◊ THE CLASSES: Essentrics and Pilates for Athletes ◊
WHAT YOU NEED
Water bottle – but water and glasses are provided
All other equipment (including mats) is included!
Framewrk is one of the more memorable fitness studios we’ve been to in Toronto. They describe themselves as being a “mixed movement studio where you can challenge your body and find real community through movement” which also translates to mean they specialize in Pilates, yoga and barre classes that have a unique way about them. With elements that remind us of Misfit Studio, the energy at Framewrk is different than many boutique fitness studios in that the purpose feels very grounded in connection, movement and being with each other rather than a concentrated focus on fitness, sweating and burning cals. We spent a bit of time at Framewrk, taking two classes that were quite different so we could understand the range. We started with their most well known Essentrics™ class, which is a trademarked technique that combines modern-like dance movement with Pilates, yoga, and in some cases a striking resemblance to the Tracy Anderson method, and the class was fun and got us moving in ways we rarely do. We also took a Pilates for Athletes class which centers around dynamic and concentrated work on one muscle group at a time to tone and create lean muscles. The loft style studio space is small and doesn’t come with a lot of extras but it gives you everything you need in a calming, relaxing atmosphere. Plus, we’re suckers for a good view and Framewrk’s is one of the best, especially at night with the candles lit and the sun going down…ahhhhhhh. Nama-frickin-ste.
Framewrk is located just east of the Riverside Bridge, north of Queen Street East on your way to Leslieville. It’s in a pretty good location with beautiful views of the city, that’s easy to get to from just about any direction. It was only a 10 minute Uber from downtown for us, or public transport could drop you almost at the door at the Carroll Street stop via the 501 streetcar on Queen Street East. There’s free one-hour street parking in the neighbourhood, metered parking on Queen Street East and two Green P lots on the NE and NW corners of Queen and Broadview. It’s in a very common artist building in Toronto, 9 Davies Avenue, that houses a ton of independent photography and artists studios. Located on the second floor, it’s a bit of a winding wander to find Framewrk. Just take the stairs to Level 2, take two rights and you’ll find it. If you see signs for Mango Studios, you’re heading the right direction. There isn’t a ton of helpful signage actually so you may feel quite victorious when you eventually find it (#us).
Framewrk has over 10 classes to choose from in Pilates, barre, yoga and what we would consider, “movement” techniques, which includes their most famous class Essentrics™. All classes are geared towards creating lean, strong and lengthened muscles, like a dancer, but each class (and instructor) has a unique way of going about it. Some classes, like Essentrics™, use body weight only in a dynamic and fluid class that works your whole body in combinations that feel like a mix between modern dance, Pilates and yoga. Other classes, like Morning Fling and The Burn are designed to be higher cardio and more intense workouts that use weights and kettle bells in a circuit and rep format. Other classes on the schedule include Barre, Essentrics Barre, The A Game, Candlelight Yin Yoga (which would be absolute bliss in this space), Better Condition, Restore and Fortify, Pilates and more added this year. All classes are considered beginner friendly and modifications can be taken depending on your level of experience, or to accommodate any limitations you may be working with. While being pregnant, I can participate in all the classes on the schedule! Woot.
Schedule times are super convenient with a handful of choices first thing in the morning Monday to Friday from as early as 5:45, 6:00, 7:30 and 9:30am. There are a few scattered throughout the day Monday to Friday, usually with an option over lunch hour, and 2-3 available in the evenings. There’s a nice mix of hour+ classes like 75 minutes Restore, and quick in-and-out higher intensity 45-50 minute classes like Core Express and The Burn at lunchtime from 12:00-12:50pm. Class prices are super competitive for Toronto with drop-in rates at $19 and the best value being the 20 class pass which drops per class rates to $13 per class. Memberships make sense if you’re planning to attend Framewrk more than 3 times a week, otherwise the class passes are your best friend. Also, mats are included in the price so you won’t find any sneaky extras.
- Drop-in: $19
- Intro Offer: 30 days for $45
- 5 Class Pass: $85 ($17 per class)
- 10 Class Pass: $150 ($15 per class)
- 20 Class Pass: $260 ($13 per class)
- Monthly Unlimited w/ no Commitment: $115
- Monthly Unlimited w/ 3 mth Commitment: $95
- Private Classes: $80-$120
Given that Framewrk is located in an old wood and brick loft-style building, the atmosphere is very open, lived-in and simple. It’s a fairly small space but the high ceilings, windows and bright light make the one studio, mini foyer and change room feel like it’s everything you need. The main studio can fit approximately 15 students comfortably and is lined with mirrors on one side, mobile barres along a mural covered wall and beautiful views of the city to the back. Curtains are drawn for class to create a feeling of serenity and peace and the studio is scattered with candles and succulents. The sign-in desk is to the right as you walk in with an iPad to sign-in if you’ve pre-registered and a small seating area amongst a mini shop full of locally made products and branded athletic gear. Framewrk is very committed to supporting local business that use natural ingredients only so they carry a pretty impressive selection of essential oils and body care products from Way of Will (PS. we LOVE WoW – the gym bag spray we actually use sometimes as body mist). Probably the only down side, there isn’t a lot in the way of amenities given the limitations of the space. The one change room is where bags and coats can be left during class and there are two curtain drawn areas to change, but no showers or washrooms in the studio. A shared washroom is located down the hall that does the job, however if you require space to get ready after class, they’re not super set up for that – which isn’t ideal if attending one of the lunch hour high intensity classes like The Burn, and need to head back to work sans shower.
- Shared washroom with the building
- Hair ties
- Mats and all props for class provided
- Filtered Water
- Framewrk products for sale
- Way of Will essential body & face oils, natural deodorant, clothing refresher and yoga mat spray (um YUSS!)
Framewrk has been open since June 2016 and owner, Josephine Cuthill, is the brains behind the bright fresh space. She has gathered a group of 6 teachers and counting (as a few more instructors have recently been added to their awesome roster) and each teacher brings their own styles and techniques to the schedule.
Josephine Cuthill- Essentrics™
Josephine’s energy is contagious and her teaching style is positive, engaging and super super clear. From the very first moment we met her, her passion and excitement for bringing the studio and it’s techniques to new students was refreshing. She taught us the Essentrics™ class, which is a technique that was originally founded by mother/daughter team Miranda and Sahra Esmonde White from Montreal, but the way she embodied the ethos of the technique, we could have been fooled that she made it up herself. Because that class, in particular, requires you to let go and literally go with the flow of your body, it’s essential that you have an instructor that will make you feel comfortable, happy and playful enough to give it a go if it’s not normally your jam. Josephine will get you there. She’ll push you but make it fun and she’ll work you hard and not let you lame out with loosey goosey arms. It’s obvious that she takes the enjoyment and success of each and every student straight to heart. Taking the Essentrics™ class by Jospehine is an absolute requirement.
Jessica Yan – Pilates for Athletes
Jessica taught our Pilates for Athletes class and she was very sweet, gentle and positive. She demonstrated most of the class with us, which helped considering many of the movements were precise and required your body to stay in alignment when it really didn’t want to be. It’s difficult to discern if it was the class itself or her instructions, but we could have benefited from more direction, and possibly energy at times?! The class is basically about repetitive movement with one muscle group until you literally tire it out so your mind can have a tendency to wander (or ours did anyway) if the energy isn’t kept high or it’s not super engaging. Perhaps even the music selection could help? The music was upbeat and pop-y but not anything overly memorable and clearly, for us, didn’t distract us from the pulse burn.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
WAY HARD | HARD | MIDDLE OF THE ROADSIES | CHILL | HELLA CHILL
Of the two classes that we took, the Essentrics™ class is their most popular and unique. It is a full-body workout with no equipment that combines dynamic and fluid combinations to strengthen, tone and elongate your muscles. The idea is to use your limbs in “full extension” meaning if you’re reaching to the sides with both arms, you reach so hard out to your fingertips that you feel like you could touch the walls. By working your muscles at full extension like that, the technique improves posture and changes the shape of your body to develop lean, strong and flexible muscles. To get the most out of this class, conscious movement and visualization is key. You’ll get more out of every movement if your muscles are engaged and you’re imagining moving through water. People could totally get through the class by just holding their arms up and going through the motions, but that won’t give you the return that it’s designed to.
The class began with a warm-up that might have been our favorite warm-up to start any class so far because it was a welcome change of pace, but it also got our whole bodies moving. Very fluid, we spent 10 minutes essentially swaying from side to side with variations in our arms and upper body so it felt much more “dancey” than you would normally do in a Pilates or even barre class. Following that, we stayed in the centre of the room on our mats and did various sequences to focus on our arms, glutes and toning our backs, all incorporating our whole bodies. When we got to the arm section, it reminded us of the Tracey Anderson method (we’re obsessed with her 7 minute arm workout here). The TA method and the arm section in the Essentrics™ class are basically a marathon of keeping your arms elevated in different actions at full extension, and trust us, no matter how many times you do it, your arms and shoulders will be screaming. We moved to the floor about 3/4 of the way through the class and into a section of very traditional Pilates method leg and lower body sequences. Overall, this hour long class was a refreshing change of pace from many Pilates, barre or yoga classes and we would love to do it on a regular basis.
The Pilates for Athletes class was definitely a change of pace. It’s meant to be geared towards people with active lifestyles but not necessarily the hardcore pro athlete – so don’t be intimidated by the name. Jessica explained to us that the difference between Pilates for Athletes and a regular Pilates class is that this class is focused on getting muscles to move in a dynamic way and engaging the whole body, versus a weight lifter who might routinely lift weights that focus on one muscle group at a time. The other key factor is that all exercises in this class are centered around core (which was hard being preggo btw), which is the foundation of Pilates. Being that I used to be a dancer and the OG Jospeh Pilates method was my every morning warm-up, I’m very familiar with hardcore Pilates, however I found more of a likeness to that OG Pilates method in the Essentrics™ class than I did in the Pilates class. The Pilates for Athletes class had more elements of a barre class where you would be pulsing multiple times over in one position literally until that muscle would give out. There were moments of the class that were too difficult to withstand and we would be forced to take breaks, but we surprisingly weren’t sore in the days following. Overall, we’re rating the Level of Difficulty as Middle of The Roadsies for Framewrk which evens out the Essentrics™ class at Hard and the Pilates for Athletes class at Chill.
To try this class or anything else on their schedule, see Framewrk’s contact info below.
Web: www.framewrk.ca PHONE: 647.352.6683 Instagram | Facebook | Twitter