Z: Was Queen West where you always saw your studio?
A: When I first opened, it was in Parkdale, for a few reasons. First, it was near where I lived, and second, I could afford it. I never really considered moving, but I outgrew the space so quickly that I needed to find another location. At that moment, it was an automatic: “Yes, this needs to be Queen West.”
Z: Was your goal to have multiple locations?
A: My tendency is to live day to day. I think that future projections can sometimes set up expectation, and expectation is a very frightening word, theory, and concept. Now that I am this far into it, I recognize that what happens in this studio is far more than just a Pilates class or “fitness”—with multiple locations, the more people, the better.
Z: What do you like most about being your own boss?
A: Oh! Everything, haha! OK, so here we go. Seven years in, here’s what I love: I had a conversation with Andrea, the manager, and she said: “You don’t have to have your phone on silent all the time now. People don’t contact you when there is an ‘emergency’. They don’t reach out to you when they had a fight with their boyfriend and they can’t get their shit together to teach; they come to me first. Your phone needs to be on because when your phone rings, it’s actually an emergency!” So I have gone through that experience of what it’s like to be the only contact—phone on 24 hours—to understanding how much trust it takes to find the right people and then create a solid team. What do I love about being my own boss? Again, I feel like there is this magnetic draw between people who get it and want to be a part of it and want to participate in what’s going on. There is a whole team now; it’s not just me anymore. It’s bigger than me.
Z: With the newest Ossington location, were you trying to replicate the same atmosphere as Queen or do you consider them to be two separate entities?
A: I think the space dictates what the energy will be, and I was unsure if what happens here, if what occurs here is transferable. I was unsure if that was something that I could recreate in another space. I feel like what I’ve learned through this is that the space itself becomes the container, but it’s more about what happens within those four walls that dictates the resonance of what people leave with or what people experience in that moment. So even though it is a 7-minute walk away, and it’s a corner space flooded with natural light, there is something very symbiotic, very similar that happens here and there. I am grateful for that.
Z: Where do you find your motivation or inspiration?
A: Those are very different words to me. I feel very inspired especially living in a city like Toronto that has a certain grittiness; it elevates people to do what they do. There is this flat line of people that just talk about it, and then there’s the people who actually f***ing do it. It’s the people who actually f***ing do it that are making changes to the city. We’re so disconnected from nature that I get inspired by nature, the cosmos, the moon, and the planetary alignments. It still has a stigma, like: “Oh, is she talking about that? What a hocus-pocus thing” or “She’s talking about the moon? Eye roll.” The more we talk about it, the more we can connect to it and the more we can benefit from it. It draws in this level of sensitivity and being aware and present instead of just—you know—walking through your day and being very disconnected. My inspiration comes from that, and I look to it as something that is endless.
The motivation for the business—OK, I’m gonna go there—I feel like where we are living right now, in today’s world, we are experiencing a paradigm shift. We are moving away from a patriarchal system. That system is: you go to school, you get a job—that’s your job forever until you retire—you don’t really question anything, you just do what you’re told and you follow the rules, and that’s just what life is. I don’t think we are living like that anymore. I think people are looking more within, they are changing careers multiple times, they are waiting to have children because they want to explore “Who am I?” and “What is my purpose in this life?” To go there on some level, you need to connect with your emotional body. The motivation is to be able to create a space where that becomes more common in conversation. “How are you today?” “Oh I’m fine, I’m good.” “No, really. How are you? How are you feeling today?” That changes the dialogue, so the motivation is to bring that into every single class. Yes, this is a movement studio, a Pilates studio, but it goes so much deeper than that, like let this shit stir you up! I think movement is like an untangling. The more we untangle the physical knots which usually create boundaries and barriers around our heart, our throat chakra and our brain, the more open we feel physically, the more our mind will want to follow that same feeling. We are moving into a matriarchal society where people are talking about their feelings. That is a huge motivation for me. Interestingly, up to now, it’s like 99% women who come here, but there is a good handful of men; Zane is one of them. I say they are the smartest men in the city—to be surrounded by women who want to go deeper and look inside to learn more is powerful.
Z: What is your favourite yoga position or movement? What does it do for you spiritually?
A: There’s something very cathartic about pushing boundaries. About getting to a point where you don’t wanna f***ing do this anymore and then going just a little further, or doing it just a little longer. See how far you can push that respiratory system. “I am panting and out of breath, but I just keep going” or “My abs are quivering, and I can’t do one more rep, but I end up doing 10 more”, that’s interesting to me. Going through the discomfort to see what it feels like on the other side. It takes a certain type of person to want to go through it. Mindful, connected movement is important to me.
Z: One good piece of advice you would give someone to help relieve stress?
A: Stress is an interesting one because I feel like it’s a word people use all the time, but they don’t really understand what it means. It’s a cop-out. What is my advice? Remove that word from your vocabulary completely. Then look at what you would call “stressful”. See how you can shift your viewpoint and turn it into an opportunity to learn something. “Is this my inability to follow through with what I have taken on? Is this my inability to be open and vulnerable with my communication? Is this presenting itself to me as something that could expand my mind as opposed to this relentless cycle of ‘Oh my God, I’m so stressed out’?” To actually do something about it, start meditating. Put a little 5-minute timer on your stupid iPhone when you wake up, close your eyes, put your hand on your heart and your other hand on your belly, and just breathe. Do it every day, and when 5 minutes feel like 1 minute, do it for 6, then 10 and maybe 20, and see if you can set your day that way. It calms your neurological system down, and you start connected to yourself. Let’s tune back in, the more tuned in we are, the more we can listen to our intuition. We can see that the word “stress” has no meaning.
Z: How do you stay positive?
A: I believe that positivity and optimism are a conscious choice. You have two options when you wake up in the morning. Both require the same amount of effort, energy and work, but they look so different, and they feel so physically different. I think movement is really important, every single day. We get so stuck, and then we can just stay there. Stuck could be a physical ailment or a mental block or a pattern where you just date the wrong guy over and over and over. It could be that code word for everything in life. To be able to approach that with a positive light, movement is important.
Z: What would you say to help people be confident and comfortable when they are just starting to introduce movement into their routine?
A: I think the people who are curious about it will just go. The people who aren’t, that are just like: “Ya, that’s not my thing”, I don’t know if it’s worth it to try and win them over. I think people, after running into a wall over and over and over again, find a moment when they think: “I wanna do this different. I’m ready to try something different.” I hear a lot of “I don’t know what to wear or I don’t think I’m cool enough” which is interesting because that shows an insecurity in life, and this has nothing to do with what you’re wearing or what you look like at all. At all! There has to be this level of “I am comfortable enough in my own skin to walk into this room and try something that I have never done before.” For this reason, I have chosen to have no levels in my classes. You just show up, and you do the best you can. None of this “I am a beginner” or “I am an advanced”, like f*** that.
Z: Do you read your daily horoscope?
A: I am a big believer in astrology. I think unfortunately that what people mostly know of is their sun sign. In the natal chart or evolutionary astrology, which is what I follow, that is the tiniest little part. It’s too bad, but it’s interesting that we look at this beautifully complex thing that helps us understand who we are and why we are and what we are, and dilute it to one thing. Then, we chop it up into a daily horoscope, which is like 3 sentences long. So, do I read my horoscope every day? No. But I have a bunch of different sites I go to so I can be more in tune with the cosmic shifts.
Z: How do you read someone’s energy when you first meet them?
A: Being intuitive and maybe guided by cosmic connection is a fine line. You take one step too far, and you’re just a f***ing weirdo. It is a very fine line, I understand this. We all have an energetic aura and energetic field that we walk around with. I think that, for the most part, we can pick up on someone immediately, like: “Oh you’re my people; we can have a conversation” or “Ouh, I don’t know about this person.” You usually just know. I think we pick up on like-mindedness and ease, and it registers on a very subtle level. I think there is something so beautiful when a group of people join together even in the simplicity of breath. So for these events, it will be interesting to blend these communities, which have so many different crossovers, in that simplicity. Let’s just move and connect to breathe on a really gentle level. It’s not going to be an intense class; it’s more about connecting to oneself and having that beautiful resonance with people around you in that moment.
Z: What does the Full Moon calendar mean to you?
A: Full moons are ripe in their potential because it embodies whatever that full moon happens to be cosmically. All of our moons fall in different cosmic realms, which is really cool. So full moon and new moon are the biggest energetic spaces that happen each month, and I think there is something about connection, connection to self, to movement, to each other, to the cosmos that makes you feel aligned. Feeling aligned, even if it lasts just for that one hour that we are together, can have a profound effect. Full moons are powerful.