Fabulous at 50!

Worked on opening my hip flexors in runner's lunge during hot yoga.

Worked on opening my hip flexors in runner’s lunge during hot yoga.

It’s a bit of a misleading title (I’ve got a couple of decades to go), but I wanted to celebrate my 50th blog post.

I haven’t written in here as much as I originally planned. When I first started, I was all gung ho about blogging, but now I’ve come to see this as a mix of a personal reflection of my fitness journey and a chance to share about my varied exercise experiences to help others looking for some local reviews/promotions.

The FANTASTIC news is I have worked my way back up to a regular 3-4x week workout by attending a handful of classes regularly through the Leisure Guide and Yoga Public, so my exploring (a key part of this original blog) has gone down a notch.

Not to fear, as I felt inspired to post after venturing out into my new ‘hood to check out Images Fitness for Women located in sunny St. James. They are (still) offering a sweet deal on Groupon that I snapped up for hot yoga–$49 for 10 classes!

I participated in my first class one week ago exactly, and have been back once already! Monday night’s class was called “26 in 60.” When I asked the front desk gal, she said it was like a Bikram style class. “Oh no,” I remember thinking in my head. My least favourite form next to Ashtanga.

Luckily, it was not the drill-Sargent military-style Bikram class I had experienced before at other studios. In fact, I quite liked it! It wasn’t intimidating, the studio was hot but not so roasting that I was dripping sweat on my mat every two seconds, and the teacher was in there flowing/working on poses with the class. It was an 8:30 pm class, so it wasn’t too vigorous either, with lots of time for relaxation at the end. I slept like a baby that night.

I’ve returned for a hot flow class, which was your standard hot yoga class. The teacher, again, was great at getting in there to flow and then pausing to demonstrate more complicated poses.

That all being said, Images isn’t fancy pants. I’m not sure what’s up with the ice cold change rooms that require a portable heater, although it is nice to cool down in there after a hot class! You get what you pay for, which is a semi-decent studio (it’s got mirrors, which I like sometimes to check on form), some props and solid teachers. You need to bring your own mat, or I believe they charge a $3 rental fee for a mat, which seems a bit steep in my opinion. I’d recommend the class for the beginner to mid-level yogi, but the hardcore ones would probably prefer a more “serious” studio I imagine.

Like another hot yoga studio I’ve been to, this one uses a kettle to steam up the room, which I always find humourous. This one wasn’t nearly as blistering hot though, thank god. If my experience continues to be positive, I’ll probably buy a drop-in pass for some yoga classes since it is close to home (I love walking to and from yoga classes like I used to when I lived in Crescentwood!) and the prices are wallet friendly. I think a regular drop-in yoga pass lets you try non-hot classes too. Regular class passes are $60 for five, 10 for $110 and 20 for $180–a bargain considering I pay $170 for 10 at Yoga Public (but it’s such a great studio, so I consider it a little splurge for my health!)

So I’m curious friends, have you been to Image Fitness Center for Women? What’s your favourite place in the city for hot yoga?



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.