Good Space, Westside – Toronto {4/5 Pineapples}

 ◊ THE CLASS: Still – Saturday 12:30-1:00pm ◊


PINEAPPLE SCORE
4 PINEAPPLES

WHAT YOU NEED

Dress in whatever your heart desires as long as it’s comfy enough to sit in for half an hour

That’s it – all other gear and chillness provided

OVERALL REVIEW

Good Space is one of the newest studios to open in Toronto and they’ve entered the market with a calm, feminine and soft *bang* as they bring meditation to the mainstream. Being a yoga and meditation studio, there are only three classes offered; Move, Ease, and Still (meditation) which means meditation is getting more air time. There are definitely places to meditate in Toronto, many yoga studios for example, have a meditation class on their schedule, but none that have brought it to the forefront quite like Good Space is doing. Having opened in early April, this beautiful space is located in the heart of Parkdale in Toronto’s westend in a historical building that’s kept all the old brick and wood foundations but brought it into 2018 with perfectly placed plants in pastel planters (holy alliteration) and turkish towels mindfully scattered throughout the space. Yoga mats are provided for every class, which is a lovely touch, and they’ve rounded up a wonderful team of some of the city’s best meditation teachers. Our class with Gizem was interesting because it was L’s first meditation experience ever and it was my third so we’re both tooootal newbies. It’s so interesting to try and explain/review guided meditation classes because a) it is SUCH a personal experience but mostly b) because it’s hard as hell to try and remember what even happened during that half hour of mind wandering, breath focusing, quiet goodness. And finally, we’re pretty obsessed with their philosophy;  “Life can be tough. Yoga and meditation can help you through it. Abundance will flow from a clear and attentive mind.” So there. 

1 PINEAPPLE LOCATION 

Unit #106, 360 Dufferin Street, Toronto

Good Space is located in Parkdale in the historic Radiator building on the southwest corner of Dufferin and Queen. Once going in the doors of Unit #106, you’ll see a sign for Good Space and it’s up a small set of stairs to the right. Easy access by public transport, the Queen 501 streetcar and Dufferin 29 bus go right by the studio and if driving, there are a handful of paid street parking spots in front of the studio on Dufferin. Otherwise Melbourne, Gwynne, and Elm Grove are good side street options. Bike parking is also available on Queen Street in front of the West End Food Co-op or, alternatively, the building has a bike rack located in the parking lot out back. This beautiful space can also be rented by the by, so email them directly to enquire (contact info below.)

0.5 PINEAPPLE CLASS SCHEDULE + PRICE

Good Space offers three styles of classes; Move, Ease, and Still. Move, which is broken down into either Move Light or Move More, are most similar to traditional Vinyasa yoga classes, that move through strengthening sequences with an emphasis on the coordination of your breath to postures. The Ease class is a yin/restorative yoga style with postures being held up to five minutes for maximum chill and a deep stretch. And finally, the Still class (what we took) is solely focused on meditation. Always thirty minutes, these are guided meditation classes and are suitable for everyone from total meditation virgins to gurus. Although we totally appreciate that the style of guided meditation will vary from teacher to teacher and that this is also a very intentional simplified schedule, we kind of wish we saw a little bit more variety in the classes offered for meditation specifically, perhaps different lengths or different styles for example!? There is also a 45 minute Good Space Fundamentals class which is a combination of Move, Ease and Still with approximately 15 minutes to focus on each style. Instruction is a little more clearly and slowly outlined, making it an ideal class for beginners. 

There are typically three to four classes offered per day from Monday to Friday and only one on Saturdays and Sundays (Move More and Move Light respectively). Although this is quite a limited class schedule right now, we’re sure that as they’re open for a few months and uncover the best times that suit their community, the schedule will expand, but until then be sure to sign-up ahead of time online. We were a little sad to see that the Still class isn’t offered every day since this is one of our favourite things about Good Space and what we believe sets it apart, however, we loved to see that they offer a pay-what-you-can Still class two-to-three times per week, geared towards those who want to dip their toes in the meditation pool for the first time and are hesitant to commit to a full drop-in price or membership. Finally, in addition to their core classes, Good Space hosts regular workshops, lectures, and events in the beautiful space that will always focus on mindful engagement and collective learning. Like this guy – every second Sunday of each month starting in June they’ll be hosting 2 hour Still Life Drawing classes with a model and materials provided. How amazing is that!?

As far as prices go, Good Space also has a simplified menu with a 10 class pack, drop-in, and two membership options. Prices are pretty in-line with competing yoga studios in the area, but the by-donation option gives them a leg up. There’s also a current intro offer for three weeks unlimited for $40. 

Drop-in

  • Single Class: $22
  • 10 Class Pack: $170 ($17 pc)
  • 10% discount for students and yoga teachers

Monthly Memberships

  • Light (up to 6 classes per month): $75 ($12.50 pc)
  • Unlimited: $120
  • 15% off merch and workshops for members

1 PINEAPPLE VIBE

The vibe at Good Space is easily one of our favourite things about the studio, full fruits fer sure. The decor is everything we would want in a yoga and meditation space because it immediately evokes feelings of simplicity, serenity, and openness, no doubt by design. Walking into the open concept, bright space you’re greeted with a simple sign-in desk and a nook to the right for shoes, bags, and coats (no lockers here but there is always staff at the front desk during classes to watch everyone’s things or doors are locked). It then unfolds into a wide open room that acts as a lobby/hangout space containing washrooms, change rooms, and a wicked metal barn door. The space consists of one studio and it’s a beaut with it’s glass walls to one side, white brick walls to the other, and windows looking onto Dufferin the other way. 

The crowd for our Still meditation class was a wonderful mix of all walks of life. Guys, gals, fresh faced teens, elegant grandma’s, and a number of denim clad hipsters sprinkled in there for good measure. It was so awesome. Standing out immediately was how everyone wore completely different garb, everything from jeans to yoga gear, to PJ’s to dresses – literally anything goes as long as you’re comfortable. Our class was full with about twenty people and we were comfortably spaced out. 

AMENITIES

  • Two washrooms
  • 3 changerooms
  • Yoga mats provided for all classes
  • Water is always available from the water dispenser; no water for sale here. Cups are not (yet!) available so bring your own water bottle.
  • Mini retail space with candles, Gold Apothecary products like their steam facial (amazing), turkish towels and Good Space branded merch

0.5 PINEAPPLE INSTRUCTOR

Good Space was founded by Megan Alexander who had dreamed up the idea of this kind of studio and has been working tirelessly for over a year to make it a reality.  Megan believes “we do our best when we feel our best” and she wanted to create a space that encourages mindfulness in all practices and aspects of life. She’s rallied up a team of nine instructors of yoga and meditation specialists, who also teach in other studios around the city. Many of whom teach more than one style of class at Good Space, but all of whom have a super cute bio on their website. 🙂 

GIZEM URALLI

Gizem was our instructor for our first ever Still class and her smiley face and exotic accent make her hard to forget. She specialises in the Ease class but describes all of her classes as “centering, opening and connecting”. As are all classes at Good Space , Gizem led us through a guided meditation class, meaning she talked us through ways we could focus on our breath and body rather than our wandering thoughts. Her thick ___ accent, although gorgeous, was difficult to understand at times which had both of us feeling a bit lost and trying to make sense of her instructions rather than allowing the guided meditation to act as more passive and soothing background noise. She broke the class up into three chapters (which we’ll talk about later in the Level of Difficulty section) with each chapter bringing a different focus to our breath, but she also fell silent for a lot of the class, letting everyone focus on their practice in their own way. It was very interesting, because I have attended a few guided meditation classes before and, although no guided meditation is ever the same, I have been more guided than what Gizem offered us with so much silent time. I found that hard for me, personally, because my mind wandered like crazy (which is the whole thing with meditation) but in my experience the more constant verbal queues from the instructor brought my focus back to “meditating” more than with the abundant silent time. On the other hand, L, who has never tried a meditation class until this, found Gizem’s guided meditation more distracting than helpful and would have preferred even more silence.So it REALLY depends on your personal preferences, and all we can say about Gizem’s style is that she has a very calm and soothing voice, an open and sweet energy, a killer accent, and hangs out somewhere between full guided and totally quiet.

1 PINEAPPLE LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

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

We’re rating this class Hella Chill and a full pineapple but it’s VERY subjective as to how difficult you may or may not find meditation as a practice. So first off – what even IS meditation, really?! We are by NO means experts or have any kind of technical training in this field but we get that it’s about changing your relationship with thoughts and feelings. It’s about learning to view them with perspective and take time out of your crazy busy lives to sit in stillness for anywhere from one minute to however long you want (but in this case half an hour) to purposefully dedicate your attention to learning about those thoughts and feelings. It’s likely, and normal, for you to get distracted while you meditate, and half the journey is being able to acknowledge that with zero judgement and train your mind to come back to focusing on your body and your breath. We also learned there are many different styles of meditation –  it seems like it’s one of those things that once you dive into it, you uncover an ocean of deeper meaning, knowledge and technique. So for our half hour class at Good Space, Gizem broke the class into three “chapters” which we thought was cute. Each chapter was about seven minutes and introduced a different way for us to focus on our breathing. For example, in chapter three we would count before each breath and go from one to ten and once hitting ten we would start again. If you lost track, you would start over at one. That’s IT, very simple, and after each chapter we would sit and see how/if we felt different in our bodies and our mind. We both finished with the sense that we could let anything roll off our backs in that moment and we wouldn’t have the instant need to react – which apparently is a common result and hella important for ALL HUMANS TO DO. Overall, we are officially hooked and have since crowd sourced the best apps so we can manipulate the free trial periods for the next year (when we can’t get to a class) so we can be in a perma state of, in the words of Good Space, it’s all good. 🙂

T

To try this class or anything else on their schedule, see Good Space’s contact info below:

Web: www.goodspacetoronto.ca
Phone: 416.840.4262
E-mail:hello@goodspacetoronto.ca
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YYC Cycle, Kensington – Calgary {4/5 Pineapples}

◊ THE CLASS: SPIN, Sunday 8:00am-8:50am ◊


PINEAPPLE SCORE
4 PINEAPPLES

WHAT YOU NEED

Socks

Water Bottle

Form-fitting bottoms, and if you have a sensitive derrière, padded shorts

(Shoes are provided)

OVERALL REVIEW

We were in Calgary for the weekend, so we checked out a studio that’s been on our list for the longest time because we know a TON of people who frequent this sweaty establishment on the regular. We also brought along a bunch of friends, which made the whole thing more fun. Friends who spew spin together, stay together…or something, right? YYC Cycle is one of Calgary’s top spin studios and they now have three locations in Calgary: Kensington, Mardaloop and Avenida.  We checked out the Kensington studio, since it’s their OG, and they successfully brought ALL the high-sweat, high-energy, high-calorie killing heat that we love about spin. Within minutes of walking in, we felt warmly welcomed and part of the crew and Mackenzie (aka The Motivator – as they call their instructors) totally lived up to the name. She kept us going hard for the entire 50 minutes, even when we didn’t want to (but did?). We finished the class with a round of high fives and a stroll through Kensington in search of strong-ass coffee. Not sure a Saturday gets much better?!

1 PINEAPPLE LOCATION 

1117 Kensington Rd NW, Calgary AB

As mentioned, YYC Cycle has three locations in Calgary; Kensington, Mardaloop and Avenida and they’ve also expanded to YEG where they have two locations, on Whyte Ave and 124th Street (review for those here). We wanted to check out their roots at the original Kensington location, which is RIGHT in the heart of Kensington. If you’re familiar with Calgary, you’ll definitely be familiar with Kensington, but if you’re not, Kensington is the city’s cultural hub – filled with restaurants, coffee shops, independent boutiques, and cool people. One downside to the otherwise sparkly location is parking. There’s a variety of parking options on Kensington Road and the surrounding streets, some streets are free before 9am and after 6pm, and others are completely free, but be sure to check the street signs and arrive early since this area is always busy. There’s also paid heated underground parking accessible via 10A street. 

0.5 PINEAPPLE CLASS SCHEDULE + PRICE

This is a spin only studio offering straight up, uncomplicated, sweat-it-out spin. All classes are 50 minutes and, with the exception of different instructors that may switch it up a bit, you can expect a very consistent ride from class to class that will incorporate sprints, hills, and some arm work like tricep dips and push-ups. This is where things get interesting. That style of class and the consistently of it can be what a lot of people really want, and it was challenging for sure – see more below in the Level of Difficulty section – however we did shave the top off the pineapple here because after much chatting with our peeps in Calgary, there’s a feeling that the classes don’t change a lot from this hills, sprints, dips formula. Again, that can be enough and totally perfect for a lot of people, but if we were to go back again and again, or if we compare it to many studios we’ve been to in Toronto, we would love to see more freshness being brought to the classes and the choreography. 

As far as the schedule, classes start at 6:00am during the week with the last class usually at 7:45pm. On weekends, classes don’t start until 8:00am but they shut things down early around 2:00pm. All riders need to sign-up online to reserve a bike prior to class and it’s recommended to arrive at least 15 minutes before class to give you time to properly set-up. Each of the bikes in the studio is numbered, so when you check in you can reserve the bike you want on a chart located on the corner of the desk. Had we come alone, we might not have truly appreciated this – but it was an amazing perk when rolling with our homies (not even going to apologize for the Clueless reference). 

Prices are great for a spin studio and with extras like shoes, and towel service, it’s worth every penny. They offer a 10% discount for students and the more you buy, the cheaper the ride – such as the 20-ride pass which works out to $15 per ride. Monthly memberships only make sense if you’re a committed rider.  The Monthly Membership for example is only a better deal if you see yourself hitting the pedals more than three times a week. One thing that we really loved is YYC Cycle’s community love. Every Friday is a “GIVE’R” class with a $10 drop-in rate, with 100% of the proceeds going to their current charity of choice. The YYC spinners certainly take advantage of these discounted Fridays, because YYC Cycle is currently on track to donate 2 million dollars! Woot!

  • Single Ride: $20
  • 5 Rides: $90 ($18 per ride)
  • 10 Rides: $170 ($17 per ride)
  • 20 Rides: $300 ($15 per ride)
  • 1 Month Membership: $199
  • Intro Offer $65 for 3 weeks unlimited and 1 year for $1500

1 PINEAPPLE VIBE

While this studio is quite small, it’s also bright and really well laid out. The lobby has plenty of open space for riders to transition, with a large amount of seating outside the cycle studio to act as a waiting area. We love the programmable lockers to store your things (bye bye, BYOL… bring your own lock) and the change rooms offer lots of space to de-gross yourself after class and get ready for the rest of your day. The walls are covered with inspirational quotes, exposed brick (hearts for eyes), custom art, neon lights and lots of character. The cycle studio is set in a dark room with tons of lights, which “The Motivator” will adjust throughout class, and the entire class is based around killer beats and motivated humans. It’s like a healthy nightclub and just as sweaty. Side note, and listen up because it’s important: we have taken a lot of spin classes and the seats on these bikes are SOFT. Like, much better than usual. We’re confused because they don’t look different, but the classic next day “ouchies” we usually experience were not there. What’s up with this YYC Cycle, tell us your tricks?? Either way, your bum will appreciate it.

The crowd for our class was a mix of mid 20’s to early 30’s, with almost a 50/50 split of male to female and 75% full. Capacity for the studio is 43 bikes, so when it’s full, it’s a fun ride. A few rules at YYC Cycle that we’re also totally into: no phones in the spin studio and keep talking to a minimum. You’re there to focus on your hills, homies.

AMENITIES

  • Shower facilities with all the extras you need (shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, hair dryers, straighteners, etc)
  • Lockers with built-in programmable locks
  • Towel service
  • Earplugs
  • Cycle shoes provided
  • Little touch – bubble gum at the front desk – scoring points

0.5 PINEAPPLE INSTRUCTOR

The staff at YYC Cycle are super helpful and welcoming. This is especially true for first timers, as the staff spend the time to ensure that riders are properly set up. YYC Cycle was established about four years ago, and now has roughly 55 instructors on their roster (holy amazing). Each instructor will offer a different experience but they will always bring high energy, a curated playlist and tons of inspiration.

MacKenzie Allen

Let’s start by saying; Mackenzie did not have it easy in this class. There were serious issues happening with the audio, meaning our beats were crackly and too quiet for our liking. It’s a shame, because part of the allure of YYC Cycle is the amazing beats and accompanying tempo of your workout. That being said, Mackenzie did an amazing job keeping us all full of life even in the poor circumstances. We were seriously impressed with how smoothly she managed to sync the lights with the music, even while she HAD to have been frustrated. Her music ranged from EDM and remixes of top 40 pop, and we can only imagine how much cooler the entire thing would have been with full volume and quality. Mackenzie rode the class with us the ENTIRE time, which is super impressive because we consider ourselves pretty fit and we could hardly breathe – seriously, kudos M. One suggestion we had for the class is to potentially integrate more knowledge based instruction. There were two things we struggled with in our first ever YYC Cycle experience. First off, we had a hard time finding a gauge on how hard we should be going. This is both the beauty and the curse of spin, you choose your own adventure, however, there wasn’t much instruction for us on how hard we should be pushing at specific times. Mackenzie did, however, give us plenty of cues to protect our knees for certain movements, which was definitely appreciated. The second thing we struggled with was when we had to change up our hand/arm movements. YYC Cycle refers to different numbered hand positions and sometimes Mackenzie had us dive into various patterns of those numbered positions. We definitely could have used a refresher because we were lost. We’re already uncoordinated, and uncoordinated and confused left us super grateful for the low lighting.

1 PINEAPPLE LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

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

Before starting the class, we had to set up our bikes. The YYC team was super helpful ensuring we set the bikes up properly for our bodies, and they also have a wicked video on their website to break it down. Once we were clipped in with our fancy cycle shoes, we were set. If you’re not used to these shoes, clipping in can be QUITE the challenge but Mackenzie was on hand to make sure we were good and ready.

There was quite the mixed bag of skills levels in the room, with some individuals definitely new to YYC Cycle (us included) but many seasoned members of the Bikergang, which we appreciated greatly because it gave us people to follow cues from when the dips and hand movements got a little confusing.  For the 50-minute class, Mackenzie had us out of our seat almost immediately and into sprints to get our heart rate high. We transitioned into hills to work our legs and glutes, and the “resting” time was a mix of arm work, little mini dance parties, and throwing out words of encouragement and back-pats to our neighbours. This class forced us to dig deep and push through doubt and fatigue, and we definitely appreciated the low lighting so we could hide the serious struggle that was our lives. We wrapped it up with a hard push to the finish line and a short cool down and stretch. This one belongs on your must try list.

A

To try this class or anything else on their schedule, see YYC Cycle’s contact info below:

Web: www.yyc-cycle.com
PHONE: 403.229.0737
EMAIL: info@yyc-cycle.com
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Yogaspace, Westside – Toronto {3/5 Pineapples}

◊ THE CLASS: Prenatal Yoga, Sunday 9:30am-11:00am ◊


PINEAPPLE SCORE
 Slide05

WHAT YOU NEED

Water Bottle

Mat (rentable for $2)

Nothing too valuable (no lockers)

OVERALL REVIEW

Yogaspace is the last studio review in my prenatal journey, since I popped a few weeks later (eeep!), and I’m so happy I was able to squeeze it in considering this is one of the oldest yoga studios in Toronto, and THE oldest pre and postnatal program in Toronto – perdy cool. They’ve been in biz for over 20 years and they’re also known for being a hub for teacher training with a 200 and 300 hour Yoga Alliance Registered Teacher Training School. Earning a full pineapple for being easily located in Ossington, our fav, and for their class schedule and price with over 60 drop-in classes per week and the lowest drop-in rate for yoga classes in the city (that we’ve seen so far) at $20. They also offer yoga retreats in cool-ass places like Italy, Greece, Portugal, Costa Rica and Mexico that are often sold out. Next up for 2019 is Goa, India which is one of my faaaaaavorite places so I heart that. There was a lil bit left to be desired in the crammed spaces, lack of lockers and hour and a half prenatal class that landed somewhere between a restorative class and a flow class but without really letting us get our groove in either.  Plus, that meant we (and the rest of our class) had to pee at least once bc bladders are hella squished when pregnant and an hour and a half is equivalent to 465 hours non-pregnant. It’s science. 

1 PINEAPPLE LOCATION 

148 Ossington Avenue, Toronto

Yogaspace is located in the heart of Toronto’s Ossington coolness, right on Ossington Avenue across from Ossington Chiropractic and Rehabilitation (which gives us life on a weekly basis PS) and just north of Belwoods Brewery. There’s quite a little hub of fitness studios in this two block radius with Academy of Lions, Misfit (review here), Ride Cycle Club, and The Local at the lulu’s men’s store all within a one-minute walk of eachother. Getting here is relatively easy, even if you’re not a West Ender, with it being a five-minute walk from Queen Street West and plenty of TTC options along Ossington Ave. and Queen West. For bikers, there’s tons of bicycle ring stands along Ossington, particularly in front of Yogaspace, and if driving, there’s free parking on Foxley, Halton, Argyle and Givens Street’s, all minutes away from Yogaspace. If really stuck for parking, like on the weekend when this place is jammed, there’s a self-pay parking lot one block north of YS on the south side of Dundas, east of Ossington. Two-hour paid parking is also available on both sides of Ossington in front of the Centre. Considering all the convenience, we’re giving full fruits for location all DAY. 

1 PINEAPPLE CLASS SCHEDULE + PRICE

Yogaspace has over 60 drop-in classes running every week with the majority of them focusing on yoga, but with a few snippets of non-namaste options. The yoga types range from the vigorous yang yoga styles like Vinyasa and Flow Yoga, to the yin yoga styles with Mysore/Self Practice, Hatha, Pre and Postnatal, and Restorative Classes. The non-yoga classes include Functional Strength Classes and Yoga/Pilates Fusion if you wanna switch it up. In total though, there are over 60 classes per week, and they’re very specialised within the yang yoga, yin yoga and non-yoga class styles so it’s best to check their schedule online to see what you’re most in the mood for. Overall though, out of our friends who have attended classes at YS and our experience of the prenatal yoga class, the yin styles seem to be more where their expertise lies vs a hardcore sweaty yoga sesh. In addition to the massive drop-in class schedule, they also offer pre-registered classes that are often 4-week courses, specialty workshops on the regular, local and international yoga retreats, they’re BIG on yoga teacher training (200 and 300 hour training courses) AND they have a wellness centre. There’s a lot going on here, which is why we’re giving these guys a full pineapple for class schedule! Woot! 

There are usually about 10-12 classes per day at Yogaspace between the two studios, starting as early as 6:00am Monday-Friday and running as late as 8:30pm. Weekends are jammed with classes until 5:45pm on Saturday and 6:00pm on Sunday as well and we heart this, since there are tons of options no matter what you’re hectic sched. Class prices are great with a $20 drop-in which is in line with their Toronto friends at Pure Yoga and Octopus Garden, and if you’re watching your pennies they have a community class for a $5 donation every day that ranges from the 8:15am to 11:45am time slot. 

  • New Member 1 Month Pass: $49
  • Drop-in: $20
  • 5 Class Pass: $90 ($18 per class)
  • 10 Class Pass: $160 ($16 per class)
  • 1 Month Drop-in Class Pass: $165 ($22 per class)
  • Monthly Auto-Renew Membership: $129/mth
  • Students/Seniors/YTT Grads: $14
  • Community Class: $5
  • Monthly Auto-Renew Membership: $95

0.5 PINEAPPLE VIBE

The vibe at Yogaspace is interesting and you get the sense immediately that they’ve been there for a long time, have a committed community of regular yogis and aren’t too crazy fussed about making sure you have the lay of the land if you’re a newbie. When we arrived for our class, the main foyer quickly became clogged up with people checking-in as there isn’t a ton of space and the coat/shoe rack is past the sign-in desk so the flow stops at the front desk. The coat rack/shoe area isn’t overly large either, so there was a lot of bumping preggo bellies, which made for a fast way to make new friends! The flow continues into a small, dark, calming and quiet waiting area for the two studios on the main floor; Studio A which is large, bright and full of the beautiful old brick walls that the whole studio boasts, and Studio B which is smaller, darker and used for the hot yoga classes. In the basement, just off the waiting area, are the mens and womens change rooms which contain yoga mat storage, washrooms, two showers in the women’s change room and one in the men’s that apparently have great water pressure. There’s a small space to change in the change rooms but no lockers. Overall, we left wanting more out of this space and the vibe, as things felt really crammed, not overly friendly, and not super functional with nowhere to store our belongings. 

As for the crowd, there were 20 people in our prenatal class in Studio A and that still gave us enough room to feel comfortable and spread out, so the space is nice and large. The students were all female, obvi, but we did notice a handful of yogi men in the other classes. For our prenatal class, most women were in their second and third trimesters, some very fit and clearly regular yogi’s before being pregnant but many others that seemed new to it all together, so overall it’s very friendly no matter what your previous experience. 

AMENITIES & EXTRAS

  • Tea station
  • Filtered water 
  • 2 washrooms
  • Mat storage available for $5 per month or $50 annually
  • Yoga mat rental for $2
  • Towel rental for $2 (hand) or $3 (bath)
  • Wellness Centre
  • Retail boutique with yoga gear like mats, bolsters, straps and blocks from Half Moon, Manduka, and Samyoga (who have THA best eye pillows by the way)

0.5 PINEAPPLEINSTRUCTOR

Yogaspace is one of the longest-standing yoga studios in the six, having been in operation for over 20 years, since 1996 actually. For the first eight years, Yogaspace was located on an alley just off Bellwoods Avenue north of Queen Street, but they moved to the current location in Ossington in 2004, back when the hood was filled with Vietnamese Karaoke Bars. Kathryn Beet, the founder, saw Ossington as the new frontier – what an eye Kat, what an eye. Other fun fact, Kathryn founded Toronto’s first pre and postnatal yoga program in 1993 after 10 years of working as a doula. Yogaspace is also known for training new yoga instructors in the 200 and 300 Hour Yoga Alliance Registered Teacher Training School that’s been pumping out instructors for over 18 years – and the extensive wellness centre that offers services like thai yoga and foot massage, facial stretch therapy, acupuncture, osteotherapy, pelvic health physiotherapy, and infrared sauna, among other things. I actually went for a postnatal massage here with Kristen Emberley, and she was fantastic! She’s so knowledgeable about the pre and postnatal body, has a background as a paramedic, and she was great at explaining what she was noticing going on for my body. I would definitely recommend popping in for massage services. With over 35 yoga instructors on their roster and another 12 therapists as part of the wellness centre, it’s a very seasoned team as many of them have been with Yogaspace since the beginning or have graduated from the in-house training. 
 
Danielle (sub for Sasha)
 
Danielle was our instructor for the prenatal yoga class, substituting for Sasha Padron’s typical timeslot, and her teaching style was very calm and friendly. This was one of Danielle’s first classes back to teaching after having a child herself 10 months ago, so she was speaking from experience and mentioned how happy she was to be back into it. She spent most of the class demonstrating, and about 15% of the time doing hands-on adjustments which we love. One thing we noticed that confused a lot of people was that when she was demonstrating, Danielle faced the class and showed the same side rather than mirroring us, which made her opposite the class. Also, it’s quite typical, especially in slower yin based yoga classes, that the instructor provides guided mediation/what to focus on as you breathe through longer stretches and positions, however there wasn’t a lot of support in that area, which we could have really used. We can attest to the notoriously busy mental state of the third trimester mum, in particular, who’s coming down to the wire and has a V BUSY mind about what still needs to be done, the anxiety about labour, being a parent…whatever. Considering we come to yoga to try and calm those thoughts and focus inwards, and we’re in a prenatal class – we thought there was more opportunity to personalise that experience. There was a lot of  talk at the end of class in savasana however, but it was all about your mothers mother, and feeling the existence of a maternal lineage, which didn’t really resonate with myself or my girlfriend so much. To each their own, I suppose :). 

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

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

The prenatal yoga classes at Yogaspace are described as classes that will “prepare your mind and body for the most challenging work of your life. A flow of postures and breath work to support your pregnancy and prepare you for labour.” We’re rating the class as Hella Chill, but docking pineapple marks for landing somewhere in the middle between a restorative class and a flow class but not really enough of either that we could find our groove and get a ton out of it. The great news is, these classes are designed for students with any level of experience and it’s also safe for all stages of pregnancy. Also, the length of the class was interesting. An hour and a half pre-natal class is ambitious for preggo bladders considering you pee on the hour every hour, especially into your third trimester, so we were surprised to see that offered regularly on Sundays. Probably 75% of the class got up at least once to scury to the ladies room. There are other one hour prenatal yoga class options during the week. 

These kinds of soft yoga classes are what I fear the most with pre-natal classes, that they’re just watered down versions of a yoga class because there’s an assumption that you’re body just can’t do the same things. Which in some cases might be true, but in some cases it’s not and the choice should be up to the mum to adjust. It wasn’t very tailored to pre-natal either, only one reference to what people should do over 34 weeks, besides that there was no mention of how anyone might alter the positions for their pre-natal bodies depending on what they might be experiencing or what stages they’re in. Granted there were 20 people in the class and it may be difficult to cater to everyone, but there was very little education as to what our bodies need or what they’re going through. I was in my third trimester for the class and my girlfriend was in her first, which is a much more sensitive time and there was no mention of things to stay away from for her, just a general “listen to your body” guidance which isn’t necessarily the best advise if you’re new to working out while pregnant and don’t know what you don’t know.  The class moved through all three warrior positions, a few balances and a lot of floor and breath work, but we felt like we either wanted to hold the poses longer or work up more of a flow in our bodies but we were uncomfortably in the middle, the whole class. I could see it being an ok class for women towards the very end of their pregnancy who are not able to be very active, and a class predominantly focused on stretching and easy, short flows is all their bodies can handle – however if you’re more of an experienced yogi or fitness fanatic and looking for a class that will still challenge your preggo bod, this probably isn’t it. 

To try this class or anything else on their schedule, see YogaSpace’s contact info below.

Web: www.yogaspace.net
E-mail: contact@yogaspace.net
PHONE: 416.516.9940
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Boomerang Pilates, Westside – Toronto {3.5/5 Pineapples}

◊ THE CLASS: Made to Move Thursday 7:15pm – 8:15pm ◊


PINEAPPLE SCORE
 3.5 PINEAPPLES

WHAT YOU NEED

Water Bottle

Loose comfy clothing

(all other equipment is provided for you)

OVERALL REVIEW

The best reason to go to Boomerang Pilates is to get personal, tailored and very technical training. Their program philosophy is based on exercising correctly and moving smartly, not just exercising to burn calories. Actually on the flip side, you may only burn about 100 cals in a class but you’ll learn all about your bod and what you’re doing to it. Every class is designed to teach you more about the human body and give you space to explore and understand your personal icky spots. You’ll focus on proper alignment and form, anatomy, and probably the most important element, they’ll teach you tools and methodologies that you can take into your everyday lives and everyday movement, at any age, no matter what your personal challenges (i.e. injuries, pre/postnatal, new to working out or getting back into it after time off, etc.). This isn’t a studio that will focus on instagram worthy poses or decor, but they will support you to live life with health, strength, balance and confidence. So, like, we’re on board. 

0.5 PINEAPPLE LOCATION 

240 Roncesvalles Ave, Roncy United Church – ​2nd floor

Boomerang Pilates is located on the west end of Toronto in one of our fav neighbourhoods, Roncesvalles, right on Roncy Ave across from Lit Espresso and The Ace and just north of Wright Avenue. Although the location is great for West Enders, it’s a bit far for East Enders or anyone not living in the core, making it a definite westside focused studio. Now – the studio itself IS a tad tricky to find because it’s actually located inside the Roncesvalles United Church, with the entrance to the right of the main front doors just off the parking lot, you’ll see a few bright banners for Boomerang, Yoga Village and Zumba. Once inside the doors of the church, the adventure continues as you follow the signs up the stairs to the second floor, down the hall, around a corner where you’ll pass what looks like a re-done second part of the chapel, to finally arrive at two doors that house the Boomerang Pilates studio. There is no sign-in desk or obvious arrival that you’re in the right place, so keep your wits about you and just follow the signs (and probably other people who are regulars that look like they know where they’re going.) If getting to the studio by public transport; the 504 streetcar runs south along Roncesvalles Ave. from Queen Street, or north from Dundas West subway station and will drop you right in front. If driving, parking is only available on Roncesvalles Avenue, High Park Boulevard and Wright Avenue. Although there is a church parking lot, Boomerang isn’t allowed to use it. ☹

1 PINEAPPLE CLASS SCHEDULE + PRICE

Boomerang Pilates has a very impressive class schedule, especially for how small the studio is and the fact that they operate out of one large room that’s split in two with a curtain. Way to make the most out of it, ladies. Classes are grouped into Alignment and Restorative, Whole Body Pilates, Traditional Pilates and Extras (which includes Ab|Rehab, Roll Restore and Refresh and more) with 14 types of classes in total. We took the Made to Move class which sits under the Alignment and Restorative banner and it was all about increasing body awareness to improve daily movement. They’re also very clear, especially on their website, on how to navigate choosing the best class for your needs, whether you’re brand spanking new to Pilates and movement, i.e. check the “For Beginners” section (Body Sculpt, Whole Body Pilates Level 1, Better Bones and Joints, Pilates Fundamentals, and Kripalu) or your looking for something more specialised like Feldenkrais®. What the what is Feldenkraldnaas – yes, us too. Boomerang is the only Toronto studio to offer this method, and Pilates and Restorative Exercise btw, and Wikipedia tells us Feldenkrais® “claims to reorganize connections between the brain and body, and to improve body movement and psychological state”. We’re into strategies to improve our phycological state soooo sign us up.  

If you’re looking for straight-up OG Joseph Pilates Pilates, this is also the place for you. You’ll have to start out with the Pilates Fundamentals class before you move up to Power Pilates (which is where you would rock the Hundreds) or the three-month drop-in series Pilates: The Classics, and they also offer a spin-off of the JP method in the Level 1 and 2 Whole Body Pilates classes. Boomerang also has pre-registered classes like Walking Well, which ACTUALLY teaches you how to walk properly – who knew that was something you were messing up? The class even comes with homework, lasts six weeks and you’ll get outside if weather permits. I know it sounds like something offered at an old-folks home but it’s actually filled with a very diverse crowd – and PS who doesn’t want their very own wisdom filled Tran (a la Nick Miller in New Girl) to air out your latest work woes and relationship drams?! And finally, Boomerang is great if you’re looking for private instruction. You can work directly with the owner, Alison, for one hour uber customized classes, or you can work with one of the advanced instructors in a private or semi-private, two-person class. This is a great option if you know you need lots of attention (and not just the only-child kind of special attention) but the recovering-from-an-injury or training-for-the-Olympics kind of special attention.  Oh, and just one more little thing – Boomerang also has workshops, teacher training, and wellness services (RMT, holistic nutrition, and balance/touch therapy) in this tiny space – NBD.  

Class prices are super reasonable for TO, with a $20 drop-in and passes that decrease prices to $18 per class. A monthly membership makes sense if attending more than twice a week, but if not, class passes are the best bang for your buck. You can sign-up online beforehand to reserve your spot, but the classes are typically quite small so it’s not a huge stress to do so. This is not the kind of place you’ll get turned away if you’re five minutes late or the class is too full. Nahmean.

Drop-in Classes:

  • Drop-in: $20
  • First Week Unlimited Mat: $40
  • 10 Class Pass: $180 ($18 per class)
  • Unlimited Monthly Pass: $190

Tailored Instruction:

  • Private instruction, per person: $75-$85 (per hour)
  • Semi-private (duet), per person: $45-$55 (per hour)

Private Instruction with the Owner, Alison:

  • Single Session: $110 
  • 5 Sessions: $525 ($105 per session)
  • 10 Sessions: $1000 ($100 per session)

0.5 PINEAPPLE VIBE

The design aesthetic of Boomerang Pilates is very different than the studios we typically frequent that are a bit glam, super put together and usually have elements of interior design that draw us in. We knew beforehand though, that wasn’t what Boomerang would be. Knowing that it’s based in a church, and having grown up in a ballet studio that moved to a church’s facilities, we had a preconceived idea as to what the vibe would be – down-to-earth, about the movement and the class above all else, and old. One thing that did impress/surprise us was how many other local fitness jimmy jams were happening in the same church, like Zumba classes and Yoga Village, so there was an undeniable sense of community energy (that sounds *eye roll*, but is actually the best way to describe it). But we’ll be clear, there are no flashy facilities – no showers, lockers, or toiletries provided, two communal washrooms are your change room options (that actually have a toilet and urinal in one room) and the coat rack/shoe area consists of a rolling rack outside the main doors of Boomerang’s room. But again, you’re not going here for the gram. Well, if you are, the best aesthetic game is the chapel itself. As for the studio space, the one room is separated by a curtain with two Reformer Pilates machines set-up on one side, and the open larger studio on the other. All equipment is provided at no extra cost, which is nice, and the room is scattered with said equipment, rando body alignment tools like a full skeleton and other human structural references, a fireplace, and Dr.Suesse-esk feather pot décor things (see photo) to add a little spice. With alignment being their primary focus, the rooms are lined with mirrors in the large studio to keep you in check and considering there are no lockers, people just leave their belongings against the back wall.

The down-to-earth décor is reflective of the same attitude and vibe of the teachers and students that go to Boomerang. Our class only consisted of five students in total, so a very private feel, and the crowd was a bit older ranging from 30-60+. All other students were regulars though, and attend classes multiple times a week and it was obvious by how Petra knew every students limitations or areas they were working on. Above all else though, the vibe oozing out of the teachers is education education education. We’ll get into it more in the Instructor and Level of Difficulty sections, but this is definitely the place to come if you genuinely need to work on your form, want to learn more about how the human body works, or learn how to exercise effectively.    

AMENITIES & EXTRAS

  • Two unisex shared washrooms
  • All equipment provided at no charge
  • Holistic wellness services

1 PINEAPPLE INSTRUCTOR

Boomerang was founded by Toronto local, Alison Crouch, in 2011 and since then she has built a small and mighty team of seven female instructors in Pilates and Restorative Exercise, and holistic wellness professionals that all live by the same ethos; “to explore movement in ways that build you from the inside out and address your need for healthy movement and your craving to workout”. Alison teaches private and semi-private classes as well, and she created the Move SMART program; a Sustainable Movement & Authentic Teaching Program that mentors young teachers in the therapeutic body-work method. 
Petra Fisher
Petra was our instructor for the Made to Move class and she’s been with Boomerang since 2014 teaching that class, the Restore Your Pelvic Floor class and occasional workshops. She has a v cool background that makes her instantly relatable and her bubbly and light energy is contagious and leaves you all smiley. She used to be a lawyer and hardcore long distance runner, cross-fit goer, mountain biker and snowboarder until she experienced some chronic injuries that forced her to slow down. After years of treatment, nothing was really working for her until she discovered Restorative Exercise – which she sites as “a revolutionary new approach to health and movement”. Once she was exposed to the incredible power it had over her body to heal some of the years of abuse she did to it, there was no turning back, she was hooked, and became a certified Restorative Exercise Specialist™.  Her teaching style is gentle, educational and very personalized. She believes that our bodies are made to move, but with a life time of heels (cough cough), sitting, and unnatural positions that we put our bodies through, we’re inherently requiring our fabulous bods to create compensation patterns that can easily lead to injuries and ickyness. Petra is so passionate about righting those wrongs, and her entire approach centers around getting into the nitty-gritty details of our joints, muscles and alignment to re-teach our bodies better habits. Her classes will be slow moving, but very articulate and will require your focus, balance and listening skills. 

0.5 PINEAPPLE LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

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

I would definitely categorize this class as Hella Chill and give a halfer pineapple based on the fact that the class is described as a fun and challenging class. Fun – sure, challenging – not so much. The Made to Move class is designed to lengthen & strengthen your muscles, increase your body awareness, improve your daily movement habits, and learn to walk, squat and hang-out safely and with ease.​ We did learn some great tips on how to improve our daily movement habits and we spent a lot of time gaining a better understanding of the areas to improve our personal alignment, which was nice, since we don’t often take the time to focus on those things in a workout class. The class utilized a number of props such as a mat, half foam roller, and chair for balance and slow moving stretches and we predominantly focused on our hips. Petra created a class specifically centered around our hips because we spend so much time in a seated position that the residual effects to our alignment, posture and strength are usually not great. The class didn’t require a typical “warm-up” as all movements were quite slow, methodical, and focused on precise alignment so we just dove into various poses that Petra guided us through for the hour. One of the best things I took away, is Petra taught us how to test for tightness in our psoas muscles where we lied on our backs and felt if our hands could fit easily or with just a small amount of space underneath our mid-back and ribs. If they could fit no problem, the curve of our spine was too much and we needed to work on a psoas release, which we did all class and then came back to it at the end to see if we had an impact. Guess what?! It totally did! At the beginning, my back was arched like a friggin bridge pose and by the end my psoas had clearly significantly chilled out with my hands fitting in snuggly. We also spent time focusing on our feet (on the half foam rollers), our hip alignment in forward fold balances similar to warrior 3 but with a chair to balance, and loosening our abductor muscles in stretches on the floor. This was a great class for those recovering from injury, for me in my prenatal-large-belly state, or for those that are just trying to implement more movement and exercise into their daily lives. 

T

To try this class or anything else on their schedule, see Boomerang’s contact info below.

Web: www.boomerangpilates.ca
E-mail: info@boomerangpilates.ca
PHONE: 416.993.2811
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Toronto Yoga Mamas, East End – Toronto {5/5 Pineapples}

◊ THE CLASS: Prenatal Yoga, Wednesday 8:15pm-9:15pm ◊


PINEAPPLE SCORE
5 PINEAPPLE SCORE

WHAT YOU NEED

Absolutely nothing, just you and your bump (and comfy yoga clothes)

OVERALL REVIEW

I’ll dive right to it, I am MIGHTY impressed with Toronto Yoga Mamas, which is apparent given the fact that I’m rating it FIVE PINEAPPLES! what what. I half expected a bit of a cheeseball, women only, all-natural mummy vibe for no good reason other than that’s what ALOT of mum group things can be, but I was immediately steered straight when I experienced the chic, bright, and {cool} modern space. Feeling a tad insecure that it would be obvious I was new, I was immediately greeted with so much kindness as the reception staff gave me the run-down and personal tour of the whole damn place. Which is a lot because there’s a lot happening here. The nuts of it is, Toronto Yoga Mamas isn’t just a specialised yoga studio, it’s an incredible source for trying, new and expecting mums (especially first timers that have no idea what they’re doing – exhibit A). With a massive pre and postnatal wellness centre that includes everything from acupuncture, chiro, massage, holistic nutrition and more, to education classes to doula’s, this is more like an all-knowing, one-stop-shop, that’s-not-your-hospital-hub of mum and baby info. And they’ve thought of everything, from stroller parking to free childcare to yoga mats being included so you don’t have to worry about bringing that too (bc that’s too hard when you’re about to pop and/or have a newborn. Honestly.) The 40+ women who run this amazing facility have got your back, and your belly, ha. 5 pineapples all. the. WAY. 

 1 PINEAPPLE LOCATION 

1402 Queen Street East, Eastside – Toronto

Toronto Yoga Mamas is tucked away off the main strip of Queen Street East in one of the most popular bits between Vancouver Avenue and Greenwood Avenue. The entrance is along the westside of Queen Margherita Pizza (not by accident, I’m convinced) and shares the back half of the same building. Being in the heart of Leslieville, it’s obviously a perfect location for east-enders, but with it located right on Queen Street East and the 501 streetcar running on the daily, it’s relatively easy to get to for everyone. If driving here, there’s free street parking on Greenwood Ave and Vancouver Ave if you can snag it, or paid street parking on Queen. They even have stroller parking along the westside of the building past the entrance. They used to have a location in the westend as well, but it was closed down in January 2017 so they could focus on the flagship location in the east. 

1 PINEAPPLE CLASS SCHEDULE + PRICE

Toronto Yoga Mamas specialises in yoga, Pilates and barre for expecting and postnatal mama’s – but that’s new. Barre is a new addition and it’s an awesome one because they’ve added both pre and postnatal barre classes this last December due to popular demand. Way to listen to your tribe, guys. There are over nine styles of classes offered in total, some where you bring your baby with you, some without, some that specialise in family, but all that have been very carefully tailored to mums and what her body needs during a significant time of change. All classes include Fertility Yoga (4 week series), Prenatal Yoga, Yoga Babies (between 4 weeks and crawling), Crawlers Yoga (for you and your bub when they start to crawl), Family Yoga (4 week series), Vinyasa Yoga (Candlelight, Flow, and Energising Flow), Pilates Babies (between 6 weeks and crawling), Barre, and Barre Babies (between 4 weeks and crawling). It’s important to note that although 95% of this studio is heavily geared towards mama’s, many of the classes such as Yoga Babies and Crawlers Yoga are appropriate and encouraged for papa’s, nannies, and any caregiver looking after baby and it’s a great chance for, not only a workout, but bonding time. Awww. 

As far as prices, TYM is on the top-end for what we’ve seen in Toronto for drop-in yoga prices, however with it being so specialised and the abundant extra services that are provided (including complimentary mats, towels and all gear), we think it’s well worth the extra pennies so we’re still giving full fruits. Also, if purchasing a monthly Mama Pass, per class rates drop to $13.50 if going a minimum of twice a week. Unlike many studios that have prenatal programs, it’s not necessary to lock-into a set term. You can just drop-in for classes whenever suits you, provided you sign-up online beforehand. That said, they have an awesome deal if you want to commit for a full nine months that includes unlimited yoga, Pilates and barre, 10% off the retail boutique, education, events and workshops, and you can pause the membership when your baby arrives. A couple catches in the fine print though, this pass is only available to purchase in the months of May, August, and December and as of May 2018 the price increases by $100 to $699. 

  • Drop-in: $24
  • 10 Class Card: $189 ($18.90)
  • The 9 Month Pass: $66 per month = $699 (as of May 2018)
  • Mama Pass: $108 per month
  • Family Yoga 4 week series: $129 a family (can include up to 5 members)
  • Fertility Yoga 4 week series: $99 per person

In addition to fitness classes, Toronto Yoga Mamas provides a suite of other courses and services. From mama groups like Baby Sign Language (I know, this is adorable and I should defs sign-up for it) to access to doula services, to a full wellness centre that specialises in care for pre and postnatal chiro, massage, acupuncture, holistic nutrition, naturopathic medicine and even pelvic floor physio (which is a major thing you need PS). They have truly covered all bases to make sure this is a one-stop centre of education and support. We were lucky enough to enjoy their prenatal massage services. If you haven’t had a massage so far in your pregnancy, DO IT, it will be a huge lifesaver because the extra stress your low back, feet, hips, and midback are under deserves the TLC.  You can book prenatal, postnatal, deep tissue and aromatherapy massages in 30, 45, 60, and 90 minute sessions – which can all be claimed through your health coverage by the way. There are five registered massage therapists to book with and we had Melanie Gillians and she was faaaaantastic. She focused on improving my circulation, and relieving my headaches and hand and arm swelling bc apparently preggo carpal tunnel can be a thing (so fun). The treatment rooms are on the first floor behind the sign-in desk and the vibe blends in perfectly with the rest of the bright yet calming decor, PLUS they finish your services giving you fresh lemon water and an orange. I mean, the details. 

There are ALSO a ton of workshops and education classes like Newborn Baby 101 (which I should register for bc the huz has never changed a diaper, like EVER), Prepare to Push, Baby Sleep, and a ton of great support in fertility. I dragged my husband to the Baby CPR Training course which was a three-hour session taught by a Toronto paramedic and we covered infant & child choking, infant and child CPR, and baby first aid. The cost was $55 per person and totally and completely well worth it. Everyone should do this course, including the grandpappies cuz things have changed since 1980. Did you even know its not called the Heimlich Maneuverer anymore?! Only word of caution is make sure you sign-up well in advance, the spots fill up fast and you can’t cancel unless they can find a replacement. As if that’s not enough they also provide photography sessions for Belly, Baby and Family, events on the regular and free childcare on Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays during class times. Like, aaaactually. They have EVERYTHING HERE.

1 PINEAPPLE VIBE

TYM studio space is very bright, feminine, and calming. The vibe that the staff have created is so confidently chill – it’s obvious they know what they’re talking about but with a ‘go-with-the-flow’ approach. Which I really appreciate, because this $hit can be overwhelming. I went in the evening so the tranquil atmosphere was turned to the max with the lights dimmed and the candles lit – which is pretty on-point considering how desperately most mamas really need a place to zen. When walking in the doors, there’s a sizeable shoe storage area/coat rack to your right and a chic lobby to your left. In the middle of the lobby is the sign-in desk that’s surrounded by their Mama Retail Boutique stacked with carefully curated feminine extras – everything from candles, to make-up bags, to scarves, cute mugs, books, you name it – you’ll want to buy it. Easy to drop a few bucks here. Past the main lobby is the Baby Boutique, which is an adoooooorable extension of the same beautifully curated selection of trendy products, and the entrance to their Wellness Centre which includes 4 treatment rooms. 

The two large practice rooms are located upstairs and they’re made unique with their decor, which includes upside down balloons hanging from the ceiling and tassel draping. Right now anyway, they switch it up every now and again. Something I REALLY loved; our mats and yoga station were set up for us in the studio when we arrived – a considerate detail that was not overlooked – and with eight of us in the class, we felt nicely spaced out. Outside the practice rooms is a lemon water station, a herbal tea station and a library where you can borrow any book for a months time. There’s also a nursing room that doubles as a change room and two washrooms but no showers, which, is actually a bit surprising because they offer EVERYTHING else. It seems like a miss to not have the option to shower. Maybe this is a sign that moms don’t have time to shower!? Stay tuned, I’ll let ya’ll know.  

AMENITIES

1 PINEAPPLE INSTRUCTOR

Toronto Yoga Mamas was first founded by Jamie Kalynuik in 2012, as she wanted to create a community where women can learn, nurture and connect with each other through their birthing journeys and into motherhood. As a doula first, she feels strongly about creating a supportive, safe and confident environment throughout pregnancy and after birth. The extensive team that Jamie has created since opening TYM doors over five years ago, is one of the most impressive rosters of strong, powerful and supportive women that we’ve come across. With over 10 staff members in the Wellness Center, 12+ yoga, barre and Pilates instructors, 11+ doula’s, and a supporting staff of eight people to run it all smoothly, this massive team of 40+ is knowledgeable, nurturing and supportive in everything from fertility, pregnancy, birth, parenting, child care and mamma self-care. Every person we’ve interacted with are mothers themselves so they speak from personal experience, which can be incredibly helpful. 

Joana Peixoto

I took Joana’s 8:15pm Wednesday pre-natal yoga class and I loved everything about her teaching style. She’s been teaching vinyasa yoga in Toronto for over six years and her background is in ashtanga, iyengar, restorative and pre and postnatal – this mama knows. Her approach is welcoming and approachable but very educational at the same time, which is a nice mix because I know I was soaking up literally everything she was saying about what our bodies go through during and after pregnancy but I didn’t feel like a dumb-ass for not knowing about it. This was actually my first specifically pre-natal fitness class and I could immediately tell the difference in the teaching methods and in the flow of the class, which I’ll get to later. Every movement Joana walked us through was catered to the eight of us and she explained why. She started with showing us how to massage our own feet in areas we need it most (arch of your foot gets crunchy because it represents your intestines that get super squished #reflexologyforthewin) and we focused mostly on hips and glutes because that’s the safest thing for all of us to challenge no matter what stage of pregnancy we’re in. Joana would demonstrate most exercises to start and then she would spend the rest of the time walking the room to adjust our form or the movements if people’s bumps were in the way. The entire class felt incredibly tailored, yet not easy. She still challenged us and found the fine balance of knowing when to push us further to maximize our strength and heart-rate but in a way that was completely safe. 

1 PINEAPPLE LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

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

I’m rating the class Middle of The Roadsies but handing out full pineapples all the way.
Make_it_rain
I expected, based on the description of the class and the fact that I’m carrying some serious extra weight, that it would be a Middle of The Roader and, honestly, I’m getting to the size that a Way Hard class might either murder me or make me pop. Ain’t nobody got time wants that. But I did love love love that it still challenged certain muscles that I could work just as hard as I normally would (like glutes and quads).
To kick-off our eight person intimate yoga class, Joana went around the room asking how far along we were, our names and how we were feeling in our bodies. This might seem minor or oversharing for some but it actually was SOOOO lovely to immediately commiserate (probs wrong word?!) with women in the same stage, many of who were first time mummas also, that were feeling different elements of pregnancy. The best part was how incredibly supportive and connected everyone naturally became, nodding and laughing along, giving words of encouragement as total strangers. It was so lovely! After that, Joana got us moving into positions and sequences that were tailored to the needs of the eight of us. Some of us felt great, others needed some hip love, lower back love, or were just generally hurting everywhere so full-body movement was key. Throughout the class, we focused a lot on strengthening our lower body and pelvic floor and moving through modified flows – no up dogs for these beach balls. But we did do a lot of warrior poses, triangle, balances, and hip openers. Overall I was super impressed with how “real yoga” the class still felt, considering I was half expecting a super easy yoga flow that would focus on breathing and “connecting with our baby”, so I’m very happy to report that for the yogi’s that were yogi’s before belly, this was still the right amount of challenging. 
T

To try this class or anything else on their schedule, see Toronto Yoga Mamas contact info below.

Web: www.torontoyogamamas.com
E-mail:hello@torontoyogamamas.com
PHONE: 416.406.0116
Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

889 Community, Midtown – Toronto {4.5/5 Pineapples}

◊ THE CLASS: Prenatal Pilates & Prenatal Yoga ◊


PINEAPPLE SCORE
 4.5 PINEAPPLES

WHAT YOU NEED

Water bottle

Your bump

(mats are included for all prenatal classes)

OVERALL REVIEW

I can’t believe it’s taken me THIS long to get to 889! WHY!? As soon as I walked in the doors, I was v into it. First off, the location is great. It’s in the heart of 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 (what I tried). 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 my 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 so far in Toronto. That said, the offering of things to do here is vast and I’ve been back to 889 on multiple occasions in the last few months because each time I seem to discover something new to try. I’ve now taken the prenatal Pilates class, the prenatal yoga class (reviews for each class below), and the free Essential Oils 101 class (don’t even get me STARTED on how much I’m into EO now). 

1 PINEAPPLE LOCATION 

889 Yonge Street, Toronto

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. 

0.5 PINEAPPLE 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 are great for beginners and there are two types of meditation classes; Breathwork Meditation and Meditation, both of which are great for beginners and focus on Pranayama breathing and calming the mind and nervous system. For the Pilates classes, there are six 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 is the first 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 go, just to understand what the eff that means. 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. 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 so cool and not at all hippie, so I was intrigued and NOW I totally get it. My obsession is in its infancy stage as I learn all the amazing ways I can use EO for, such as sleep, focus, alertness, indigestion, healing, and so many baby things!! It warrants a separate review I feel…

With regards to 889’s class schedule, they have 3.5 practice rooms in the studio which allows for a super loaded and convenient timetable. There are 10-14 classes per day that start as early as 7:00am on Tuesdays and 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. It’s ideal to register online for each class ahead of time to secure your spot; 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 I had to shave the top off the pineapple. Although the memberships and class packs drive down the price, as per usual, the drop-in rate for a class is $30 before tax, which gets close to $35 with taxes. All prenatal classes include mats FYI, 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 curriculum so I 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 a 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 PINEAPPLE VIBE

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. Walking into the studio, the main lobby with a little tea area, eating nook, apparel shop and sign-in desk are the first things you see, 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 details, 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 the journey through the studio that passes through the 889 Shop full of holistic lifestyle products. The coat racks and shoe area are in the back of the “house” which is odd for a winter city, but that’s likely the downside of preserving an 18th century home and its layout. Next to the coat area is a staircase that leads downstairs to the change rooms, a hallway that leads to the first practice room at the end of the house, and another staircase leading to a large upstairs area that contains two additional practise rooms and more hang out space. The house is massive, has everything you need, and more, in a chill beautiful space you’ll want to hang in for hours. 

As far as the crowd vibe at 889, both our Prenatal Pilates class and our Prenatal Yoga class were full of cool chicks. They were all fit, beautiful, healthy women that I wanted to be friends with and who were rocking pregnancy like it was nbd. In the 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 the next day and she breezed through the whole class. Ages in that class ranged from 30-40 and the studio the Prenatal Pilates class was held in (on the main floor) accommodated about 16 women and we had a full class. The Prenatal Yoga class was a little smaller, in the upstairs back studio that only accommodates about eight people max, and there were six of us. There was a greater range in age and stage of pregnancy with half the women in their first or second tri. Outside of our prenatal classes, we noticed a refreshing amount of guys milling about the studio. There were a lot of couples coming directly from work to attend the Vinyasa Flow class that were happening upstairs at the same time as my Prenatal Pilates class, and there was a nice range of older peeps attending the Yin class in the next studio during our Prenatal Yoga class. Literally, a studio for everyone to find their groove. 

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
  • Private classes at the Four Season Hotel at 60 Yorkville Ave
  • Holistic Health Centre – with more details coming soon. 

1 PINEAPPLE INSTRUCTOR

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 prioritize 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 of over 30 instructors that include some of our favorites of all time (we’re lookin’ at you, Jaffer and Tara G).

Taya Griffin – Prenatal Pilates

Taya was our instructor for the Prenatal Pilates class and she was quirky, knowledgable and incredibly informative. Although the class started a little abruptly since there was no music accompaniment and Tara seemed to just, all of a sudden, dive into it, the flow of the rest of the class was very smooth. Taya received her yoga teacher training in Cape Town, South Africa 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 now has a private practice teaching prenatal breastfeeding classes and seeing 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. 
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. Taya teaches Prenatal Pilates and Postnatal Pilates (w/ baby!).  
Tasha Rooke – Prenatal Yoga
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 so approachable and 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 that was in the Prenatal Yoga class the week prior was mid-pose and her water casually broke and she low-key excused herself from class after completing the sequence. I hope I’m that cool about it. It was a great ice breaker though and made everyone feel like they were buddies in the class which was nice and played up the whole mom bonding thing. Tasha spent most of the class verbally guiding us through poses or in some cases showing 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). Tasha is also one of the teachers who will be part of the April Teacher Training Program focusing on Pre and Postnatal Yoga and Self Awareness Meditation modules which we could totally see her killing it in because of her calm and steady meditation-y voice. 

1 PINEAPPLE LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

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

Prenatal Pilates

We’re rating this class Middle of The Roadies overall. It had moments that were challenging and created energy and it had moments that were more chill and nurturing, which is the exact kind of combination we’re looking for in a pre-natal 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 that’s needed. As mentioned, the class started a little bit abruptly and we mostly noticed it because there was no music or real queue that class was officially beginning. We had a lot of equipment with us that included 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 breast feeding because of the posture you have to assume, 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 also did a modified leg series from the original Joseph Pilates method in a standing position that worked our glutes and external rotators. We finished the class with fluid stretching, meaning massive hip circles that felt SOOOO good, side body stretching and leg circles. We walked out feeling looser in our hips, stronger in our upper body and generally happier that we moved our mammoth new bodies for an hour. 

Prenatal Yoga

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, it’s 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. 

To try these classes or anything else on their schedule, see 889’s contact info below.

Web: www.889community.com
E-mail: HAPPINESS@889COMMUNITY.COM
PHONE: 416.925.7206
Instagram | Facebook 

Barre Belle, Calgary {4.5/5 Pineapples}

◊ THE CLASS: GALS: Glutes, Abs, Legs Friday 12-12:50pm ◊


PINEAPPLE SCORE
 4.5 PINEAPPLES

WHAT YOU NEED

Water bottle

Barre socks (mandatory)

Instagram

OVERALL REVIEW

On our latest trip back to Calgary we popped into what has quickly become known as one of YYC’s most posh studios frequented by local celebs and trendy millennials, Barre Belle. And we get why. Founded 2 years ago this Valentine’s Day by Breakfast Television Calgary’s, Jill Belland, and fitness fanatic Kristi Stuart, these women rounded up some of Calgary’s best interior designers and barre instructors to put together some of the chicest boutique fitness studios we’ve seen. They’ve recently expanded to their fourth location, having just opened in our old hood on 85th Ave, but we visited the OG Mission location to see where it all began. Our bouncy and cheerful blonde bombshell instructor made us want to reinvigorate the scrunchie, the GALS (Glutes, Abs and Legs) class pushed us to fatigue and the layout and amenities gave us everything we needed to refresh after a light sweat and carry-on with our day. Although the space is very heavily geared towards women, most barre studios these days are ok with creating that exclusion. Prices are at the top end for barre but comparable to Barre Body Studio also in Calgary and we’re not surprised in the slightest considering the quality of the studio, classes, product and teaching. You might think this space is intimidating for first time barre students or anyone who doesn’t weigh 110 lbs. and look perfect in a crop top and leggings, but the instructors are so welcoming and friendly, and the class crowd is full of a great mix of experience levels, shapes and sizes that it really is a space where everyone is welcome to shape their best booty together.

1 PINEAPPLE LOCATION 

#103, 1812 4th Street SW, Calgary AB

Barre Belle has spread their love across the city of Calgary with 4 locations in almost every quadrant, in Mission (SW), Auburn Bay (SE), Parkdale (NW) and the latest stunning location, West 85th SW, that just opened in the beginning of January 2018. We attended a class at their original location in Mission. This bright, fancy studio is conveniently located on 4th Street in between 18th and 19th Avenue SW, beside a few adorable wallet clearing boutiques like Fieldstudy and Mini Purr (obvi we had a sneaky shop before class). Street parking is available along 4th Street, or the neighbouring side streets, and there are multiple bus stops along 4th Street and 17th Avenue for the rare few who take public transport in this city. 🙂

0.5 PINEAPPLE CLASS SCHEDULE + PRICE

All classes offered at Barre Belle are barre based (shocker) but they have a great mix of strength and cardio components that all aim to tighten and tone your beautiful bods to create slender, strong dancer physiques. There are 6 types of classes in total to create said physique, with their most popular being their signature BarreBelle Fit, which is a full-body, 60-minute, typical barre class that incorporates barrework, mat and core – perfect to include in your regular routine or if you’re new to barre in general. The class we took, GALS: Glutes, Abs, Legs, is all about your lower body and has a splash of 80’s thrown in for good measure with the use of ankle weights a lá Jane Fonda. We loved it. But more on that love affair later. All classes are OK for beginners, but the Barre Belle Fat Burn, Barre X, and X-Training classes are specifically designed to be higher intensity, cardio blasts of sweatyness so it’s easier if you’ve at least done a barre class before trying these. There’s also a Belles and Babes class (we’ll be back with our little dude!) which is a 50-minute baby and you class where you utilize the baby weight (literally) to get your tone back. Baby age can vary, as long as he/she can be strapped to you in your own baby carrier. No matter which class you choose though, all classes will include high repetition exercises with light weights and/or resistance bands, dynamic movement and, of course, the barre.

The class schedule at the Mission location, specifically, is geared towards the morning, lunch and immediately after work crowd with 2-4 options before 9:00 am, a lunchtime class, and the rest happening post 5:00 pm. Having said that, they wrap-up classes fairly early during the week, with the last class starting at 6:30 or 6:45, which can be pretty tight for those who run at 9-6 work hours (us). Classes finish by lunchtime on the weekends as well, so there’s no sleeping in allowed. Although this is one of the more limiting class schedules we’ve seen in a while, people are clearly making it work as most classes are wait-list only, especially at the Mission location. You can book classes up to a week in advance and we definitely recommend you do! Arrive 15-minutes early, because 5-minutes before class starts, they may give your spot away to someone else. 

Class prices are on the top end for what’s out there for barre at $25 for a drop-in rate, which is the same as Barre Body Studio also in Calgary but more than The Sweat Lab at $23. Memberships have a maximum of 7 classes per week, which is a tad surprising since most memberships are unlimited. Plus, how many people are really going more than 7 times a week that they need to limit that?! Holy hardcores. Anyhizzle, the premium auto-renew membership includes 10% off merchandise at the retail boutique and 3 bring-a-friend passes per month as well. Overall though, memberships really only make sense if you’re planning to attend more than twice a week, otherwise the 20 Class Pass is the best deal, dropping per class rates to $20.

For those who don’t live in Calgary or can’t make it to a class, they have The Belle Bod program that can be purchased online which include 5 types of packages that come with video classes and an instructional guide. Visiting the website alone will make you want to add to cart so you can be like Jill and Kristi in any way. 

  • Drop-in: $25
  • New to Barre Belle 2 week unlimited: $55
  • 10 Class Pass: $210 ($21 per class)
  • 20 Class Pass: $400 ($20 per class)
  • 1 Month (says unlimited but then it’s not since it’s max 7 days a week): $185
  • Auto-Renew Membership: $175
  • Premium Auto-Renew: $225

1 PINEAPPLE VIBE

Barre Belle has a bit of a reputation of being “that” studio in Calgary (just look at the website). Ya know the ones – beautiful, posh, expensive and full of fit beautiful woman. And that’s exactly what it is. But for us, it was inspiring, and we loved it and we were making mental Pinterest boards from the interior decor perfection that is this studio from the minute we walked in. If that’s not your scene, that’s totally and completely ok. But if you want to work out in a beautiful feminine space that feels like a combination of a spa and the latest Elle Living mag, then this is the place for you. Designed by Aly Velji, one of Calgary’s top interior designers, the studio’s 1920s-inspired millwork is total Insta bait and every detail is considered in the décor and the layout. With an open concept layout in the main foyer, the sign-in desk is accented with a massive white fabric art installation and the waiting area is as chic as the neighboring boutique shops with exposed cement, amethyst side tables and Aztec print pillows that all somehow go together. The “vault”, a little alcove tucked into the cement making it feel like a boutique in a cave, is full of lulu x Barre Belle branded gear, cheeky barre sweatshirts, and other things you don’t need but definitely want. Past the lobby is a locker lined hallway that leads to the water station and studios, of which there are 2 that are white and black and chic as hell. With black crown molding in all the right places, the mirrors are backlit, the equipment is mostly black, and the studios are finished with feminine chandeliers, as you do. The one (female) change room keeps the beauty coming with a massive floral wall mural, pretty pillows, and a ton of amenities including bathrooms, a shower, blow dryers and beauty products from local spa Babor.

Although you would think this beautiful space lends itself to only being full of beautiful trendy slender 25-year old’s, our 12-person class had a nice mix of experience levels, shapes and sizes. That said, they were all women, no men anywhere in sight, and everyone was likely between the ages of 20-35. They are definitely catering to a particular clientele that value the detail and pristine surroundings as much as the workout itself. Although the staff are incredibly welcoming and friendly, we could see how the perfect vibe of the space could be intimidating for newbies, men, or people who don’t know what Instagram is.

AMENITIES

  • Filtered water
  • All equipment and mats provided
  • Locks provided for lockers
  • Retail boutique that includes the mandatory toe socks
  • One women’s change room that includes 2 washrooms, 1 shower, hair ties, blow dryers, dry shampoo and Babor Spa products (other locations have universal change rooms that guys can use too)

1 PINEAPPLE INSTRUCTOR

Barre Belle was founded by two of the fittest power house women that exist, Kristi Stuart and Jill Belland. They opened Barre Belle’s doors on Valentine’s Day 2016 with the Mission location being their first studio, and it was a smashing success from the first red ribbon cutting. Since then, they have expanded their team to over 30 instructors between all 4 locations and they have created BelleBod and StudioX, a downtown pop-up fitness concept that we’re also dying to check out. Basically, watch this space, as these chicks are always creating the next thing in YYC fitness. 

Emily Crebbin

Emily reminded us of all the best parts about the 80’s and now we want to bring them back in a big way. With her Jane Fonda-esk aerobic leg section including ankle weights, her headset, and her scrunchie tied high ponytail – we were so totally into everything she was putting down. Her friendly and bubbly energy was contagious from the moment we stepped in the doors and she gave us a tour of the whole damn place and ensured we were properly set-up for the class beforehand, including letting us borrow toe socks because we forgot them in our suitcase – thanks Em. She knew everyone else in the class by name and performed 99% of the class with us, showing modifications for almost every exercise and somehow managing to never be out of breath. Emily’s instructions were super clear, and she kept the class moving at a quick clip the entire 50 minutes – basically never giving us a break besides one water break. ONE.

1 PINEAPPLE LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

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

We’re giving the class a full pineapple for it’s accurate description of what we went through and rating it Hard because it WAS. That’s not even because I was 6 months preggers – my bestie, Tamara, who came with me also works out 6+ days a week and was struggle street by the end. We took the GALS class (Glutes, Abs and Legs) and it had components of cardio, functional training, traditional Pilates, and tons of core so it was very dynamic, and we were constantly working a different part of our body. There wasn’t, however, a lot of time at the actual barre since the majority of the class was in the centre of the room or on the mat. So if you’re keen for more of a ballet inspired class at the physical barre, this wasn’t it (try Barre Belle Fit).  The class started in the centre of the room with versions of jumps, sliders, high knees all while working with resistance bands around our thighs. And that was the warm up. We then moved to an arms/abs section, using low weights and our core to keep us stabilised with a ball behind our backs at the barre (the only time we were at the barre). After that, we focused more on our glutes and legs with exercises in the centre of the room that required ferocious repetition, then we finally moved to the mat, which proved to give no relief whatsoever. We attached ankle weights (like straight up 80’s ankle weights) and went into a killer butt, inner thigh, and hip leg series that had elements of traditional Pilates interwoven. And THEN we went back to abs for a 10-minute sequence to finish us off that included crunches, planks, toe reach up’s, up and down planks and other stuff. Like honestly. Because of my baby bump I could take more of a breather with modified versions that didn’t work my abs so much, but looking around the room, all of the fit beauties were caving one by one. We, very surprisingly, were not overly sore the days following, but we could definitely see how taking this class on the regular would be THA BEST booty lifter. 

T

To try this class or anything else on their schedule, see Barre Belle’s contact info below.

Barre Belle 
Web: www.barrebelle.ca
E-mail:info@barrebelle.ca
PHONE | 403.454.7765
Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Framewrk – East End, Toronto {4/5 Pineapples}

◊ THE CLASSES: Essentrics and Pilates for Athletes ◊


PINEAPPLE SCORE
4 PINEAPPLES

WHAT YOU NEED

Water bottle – but water and glasses are provided

All other equipment (including mats) is included!

OVERALL REVIEW

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.

1 PINEAPPLE LOCATION 

9 Davies Avenue, Unit 206

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).

1 PINEAPPLE CLASS SCHEDULE + PRICE

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

0.5 PINEAPPLE VIBE

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. 

AMENITIES

  • 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!) 

1 PINEAPPLE INSTRUCTOR

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. 

0.5 PINEAPPLE 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
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Iam Yoga, King Street & Midtown – Toronto {4/5 Pineapples}

◊ THE CLASSES: Iam Flow w/ Music (Downtown) Tuesday 5:30-6:30pm & Classic Yoga Intermediate (Midtown) 6:00-7:00pm ◊


PINEAPPLE SCORE
4 PINEAPPLES

WHAT YOU NEED

Yoga Mat (at midtown location only)

Lock (at midtown location only)

 Water bottle

 

OVERALL REVIEW

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. 

 

1 PINEAPPLE LOCATION 

Midtown – 680 Yonge Street, 2nd Floor

Downtown – 450-200 Wellington St West, Concourse Level

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. 

 

0.5 PINEAPPLE 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

 

0.5 PINEAPPLE VIBE

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.

 

AMENITIES

  • 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)

 

1 PINEAPPLE INSTRUCTOR

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.

Lyndsey Bishop – Midtown

 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. 

1 PINEAPPLE 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.

T

To try this class or anything else on their schedule, see Iam Yoga’s contact info below.

Iam Yoga
Web: www.iamyoga.ca
E-mail: info@iamyoga.ca
PHONE: (Downtown) 416.597.8557 (Midtown) 416.920.9642
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Barreworks, Downtown – Toronto {4.5/5 Pineapples}

◊ THE CLASS: bAAAre (Arms, Abs, Ass), Thursday 7:00pm-8:00pm ◊


PINEAPPLE SCORE 4.5 PINEAPPLES

WHAT YOU NEED

Barre socks (optional) bare feet are totally appropriate too

Lock for your locker

OVERALL REVIEW

Having walked by Barreworks’ sleek sign on West Queen West about nine zillion times, we thought it was finally time to pay then a visit and do a full review. This barre studio with two super convenient locations in Toronto, was founded in 2012 and was the first studio in the city to specialise in ballet barre-based fitness classes. Their experience over the last 5 years in providing classes that are deeply rooted in ballet, have built a fiercely loyal membership community that they constantly celebrate and you want to be part of. We felt incredibly welcome from the moment our experience began and I was given a tailored class for my pregnancy needs that was safe, yet challenging from a knowledgeable instructor, which is half the battle with pre-natal workouts by the way. For beginners to barre, this is a super approachable studio and they will take time to explain the fundamentals, walk you through visualisations (if you don’t know what that is) to be able to get the most out of the technique that will make you leaner, longer and stronger. We’re big fans and now have goals to be a barre beast (you’ll get it if you keep reading).

1 PINEAPPLE LOCATION 

3rd Floor, 625 Queen Street West – Downtown

Barreworks has 2 locations in Toronto, one on Queen Street West and another in Midtown on Yonge Street (2576 Yonge Street, 2nd Floor). Both are easy to get to, Queen even more so for us since we’re west enders, but both have quick access to major arteries in Toronto. Barreworks Queen is located just east of Bathhurst, in between one of our fav pockets of the city between Early Bird and CB2. Our recent move has me frequenting that little strip more than our credit card (and my husband) care to see. Street parking can be tough on Queen St. as per usual, so if it’s possible to take transit or walk, it may make your life easier. Located on the 3rd floor, Barreworks Queen is actually a massive space, with 3 studios (one currently under reno), a large lobby, changerooms and tons of extra space. The location on Yonge Street is quite a bit smaller but boasts the same lovely vibe.

1 PINEAPPLE CLASS SCHEDULE + PRICE

Barreworks offers a nice variety of low-impact, high-toning classes with over 11 styles to choose from; Classic Barre (that includes Mixed Level, bAAAre, and DripBarre), Yoga (YogaStrength, YogaStrength + Beats, & Yoga Flow), Stretch N’ Roll, and a few new classes that have been added for 2018 that include BarreBoxing & GlideBarre. Each style has a few choices for level of difficulty or to hone in on even more targeted areas of the body such as bAAAre – Abs, Arms, Ass (what we did), Mixed Level Barre and YogaStrength – with Beats. There are also themed classes each week that include #throwbackthursday and BeyonceBarre, which are obviously both amazing. There are 5-8 classes offered during the week that focus more heavily in the evening, and they have recently added to weekend schedule with 7 classes each day and the latest class starting at 1pm or 1:30pm.

All styles are appropriate for beginners, can be modified for injuries and can be done for pre or post-natal. Let the instructor know and they’ll modify the class appropriately for your needs. Barre classes are great options for pre-natal workouts actually, quickly becoming one of our favorites, because they’ll still challenge your arms, glutes, and core but in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you’ve had to slow down and be lame. They claim that after attending 3 classes a week for 2 weeks you’ll start to see changes in muscle tone and feel the difference in strength. We believe it, considering one class worked our inner biceps more than we care to admit. Its recommended to show up 15 minutes prior to class if you’re brand new to the studio, and at least 5 minutes before, even if you have signed in online prior (which we also recommend). Late entry is strictly prohibited, #respect. 

As far as pricing goes, Barreworks is sitting in the middle but affordable range for barre classes we’ve seen so far in Toronto. Lower than Barre3 for a drop-in rate, but slightly above Pop Physique at $23 per class, the membership options and bulk class passes are really where it’s at. They have seriously worked the local scene on your behalf for the membership benefits, offering 10%-15% discounts on some of our ultimate favs like the Detox Market, Fresh, iQ Food Co, Kupfert and Kim, OJ’s juices and way more. Check here for a full listing of the companies they’ve partnered with. Students and seniors receive 15% off select packages, private classes and personal training are available, and there’s such a thing as the BarreBride package for $575 that includes a 40 class pass, suggested workout and nutrition package, tank and water bottle and deeper discounts on private classes. SO great for the bride-to-be to feel fierce for her big day.

  • Drop-in: $23
  • Intro Offer: $40 for 2 week unlimited
  • 5 Class Pass: $99 ($19.80 per class)
  • 10 Class Pass: $180 ($18 per class)
  • 20 Class Pass: $340 ($17 per class)
  • 50 Class Pass $750 ($15 per class)
  • 1 Month Unlimited: $199
  • 6 Month Unlimited: $1,074
  • 1 Year Unlimited: $1,908

1 PINEAPPLE VIBE

The design aesthetic of Barreworks flagship studio on Queen West is big, beautiful, clean, and very very put together. You get your first calorie burn ascending the 3 flights of stairs to get to the top floor oasis where they’ve modernised the heritage building with dark walls and white washed brick while keeping it’s original character. With 3 large studios, including a spin studio that is currently under construction for a re-launch in the new year (spoiler alert, it’s not going to be a spin studio anymore because it’s going to be even BETTER), there is plenty of space for class sizes upwards of 30 people. Both men’s and women’s change-rooms are spacious, with multiple showers, bathrooms, lockers and room to change and they’re equipped with tons of amenities if you need to carry-on after class (blowdryer, shampoo, conditioner, hair ties).

The attitude of the community at Barreworks is supportive, positive and friendly and it’s clear they’re invested in you being there and getting the most out of your experience. With a loyal member base, the walls display the barre bad-asses of the community who have reached braggable status attending more than 100 (Starre), 200 (Boss) or 300+ (Beast) classes. We love when studios celebrate their members so personally, sharing on their social channels and having it out there for everyone to see as a motivator but also to acknowledge the massive accomplishments they really are. The class we attended was all females in their 20’s to 30’s, not a huge surprise given the location, and there was an encouraging mix of fitness levels, beginners and seasoned barre stars. Modifications were given to a few of us in the class, including 2 preggo ladies and a few other students who let Kathia know about injuries they were working with. We loved that it was so approachable for any of us working with extra stuff, any seasoned hard core barre stars, and anyone brand new to barre all the same. 

AMENITIES

  • All required equipment (including mats for yoga) is complimentary
  • Men’s and women’s change-rooms including showers and washrooms
  • Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, feminine products, hair elastics
  • Blowdryers
  • Membership discounts
  • Lockers (but bring a lock)
  • Filtered water
  • Complimentary towels
  • Barreworks product for purchase

1 PINEAPPLE INSTRUCTOR

Kathia Wittenborn

From the moment we walked into the studio, Kathia approached us, congratulated me for my growing babe, and asked us what our experience with barre was like so she could explain what to expect. She took 5 minutes to show me modifications such as going on all 4’s and doing cat/cow stretches or opposite arm and leg balances while everyone else was doing hardcore abs. She told us what to grab for props (resistance bands, ball, and weights) and she went one by one around the room to do the same with everyone else. Kathia started the class promptly at 8pm and she kept the energy high for the whole hour. Calling out students by name wherever she could, she did the entire class with us demonstrating every move and explaining the sensations we should be feeling using visualisations while her headset could be heard clearly above the pumping dancy, top 40 playlist. Kathia’s technical dance background shone through her instructions as one of her priorities was ensuring posture was correct for everyone in the room – which we super appreciate since barre exercises can easily, and often, be done incorrectly. By Kathia taking the time to connect with everyone one-on-one, her technical dance experience, not to mention her fierce and highly motivational toned-as-hell gorgeous physique made her one of our favourite barre teachers to date. Seek her out, barre babes. 

0.5 PINEAPPLE LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

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

We’re rating this class a Middle of the Roadsies, because although there were plenty of pockets that had us feeling the burn and needing to take a pulse break, we weren’t really sore in the days following or feeling like we had the most killer workout. That said, barre is an interesting beast because it’s not very often that barre classes are structured as a high-calorie burn or high-intensity cardio workout. The benefit of them is that they’re actually geared towards lengthening, toning and sculpting muscles for a slender but strong physique (think ballet dancer) and are great for those who want low impact, are recovering from injuries, or are pre or post natal. So although we weren’t as challenged as we have been in other barre classes, we still appreciated the concentrated focus on key muscles groups that don’t get a lot of toning in our cardio routine.

We took the bAAAre class, which plays up Arms, Abs, and Ass and it’s intended to sculpt and chisel, stabilise and strengthen those targeted areas. It’s a reduced cardio class for low-impact, and after each section where a particular muscle group is the focus, Kathia led us through a stretch sequence to immediately relieve and lengthen those muscles. Because the Barreworks technique was developed by a team of local Toronto dance and fitness professionals, its roots in dance definitely shine through in that all arm and feet positions (first, second, third, etc.) and ballet basics like tendues, releves and plies are the building blocks for each exercise. We’ve been to a few other barre studios (Barre3) that provides more of a blend of Pilates, yoga, and dance or Pop Physique that can be more aerobic, whereas Barreworks feels very rooted in technical dance. We’re biased, but we like that. Good technique is the most important thing, guys. Or so snobby ballet dancers like Maureen Cummings say. Centre Stage – anyone?    

T

To try this class or anything else on their schedule, see Barreworks’s contact info below.

Barreworks
Web: www.barreworks.ca
E-mail:info@barreworks.ca
PHONE |416.36.BARRE/416.362.2773
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