Pop Physique, YYZ | 5

◊ THE CLASSES: Pop Physique & Pop Yoga ◊


PINEAPPLE SCORE
5 pineapples

WHAT TO BRING

Socks

Water bottle

Form fitting, comfy clothing so the instructor can see your technique

Sunglasses (for rooftop yoga)

OVERALL REVIEW

Pop Physique hails from the capital city of beautiful bodies (LA) and you can tell they know what they’re doing. This luxe, femme fatale, flawlessly marketed barre studio, expanded across the States quickly after first opening in LA, and finally up to Canada where they opened in Toronto’s midtown last year. The location is easy access from almost anywhere, the staff are incredibly welcoming, and the studio space is bright and girly with every detail curated to the Pop Physique aesthetic. We’re reviewing two classes, Pop Yoga and their signature Pop Physique, which is a ballet-barre based workout heavily focused on ‘tucking’, ‘pulsing’ and ‘scooping’ to hone in on very precise muscles. This class is less aerobic than some other barre classes we’ve taken like at Barre3 or Barre Body Studio, but if you follow instructions, keep your form in check and challenge yourself, you’ll feel the burn the next day in teeny tiny muscles you didn’t even know you had.

1 PINEAPPLE LOCATION 

1560 Yonge St U-204, Toronto

Pop Physique now has eight locations across Canada and the States, in their hometown of LA, San Francisco and NYC where a third studio just opened in Bowery. It seems they’ve undergone a bit of a re-focus in the last year, as they had over 15 locations in the States only last summer but it sounds like some of the locations ran their course and they’re turning their attention to the highest demand studios. 

Canada’s first Pop is located in midtown at basically Yonge and St. Clair. They’re on the second level of the block of businesses (all 1560) in between Delisle Avenue and Heath Street West and the best way to access is via the outdoor staircase off Yonge St closest to Heath. The studio is easily accessible by transit with the St. Clair subway station 1.5 blocks away, and there’s a parkade attached to the building for $5 per hour. Street parking is an option but it can be a bit tricky to snag. Overall, full pineapple for location cuz it’s pretty snippy snap to get to even if you’re not a midtown dweller. 

1 PINEAPPLE CLASS SCHEDULE + PRICE

Pop’s schedule includes Pop Yoga and their signature, Pop Physique, with some variations like Rooftop Pop Yoga in the summer, Pop Yoga Stretch and Restore and Pop Yoga Express which is obviously shorter at 45 minutes versus all of the above which are an hour long. The Pop Physique class, where it all started, is a ballet barre-based class originally taken from the chic Lotte Berk concept that was created in London in the 50’s. More to come below but their style of barre class is not cardio heavy, rather they focus on the small details of body movement and working (mostly) with what you have to sculpt and tone your muscles like a slender ballerina. 

They’re a late rising studio with weekday classes not starting until 9:00am most days and 9:30am on Fridays. There are typically 7-9 classes offered daily during the week with the last class at 8:00pm Monday-Wednesday but wrapping up earlier (i.e. 6:30pm) Thursday, and Friday. The weekend schedule is pretty good with Saturday classes running from 8:00am-1:00pm and until 4:00pm on Sunday, which we like to see. One thing to note, they have a Pop Physique free ap that is super easy to use and worth downloading to book classes and to find out more about each instructor (since that info isn’t really on the website).

Prices are spot-on their barre competition, especially in Toronto, at $25 for a drop-in. They’re on the top-end for yoga, however, but we do love that they have a free first time class, which is hard to come by in this city, and prices include a lot of amenities like all equipment, towel service and great products. No surprise, the more you commit, the lower the price and if you go for their largest class pack (20), prices go down to $16 per. They basically have one type of membership which we like bc it doesn’t need to be that fancy, and the membership route makes sense if you’re attending more than three times a week.

  • First Time class is free!
  • Drop in: $25
  • 5 Class Pass: $100 ($20 pc)
  • 10 Class Pass: $190 ($19 pc)
  • 20 Class Pass: $320 ($16 pc)
  • BEST VALUE! New Client Special: $100 for 30 days unlimited (could be $3.50 pc if you went everyday)
  • One Month Unlimited: $175 or $150 w/ a 6 month commitment 

1 PINEAPPLE VIBE

The Pop Physique design aesthetic, although slightly different at every location, is what sets it apart from their barre competition. They’re always vibrant, feminine, luxe and a bit cheeky, complete with stand-out wallpaper and instagram worthy surroundings. The Toronto studio is just the same and is bright, modern, and thoughtfully put together to consider every detail. Although the studio isn’t huge, the flow is good and everything has a place. The neon “J’Adore Barre” at the front door welcomes you into the small lobby that opens up to the sign in desk and the changing area equipped with five private rooms for showers and/or bathrooms, programmable lockers, mirrors and benches. There are two studios, both of which have an incredible amount of natural light and windows, brightly colored workout gear, and fancy wallpaper. Look closely and you’ll see the wallpaper is actually four stocking-clad lady legs that make a diamond shape. See, everything is cute. They’ve even considered your selfie needs in the shower rooms, with a “Pop Your Selfie” backwards writing that only makes sense in a flipped camera. Our grandparents be like, ‘oops silly them, its backwards’ Ahh Grandparents. 💕

KGiB.gif 

As for the types of peeps you can expect to find here – our classes were filled with 100% women, a mix of regulars, beginners and intermediates, and although the crowd swung pretty young, like teens and low 20’s, we did see some bad-ass 50+ babes a handful in our age bracket (cough cough, 30’s). Although a lot of people came in as groups of girlfriends, there were plenty of people flying solo so not to fret or feel intimidated if your approaching as a newbie. 

AMENITIES

  • All equipment provided (including mats)
  • Private showers equipped with Nuori products
  • Private bathrooms/change rooms including one handicap
  • Complimentary towels
  • Filtered water
  • Programmable lockers
  • Pop Physique merchandise for sale, including pop socks for $20

1 PINEAPPLE INSTRUCTORS

Before going into the Canadian owners, we’ll back it up for a hot minute to tell you a bit more about the orig inspiration behind this pretty brand. Pop Physique is heavily inspired by the mood and atmosphere of good ol’ Los Angeles, particularly the Silver Lake neighbourhood, where Pop opened their original flagship studio in 2008. Former professional ballet dancer and Pilates instructor, Jennifer Williams, created Pop by combining her training with the Lotte Berk system – which was developed in the 1950’s by English dancer Lotte Berk to give non-dancers the body of one. Jen wanted to bring the unique method to more people, channeling Lotte’s charismatic and audacious approach to working out to create the inimitable fusion of exercise, ballet technique, style, design, music and art.

Fast forward almost ten years, the entrepreneurial and polite couple Jodi Watson and Richard Arnold fell in love with this particular barre concept in the States and saw an opportunity for Canadians to fall too. “We felt that the barre scene was not as far along as it was in the US and we were excited about the opportunity,  so we started the conversations with Jennifer and Deric {le husband}, and ta-da here we are!” – says Jodi. Jodi and Richard worked out the northern rights and opened Canada’s very own cheeky version in February 2017. Since then, they’ve built a team of over 22 members including barre and yoga instructors and the lovely reception staff. 

Cache L – Pop Yoga

First of all, her name is the best (pronounced CASH), well done Cache’s parentals. Second of all, we adore her. Cache is a true yogi with chill vibes and positive energy oozing out of her like spew from my 5 month old – but obviously way cuter. I literally couldn’t think of anything else that oozes so ferociously. Cache is also certified for prenatal yoga, she’s a Reiki master, she’s super creative, and she’s an artist. We liked what she was putting down immediately when she came out to the patio for our rooftop yoga class about five minutes before it started to introduce herself to each student and discuss any injuries, concerns, or area to work on. Love love love that she took the time to connect with everyone individually. She kicked the class off right on time – which we always notice and appreciate, and she set a really great pace for the class, not too fast, not too slow but just the right amount to be challenging and push us. More in the next section, but the class wasn’t ideal for beginners as Cache didn’t take a lot of time to explain individual poses or break them down, there was an intermediate level of understanding required. So with that, Cache spent a lot of the class talking us through the sequences and walking the room providing hands on adjustments and corrections which we ALWAYS love to see. 

Jodi Watson – Pop Physique

Co-owner, Jodi Dub, taught our Pop Physique class and it was ever so obvious that this woman is seasoned in the tucking and squeezing of the body areas. In her previous life she was a competitive dancer and figure skater, is now a Life Coach, Executive Coach, and Mindfulness Trainer, on top of co-owning Pop Physique Canada with her partner, Richard. NBD. She is incredibly approachable and smiley and her teaching style is upbeat but doesn’t eff around. She’s not big on giving you breaks and she made a few references to the fact that we were in the class to work so take water and breaks whenever needed, of course, but she pressed on with the instructions and queues the whole time in an effort to offer the most challenging class possible. At times, some of the instructions were a tad confusing but that’s more to do with the minute details of the exercises than her teaching, and she was really great about providing hands on adjustments to everyone in the class (if they wanted them). This is so so so key, because barre is a VERY easy technique to get wrong and having an instructor that is lazer focused on correct form is what sets a good instructor apart from the average. Jodes is most defs in the former camp. 

1 PINEAPPLE LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

WAY HARD | HARD | MIDDLE OF THE ROADIES | CHILL | HELLA CHILL

Pop Yoga (Rooftop):

In the final few days of summer, we were able to squeeze in a rooftop yoga class at Pop, which was SO lovely just to be outside flowing with our sunnies on, but the style of class was the same as what you can expect inside so don’t fret – you don’t have to wait until next summer to try this. We’re considering the class Hard and we probs wouldn’t suggest it for anyone that’s new new to yoga. As mentioned above, Cache didn’t spend time explaining each pose, rather she would (mostly) jump right into the name of it, talking us through our flow so there was already a preconceived understanding of intermediate yoga amongst the seven of us and a newbie may have had a hard time jumping in (although I’m sure if that were the case Cache would have adjusted her style). In any case, the class got REAL hot, yes largely due to the fact that that particular Saturday morning temps creeped up to 30’s by 9am but also bc the class was consistent, challenging and didn’t stop even because of the heat. Honestly it was truer to a hot yoga class than anything else. The class included a lot of flows through sun salutations a and b, all warrior poses, some great hip openers and plenty of twists. We built on our sun salutations each time and spent the majority of the class standing, really only working down to the mat with about five minutes left of class. That said, when we did eventually lie down, Cache finished the class giving everyone mini peppermint essential oil massages – which was god damn heavenly. There is no better feeling than working your tail off for 55 minutes, and then having an instructor who gets what your body just went through, give you acknowledgement for said work by giving you a firm and gentle individual massage. They ALWAYS have the best technique, right?!

Pop Physique:

Rating this one Hard also but it’s sneaky. This is not a heavy sweat, high aerobic class; rather – the workout is primarily isometric and is about having no momentum. It’s about contracting and layering more contractions on top of each other; therefore you’ll hear a lot of cues like ‘squeeze’ and ‘squeeze’ and ‘squeeze.’ One has to visualise their muscles moving in a way that might not actually be the reality, i.e. when you hear “scoop your abs” the instructor wants you to pretend you have a scoop that’s hallowing you out, causing your deep core muscles to retract towards your spine. NOT sucking in which requires zero muscle flexion whatsoever. This distinction is key, because we can see how, if you’re not in the practice of moving with your body that way, you could miss out on the benefits.

Anyhizzle, the class challenges your whole body but targets toning your butt, abs and arms in particular and holy damn did we feel that. Before starting the class, each individual station was set up with mats, which was a lovely touch, and we were told to grab a pink ball and two sets of weights; one light and one “heavier” (think 1 and 3 pounders). Starting in the centre of the room with a warm up, we got limber by practising some yoga cat/cows, full body stretching and a plank ab sequence. The majority of the class is held at the barre, doing things like facing the barre on demi-pointe for repetitive glute work, standing sideways for arm work, and lifting your leg onto the barre for stretches and side twists. A good example of an exercise you can expect, is utilising a ball in between your thighs for an extra squeeze while you focus on lifting a bent knee to your butt but keeping your pelvis level (this is what we mean by small movements that require paying attention to your body). This technique works to tire out a full muscle group by repetitive ‘pulsing’, ‘tucking’ and ‘squeezing’ before moving on, so we did enjoy that after every section, we stretched that area right away for immediate relief. Overall, the class was surprisingly challenging and we each felt soar in the days following but in different areas. I found my tiny ab muscles across my ribs for the first time in about a year, and my friends felt the burn the next day in their shoulders and butt. We have no doubt that doing this type of class on the regular will generate slender dancer ‘physiques’ worthy of the name.

To try a class at Pop Physique see their schedule here.

T

Advertisements