Joga with Jana Vanessa

 

What: Joga with Jana, 75 minutes
When: Saturday at 10am
Where: Energy Exchange (698 Queen Street East)
Who: Vanessa Montenegro

 

After a lukewarm introduction to EnergyXchange, their Twitter master kindly offered Jill and myself passes to Joga with Jana. They thought that with all my running, Joga would be more my speed. I was skeptical. What kind of name is “Joga” anyway? It feels so contradictory to the history and tradition of yoga. But when I told Jill, the Balser yoga master, she squealed. “I love Joga!” I was a little more intrigued, but as any Two Fit Girls reader knows, Jill is insane when it comes to yoga. Who does an impromptu 30-Day Challenge anyway?

 

Their website is flashy. Be prepared.

 

We headed over on Saturday morning to check it out. Sadly, Jana was out of town and Vanessa was subbing in. This worried me — the class is named after Jana, after all — but Vanessa was perky, polite and constantly moved around the room.

Oh, and she wasn’t afraid to kick our asses.

Here’s the thing: Joga is HARD. I thought I was in shape. I really did. But Joga is all about working the core muscles. Planks, planks and more planks. When you’re done with those, let’s balance. On one hand. And twist. It’s basically an ab workout disguised as a yoga class.

And that’s fine. Joga has a definitive identity and a core audience — athletes. It’s a great bridge into yoga for those who want a little more oomph in their ohms or sweat in their salutations. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.) There was no attempt to falsely embed a spiritual element into this class. The class was fun, the teacher was grounded and I left exhausted.

It was refreshing to (slightly) mix up the run/run/yoga/run routine of the past few weeks, and to know there’s a great option out there for the next time I want to take my yoga practice to the next level.

But, oh boy, do I ever need to do more crunches. How else will I survive my next Joga class?

 

 

Take this class if: you’re looking for a killer core workout.

 

 

 

How I spent my Halifax vacation

Lucky for me, just after a 2 week return to Toronto from my holiday break at home and in New York, work sent me back to the homeland to work the OptiMYz Health Expo and train our new Maritime marketing coordinator on my event expertise (thank you Bullfrog!).

Life was great. I had the chance to show off work-wise, work an event in a new region, actually train other Bullfrog staff, and see my dear Mommy again for some mother/(middle) daughter bonding time. Time for me to get spoiled.

Oh wait, I totally forgot about this yoga thing I’ve committed myself to. Thank goodness for Moksha Yoga Halifax (and for my personal taxi service catering to my work and yoga needs. Thanks Mom!)

 

The outside of the studio!

 

After asking all my teachers at Moksha Yoga Downtown what Moksha Halifax was all about, I decided to go see it for myself. Day 1 (Day 16 of my challenge) was superb! I was greeted by the lovely Joanna Thurlow Murphy and Kyla MacKinnon – owner and assistant manager respectively. And Kyla just happened to be teaching the 5:30pm Moksha Flow class I came for. It rocked! I was excited, energized and high off the fact I took Halifax Transit, for the first time in my life, to get there (sorry, that was kind of exciting for me). Once thing you need to know before arriving, their practice room is square. No, not square as in lame – square as in a box. The shape plus having 4 rows of people in the practice room was an interesting mix, one I’m not use to. If you like the mirror you better come early, otherwise spend the extra time figuring out where on earth to place your mat. That was totally me. I then tried a new spot for each class I took. It was kind of a fun game I made for myself.

Each class I took was fantastic. I thank the great teachers plus the awesome yoga streak I was on. Days 12 to 19 kick butt of which I really should thank Moksha Halifax for. I loved the friendly,warm welcoming atmosphere everyone gave me plus the constant updates Kyla wanted about my challenge. It was really cool they cared. By the end of my trip I felt like one of the family.

The inside of the studio!

Thursday Jan 19: 5:30pm Moksha Flow with Kyla

The best. Kyla is great and nice and pretty and I felt great in her class. After a warm welcome this class was exactly what I wanted.

Friday Jan 20: 8am Moksha with I can’t remember! 🙁

I feel so terrible I can’t remember who taught this class. I was obviously still sleep when my uncle dropped me off. I do remember she was a delight – could it have been Lauren? I would wake up early and miss part of work every Friday for my mystery teacher.

Saturday Jan 21: 4pm Moksha with Kirsten

After a full day at OptiMYz surrounded by beautiful fit people it’s like Kirsten knew where I was. Whoo baby this class was a workout. Yoga skeptics need to take a 90 minute Moksha class with Kirsten. We pumped out double powerful poses, more planks than I can even remember and so much abdominal work you’d want to run to the closest beach.

Sunday: 2pm Moksha with Venessa

Sunday I was a tired. Very tired and sleepy. I honestly didn’t want to do anything, but when 2pm rolled around I was ready. Venessa taught at a gentle pace but made you work just the same. I liked this a lot. And I wasn’t sleepy anymore!

Monday: No Class

Mom wanted me to show off my yoga moves at home for her instead. And she offered to make me breakfast before driving me to the airport. I struggled with this decision, but I suppose I could double up another day to spend quality time with her instead.

 

It was like each day, class and teacher new exactly what I needed. It was kind of scary, but awesome.

Bottom line is if you live in Halifax join the Moksha Hali family, if you visiting drop by. The studio is a present surprise from the practice room to the change rooms — it’s beautiful.

Moksha Halifax, thank you for your hospitality. I will be back! And hopefully sooner than expected.

Extensions and inversions on a Saturday morning

What: 90 minute Flow
When: Saturday at 10am
Where: Kula Toronto (304 Brunswick Avenue)
Who: Aaron Slade
Kula is a studio I like a lot and go to quite a bit. (I’d like to go more often, but unless I give up sleep, I don’t know how that’s going to happen.) This morning, I tackled an Aaron Slade flow class, because my pal JK has mentioned (on more than one occasion), it was a class that needed to be in my regular yoga rotation.

Now, I understand why.

 

We tried this pose today. I am confident my end result looked nothing like this.

 

This morning, yoga was all about the fundamentals: posture, aligning, muscle engagement, and understanding how this all comes together in each pose. It was a great re-affirmation of what yoga should be about and how your body should move in class.

It wasn’t easy. Thinking about the front of your shins, the backs of your thighs, your wrists, your heel, and balance and twist without falling over is a challenge. But it’s a different kind of challenge than most yoga classes. It really forces you to be in the here and now and think about why you are engaging this way with your body.

Aaron’s class was a learning experience, but it was also playful. We jumped up and down, tried hand-balance poses so far beyond anyone in the class that we were laughing at their mere mention. While the class as a whole wasn’t physically challenging, there were opportunities to push myself — sometimes to success (I held crow my longest ever!), others to disaster (I roll what where? Huh? Wait, falling down isn’t supposed to happen…)

After class, I wasn’t tired. Hell, I wasn’t even sweaty. But that’s okay. I left with a better understanding of my practice, and a greater appreciation for how different teachers offer me different things.

And isn’t that the whole point?

Take this class if: you want to get back to the basics. It will take your practice to the next level, I swear!

 

 

Hey Fit Girl: I want to get fit on the Danforth

 

The other day, Two Fit Girls got their first piece of reader email from someone who was not our mom (hi mom!). A pal, who shall remain nameless so you will not get the opportunity to judge her lack of athletic prowess, sent me this note:

Hey fit girl!

Can you make any recommendations for where a totally(really)-unathletic-non-sports-playing girl could join some kind of unintimidating class, maybe spin, to attempt some kind of exercise?

I’ve briefly tried yoga, and was not very excited by it, and a gym membership is a commitment I am not ready for. Are there un-scary spin classes, preferably along the Danforth? I need motivation!

 

 

I’m primarily a runner, so I asked a few other fit girls for some advice, did some internet research and asked a lot of questions. I ended up with these three options for you:

 

1) Spinning at Energia (164 Danforth Avenue)

 

What I like about Energia is that they provide options, but it is based on core, classic fitness. If you’re looking for some cardio, there’s spinning or running. If you want to do some weight training that’s not at all intimidating, there’s kettlebell. And if you’re looking to wind down, there’s yoga. Classes are only 45 minutes, so if you’re finding it to be too much, you can find solace in the fact it will be over soon!

Introductory fees: $10 for your first class

 

2) Rock climbing at The Rock Oasis (388 Carlaw Avenue)

 

You are one lucky lady, because Toronto’s best rock climbing centre is now at your doorstep. Leslieville is a short run away (or walk or bus ride) from the Danforth and rock climbing is the kind of work out that kicks your ass — but you don’t realize it until you are home and you can’t lift your arm. The walls are scaled for level of difficulty, so there’s no need to be concerned about looking like an idiot or your first run being too tough. The Rock Oasis allows you to grow as your skills and interest do. I recommend you rope in a friend and take their intro lesson together. Rock climbing can get pricey for the casual participant, but it’s the perfect outing to shake up your regular fitness routine.

Introductory fees: $35 for the Learn to Climb package

 

3) Hip Hop Yoga or Zumba Bootcamp at EnergyXchange (698 Queen Street East)

 

If you’re concerned about your lack of coordination or athletic prowess shining through, take one of these classes. Everyone looks ridiculous, and that’s the point. It’s about loosening up, enjoying your body and having fun. EnergyXchange has tons of crazy classes, including Joga Blast, Gravity Turbo and Pilates: Hardcore, meaning no two workouts would be the same. These classes will let you let go of any concern about yoga being too zen or dance classes needing too much coordination.

Introductory fees: Their Around the Club 14 Day Pass is $20 for two weeks of unlimited classes.

 

Good luck! If you try any of these out, let me know. We could always use a guest fit girl post. 😉

 

Have a fit girl inquiry of your own? Email erin@twofitgirls.com.

 

 

Om Sweet Om: Detoxing at EnergyXchange

 

What: “Om Sweet Om” Detox Cocoa Sundays
When: Sunday @ 3pm
Where: EnergyXchange (698 Queen Street East)
Who: Shauna Ireland

 

I’ve been skeptical of EnergyXhange, despite being so close to my house, because I hate their website. The sound effects and flash animation drive me bananas. They just feel so over-the-top and unnecessary for a website that’s for a gym.

I finally caved on Sunday. After my epic running weekend, I wanted a class that was gentle and relaxing, and it looked like their 3pm “Detox” class would fit the bill. My initial thought? Detox = restorative. As in, lots of sleeping masquerading as exercise.

 

Soooo pretty!

 

It doesn’t. The class was 75 minutes of gentle, easy flowing. Lots of movement and breathing. It was a tad more intense than the yin and hatha classes I go to. Shauna, the teacher was professional and soothing, but she spent most of the class up front, demonstrating the poses. As someone who does a lot of stuff wrong (Of course I can touch my toes! You want me to put my leg there? Just watch me!), I found this a bit strange. It’s a fine way to lead a class, but it’s not for me. I like my teachers to get a little handsy.

 

Even their hallway is pretty.

 

The best part? Shauna gives you a little head massage at the end. Then feeds you chocolate. Any place that equates health with chocolate wins points with me.

EnergyXchange is stunning and their class schedule is extremely creative. I’m just disappointed I didn’t save my Passport for one of their “Joga” or “Gravity Turbo” classes instead. I can’t wait to look like an idiot during “Hip Hop Yoga.”

 

Take this class if: you’re an experienced yogi looking for something more low-key than your regular practice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spin + Yoga = Spynga

 

What: 60 minute spyngaFlow
When: Tuesday @ 6:15pm
Where: Spyna: the Yoga & Cycling Studio (1415 Bathurst Street)
Who: Joanna Rosenberg

 

What do you get when you combine spinning with a little yoga? You get Spynga of course.

 

This looks crazy, right? This is Spygna.This image is from Spynga's Facebook page.

 

Sypnga?! I know, this was my thought too just over a year ago when I was a Spynga virgin. I first heard about this “Spin-ga” from a colleague at work. She would rave to me about this amazing place that offered classes where you spin and do yoga. Spinning and Yoga… say whaaat?!? Was there even such a thing? Apparently so because not to long after this, I found myself making the treck to Bathurst and St. Clair to give Spynga a whirl. I don’t travel north of Bloor, it just doesn’t happen.

Now there is something you have to understand other than my ignorance of Spinning Yoga, at this point in the fitness regime I never spun in a real spinning class before. Ever. The thought of spinning scared me to death. Back while I was a GBC gym rat I loved the bike. It was a easy cardio workout out that wasn’t running. I liked being in control of my workout and avoiding a room full of hardcore bikers. But, what I didn’t like was my tendency not to crank up the resistance or increase my speed. That was until James came along. James was my video instructor on the new spinning bike George Brown brought to the fitness centre. James and I started dating instantly — yes I named the guy in the videos James. I would select the program and length of time I wanted and James would instruct me on what to do. It was perfect, now I could tell people I was a spinner and I had someone to push me when I wanted to slack off. Sadly, as most college relationships end, this did too — when I began to believe James was calling me by name, I needed to start seeing other people.

And so I agreed to this “Spinning Yoga” and gave Spynga a try. It was love at first sight! Not only was the class a bizarre combination that surprisingly meshed together perfectly, the act of spinning to the voice and command of a real instructor was amazing (sorry James).

So last Tuesday, a year later, I find myself traveling North of Bloor once again for one reason – to take my trusty ‘ol Passport to Prana to the tiny St. Clair studio to spin my little hear out once again, then flush it out with a solid yoga sequence. I felt strong on the bike and heck knowing it’s only 30 minutes till you hit the mat — you might as well go for it! 8 days into my 30 day challenge I was craving a “work out” the kind that yoga can’t satisfy me with. And seeing how there is a yoga component to class, it totally counted. It may also explain why on day 9 I hated my life, but that’s another story.

Our instructor for the 6:15pm 60 minute spygnaFlow was Joanna Rosenberg. And boy, did Joanna gave me the push I was looking for! Finishing the spinning component blaring Kelly Clarkson’s “My Life Would Suck Without You”, which I love for two reasons now 1) because of Glee and 2) it’s a kiss ass song to sprint to. Joanna, my life needed your class.

You can listen to Kelly belt it out below. You know you want to:

 

 

It still surprises how similar these teachings actually are.

 

Take this class if: you’re an experienced yogi looking to throw a curve ball in your practice. The yoga sequence is quick and light, but after a good spin this really tests your balance.

 

 

 

Yoga Heaven has expanded, Hallelujah!

Being the yoga junkie I am there is no better deal out there – that I can think of anyway, better than the Passport to Prana. Yoga is an expensive hobby, as most hobbies are. But, if you’re like me and commit to doing yoga at least three times a week (and that’s usually the minimum) classes add up and fast.

 

All these yogis are in heaven. Just like me. (Thanks 889 Yonge for the pic!)

 

So when a friend told me about the Passport I was instantly sold. For those not familiar with it I’m telling you now go treat yourself and buy one. It’ll be the best 30 bucks you can spend. I promise. And now the Passport is good for an entire year (even more reason to get one!). This magical card offers one drop in class/studio/year. I told you it’s amazing. It’s great for yoga newbies, for those who can’t afford to do yoga any other way, or for those still in search of their perfect yoga sanctuary– which is also a great spot you can try on the passport.

Now, I have to take a moment to reflect on my first visit to 889 Yonge. I still often dream about it. My “yin yoga partner in crime” and I made a pack the summer of 2010 to try all the yin classes possible on our passports. It was love at first sight when we walked into 889 – Yoga Heaven dawn its name. I remember the white, glowing walls, the soothing music, and the free lockers and towels were to die for. So when I found out a second Yoga Heaven now exists, I am have shed a tear. This tiny, little studio, quaintly tucked away on the 3rd floor, instantly teleports you out of the Thompson Hotel and off the busy strip of King West. When you’re felt wanting to curl up on a cloud and float away – that’s a serious yoga buzz.

The practice room overlooks the roof top patio, which can make for awesome outdoor summer classes. At least I hope that’s the plan. If not, it needs to be.

Getting Spun a second time

 

Class number 2 of my 5 class pass to Get Spun is complete. During Tuesday’s spinning class I couldn’t help stare at the other class going on outside the spinning class. This could also explain why I wasn’t completely focused on my class (a major downside to glass walls). Oops.

 

Another oops? Forgot to take pictures!

 

I quickly darted home and looked up what class was going on. It was the Ultimate Body Training Camp, that’s what. I had to do this. So Wednesday night I registered for class and came prepared to die.

For 45 minutes I got a good sweat on and Chase Lye was a great instructor. He took the friendly approach to training and didn’t yell at us. He was helpful and not scary – thanks for that Chase! I personally get angry when instructors yell at me. Yes, I want to work hard, but I don’t have to hate you even more for making me do something. But, maybe a mean trainer is what I need. Again, I felt as though I could have worked harder once the class was out, or am I being hard on myself? It is only my first week back from the holidays so I can’t jump the gun just yet. We shall see. I like feeling exhausted after a workout and this night I didn’t.

The class was the perfect size with just the right amount of equipment to go around. Our circuit training worked our whole bodies and we got to use TRX stuff. I was excited! I believe my fear of falling backwards will disappear after my TRX training. That’s up next.

 

 

 

Studio Review: Get Spun

Thanks to my wonderful Mother, Santa knew exactly what to bring me for Christmas this year – anything fitness related. Oh yeah!

Low and behold 5 classes to Get Spun arrived just for me! While I’m still on break from my membership at the JCC, I decided to give it a try. So last Tuesday night, I signed up for the 45 minute spinning class with Christine Ness.

 

I forgot to take a picture inside the studio! Sorry!

 

The studio is literally steps away from my work (12 paces to be exact), therefore I have zero excuses for lunchtime workouts next week. The studio, although little on the small side, is cute and cozy and nowhere intimidating like some spinning studios tend to be (at least I think so anyway!). Christine was a delight. I felt great in her class but, afterwards felt as though I could have worked harder. I can’t blame the teacher for this. Either I’m not pushing myself hard enough or I’m a better spinner than I thought. I’ll go with the option two.

I’ve been to a fair amount of spinning classes in the city so far and I’ve come to realize music selection is key. I need to feel the beats to have a awesome class. And I wasn’t feeling the groove this particular night. I like it when a teacher mixes a track to their personal style – you feed off the teacher’s energy this way and I like that.

The best part about this place they offer more than just spinning. With Gravity and TRX training, classes such as the Ultimate Body Training Camp and Morning Bootcamp sound rather exciting. I like the thought of being excited to work out.

I will be sad once my 5 classes are up.

 

 

 

Studio Review: Oh My Soul Cycle

All I can say, 2012 look out. After my soul firing spinning class at SoulCycle the afternoon of New Years Eve (at the cute and flashy Union Square studio).

I stole this picture of their Union Square studio from their website. I hope they forgive me.

I felt unstoppable and inspired to take on the world. Corny? Maybe, but that Charlee is dam good at what she does. Charlee, the Soul teacher of my class, first introduced herself as the “Bitch from LA.” I was totally afraid.

But, to my surprise this bitch was the right amount of inspiration mixed with “I’m going to kick you ass”. She danced, she swore and almost made me cry with her words of inspiration and sights for 2012 – this could very well have been from the dark, and majestic mood of the classroom (we spun in the dark to candlelight).

Regardless, the 45 minute work out contained arm dips, running sprints, and core crunches! And if that wasn’t enough there was a complete arm workout at the end! Gah!

Me in NYC before my Soul Cycle workout. I am happy because I have yet to know what is in store for me.

With 2 pound lightweights for the last 10 minutes or so of the class, Charlee worked our triceps, biceps, and shoulders real good – we did arm raises, curls and lifts while spinning. True story.

The studio was warm, welcoming and gorgeous and the staff were super friendly and helpful. If I lived in New York I would be a Soul-oholic (only if my wallet could afford it). Someone needs to bring the Soul flavor to Toronto. And fast. If not, I may just do it myself.