd, with a very tailored schedule. The 5:30pm class is perfectly timed to allow you to miss the rush hour traffic, get zen instead and they provide mats and towels so you can come straight from work with absolutely zero hassle. We loved that. The midtown location (their flagship) is a gorgeous, huge space with some of the nicest yoga rooms we’ve seen with old Toronto brick, huge windows that look onto the city and a lived-in community vibe that will make any experienced yogi feel at home. Overall, Iam Yoga deserves a visit, but it’s worth a further read to sus out what crowd suits you best; the professional no-one-is-a-pro-here kind of vibe, or the experienced yogi, arrive-10-minutes-before-class-to-meditate kind of place.
Iam Yoga has two city locations in the city; their flagship first location in midtown (680 Yonge Street) and the newest studio to open downtown in the underground at 450-200 Wellington St West. We took a class at both locations and walked or took transit to both as they do seem more convenient for the sans driving crowd. Parking at the midtown location is a bit trickier with no street parking on Yonge, side streets have minimal spots available and there is a small Green P parkade across the street on Gloucester Lane. The downtown location, being located in the PATH is 100% geared to downtown foot traffic. We don’t even know where you would park nearby, the Ritz maybe across the street? If entering the Metro-Centre Metro-Hall building from Wellington Street, go down the escalators or stairs right away and it’s on your right hand side before heading into the food court.
CLASS SCHEDULE + PRICE
Iam Yoga offers a wide range of yoga practices but they seem to have a special love for the slower paced, meditation centred, traditional yoga formats. With over 10 classes that fit that bill like Ashtanga, Iam Hatha, Classic Yoga, Iam Guided Meditation, and Straps and Stretch, there are a few options of flow classes to get the heart-rate up like Detox Flow, Core Flow, and Hot Flow. Candlelit Restorative is, regrettably, one of the classes we didn’t make it to but we’re super keen to go back and sleep our way through that beauty.
The class schedule varies considerably from the downtown and midtown locations, with each of them catering to the needs of the communities. The downtown studio has a limited schedule with ~ 6 classes from 7am – 6:30pm Monday to Friday only. Considering the target clientele is downtown worker bees and the location is in the underground PATH system, that schedule totally and completely works. The 7:00am classes are only 45 minutes also which makes squeezing it in before work, even more convenient. The midtown schedule is much more built out, but also has three studios to work with as opposed to the downtown studios’ two. With ~9-11 classes running all day from 6:30am-9:15pm at night Monday to Friday, they also have class running into the later afternoon and evenings on the weekend – which is surprisingly hard to come by for boutique fitness studios in Toronto.
As far as pricing goes, and referring to their latest fees that takes affect Jan 15th, 2018, they’re actually the most expensive yoga studio we’ve been to at $24 for a drop-in. For the downtown studio, that includes mats, towels and locks which is not-bad value. But at the midtown location, you still have to pay an additional $2 if you need those extras. We don’t love that it’s not consistent, that we couldn’t find that info on their website, and that that means the cost of a drop-in class at midtown can creep up to the $30 mark if you don’t have all the things with you. This is likely changing soon also, but there was a bit left to be desired when it came to working out the full pricing structure via their website. The site needs an update considering what’s advertised on the pricing page is different than what you get when following the experience through to payment on the Mind Body platform or when speaking to the staff in person. Noted below is a combination of all pricing options that are available as of Jan 15, 2018, but some can only be purchased in studio.
- Drop-in: $24
- 5 Class Passport: $102 ($20.40 per class)
- 10 Class Passport (currently on sale): $156 ($15.60 per class)
- 20 Class Passport (currently on sale): $270 ($13.50 per class)
- Intro Month: $49 (purchased in studio, for new clients only)
- Monthly Pass: $109 (purchased in studio only and is an ongoing contract with a 4 mth min)
- 1 Month Unlimited Passport: $156
- 2 Months Unlimited Passport: $300
- 3 Months Unlimited Passport: $420
- Annual Pass: $1,199
The super interesting part about the design aesthetic, décor, and general vibe of Iam Yoga is that although there are some similarities with how they’ve decorated (i.e. gallery walls full of inspirational bad-ass yoga quotes) the similarities kind-of ended there.
The downtown location has two studios, men’s and women’s change rooms and a small waiting room/foyer area. It’s compact, brand new, simple, modern and includes all the things that you need for a quick class before, during or right after work. They are keenly aware of their target audience and they’ve done a fab job catering to the 9-5 crowd with the details. Not only in the abbreviated class schedule that we already went on about, but they make it easy to come directly from work with nothing other than a change of clothes in your bag. No need to bring a mat or a lock, which is included in the price at this location. Because we went to the downtown location first, we were surprised when we had to pay for locks, towels and mats in addition to the class price at the midtown location, especially since we poked around online beforehand to see if they would be included as well, and it didn’t specify.
Besides those differences, the midtown location is also much larger, being their flagship location, and it’s been retrofitted into an old brick Toronto building so the vibe is pretty different. With a large entrance for jackets and shoes, the space in the Midtown location then opens up to a large waiting room/foyer with a sign-in desk and a few couches where a ton of students were chillin’ and mingling. There are 3 studios, one on the ground floor along with the large men’s and women’s change rooms, and 2 additional studios upstairs, including a hot room. There are racks on racks of yoga mat, er…racks for regular students to leave their mats permanently, which exemplified the committed crowd. We totally fell in love with the studio spaces at this location, with brick walls, a rustic vibe with wood accents, incents burning, and large windows looking onto gorgeous views of downtown Toronto. Especially at night, it created a very chill, yogi, we-meditate-and-live-in-the-moment kind of atmosphere.
The crowd was also really different from studio to studio. No surprise, the downtown location was full of the professional crowd with an even split of men and women ranging in age from 20’s to 50+ and a nice mix of experience levels that came across that everyone is welcome. The midtown location was full of more serious yogini’s that showed up early for class to meditate and work on their practice and also PS, aren’t afraid to tell you about the rules of the studio (no phones in the studio, apparently). Aaaaaalllllmost bordering on snobby yogi feels. Ew. We were the only new students in our class that had a handful of men and the age range was more like 20’s-30’s. That said, our instructor, Lyndsey, was so warm and inclusive that we still felt super welcome, plus we just loved sun saluting that view so we were ok with it.
- mats and towels included (at downtown location only, midtown is $2)
- lockers with keys included (at downtown location only, midtown is $2)
- showers and washrooms in both male and female change rooms
- blowdryer, q-tips, shampoo, hair ties, etc.
- all class equipment included (bolsters, yoga blocks, blankets, etc.)
- mat storage (at midtown location only)
The team at Iam Yoga has been incredibly helpful, knowledgable (even in prenatal yoga) and gone over and about for us at both locations. Founded by Linda Malone, who is also the Director of Blu Matter Project a non-profit organisation that offers yoga for people living with depression and/or bipolar disorder, is a passionate, spirited and self-confessed type-A yoga guru. She has built an incredible team of over 23 instructors both male and female who offer a wide range of experience in meditation, traditional yoga and mental health; many of them graduates of Iam Yoga’s own teacher training program.
We took Lyndsey’s Classic Intermediate Yoga class at the midtown location and she was one of our favourite yoga instructors we’ve had to date. She gave the perfect blend of teaching old world, traditional yoga rooted in the importance of breath and form and modern yoga that’s motivated by creating muscle tone and achieving a deep stretch. She would lead us through various vinyasa flow’s but educate us as we went with different versions, such as a traditional vinyasa, a modified traditional version, and a modern vinyasa version. Lyndsey would take the time to stop the class to demonstrate and explain correct form after watching us do certain sections where she was clearly seeing some dubious poses, which we majorly appreciate and rarely find. Her pace was calm, yet fluid and consistent and we couldn’t stop talking about how much we liked her at the end of the class. Also her hair. Her hair is so big and curly and beautiful, we couldn’t get over how bloody fantastic her hair is.
Genevieve Ross – Downtown
Genevieve Ross was a breath of fresh air from the moment we walked into the studio with her vibrant, bubbly and warm disposition. Given the smaller nature of the studio, Genevieve was with the other staff at the sign-in desk welcoming everyone as they signed up. She was immediately on top of giving me modifications for my pregnancy before the class even began, ensuring I knew to lay on a bolster for my shavasana rather than directly on my back, or knowing to turn twists the opposite direction from the rest of the class to not put additional strain on my belly. Even during class, she would slyly jump in to give me more props as she was describing poses or leading the rest of the class through a sequence, always keeping an eye on me to ensure I wasn’t doing anything offside. I really appreciated the extra care and attention, could get used to that. The class we took with her was Iam Flow w/ Music which was a very calm, slow flow class to wrap up the end of the day. Unfortunately, the website doesn’t have a bio for Genevieve, but trust us when we say she is just wonderful.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
WAY HARD | HARD | MIDDLE OF THE ROADSIES | CHILL | HELLA CHILL
Downtown Location – Iam Flow w/ Music
The Flow w/Music class is their signature Iam Yoga Flow class set to music, and is described as being suitable for all levels and you can expect “fluid movements, emphasis on developing length and linking breath and movement while building a moving meditation”. The description was accurate and focused on fluid, simple stretches the whole class rather than a rigorous, fast paced vinyasa flow class. The nice thing about the pace is although the studio has amenities to shower, it only made us crack a light sweat so we were able to dab our foreheads and carry-on. It depends on what you’re looking for, but for a location that’s geared towards letting us zen in the middle of our work-day without completely disrupting our hair and makeup is something we’re totally down for. The wind-down, end-of-day 5:30pm time was exactly what we wanted. It calmed us down, stretched us out and gave us an hour to ourselves, and we still had the whole night to get other $hit done!
Midtown Location – Classic Yoga Intermediate
This 75-minute class is described as being a perfect blend of yoga philosophy, vigorous hatha practice and meditation, and that it was. A slower pace than a flow or vinyasa class, we actually felt like one of the benefits was that we learned a lot. Either on correct form, what poses benefit what part of the body, or the differences between traditional yoga versus modern, we were exercising our minds too, guys. We walked out of this class feeling more zen and peaceful but hella educated. I think we were also standing a bit taller, and we’re both shorties so we’ll take everything we can get.
To try this class or anything else on their schedule, see Iam Yoga’s contact info below.