5 Questions With: Alex Mazerolle of Girlvana

Girlvana _ Class 1

If you’re part of the fitness community here in Vancouver, then you’ve probably heard of Alex Mazerolle or @allymaz on social media. She is an inspiring entrepreneur who co-owns Distrikt Movement in North Vancouver and who also founded both Ladyvana and Girlvana Yoga. The work she does with teen girls through Girlvana has had an incredibly positive impact on girls and women here out west. She was kind enough to take a few minutes out of her busy training and travel schedule to share more about what she does with Girlvana.

What is Girlvana and what inspired you to start this program?

Girlvana is a global movement empowering girls through yoga, meditation and mentorship. I started the program because of the way yoga had changed my life in my early twenties. I knew that if girls had access to the powerful tools of mindfulness at a younger age, it could drastically shift the way they viewed themselves and their bodies. Beyond yoga classes and events that happen in different cities, we also bring teenage girls together from all over the world for week long yoga retreats that dive deeply into self reflection and self love supported by a team of women that can relate and support lovingly. For us, it is all about creating safe space for girls to be heard and seen without any fear of judgement. Our goal is to let girls be who they are, exactly as they are and have them truly see their value and worth.

What are some of the things you offer and teach teen girls about in the program?

We talk about real life and the rawness of what it means to be female. The topics can range anywhere form depression, anxiety, stress, consent, bullying, equality etc. Being a teen girl can be very tough as you navigate through your body changing, hormonal shifts, the pressure to look a certain way and to choose your path post high school. We find giving girls the tools to connect with their own voice and intuition through yoga, meditation and mentorship can make these years go a lot smoother. We use the mindfulness aspects to get girls centred and at ease and then our dialogue and writing portions to get girls to share and open up to other girls. We create support networks and connection so girls don’t have to feel so alone. 

Who were some of your female mentors growing up and how did they positively affect your life?

I did’t have a lot female mentors growing up and this is one of the reasons why Girlvana exists. I had dance teachers who taught me to dance but not a lot of guidance was there in terms of life. My mom was as incredible listener and did so much for me but at the end of the day what 15 year old really listens to her mom? I find as Girlvana mentors and teachers we bridge that gap offering wisdom and advice from an unbiased and non judgemental place. 

Why do you think Girlvana is important for teen girls in 2017?

I think it’s always been relevant but now more than ever given the political climate and where the world is at.  It is a powerful time for girls to find their voice and now we have such a powerful medium to express it. Inequality, rape, lack of education for girls in developing countries are still such prevalent issues and the more we empower girls and women the more global change we will see. 

What have you learned about yourself through your journey with Girlvana?

I have learned to stay accountable to the way I love, care and listen to myself. Empowering girls keeps me true to my own path of finding deeper acceptance and honesty with myself. I can’t tell girls to love themselves if I am still at war with my own body and mind. I have had the privilege to listen to so many girls share their stories with me which reminds me how precious this one life is. That we are all dealt a hand that we had no control over and its our job to elevate and evolve. There is such beauty in exchanges like these. I have learned to live for these moments. These raw and true moments where the essence of a young woman comes through unbounded by who society or her parents want her to be. There is so much power in listening to another’s story and truly hearing and seeing from your heart.

Where would you like to see Girlvana in 5 years time?

World domination. Girlvana programs all over the world. I’d like to write a lot more books. A retreat center that houses 20 plus retreats a year. Thousands of Girlvana teachers worldwide. I would like to have a seat at some pretty important tables having pretty important discussions about girl’s education and rights. 

 For more info on Girlvana Yoga, go here.

5 Questions With: Christina Culver of Culver City Salads

unspecified
Photo by: Valerie Legere

Young female entrepreneurs are a plenty here in Vancouver. Christina Culver is the brains behind the ultra popular Culver City Salads, Vancouver’s first completely plant-based and gluten free mobile salad company. Started back in 2012 as a delivery service for friends and colleagues, in just a few short years, the company has grown exponentially. I sat down with this inspiring boss babe to talk about her mission and how it all started.

1) What inspired you to start Culver City Salads?

I have worked in a million different jobs in my life. Six years ago, I was running a high end photo studio and was an artist booker, so was booking hair and makeup, stylists, etc. I also worked as a nail artist. After a year and a half, I couldn’t do it anymore so I quit and my plan was to go do nails full-time but wasn’t making enough money. So one of my really close girlfriends and her boyfriend at the time, called me and pitch at me. They said that since I was always making food for everyone and that all of my friends really liked the food that I cooked, they suggested I just bring it to their office and they’d pay me for it.

So I went out and bought a bunch of tupperware and a ton of produce and started off with a Facebook Fan Page, email and text. It started off with my friend group and of course, being in Vancouver, a lot of them worked at Lululemon HQ and all the local startups. I did it out of my apartment for over a year and always thought that this was just a means to an end. I was still doing nails but then I got an offer for a partner and stuff just got real. I decided to get a kitchen and also start branding. Then, the Juice Truck started selling my salads on their truck. We had the same branding team and they thought that we would be a really great fit. That really started building momentum. Also at that time, we had Shopify set up so that you can order salads online. I was making all of the salads myself, trying to borrow my sister’s car if I could or taking the bus to deliver everything, running around town with the Ikea bag filled with tupperware. The cool thing is that I would take the tupperware back from them, wash it and re-use it, always trying to keep my imprint really small. Not too long after, we decided to get a food truck and that’s when my sister came into the picture. She’s a trained pastry chef, ski instructor and was in holistic nutrition school at the time. We ended up getting our food truck permit and it was go-time. The truck is in its 4th year but everything keeps evolving and changing all the time. 

2) What are some of the goods that you offer now?

We retail with The Juicery Co., they are basically our market place as they sell some of our dehydrated crackers, cookies and homemade dressing by the bottle. We’re also trying to work on more of that now. We also do a fair amount of catering and retreat work. We just got back from Guatemala where we just did 4 days in the Yoga Forest in San Marcos, making salads for a 50-women gathering. I really love that kind of stuff. I also get hired as a private chef for events or photoshoots. 

3) You seem to collaborate a lot with local fitness studios and athletes, why is that important for you to be a part of?

I grew up in a family where we were all competitive athletes. It’s part of our foundation and Culver City Salads was created with that in mind. Also, we are plant-based and we’re seeing it more and more now, that plant-based performance food. That’s something that I always strive for, I want to show people that you can be successful on a plant-based diet. The Tight Life Challenge at Tight Club at the beginning of the year was something I actually created with them, it’s the perfect trifecta of what is important when you’re trying to make a real healthy change in your life. I want that to carry on. I love working with athletes, it’s so cool to get feedback from them and just be in that world. 

4) How important is the community aspect in what you do?

Honestly it’s everything. I’m a firm believer in strength in numbers. This scene in Vancouver is pretty new but I haven’t met anyone that is on the same “mission” that isn’t awesome. The Juice Truck is the perfect example, we worked in the same kitchen together for over a year. It is also super cool to have the possibility to be able to call someone else in the community and ask for advice or help. I can’t even imagine it being any other way. I think if we’re all in the same direction, we can help each other. Everyone shouts each other out and I think it’s the best way to be. I’m so grateful it exists. 

5) Where would you like to be in 5 years time with Culver City Salads?

It’s so hard to say because so much just happens with flow and things will come up all of a sudden. I would love growth, whether that’s building the brand or obvious things like having a cookbook. We’re always toying with the idea of opening a storefront. I would also like to get the crackers that we’re making into grocery stores. Also, more travel for sure!

For more info on Culver City Salads, go here.

 

 

Must-Try Fitness Studios in Vancouver: TurF

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 6.56.53 PM
photo curtesy of TurF

TurF recently opened its doors on West 4th St. in Kitsilano. TurF is unlike any other place in the city because they combine a workout space, café and also cute shop all into one. It’s a place where you can “work out, hang out and take out” as they say. I had the pleasure of stopping by for some delicious vegan food and take one of their unique classes led by TurF’s GM Angela Hartman. She also took a few minutes to give me the lowdown behind this magical space.

What was the initial goal and inspiration with TurF?

TurF’s mission is to “create a daily practice to live a life that is enormous”.  The idea behind TurF is like a modern day community centre a gathering place for people to grow and contribute to their communities.  We put all our favourite things: a conscious sweat, a considered menu and a thoughtful assortment of things we love.  

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 6.57.25 PM
photo curtesy of TurF

What are some of the classes and services that you offer that are unique to TurF?

We are the only studio outside of NYC and LA that has the method The Class by Taryn Toomey.  I’m so happy to offer this class to the community in Vancouver as it has deeply impacted my life.  We also have a Boxing Conditioning Program that we worked on with one of our teachers, Tom Taylor.  It’s a great mix of proper technique and a great workout.  We also have a lot of strength classes like TRX classes and a hip hop based dance program that it SO MUCH FUN.  

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 6.57.53 PM
photo curtesy of TurF

In addition to being a workout studio, TurF is also a kitchen and café. What is the philosophy behind the food and drinks you serve?

We want people to eat more plants.  The base of our menu is Vegan (with a couple vegetarian exceptions) and ethically sourced protein to add onto the menu for those who are not vegan or vegetarian.  all the recipes for both the bistro and the bakery came from the kitchens of our founders Delaney and Deanne.  The menu was created to nourish and fulfill you.  For us this means you can have a great workout and have breakfast afterwards and it would support the workout you just did, along with not getting hungry an hour later.  

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 6.57.45 PM
photo curtesy of TurF

You also have a boutique of carefully curated lifestyle and workout products, can you share a bit more info about what people can find there?

The Shop was created to have a thoughtful assortment – we have either designed it, tested it or curated it to all go together.  We want people to have quality and less things – this means the product you can find at TurF can have several uses or functions in your everyday and that it can all go together.  We tried to bring in product that was either not available in Vancouver (like the athletic brand The Upside) and that we think is the best brand in a particular category, like the 2xU compression tights.  We also created our own product of pieces we wanted to wear every day.  

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 6.58.11 PM
photo curtesy of TurF

Where would you like to see TurF five years from now?

Such a good question!  I would like to see more TurF locations that support living into our mission for people to live an enormous life.  I hope that we are doing something that I can’t even think of right now – we are a group of people committed to always learning and growing and I think TurF will shape in ways that we don’t even see coming.  

For more information on TurF, go here.

Spring Workouts

IMG_20170320_135826

No gym membership? No worries! With spring now here, it’s a lot easier to be active outdoors!

There are lots of ways I like to be active when the weather starts warming up, one of which is creating my own HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts in any kind of location I can find. Whether you find a park, soccer field, playground or even rooftop somewhere in your area, all of these locations can be used as your “outdoor gym”.

I usually plan and jot down a quick 15-30 minute interval-based workout (usually anywhere from 5-10 different exercises) before heading out to my location of choice. I sometimes even include props like a skipping rope, a resistance band, free weights or even a bean bag, to switch things up. I then throw everything in a bag and walk towards my location of choice.

IMG_20170320_140211

I also either bring my headphones or a portable speaker with me if I’m going alone to add a bit of atmosphere to my workout.

Whether you’re in an urban or rural setting, there are always outdoor spots you can use for your workouts, sometimes you just need to use your imagination. Though it may take a little bit of time getting used to, outdoor workouts are far more inspiring than indoor workouts. Just look at those views!

IMG_20170320_140018

Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Hyba Printed Fast Track Cropped Legging (get it here), Hyba Open Back Tank (get it here), Hyba Essential Space Dye Hooded Tee (get it here), Hyba Gym Bag (get it here).

This post was written in collaboration with Hyba but all opinions are my own.

5 Questions With: Christina Disler of Werklab

WERKLAB-48

March is mindfulness month so in my hunt to find great people to feature, I stumbled across Werklab, a beautiful and mindful co-working space in Vancouver that was founded by Christina Disler. They recently celebrated their 1st anniversary and have already had a very positive impact on the local entrepreneurs and working community here in Vancouver. We had a super enlightening conversation that lasted far longer than I expected so I’m sharing with you today some excerpts from my great chat with Christina, who shares her inspiration for the space and their mindful mission.

1) Can you give us some background on Werklab and how it all started?

My sister, who is an artist (all the artwork in the space is hers!), was living in Amsterdam before and had told me about the world of co-working. A few years ago, I went to an HR conference and found this stat has stood out for me. The stat said that by 2020, 40% of the work force will be freelancers, contractors, temp workers and that the work force will change. It was a statistic that rocked my world because I realized that 2020 wasn’t that far away. It was at the end of 2015 when the idea came up. The stat was becoming more and more real and the fact that we’re in a tech hub and the real estate’s high, I really looked at it from the light of social impact and almost from a light of project instead of a money-making business. I will admit that I come from a privileged position where I loaned money from my dad to do the construction. I’m also not trying to squeeze every penny out of this whereas I think that for a lot of other spaces, it’s hard to have integrity with building community when there’s really high bills to pay. We have a good rent here and at the end of the day, once you pay your membership fee, you’re part of this community, we don’t pinch you for anything else.

WERKLAB-45

2) How does Werklab work?

Some spaces do daily drop-ins, here we’re completely membership based. You don’t have to be here full-time. You can start off with just 5 days a month and work your way up. It’s hard to build community when you have all these transient workers signing up online for only a day. How do you foster trust, safety and vulnerability when you don’t know who the next person is that is coming in? We also have a vetting system, we interview people before they enter the space to ensure that they align with our culture and what we’re trying to do. We don’t just want someone that’s going to come in and just use it as an office, we want someone who wants to sign on and be a part of this community.

When I opened Werklab, I didn’t study the best co-working spaces, I studied the best places to work. At the end of the day, someone can come up with a fancier place to work at and more gadgets, but what people are here for is an intrinsic value. It reminds me of working at some of the cool companies; they aren’t necessarily paying you the top dollar they’re offering you an experience. What do you feel when you’re coming through the door? What’s the energy like? All those things are important. 

WERKLAB-13

3) What separates Werklab from other co-working spaces?

We actually don’t call ourselves a co-working space but rather a modern day work club because everything is membership based and we’re a mindful space. We have yoga classes and we hold events. For example, we’ll have someone from a natural cosmetic shop come in or we’ll have lunch and learns on health, etc. At the end of the day, the way we work has totally shifted because of technology, even when you leave here you’re still working in bed. So we’re trying to infuse and offer you things that you wouldn’t maybe have time to go out and do because you have so much work or are working on a big project deadline. We want to bring those things to you.

We have 73 members now and we try to get at least once a week, something going on in the space. We want to bring people together with the more natural human stuff, I want people to have real authentic talk in this space. 

Also, with the design of the space, we wanted to offer different areas for you to move around. People think that only graphic designers or coders, those are the creative people that are not working 9 to 5. But in reality, a lot of people work remote. You don’t have to be an “in your face creative” to be in a space like this because at the end of the day, creativity is in everything we do – it’s in problem solving, it’s thinking outside the box, it’s critical thinking, etc. It doesn’t mean that you need to be the best artist in order to be creative.

A lot of the time when we get stuck on a road block with work, movement – moving into a new part of the space, standing up, meditating on our bean bag, being able to stretch out on the couch or just having a quick chat in the coffee area, can all of a sudden reset you.

WERKLAB-43

4) Who are the people that have been drawn to the space?

The demographic is a total range. I thought we’d have a lot of people from the neighbourhood because we’re the furthest space East in downtown Vancouver but we have people driving all the way from Kits and all over town to come here, which is pretty special. Right before people start, we send them a questionnaire that has nothing to do with what they do – asking them where they grew up, where they were born, what’s one thing people wouldn’t know about them, etc. So even before people come in for orientation, we try to find links and connection with others in the space so that they already feel like they belong on day 1, even if they don’t know anyone. I really try to make an effort to go around with them and be there to support them. People call this home, it’s funny but true.

WERKLAB-33

5) A lot of the people in the community seem to really help each other out here in Vancouver, what does it mean to you to be a part of that and how has it helped?

I think the more as a business we become authentic and the more it is aligned with who I am and who I stand for, all of a sudden all these pieces start falling into place and just feels so serendipitous. There’s something really special about people on the west coast, following their crazy independent paths. It can sometimes feel so alone on the journey and can sometimes be really challenging but there’s so much support for Vancouver as a whole. I don’t know if it’s always been that way but that’s how things are shifting. I was talking to another local entrepreneur – Sonia from Woodlot and we were chatting about how expensive Vancouver is, so a lot of people have side hustles to make extra cash on the side. And all of a sudden, those side hustles start doing really well so they run with it. We’re all trying to survive together and there’s a really beautiful energy around this community. 

The past year has been a wild ride. It’s this living and breathing organism that changes shape every day but you just have to be present with it. It has been quite the mindfulness task in itself to let it happen. 

For more info on Werklab, go here.

Must-Try Fitness Studios in Vancouver: Movement 108

IMG_0422

Vancouver is filled with so many unique fitness studios. Movement 108 stands out in the city because of its unique approach to group classes and while also providing a very intimate and friendly setting. In addition to their indoor gym classes, they also offer outdoor group classes, a refreshing option for those looking to switch up their workout routine. The space’s founder Aaron de Jong shares the inspiration and philosophy behind Movement 108.

What inspired you to start Movement 108?

The idea that exercise is this mandated portion of our day that can’t be social, interactive or educational really bothered me.  I came from working in the personal training world of ‘punching the clock’ and wanted to create my own space where meeting and connecting with people and moving your body really well could all happen under one roof.

How does the Movement 108 philosophy differ from other fitness studios or workout spots in Vancouver?

We are grounded in movement and strength training.  Often coined as ‘sneaky workouts’.  I’d say that the majority of exercise classes focus on high repetition and high heart rate activities that sacrifice form in the long run.  To get strong, you’ve got to strength train, we can’t just keep going to the same classes or hit the treadmill for longer.  There is a place for everything in the healthy workout schedule but we like to play the piece of moving really well in progressions and strength training really well to feel strong in your body.

What are some of the classes and services that you offer?

We love using bodyweight, Kettlebells and TRX as our tools in our functional training.  Our classes consist of Combo classes which incorporate all those tools, Kettlebell classes which are more strength focused and Metabolic classes which focus on strength and conditioning (high heart rate!).  Those are our mainstays on the schedule and we round out the balance with our stretch recovery classes, run group, hiking group and Strength and strength classes.

BRITNEY-GILL-PHOTOGRAPHY-IMG_9376
Photo by Britney Gill

How important is community at Movement 108?

It’s hugely important.  More and more in our full lives do we want to connect socially during our sweat times.  It’s the only way to cram it all in!  We love it when people who have made 108 their exercise base integrate themselves into the community.  It all starts from us as instructors connecting and grounding into relationships with one another and then opening that space and opportunity up to anyone that walks in the doors.

Where would you like to see Movement 108 in 5 years time?

That’s a tough one to imagine.  Really our goal is to make basic, consistent movement a mainstay in our communities lives.  That starts by us being consistent in our space and not always jumping to the ‘next thing’.  That being said the idea of a second location within the city has got us thinking.  

For more info on Movement 108, go here.

Get Race Ready

IMG_20170301_154238

This year, I’m holding myself accountable for the goals I’ve set for myself and the things I want to accomplish. In order to be successful, there are lots of things I need to take into consideration and take care of. Though some goals are harder to achieve, when you have all the tools necessary and have the right mindset, you can accomplish just about anything. Proper preparation is absolutely key to get race ready.

My main running goal this year is to run my first half marathon, so I’m taking the necessary steps to make sure I can achieve this goal injury-free. Here are some tips and things I’ve learned that could also potentially help you along the way to achieve the goals you’ve set out for yourself.

IMG_20170301_154413

1) Train properly.  The one thing I’ve learned from last year’s injury is to make sure you train the right way for the goal you’ve set for yourself. That means, if you’re planning on doing a run, make sure you also cross-train, do some weight-lifting, incorporate yoga or swimming into your weekly practice or other activities that will complement your training and will strengthen other parts of your body. Additionally, it’s important to have a running plan that increases distance, changes pace, terrain, etc. the proper way. Increasing distance more than 10% a week can have a negative effect on your body, so take a calendar and plan the weeks/months leading up to your sporting event. Also, pre and post-workout stretching and foam rolling are just as important as the workout itself.

2) Eat right. This may be obvious but it’s easy to get off track. Make sure you have some carbs and protein 30-60 mins post-workout in order to facilitate the replenishment of muscle glycogen and muscle repair. Making sure you eat clean as much as possible is also key. Being a vegetarian (borderline vegan), I have to watch my protein intake and make sure I don’t develop any vitamin or mineral deficiencies. If you don’t have time to make your own meals, look into getting a meal prep service, there are so many great ones available today.

IMG_20170301_154704

3) Go for tune-ups. The one thing I omitted to do last year was going for tune-ups when I started training heavily. Whether it’s visiting a physiotherapist, acupuncturist, RMT, chiropractor or even nutritionist, these people will have a positive impact on your training and can also help prevent injuries or further injuries in the future. These professionals will be able to give you some stretching tips, make sure you’re training properly, getting the right nutrition, etc.

4) Get into the right mindset. You can’t achieve what you set out to do if you’re not in the right mindset. If that means downloading the Headspace app, or signing up for meditation classes, going to see a therapist, whatever you have to do, do it! You need to feel confident, comfortable and in tune with your body and mind in order to accomplish your goals. There’s no shame in taking care of your mind as it is just important as your body.

Now go ahead and crush those goals!

IMG_20170301_154535

Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Nike Run Tear Women’s Tank (get it here), Nike Power Legend Brush Women’s All Over Print Capri Tight (get it here), New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 Women’s Running Shoes (get them here).

This post was written in collaboration with Sport Chek but all opinions are my own.

Must-Try Fitness Studios in Vancouver: Distrikt Movement

Hubert Kang Vancouver advertising sports documentary photography video motion stills

It’s rare to enter a fitness studio and feel immediately at home but when I stepped into Distrikt Movement‘s super fun space in North Vancouver, I instantly felt like I was part of their community. Being new to Vancouver, it’s something that I really appreciated.

Led by two amazing souls – Jian Pablico and Alex MazerolleDistrikt Movement is so much more than a fitness studio. Over the past three years, the two have come together to create an amazing community of like-minded individuals that are looking for a healthier lifestyle while also keeping good vibes at the forefront. I had the opportunity to try out one of their signature classes CRUSH HUSH – a 75 min class that combines HIIT and yoga. All of their classes are cleverly named and marketed but above and beyond that, they leave you feeling great about yourself.

Jian shares below the story behind what inspired the space and the community they’ve been able to create in just a few short years.

What inspired you to start Distrikt Movement?

Our foundation was working with young people. We met and started to collaborate because of our mutual dedication to empowering youth in our separate youth programs (Alex with Girlvana Yoga and Jian Vars/ty Initiative).  As we started to work together more, we began to see the changes in the young people we were connected with and the community we were cultivating. We realized that the community we were building needed a home and just as important, a village of people who would buy in to the same idea. At first, we kept our work with youth initiatives low key but as people started to find out more about the Distrikt, they understood that the studio was much more than just the typical yoga/fitness studio.  We didn’t have programs for youth as a sidebar, but as a foundation and inspiration for how we taught our classes, designed our space, played our music and connected with each other. The young people we know inspired us to open the Distrikt. We wanted a space for them to be seen and flourish alongside a community of healthy, supportive and aspirational people.  We also wanted our youth to be inspired by us and in order to do that, we needed to go beyond just talking about doing what we love, to actually just doing it. 

mde

What separates you from other fitness studios in the greater Vancouver area?

I think what separates us is (a) our unwavering and unapologetic commitment to young people and (b) Our ability to not worry about what others are doing. We are always trying to be innovative with our offerings.  We do this to make sure we are always relevant and so we keep people inspired to stay connected. There are so many studios popping up everywhere and with that an influx of more studios adding DJ’s to their classes, beer with yoga and retreats for their community. I think what separates us the most is our unwillingness to settle and be content. We want to push the boundaries of what studios are. With that in mind, I feel like we create classes that are unheard of, events that are so unique that they can’t ever happen again and people who are open to it all. For example, we cancel classes for dialogues and open mic nights, we train our youth to take over classes, support causes that our people are passionate about and throw epic parties for no reason except for the sake of community. In short, what separates us from other fitness studios is that we never set out to just be a fitness studio.

hdr

You seem to have developed a great community at the space, what do you attribute your success to? 

We attribute our success to understanding the power of the little things and it is in this understanding that we have built the studio on.  “How we do one thing, is how we do everything”.  We do everything with love and inclusion in mind.  This means that the way we make our playlists, classes and events have the same passion as the way we create community.  This is important because all those little things are what end up becoming the reason why people fall in love with the studio.  When people see how much care we put in to every little thing in the space, they actually also truly see us and in that moment we see each other.

We also care so much about the in-between moments. We believe that the moments before class and after class is just as important as the class itself so we make it a point to not let those moments be unused. We genuinely care about each person in our class and want to know about their day. In the first weeks of our studio, we used to have an automatic check in system that was regulated with a typical keychain that our people could carry around. People would flash the barcode that was on the keychain on a laser on the front desk, smile and get changed to workout. After a few weeks, we stopped using that sign-in system and just made it a point to learn people’s names while signing them in manually.  It totally slowed down the process of sign-ins but it absolutely forced us to connect and see people. Today after you sign-in, before we move, a check-in question is always asked for all of us to answer. This process has created a group of people who are not only signed-in to class but more importantly checked-in to the idea that there is more to this place than just working out. Our great community was created by constantly checking in with people and doing it in the most human way possible.

mde

In addition to your regular classes, you put on a lot of special events and help out youth in the area, why is that important for you both?

We put on a lot of parties because we don’t want to wait to celebrate ourselves and our community. We’ve thrown parties because we designed a new t-shirt, to support a cause, because it’s summer, because summer is ending and just cause we feel like we need one.  For us, events create more meaningful connections so the more we can do them, the better. We also see them as a great opportunity for us to truly see each other more. For example, when we organize an event to support someone’s cause/initiative we are also sharing that person’s story to others.  We are getting a glimpse in to what makes that person who she/he truly is. The more we can do that, the more we grow.  We also throw a lot epic parties so we can just party and dance with our people. It’s great to be able to party late with people one day and then workout with them the next (insert cute quote about balance here).

We support young people so much because we understand that it takes a village to raise a good person and we want to be part of that village and therefore do our part. We are also constantly inspired and influenced by young people. For us, our young people teach us to laugh more, love fearlessly, live courageously and to never forget who are.

mde

For more information on Distrikt Movement or to check out one of their classes, go here.

 

5 Questions With: Ashley Brodeur of Feelosophy

IMG_0766

Feelosophy is no ordinary yoga class. I wouldn’t even call it a class, think more of an experience, a transcending and magical one if you ask me. Last week, I had the pleasure of spending my Monday night at Moment Meditation in downtown Vancouver for my first taste of Feelosophy; a restorative yoga, massage and music experience created by Ashley Brodeur. I sat down with her to chat about the philosophy behind Feelosophy and #allthefeels.

1) What inspired you to start Feelosophy?

It was really just a need that I noticed; people wanted to be touched more in yoga. Every time, I would touch someone in yoga, I would see it right away, that it was missing from people’s lives to connect more to themselves.

We did it as a trial run, with Anita, that runs Moment Meditation, who also used to own Social Yoga. We did it as a series and it sold out within a day so I asked Anita if it was cool if I just run with it and see what happens. Jian from Distrikt Movement gave me the name, we were just brainstorming together and he came up with this great name. I started off by offering two classes at Distrikt Movement once a month and then it evolved into retreats, corporate stuff and now I just want it to be really consistent for people, so that they can go online and register weekly. What we’ve been finding is that when you touch people, they are way more willing to open up afterwards. They will tend to linger after class longer, they’ll tend to share more of who they are. If you live alone and you’re not in a relationship, you don’t get a hug or a hand hold, I didn’t think people realized how much that was missing in their life. 

2) How would you describe the experience for someone who has never been?

I would say don’t expect to do much but you can expect to feel a lot. You are not moving very much so it can be for everybody. A lot of pregnant women will come to the class, a lot of men will come to the class because it is very accessible. We touch from a place that is very loving. We’re not trying to workout any kinks and it’s not a very intense massage, it’s more of a supportive touch. We’re not trying to adjust you or fix your pose. We then also combine music on top of that. 

3) Music is a really important part of the experience, how much has music affected your practice and why did you want to include that into Feelosophy?

I’m really inspired by how Jian and Ally from Distrikt Movement speak about music. It’s poetry and it can be really powerful and can give people a voice. I think sometimes in yoga, for me, the music can speak to people’s experience. It might not be what I’m saying because there are a lot of things that I haven’t gone through and so I cannot pretend to know about them. I have experienced pain but it’s my level of pain so I don’t speak to that in my yoga class, I only speak about what I know. So the music sometimes can speak to people in a different way. A lot of times songwriters have gone through certain things and transcend it through their lyrics and people can hear that. That can be really moving for people, when they hear a certain lyric in a song that I’ve chosen.

4) How has Vancouver and the people living in the city received what you do at Feelosophy?

Vancouver is the best place to try something new with yoga. It’s been a natural build, mostly through word of mouth and getting people to experience it and if they like it they can share it. I think people here are really receptive. Sometimes they don’t know they need it until they come in for the class. We got a lot of guys lately, who are brought in either by their girlfriends, wives or told by one of their guy friends to come and they tell us they had the best sleep after or that they didn’t know that yoga could be like that. There was a trend for a while where yoga teachers wouldn’t touch in yoga so I think it was definitely lacking. I think it’s giving an outlet for teachers who want to touch more. 

5) Where would you like to see Feelosophy be in 5 years from now?

For me, I want to use it more as a platform to speak about touch. When I was younger, in my early 20s, I was sexually assaulted and didn’t realize how much I didn’t want to be touched. I didn’t realize that that was such a big thing so re-introducing touch for me took a while. Right now, I’m in talks with Devon Brooks, she used to own Blo Blow Dry Bar and she is an advocate for that; trying to re-introduce touch for women who have also been affected by that. I would love to see classes running throughout Vancouver and even Canada. It would be awesome if other people would want to teach it. I could train them and they could offer it at their studios or get more people touching in that style of yoga. But for me personally, just using it as an intro for a bigger conversation around how important touch is, why we’re afraid to touch. Canadians are seen as being really friendly but we’re not a culture that touches. 

For more information on Feelosophy, go here. Feelosophy will be holding a special fundraising event in support of the Africa Yoga Project on March 4th in Vancouver, for more info or to sign up, go here.

Top 3 Spin Studios Vancouver – Spin Society

dav

This week, I share my final favorite spin studio in Vancouver. Spin Society opened up their first studio a few years ago on Granville St. in downtown. After a successful couple of years, they launched their second location just a few weeks ago. Everyone at the space is so incredibly welcoming and friendly and their master trainer Lucy is one of the most passionate instructors I’ve ever met. The studio’s founder Dominik Desbois shares the story behind Spin Society.

What inspired you to start Spin Society?

I am an engineer, my background is in bridge engineering. I went to McGill to get my engineering degree. I worked as an engineer for six years and was not satisfied with where my life was going. I stopped and thought about everything as a whole and thought that I needed to serve a bigger purpose. The whole computer 12-hours a day thing was not for me so I decided to go back to school. I went to do my MBA and it’s during that time that I met my wife, who’s a spin addict. She was spinning every single night and just couldn’t get enough of it. So I started researching the subject and thinking about what makes it addictive. At the end of the day, what makes it addictive is the people. You can throw a bunch of bikes in a room and play loud music, anybody can do that. You can throw money at it, build it but unless you have the right people, it won’t work. That’s the part that intrigued me. I’m a builder so how do I build a team that will give people that feeling of “I can’t get enough”, so that’s what drives what we do. From the very start of Spin Society was how do I put together people, because I definitely have my shortcomings when it comes to marketing, that I’m not good at, but I think I have an ability to get people together and work as a team. How do I assemble a team so that we can thrive as a business and I think that’s what we’ve done.

dav

What would you say separates you from other spin studios in the city?

It was tough because when I opened Spin Society, I thought I would be the only one because when I wrote my business plan and the financing and all that stuff, it was a few years before we opened our doors. And then we opened our doors and four other spin studios were popping up. I think through time, was has made us different is the wide-range of people that we can bring together. There’s a really cool feeling at Spin Society when somebody walks through the door, there’s an energy where they feel like they belong right away. We’re a no judgement, no ego zone, you work as hard as you want to and if it takes you a little longer to get to where you want to, it’s fine. At the end of the day, it’s almost like we’ve created a space that’s all about transformation and giving you the opportunity and permission to laugh, to cry, to yell to be angry. Our trainers are amazing, I couldn’t be prouder of our team. All of our instructors are phenomenal at what they do. They will break you down with music to a point where they can inject a lot of positivity. The whole team is super upbeat and positive. It’s a people business.

mde

What are some of the classes that people can take and what kind of experience can people get when they come to Spin Society?

We pride ourselves on the Spin Society method. We work really hard with all of our instructors and our master instructor Lucy. She spends countless hours making sure that everyone is consistent. We want people’s identities to shine but we want everybody to operate within a box that we’ve created, that is Spin Society. One of the big key things here is that no matter what class you take, you’ll get that consistency. The only thing that changes is the music. Besides the music, the very challenging workout, every instructor teaches the same way and uses the same language. You’ll get your ass kicked and if you’re into that, then you’ll get that no matter who you take on the schedule. And besides that, we have a really nice approach to customer service, where we really value the relationships we build. We try to get to know the people that come in by name. We like to cater to everything that you need to make this experience the best that we can.

hdr

Spin Society opened up a second location in North Vancouver. There seems to be a big demand for fitness studios out there, can you share your experience with opening up this second studio?

We just opened on December 12th, we really built a unique vibe and space and interior design there. There’s crazy demand on the north shore because people who are over there are just tired of that bridge. You want to be able to stay on the north shore and be able to go to the good restaurants and good fitness studios. There’s no real reason to come downtown anymore and there’s a very young crowd moving in. North Van’s ready for it but it’s going to take time to build. As much as I’d like to think that we’ve built something really cool here, the fitness names don’t quite creep all the way past the bridge yet so it’s just starting from the bottom. Building the classes and the community and letting people know that we’re there.

hdr

Where would you like to see Spin Society within the next five years?

I don’t like the franchise model for what I do because I’m really particular about what I wanna build and the energy in every studio so I’d like to keep control of that. But I would love to keep growing it as much as I can. I’m a builder so once I finished building the studio and it’s functioning, I want to be completely hands off and trust the people to just do a really good job and want to move onto the next build. I’m already looking at the third and negotiating the space for the third studio, so when that’s done I’ll probably move onto the fourth. I’ll stop when someone tells me to stop or when the market tells me to stop. 

For more information on Spin Society, go here.