Two weeks ago, the fitness subscription service ClassPass launched in Toronto (and Vancouver as well!). I was so excited to be asked to be a ClassPass ambassador and to be given a trial of the service because I recently made some lifestyle changes: after a few years of trying to work out at home (a difficult thing, trying to do burpees when you live on the second floor of a house and want to maintain civil relationships with your neighbours), I re-joined a gym and started running again in February. I really committed to clearing space in my schedule for working out. For me, when I commit to something like this, it takes up so much of my time and energy and it’s all I can think about! But nearly every friend I have seen in the past few weeks has had to listen to me talk excitedly, all wide-eyed, about exercising. I credit it with helping me get through some incredibly difficult times this past winter. I’m really shy about working out in public—I’m sure a lot of people can relate, and I could write a whole blog post about this alone—and taking advantage of ClassPass has really helped pull me out of my comfort zone. It can be a little intimidating to walk into a new studio and try something completely unknown, especially if it involves working out in front of mirrors, but I always feel proud that I did it afterwards. This membership has given me that extra push as a wide world of workouts opened up for me.

The gym I joined is very basic; there are no fitness classes, so I only use the treadmills and weights. I love classes, though, so ClassPass has been an invaluable addition. ClassPass works by giving you access to three workouts per month at various studios across the city. You can take a yoga class on Monday, a boxing class on Tuesday, and a barre class on Wednesday. I love the idea of challenging myself in a totally different way with each workout. There are some limitations, however—some studios block ClassPass access to some of their more popular classes, and if you schedule a class and don’t show up, you will be charged a fee. There is enough variety even with the three per month limit that you could take a class or two per day, every day, if you wanted to. They have a great app that lets you schedule on the go and that sends you reminders. Here is a list of cities in which ClassPass is available. If you’re in Toronto or Vancouver and are interested in ClassPass, follow this link for $50 off your next cycle (that is, after your first month; offer good until March 31, 2015).

The best part of ClassPass, however, has been the opportunity to new studios. We are so lucky to have so many amazing ones in the city! Nearly 100 studios in Toronto are participating in ClassPass, and here are a few of my favourites so far. I have so many more to try, though, such as Surfset.

I’ve followed Misfit on Twitter for maybe three years now and had never visited (for no good reason! I always wanted to) before ClassPass. Misfit offers a variety of movement classes from yoga to Pilates on a Reformer, to a technique called Essentrics, which involves a Tai Chi-like flow. This space, in a former church, has a wonderful & loving vibe, true to their name. I sat in on a pay-what-you-can meditation class after Pilates on Sunday and it left me feeling floaty for the rest of the day. They also happen to have a seriously delightful Instagram account.

Studio Blue is in my neighbourhood so I had been there before and had loved it. This intimate studio offers some of the most challenging yoga classes I have ever taken, but the instructors always have a great sense of humour and are very welcoming. Their approach to yoga is pretty playful; for example, one of their classes is called Hangover Helper. I’ve never taken the Blissful Relaxation class but a friend of mine described it as a group nap, which sounds pretty delicious after a tough week. The yoga room here is heated. Not to excess, just nice and warm. Lovely in winter.

Classes at Big Hit involve putting on some hot pink boxing gloves and punching and kicking a man-shapped rubber dummy to loud music. It’s intense and hilarious and so fun! I was panting through this workout but I felt so powerful. As someone who isn’t normally very aggressive it took me a while to get past the freaky feeling of punching a person in the face, but I would recommend it as a good way to get some anger and frustration out! The 45 minutes flew by.

I took the introductory class at Barreworks, but I’m excited to go back and try a regular class. It’s a beautiful space and the workouts make you feel so elegant, even if that isn’t a naturally-occurring feeling in your body! This is a pretty busy studio and classes fill up fast, but they have an uptown location I’m going to try soon.


ceramics by katia carletti

A few weeks ago I received a lovely package in the mail from Australia (thanks, Lauren) filled with beautiful trinkets and treasures, including seashells and crystals. Included in the package was a small plate by Katia Carletti, and I thought it was so pretty I had to look up her work. I love the patterns! Stating the obvious, but there is so much incredible work coming out of Australia!

She doesn't have a personal site, but I found some of her pieces for sale at Association, Straw and Gold, Fern, and Mr Kitly. The piece from Lauren was purchased at Council of Objects in Adelaide.


alexis smart flower remedies from health hut

A few weeks ago, I fell down an internet rabbit hole and found myself reading about floral remedies. I’ve had a little experience with them, because I swear by Rescue Remedy, but had often felt intimidated when looking at displays of individual flower essences in their small glass bottles (usually called Bach Flower Remedies), yet curious. That night I found myself looking at the website of Alexis Smart, who creates flower essence elixirs to “identify undealt with emotional issues and other lingering factors that ‘like the layers of an onion’ must be peeled away to return a client to vibrant health.”  I’m willing to try most things if they will lead me to “vibrant health” without doing harm, particularly if they work in conjunction with other changes I am trying to make in my life on spiritual, emotional, and physical levels. And of course, how can I resist anything involving flowers?

These elixirs are blends of the individual essences diluted in alcohol (although there are glycerine alternatives if alcohol is not your thing) taken under the tongue four times daily, and each blend is meant to address a specific emotional state. They are “considered vibrational medicine, similar to acupuntcure and homeopathy, as they are very dilute and work on the subtle, bioenergetic field.”

I found myself looking at the list of elixirs available and felt very drawn to Soul Purpose (this is the best way to choose your formula, to let it choose you). I was thrilled to discover that Health Hut, a natural and organic beauty shop recently opened in brick and mortar form by holistic nutritionist Tara Miller, carried Alexis’ line; I walk past the shop nearly every day on my way to work, and had been meaning to visit anyhow (Health Hut had been one of the hosts of the Green + Good natural beauty pop up I had attended about a year ago, which ended up being a somewhat life-changing event for me!).

I went in the next day to pick up the bottle that I had ordered online and had a great chat with Tara, who is warm and lovely, in her cozy sunlit shop on Harbord Street. I later asked her to tell me about why she carries the Alexis Smart line and why she recommends them: I love Alexis's remedies for their gentle, yet transformative, abilities to heal.  They are a non-invasive, safe way to find balance and free yourself from whatever may be weighing you down.  It is hard to articulate how they make me feel, but I would best describe it as the freedom to just be myself, a lightness that makes living easy. I find them to be the perfect addition to my holistic nutrition practice, acting as that extra something to help clients overcome barriers they may not realize are affecting their daily choices. I love the look of scepticism on peoples faces when I describe flower essences to them, because I know their doubt will turn into amazement once they have tried the remedies for themselves.

Sounds pretty good, right? I have only been using Soul Purpose for two weeks and haven’t yet felt any great shifts, but it takes a month to finish a bottle and we’ll see what happens! If you’re interested in reading more, Alexis Smart has a FAQ section on her site, and I also found this interview on The Chalkboard contained a lot of useful information.

Tara has generously offered a discount code for the floral remedies on her site: enter FLORAL15 at checkout for 15% off. This code is valid until Friday, March 6, 2015.

Alexis Smart