Passport to Prana: Bluemoon Wellness Centre

As promised in an earlier post, I will touch on one of my fave affordable fitness programs out there right now, Passport to Prana.

Get the best bang for your yoga practice buck with Passport to Prana

The premise is simple. For $20 yogis purchase a pass that gives card holders one class at nine (formerly 10, but one seems to have left the program for whatever reason) different yoga studios across the city. Pass holders are told to show up 15 mins prior to class time (there are no restrictions to the class time or type) in order to sign in properly. Studios that are part of the program enter your pass # into the Passport to Prana system, and Passport to Prana ticks off that you’ve been to that studio and ask that you fill in a survey about your experience. The survey is not necessary, but it does enter you into a draw for some slick yoga gear.

The program has spread like wildfire across Canada and the US. In Toronto you can pick up at $30 pass that gives you access to 60 studios! This is the first year for Passport to Prana to appear in Winnipeg, so fingers crossed it continues for another year. The card expires June 30, 2011—still plenty of time to try out the studios. I’m loving it so far!

To get your hands on a card, all you need to do is visit the Passport to Prana website. Note: if you’re going to do this with friends (like my co-workers did) then it’s better to order multiple cards at once as there is a $3.00 mailing fee for two cards or less ($1 for each additional card) attached to each order.

I’ve been to 7/9 of the studios on the list so far and have tried everything from flow to Moksha to Iyengar to Bikram styles of yoga. The studios and teachers all have different vibes and styles that each have their pros and cons. Some may prefer a more disciplined practice while other people just want to relax and let their inner hippy shine.

My experience at Bluemoon Wellness Centre on Sunday definitely fell into the latter category.

Who: Bluemoon Wellness Centre

Where: 684 Osborne Street South, (Upper Level). There’s a teeny tiny sign in the upper window from the outside.

Best for: All levels who want to get up close and personal with a friendly teacher in an intimate setting

Style: Slow flow yoga practice (there are many other styles, but this review is based on this particular class).

Time: 10:30-11:45, Sundays.

Studio: Tiny. I can’t imagine it fitting more than 8 people in the studio comfortably. The website charmingly calls it a “boutique-style” setting. The hardwood floors are nice and clean; they don’t creak too much. A pole in the left centre of the room is a bit of a shame that cuts up the space. Words like “Relax” and “Live” set the relaxing atmosphere of the room; a golden cross-legged frog statue is a playful and whimsical touch. Amber painted walls with dark brown accents  and cream-coloured window shades are all soothing earth tones. There are no mirrors. Hippy/oceanic (not too new age-y) music plays throughout the practice–it suited the room and yoga style, although some may find it distracting.  Mats are available to use if you forget/don’t have one, which is always a bonus. I couldn’t spot a mat rental fee anywhere either. Foam block supports are also provided and there are some colourful blankets for use as well.

Vibe: Laid-back, chilled and welcoming. Sometimes an intimate space can be intimidating since everyone can see every little move you make. There is nobody to hide behind. But when you have a friendly instructor then it can be a really positive experience. In this case, the teacher greeted the other two classmates by name with a warm smile and some friendly chatter. She asked a few questions about my practice experience and didn’t make me feel like an outsider at all. Lots of smiles all around.

Cost: Used my Passport to Prana card. First time class is only $5! Drop-in is $14. Class passes are value priced: 5 classes $60, 10 classes $95. Unlimited pass for one month is $70, 2 months is $130 and three months is $175. Those are some of the cheapest passes I’ve found in the city from what I can recall. I noticed a cash box in the studio, so it’s unclear if they take credit cards/debit. I’m assuming you could use cards through the massage side of the business (see bonus).

Experience: I was sore after this class, but that was probably mainly due to the fact I haven’t practiced yoga in a few weeks. As the flows repeated I could feel my body open up through each sequence. For the final series of breathing, I felt my breath flow through my upper body much more freely after all that opening up. I felt rather tired after this class though. I went home to nap for 1.5 hours when normally I feel energized. I assume the relaxing breathing at the end knocked me out. The class also started a bit late and ran a bit long, which was fine in my case, but could be problematic if you’re on a tight schedule.

Bonus: There is a massage parlour attached to the studio. Prices are pretty reasonable too: 30 mins, $35, 45 mins $45, 1 hr $60, 1 1/2 hr $90. I’m thinking of booking a massage there in the near future as the reception area looked pretty cute and I liked the unpretentious, relaxed vibe of the studio.

Last call for local martial arts deal!

Hot local martial arts deal

This particular fitness deal is slightly out of the way for me and I’ve already got a boot camp to tackle in the future (shudder), but I didn’t want to let this deal slip for those of you interested in testing out some martial arts. Right now on dealfind.ca, for $20 you can purchase a 20-pass voucher at Northwest Martial Arts Academy. Great deal! If you do try it out, be sure to post your feedback in the comments below.

Louis Riel on Ice

Sorry for the mini hiatus there. My significant other recently injured himself pretty seriously during a game of hockey, so I’ve informally donned a nursing cap and channelled my inner Florence Nightingale for the past week. He’s doing much better after some day surgery and a bit of TLC, but full recovery is still a couple of months away.

Moving along, most Winnipeggers are looking forward to taking a day off on Louis Riel Day, Mon, Feb 21. What better way to spend this holiday than to hit the great outdoors with friends and family? Skating is a wintertime staple in Winnipeg. Fortunately, there are plenty of spots to show off your sharpest edge. I have yet to try out the new skating surface in Assiniboine Park, but initial reviews are strong. It’s on my hit list of places to try. St. Vital Park is renowned for its massive skating rink on the pond, and of course, there is The Forks Winter Glacier Park and the Assiniboine Credit Union River Trail.

The ACU River Trail offers free programming for family on weekends. This Friday, Feb 18 there’s a torch light walk and on Monday, Feb 21 there is a Skate-A-Thon from 8 am until noon. More details are found here.

I went to The Forks to skate before the river trail opened, so I really got to know the 1.2 km of ice trails that wind their way throughout the majestic Forks area, connecting the canopy rink, the Olympic-sized rink by the Scotia Bank stage and the river rinks. Benches and warming shacks are scattered along the trail to take breaks or adjust laces. One of my favourite trail spots is atop the bridge, which gives skaters an incredible panoramic view of the city. One funny loop of the trail leads skaters past the Old Spaghetti Factory, where diners and skaters often exchange friendly waves. The river trail is incredible, and I can’t wait to go back to see the beautiful warming huts, but don’t miss the well-groomed ice trails! Skate rentals are available at the mini donuts shack inside The Forks Market for an affordable $2 for children/seniors and $4 for adults. Call 257.0288 or 955.8814 for group bookings. Be sure to check out The Forks website for updates on rink and trail conditions before lacing up.

Skating is a pretty cheap workout that gives your legs and cardio system a great workout. Balance is also key here, so don’t be surprised if your abs are a little sore afterward from engaging your core. Unlike other cities where it can cost and arm and a leg to go skating (NYC’s Rockefeller Centre anyone?) there are no entry fees to hit the ice. If you don’t have a pair, chances are you can borrow a pair from a similar-sized friend. My co-workers have purchased used skates at their Salvation Army and used sports stores for the kids. I received my shiny white pair as a gift, so maybe add it to your wish list for the future if you don’t want to part with cold, hard cash. If you need a spanking new pair ASAP, then take advantage of this awesome deal on skates spotted on redflagdeals.ca here.

Hockey skates are currently on sale at sportcheck.ca

Sportcheck.ca is featuring hockey skates up to 60% until Feb 28. If you use the promo code Sunkist to receive $10 off purchases of $50 or more. The $10 coupon code can be used up until April 30, 2011.

So, there you have it. There are lots of ice rinks to see and skates to beg, borrow or buy. Please share your ice skating experiences and favourite spots in the comments below. Time to hit the ice!

Freebie alert: Cross-country skiing/snowshoeing clinic & rentals

To pick up where I left off, thanks to Terry and Marcy for having me on Information Radio on Wednesday morning. It was an early wake up but lots of fun. I love CBC’s “Live Right Now” initiative. It’s so refreshing to see the media using their power to influence people to get up off the couch and get active. I plan to sign up for the free two weeks at the YMCA through the program and blog about it.

Unfortunately, I was feeling a bit ill on Tuesday so the last two days have been about resting up in bed. Not so much about fitness exploration.

In the meantime, this blog has inspired me to start a twitter account as well, where I’ll post mini fitness snippits and deals as often as possible. Please follow me @wpgfitexplorer.

One hot deal that I mentioned on Information Radio is Snow Trek 2011 as part of the city’s Winter in Motion program. Snow Trek takes place this Sunday (Feb 13) at Living Prairie Museum (2795 Ness Ave). Rentals and lessons are all FREE, so if you’ve ever wanted to try out snowshoeing or cross-country skiing (or if you haven’t done it since jr. high like yours truly) under the watchful eye of expert guides, then this is your golden ticket, folks! Cross-country ski lessons take place every 45 mins and guided snowshoe hikes take place every 30 mins. Equipment rental is available for kids and adults. It’s an affordable, family-friendly alternative to your typical fitness grind and an awesome way to beat the winter blahs. The event runs noon-4 pm.

X-country skiing--a great cardio workout in the great outdoors

I went with a group of friends to FortWhyte Alive in early Jan for the first Snow Trek of 2011 and the cross-country program was top notch (minus the bone-chilling wind, but the forecast is much better for this weekend). Great instruction presented in a fun & games way that had the whole group interacting (kids and adults) and racing each other. I cannot recommend this program enough. I’m also told cross-country skiing is one of the most challenging cardio workouts around. I’d agree with that assessment–my sore groin the next day was a testament as to how hard it works your body. Make sure to stretch before and after. If it wasn’t so chilly we would have tried the snowshoeing as well; I’m sure it’s handled just as professionally. Props to Olympia Cycle & Ski for loaning equipment for these clinics.

I have no formal plans as of yet to attend this weekend’s clinic as my ski buddy is currently in Mexico (lucky gal!) I’m sure I can rope somebody into going…

If you do attend, please share your experience. If not, please pass the word on to someone who might enjoy this program. The more we support these kinds of initiatives, the more likely they are to continue in the future.

Deals, deals, deals

I set out to post about deals in this blog, so here I am making good on the promise.

There are two hot limited-time deals on right now through those awesome discount sites: teambuy.ca and dealfind.com

I’m including my referral links because I can use the credits to help fund my adventures in fitness through these websites, which equals quality content for you! If you are interested in either of the offers, please use the links below.  I’ve purchased them both (kind of dreading the boot camp one…) so expect reviews on those fitness experiences in the future. I’ll also try to snuff out any intro deals to these establishments for those who are passing on the teambuy and dealfind offers.

Deal #1: $35 for 10 boot camp sessions at Brickhouse Gym on Corydon or Century. That’s $3.50 a session, awesome value!  The regular price is $120, which isn’t too bad either.
http://www.teambuy.ca/winnipeg/referral//28130946/

Deal #2: $15 for 20 visits to Anytime Fitness on Ness. The pass must be used within 3 months, so keep that in mind. Huge savings — less than a dollar per visit (reg. value $200). http://www.dealfind.com/?a=935fb9594f1e

The great things about these sites is they make fitness more accessible. There also isn’t a huge money commitment upfront, so if you hate it then you only lose a few bucks. At least you tried. Make sure to read the fine print and conditions before purchasing. These group discount sites are an excellent way to discover your new favourite fitness experience. The key is finding a fitness activity that works and is enjoyable for you. Happy exploring!

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On a related note, I’ve been asked to talk about Winnipeg Fitness Explorer on CBC Manitoba‘s Information Radio (89.3 FM) with hosts Marcy Markusa and Terry MacLeod tomorrow morning at 6:15 am in relation to CBC’s Live Right Now initiative (oh yes, there is a great freebie part of that program to be discussed as well.)

So far the support has been all positive; I’m really glad I started this blog. I’ll chat about some of the hot fitness deals in town right now, set out the blog’s “intention”, and lots more. Please tune in and relay your feedback.

 

 

 

 

 

Intention

If you’ve ever attended a yoga class, then you’re likely familiar with the idea of setting up an “intention” for your practice. The instructor often gives examples of what this might entail, such as “follow the breath,” “don’t let your mind wander,” or “challenge yourself in one pose today.”

Before I go further with this blog, I will set an intention and introduce myself. This blog won’t go anywhere if I don’t give it a purpose.

So here it goes.

Much like setting your intention at the start of a yoga class, the intention is set for the future of Winnipeg Fitness Explorer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am a 28-year-old professional writer/editor, so my days are relatively sedentary. I don’t mind this fact. It does mean that I have to spend my free time working out. Instead of turning exercise into some nasty grunt work, I’m a firm believer in the advice that cross-training your body is best for your health both physically and mentally. Trying a wide range of activities is stimulating and it helps with getting that desired full-body workout.

It will also likely touch on the three areas of fitness: strength, cardio and flexibility.  I strive to improve all three of these areas through my varied fitness experiences.

My writing  job pays the bills but doesn’t exactly equal big bucks. This means I have to get creative with finding ways to work out.

What this blog is NOT: a weight loss guide. A rant or whine about not losing/gaining inches or weight. It is not a detailed story of struggle (e.g. couldn’t stay on the treadmill for 40 mins) or triumph (e.g. about the extra set of reps I squeezed in) because let’s be honest, WHO CARES? If you are looking for weight loss/fitness motivation, then this blog is not for you. I am not a guru or a fitness expert, but I have a fair bit of experience trying different fitness routines out. In other words, I’m not a complete noob.

What Winnipeg Fitness Explorer intends to do: point people in the direction of the city’s best places to work out, get active and try new things (on the cheap–and it is possible!) If this sounds like something you are looking for, then you should subscribe to my blog pronto!

To sum it up, I am interested in living a healthy lifestyle, open to trying new things (yet am still shy, so the ease/comfort of trying something new is definitely part of the evaluation) and totally, over-the-moon excited to share them.

Preview of upcoming posts include:

-Review on Good Life Fitness

dealfind.com Anytime Fitness pass

Passport to Prana

-Best ice skating spots

…and lots more!

Feedback, suggestions and great fitness deals or offers are always welcome.