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