◊ THE CLASS: Prenatal Pilates, Prenatal Yoga, and Vinyasa 2/3 ◊
WHAT YOU NEED
Mat for most classes but they’re included for all prenatal classes
Fo pre nats classes, you need your bump
Oh 889, how much we love you. As soon as we walked through the doors the very first time, we were v into it. The location is great, in the heart of Toronto’s Yorkville across from the Rosedale club, so you know it’s gonna be polished, and it’s relatively easy to get to from anywhere. The two-story large studio is a reclaimed 1800’s Victorian home and it has three practice rooms that rotate yoga, Pilates, barre, meditation, and specialized classes for mammas. The decor and design aesthetic is bright, open and full of greenery, natural details, SO MANY health and beauty products, and they have food from Fresh – exactly our scene. One of the most impressive things about the way this studio operates though, is that it caters just as much to the trendy clientele that look for beautiful details in a studio as much as a good workout, as they do to the more spiritually minded folk who are coming to a studio to connect to their inner self. The only pineapple shaver was for the class prices, considering it’s the highest drop-in rate for yoga and barre that we’ve seen in Toronto. That said, the offering of things to do here is vast and we’ve been back to 889 on multiple occasions to try something new.
889 Community’s literal address is 889 Yonge Street – so clever. Located a few minutes north of Yonge and Davenport Road, they’re almost directly in the middle of Rosedale Station and Bloor-Yonge Station, which is actually quite convenient depending on where you’re coming from since they’re different lines. If driving, they offer parking vouchers at a discounted rate of $5 for two hours, instructions here, in the Blue Park located across the street on Yonge. Overall – very central, quite convenient from all areas of the city and beyond, and beautiful from the outside. Full pineapple locked and loaded.
CLASS SCHEDULE + PRICE
889 Community has five styles of classes; barre, Pilates, yoga, meditation, and mama classes. The barre classes are traditional ballet inspired, low impact, 45-minute classes, that will lengthen and tone your muscles and also happen to be great for beginners. There are two types of meditation classes; Breathwork Meditation and Meditation, both of which focus on Pranayama breathing and calming the mind and nervous system. For the Pilates classes, there are eight styles in total that include a partnership with Misfit Studios where they teach Misfit Method’s Get Cheeky and Get Lifted classes, and there are six types of mama and baby classes; prenatal barre, yoga and Pilates, and postnatal barre, yoga, and Pilates w/ baby. Considering 889 is founded on the practice of yoga, it’s no surprise the largest variety of classes is in that category. You can try everything from Core Power Flow, to Kundalani Yoga (which might be the only yoga studio we’ve reviewed that offers this), Restorative and Reiki, through to Vinyasa Flows. Some of the more unique classes are Yoga Nidra, which specifically focuses on helping you sleep, and Yin and Crystal Bowls which is an all-levels Yin class with the “accompaniment of live crystal bowl acoustics”. We need to try this bc apparently it’s ahhhmazing. 889 also offers events every month, one of which is a free Essential Oils 101 class taught by one of the original founders of the studio, Christine Russell. Before going to the class I knew nothing about essential oils, other than my cousins being obseeeessssed with them and claiming they “changed their lives”. I would normally be all *eye-roll* about it but, actually, my cousins are cool, so I was intrigued and now I totally get it. I can now confidently report that after eight months of using essential oils, including a particularly dodgy time during pregnancy when nothing agreed with me, they friggin CHANGE YOUR LIFE. I digress…
With regards to 889’s class schedule, they have 3.5 practice rooms in the studio (you’ll see) which allows for a super loaded and convenient timetable. There are 10-15 classes per day that start as early as 7:00am Tuesdays through Fridays, and the weekend schedule isn’t restricted to mornings, which is a nice departure from most studios with 10 classes on Saturday and 12 on Sunday that run until 7:15pm at night. YASSSS. It’s ideal to register online for each class ahead of time to secure your spot as waitlists are common for most classes. When you arrive, check-in on the iPad’s and if you’re brand new, the staff will automatically take you on a personal tour of the space – so lovely. Overall, there are so many different classes to choose from with over 80 classes a week that range from beginner to advanced, you’ll be sure to find something that you love, something new, and something that will challenge you.
Class prices are where we had to shave the top off the pineapple. Although the memberships and class packs drive down the price, the drop-in rate for a class is $30 before tax, which gets close to $35 with taxes. All prenatal classes include mats, but if you have to rent a mat it’s $3 and if needing to buy water bc you forgot your water bottle (me), only fancy water is available for $4. It’s easy to walk out of there with a $40+ bill for a simple yoga, barre or Pilates class. It’s common to see Reformer Pilates north of $30 for the machines, but Reformer isn’t part of their offering so we struggled to find the justification there. If wanting to commit to a membership though, the annual membership is the greatest value, driving per class rates to $12 if attending only twice a week. Memberships include unlimited classes, 10% off the retail boutique and one free towel per visit.
- Drop-in: $30
- 40 Day Welcome Experience Package: $108
- 5 Class Pack: $130 ($26 per class)
- Auto-renew 5 Class pack: $111 ($22 per class)
- Monthly Auto-Renew Membership: $129/mth
- 6 Month Membership: $689
- 1 Year Membership: $1289
- 1 Month Unlimited (no contract): $160
This is one of the best bits. 889 Community has repurposed a late 1800’s Victorian home, and carefully designed a yoga studio around its foundation that preserves it’s historic heritage. The main lobby has a little tea area, eating bar looking onto Yonge Street, apparel shop and sign-in desk, and behind the desk is the original staircase that leads to a staff area upstairs. They’ve integrated modern elements all over the place like rose gold hardware, and crisp white and wood furnishings to bring it into 2018, and they’ve completed the decor with eco and calm-inspired lifestyle design to make it feel incredibly polished but down to earth. They’re proudly a toxin-free space, which is evident when you continue through the studio and pass the 889 Shop, full of holistic lifestyle products and plenty of other beautiful things that make you feel like you’ll be a better version of yourself if you buy them (i.e. natural deodorant, incense, essential oils blends that will make you calm, etc. etc.). The coat racks/shoe area are in the back of the house which is odd (and probs kind of messy in the winter), but that’s the downside of preserving an 18th century layout. Next to the coat area is a staircase that leads downstairs to the change rooms, the first practice room named Earth at the end of the house, the yoga mat storage area, and another staircase leading to a large second floor with 2.5 additional practise rooms and more zen space.
The largest studio is upstairs at the top of the staircase, named Sun and has a class capacity of 28 with no mirrors. They don’t have mirrors in any of the studios, actually, so that people don’t focus on what the they look like, get distracted by others, etc., instead 889 is encouraging you to go inward and focus on your practice and how it feels in your body. Love the concept of this, but in some instances (as mentioned below in Vinyasa Flow 2/3) it can also mean you might not have the best form or alignment and have to lean that much more on your instructor to correct. Anyway, there is a second studio, Star, on the second floor that’s quiet a bit smaller comfortably fitting 9 people, but super cute with an old fireplace and littered with candles. The 0.5 studio is a tiny little room next to the upstairs washroom that they use for private classes or workshops like the Essential Oils 101 Class, fitting about 5 people comfortably. The downstairs studio has a class capacity of about 16 and it also does not have any mirrors, which I actually found a little bit difficult in my Vinyasa 2/3 class – but more on that later.
The crowd at 889 is awesome. People are chill, approachable, so v NOT snobby (even though, you know, Yorkville), but also cool, current, fit and naturally good looking. Like, do they all have it figured out?! In our Prenatal Pilates class, everyone was surprisingly bump heavy, with all women further than six months along – one fierce french mama was literally ready to pop and she breezed through the whole class. Ages in that class ranged from 30-40 and we had a full class in the downstairs studio. The Prenatal Yoga class was a little smaller with six of us in the upstairs back studio (so it felt very private and intimate) and a greater age range and stage of pregnancy with half the women in their first or second tri. The crowd for our Vinyasa 2/3 class had more experienced yogis, both male and female and ages ranged from 20’s to 50+. There were a lot of couples coming directly from work to attend class together, and there was a splash of older peeps attending the Yin class in the next studio during our Prenatal Yoga class. Literally, a studio for everyone to find their zen.
AMENITIES & EXTRAS
- Tea station
- Filtered water
- Women’s change room includes washrooms, three showers with shampoo, conditioner and body wash supplied, and blowdryers and straighteners
- Men’s change room includes washrooms and one shower with shampoo, conditioner and body wash supplied
- Lockers with keys
- Mat rental for $3 (but for pre-natal classes, mats are included)
- Mat storage for $15 per month
- Snacks for purchase, including water ($3.95) and food from Fresh (our fav)
- A super impressive retail boutique including things like crystals, essential oils, bath products, jewellery and natural make-up. From brands like Province Apothecary, Leaves of Tree, Swell Bottle, Axiology Beauty (Vegan lipstick), Kismet Essentials and tons more
- Doula services
Originally founded by Emily Ridout and Christine Russell over 10 years ago, 889 has become a pillar in the Rosedale community for being a place to connect to each other and reduce stress in a positive and beautiful environment. They created 889 based on the desire to build a space to prioritise self-care, self-love and to connect with yourself and the people around you. A massive part of their mission was to make a holistic lifestyle accessible and possible for everyone, which explains the perfectly curated retail boutique stacked with the best holistic lifestyle brands out there. The OG 889 sisters have since moved on from running the day-to-day at 889 as they’ve started their own Essential Oils company, Essential Sisters, and they’ve passed the baton to a powerhouse team that includes 30 instructors and some of our favorites (we’re lookin’ at you Jaffer and Tara G).
Taya is quirky, knowledgable and incredibly informative. Although the class started a little abruptly with Tara seeming to, all of a sudden, dive into the class with no, like welcome chat, the flow of the rest of the class was very smooth. Taya received her yoga teacher training in Cape Town and her Classical Pilates Certificate in Hong Kong (our kind of globe-trotting woman), she attended the Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine focusing on pregnancy, pediatrics, and women’s conditions, and she graduated from the International Breastfeeding Centre/ Newman Breastfeeding Clinic’s Lactation Medicine Program. In addition to teaching yoga, she teaches prenatal breastfeeding classes and sees clients postnatally in their homes and in the hospital. Her experience and knowledge of the female body is clearly extensive so you are in v good hands if you have any reservations about taking an exercise class while pregnant. She constantly pulls in her knowledge during class, for us she referenced the importance of us building certain muscles that will weaken if we chose to bf. Taya has children herself so there were many times she referenced her personal journey just as much as her professional experience which is always super helpful and brings in an element of realness. Love.
Tasha was our instructor for the Prenatal Yoga class and she also teaches Yin Yoga, Restorative and Reiki, and Meditation classes at 889. Tasha’s teaching style is sooooo approachable, calm and she makes you feel like you’ve been BFF’s for years. To start the class and get everyone chatty and comfy, she told us a story about how one of the girls in the Prenatal Yoga class the week prior was mid-pose and her water broke and she casually excused herself from class after completing the sequence. Just lolz. It was a great ice breaker and made everyone feel like they were fast buddies and all mom bonded over that quick
horror labour story. Tasha spent most of the class verbally guiding us through poses and, in some cases, showed us how to set up our stations for the extra support that preggos require (since laying in savasan isn’t a thing – you have to be propped up by blocks and bolsters and blankets). She’s exactly the kind of instructor you want for a chill yoga class bc she’s soft, gentle and has a calm and steady meditation-y voice.
This one is so quirky and full of confidence we liked her immediately, and she led one of the most challenging classes I’ve done in a while. Right off the bat, she stormed into the room two minutes before class started which apparently was quite the accomplishment. You get a sense in the first few minutes of interacting with her that she’s a bit of a whirlwind of a human. Jodi’s background is incredibly diverse and she has credentials for days with Thai Yoga massage training under her belt, training with world renowned Shiva Rea in Kerala, India in Ayurvedic traditions and Kalarippayattu (an ancient South Indian martial art tradition), and Prana Flow Yoga certification on top of her foundational yoga training from the Yoga Sanctuary in Toronto. Oh and she has a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing at NYU. NBD.
Jodi knows her students well, there’s no doubt that her class draws a regular crowd, as 90% of the yogis in our class were chatting with her about last weeks class or their upcoming vaca. She has a dry sense of humour, beautiful hair, a quick wit and she pronounces ‘inhale’ and ‘exhale’ like Shakira – just a side note. She spent the class walking the room and would occasionally show some of the poses, particularly the more advanced ones, but for the most part was checking form and helping those who wanted to push themselves further and try a more advanced pose they were working on. She often showed more than one version of a pose, always telling us that whatever we chose to do whether it was the most advanced version, the easy route, or staying in childs pose, that it was “yogi’s choice” so there was no pressure, ever. Just full fruits Jodes – we love the vibes your putting down.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
WAY HARD | HARD | MIDDLE OF THE ROADSIES | CHILL | HELLA CHILL
We’re rating this one Middle of The Roadies. It had moments that were challenging and created energy, and it had moments that were chill and nurturing, which is the exact kind of combination we’re looking for in a prenatal class since our bodies are going through a roller coaster of hot mess changes and we have to be real about the level of intensity required. The class started a bit abruptly and we mostly noticed it bc there was no music or real queue that class was officially beginning. We had a lot of equipment including a mat (complimentary), 4 balls (2 purple 2 lbs., 2 blue 3 lbs.), a blanket and a stabilizer ball. Taya started the class with simple breathing exercises, having us take deep “yoga” breaths and then showing the difference between “Pilates breaths” that are more audible and sound like what you think of in Lamaze birth prep class – he he whooo. The whooo is the kind of breath Taya encouraged for every exercise after that which actually felt amazing. After warm up, the first portion of the class was standing and focused on our arms and lats. Given it was a prenatal class, Taya explained that the anterior shoulder muscles typically get quite weak if women are bf because of the posture you often take, so we focused a lot on strengthening those and our biceps, triceps and deltoids. We also focused a lot on strengthening our pelvic floor in prep for birth. Le sigh. We did a modified leg series from the original Joseph Pilates method but in a standing position that worked our glutes and external rotators, and we finished the class with fluid stretching, meaning stretches that moved like side body swaying, leg circles, and massive hip circles that felt SOOOO good. We walked out feeling looser in our hips, stronger in our upper body, and generally happier that we moved our mammoth baby mama bodies for an hour.
The Prenatal Yoga class was a very calm and mid-paced class that focused on deep stretching, breathing and relaxation more so than working up a sweat, toning muscles, or working on perfecting your poses. No prior yoga experience necessary, so it’s a nice place for expecting mothers to build the courage, strength and body awareness necessary for pregnancy and labour. But if you’re more of an experienced yogi looking for a prenatal version of a challenging flow class, this probs isn’t it. I would definitely categorise the ‘Level of Difficulty’ as Middle of the Roadsies but depending on your experience, what you want out of the class, and where you’re at in your pregnancy, that could totally work for you. For me, at week 36 when I took this, it was exactly what I needed and we focused on opening our hips, strengthening our glutes, and stretching our low backs, all so so so good when carrying significant frontal papoose weight.
Vinyasa Flow 2/3:
I’m considering this one Hard and feeling like it’s more appropriate for experienced yogis. As mentioned earlier, Jodi offered modifications if you wanted to take it easy but the pace was full-on, steady, and challenging even still. We set ourselves up in the narrow and long studio in two rows with our mats facing the centre of the room, and equipping ourselves with two blocks in addition to our towel and water. For a few newbies to the class, there was a bit of confusion as to what props were required (a downside to the instructor flying in at the last minute and not showing an example set-up).
Once we were settled and seated, we started the class with three om’s to get grounded and create a little harmony. We then began by flowing through a full sun salutation, slowly holding each pose for five breaths and getting our bodies used to the work. We built on each sun salutation, pose by pose adding three legged dog, warrior two, reverse warrior, triangle pose, and chair pose, and we flowed each sequence twice with the second set being shorter. After that, we flowed into different advanced poses, like crow at least three times with the opportunity to take it into triangle hand stand. We also did wheel, dancers pose (which was a bit difficult without a mirror), and standing splits (twice). After the standing series and balancing poses, we utilised the ballet barre for a hip opener that had us hoist our leg on the barre and bend over our leg. And then we moved to the floor for the final core work portion of the class – which is when Ol Dirty Bastard “I Like it Raw” came on for 60 reps of mini crunches. LOLZ. We then had the last five minutes of class to do our choice of an inversion or any other advanced pose that we might want Jodi’s assistance with. Which was awesome, bc everyone in the room was trying something different and actually called upon Jodi’s help. We ended the class with the yoga nose breathing thing, where you cover one nostril with your finger, breathe in, cover the other nostril and breathe out. Otherwise known as, ‘discover who is battling a cold’ breathing. And that was a wrap. A great class, it was challenging, opening, strengthening and zen, and gave me the opportunity to work on my own practice and push myself a little bit further with the help of a pro’s tips. Exactly what I go to yoga for.
To try these classes or anything else on, 889’s schedule here.