Super Fly Honey Tutorials | Pole Diaries

Hello my lovely pole dancers! Ten weeks ago I partnered with Super Fly Honey to create 10 tutorial videos for you. As crazy as it sounds, I chose TEN moves that I’ve always wanted to learn (aka. moves I haven’t even mastered) and practised them every week to make these tutorials.

It’s been a busy 10 weeks for me as you know my style of teaching is a little different than most online instructors where I share the trial and errors of the moves. There are times I wondered why I chose moves I can’t even do yet, and thought… “Hmm… maybe I should just teach a move I’m good at already”. I stuck through it despite a shoulder injury, technical difficulties (all my raw videos were deleted by accident!😭), and challenged myself to keep making better tutorials for you!

While we called it the #SuperFlyHoneyChallenge on our Instagram (PoleAsana | SuperFlyHoney) and Facebook (PoleAsana | SuperFlyHoneypages, it was truly a challenge for myself. 

I am so grateful for this opportunity to work with Sheena from SuperFlyHoney. It was really a dream come true for me when we began this partnership since I’ve always adored this brand since her very first collection. She’s an amazing woman to work with, a social media whiz, and a new friend with whom I can have a heartfelt conversation.

I also want to thank everyone that have been so supportive of me! I can never stress enough how much your comments, likes and shares on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook mean to me. Your DM’s remind me why it’s important to publish these embarrassing fail videos in an online world of perfection.

Sorry for the long post and sappy message. I just wanted to share how much I love you all!

Here are the 10 tutorials all in one post! Don’t forget to bookmark it 🙂

SneakyDeez Wrist Support | Product Review

SneakyDeez, the wrist support for pole dancers. Available in many styles!

Lately I’ve seen a lot of pole dancers wear wrist supports when they are on training on the pole. And of course, myself as a pole dancer on Instagram, I spent a whole 2 seconds of detective work and found out they’re #sneakydeez. Ok. They’re what?!

Sneaky Deez is such a catchy and funky name but I wasn’t entirely sure who/what they are. Their own Instagram page features a lot of user photos and I simply love brands that engage with their fans and repost customer photos! In these photos, everyone is sporting a colourful and fun-coloured wrist bands and I wanted to a pair too!

SneakyDeez come in a lot of fun colours and bold patterns. Their photos are just so vibrant and full of character!

What is SneakyDeez?

SneakyDeez are wrist wraps designed for gymnasts, yogis and pole dancers to help minimize sore wrists while training. They’re great for any activities that may put strain on the wrists such as pole fitness, handstands, push ups, strengthening exercises and arm balances.

Masha Pinner is the brilliant designer behind these wrist supports. They’re designed, produced and handmade in Slovenia, EU. I love supporting small businesses and especially those that are eco-friendly too! All their products are made using Lycra and Polyester Jersey samples from big fashion retailers, reducing the amount of fabrics heading towards landfills. As a result of using sample fabrics, most of her designs are limited edition and literally one-of-a-kind!

They come in three sizes (S, M, L) for different wrist sizes, and also different widths (6cm or 8cm) for varying support. Prices are $22 for regular colours and $25 for limited editions. The patterns and colours changes often as they sell out and restock, click here to check out what’s available now!

I chose the Black Paisley (Limited Edition) SneakyDeez because I wanted something subtle but still beautiful.
I think they suit my personality and style quite well!

My wrists are fine… Why do I need wrist support?

At first I wasn’t sure how SneakyDeez wrist supports would complement my training. My wrists have generally been pretty good to me despite all the abuse I put them through. Yes, I love practising handstands, arm balances and pole moves where my wrists would have every right to hate me for! But I normally take sufficient breaks to give them time to recover.

Prior to receiving my SneakyDeez for this review, I actually used my wrist band from badminton when I practice spins on my static pole. I wasn’t using the wrist band as support (even a brand new XS was too loose on my tiny wrists), so it was primarily to prevent wrist burns from the reverse grab.

Since my wrists never gave me problem, wrist supports were not really on my wish list this Christmas… Yet.

 

Upon receiving my SneakyDeez, I wore them for an hour and did my normal training routine. Oddly enough, I didn’t notice any difference and I felt slightly disappointed. Then the next day I felt SO sore everywhere… what is going on?!?!

Before training with SneakyDeez, I would take a break whenever I begin to feel sore in my wrists, Because my wrists were likely the limiting factor, I don’t usually push the rest of my body to train as hard. However, with the wrist support, my endurance and tolerance for wrist soreness was a lot higher! In fact, I became really sore in other parts of my body instead because I was able to train much longer. I can only say I’m really impressed with them!

For me, I personally have been blessed with healthy wrists but already saw immediate benefits of using wrist supports. I could only imagine what a god sent gift SneakyDeez would be to someone that is currently suffering from sore wrists!

Preparation for chest press, handstand variation. This feels so scary!

What I love about SneakyDeez 💜

  1. The pole community is pretty small so I love supporting small businesses, eco-friendly brands and designers that are passionate about making a difference for fellow pole dancers.
  2. They come in different sizes, and the velcro closure allows you to make sure the wrist supports fit you perfectly.
  3. Loud bright colours? Subtle sophisticated colours? Whatever your style is, there is bound to be something for you!
Slightly jealous of the opportunities to pole outdoors… why is it always so cold where I live?

What are you waiting for? If you haven’t checked out their page yet, please do and make sure to tag #sneakydeez to be featured on their page!
____________________________________________

 

Masha from Sneaky-Deez has kindly sent me a pair of her limited edition wrist supports for this review. The links included in this post are affiliate links and help support this blog 🙂 

Rose Gold and Unicorn Heels by Ellie Shoes | Unboxing and Product Review

Unboxing video of my first pole heels! Rose Gold Chrome and Unicorn Heels from Ellie shoes 😍😍

Why I never poled in heels…

I started pole dancing in 2011, which makes it almost seven years! Friends have casually asked me, ‘Oh, you must be really good at walking in those super high heels right?’. No, I actually can’t even walk in normal heels.

I’ve seen girls at studios with 7 inch heels or higher and they seriously looked so elegant in them. I knew being able to invert with straight legs while there’s extra weight on your ankles is no easy feat either. Now the question is, will I look like those girls? Or would I look like bambi?

I wasn’t going to take any chances. Nope.

What changed my mind about pole heels?

One word: Instagram.

When you follow a ton of pole dancers and your feed is graced with elegant spins and combos showing off beautifully coloured pole heels, you want some too! I’ve seen sparkly glitter heels, light up heels, glow-in-the-dark heels, ombre heels… the list goes on.

Now choosing a pair was the hard part!

Ellie Shoes just released two versions of these rose gold chrome ✨✨ heels and they are absolutely gorgeous! Then they also had these super duper cute unicorn 🦄🦄 heels. Then I thought, “Well, even if I can’t wear them, at least I can stare at them?”

709-BRIA Rose Gold Chrome in Clear & 777-DASHING Unicorn Heels in Clear
Ellie Shoes

First Impression

Quality (5/5)

Upon unboxing the shoes, I noticed both pairs of heels are very well-made! The plastic used in the heels were sturdy and high quality. The padding on the shoes were comfortable and slightly grippy to prevent your feet from sliding forward too much, which is so important when wearing heels! The plastic straps were a little harder than expected but I believe they do soften over time with wear.

709-BRIA Rose Gold Chrome by Ellie Shoes

Style (5/5)

I’m definitely biased here! I got them mainly for how they looked, so of course I’m in love with them!

The rose gold chrome is super shiny and I can’t stop admiring the beautiful shade. Because of the chrome finish, the platforms are a huge fingerprint magnet. It’s not noticeable but I did have to wipe them clean for the pictures.

The unicorn heels look really cute and I feel like a fairy/princess when I wear them. The clear heels don’t really show up in my videos (they’re clear, obviously!), but you do see this unicorn horn which looks funny/cool at the same time. If I ever feel creative, I think I can also cover the clear parts with glitter!

777-DASHING Unicorn Heels in Clear by Ellie Shoes

Fit (4/5)

I’ve never ordered from Ellie Shoes before and I didn’t know any shops/studios that carried them so I did a bit of research on sizing. A lot of people have recommended to size up from their regular shoe size because Ellie Shoes do fit tight and narrow. They also only carry whole sizes.

I normally wear a size 7, sometimes 7.5 to accommodate for my slightly wider feet. I’ve never had to size up to an 8 before so was slightly hesitant. But chances are, it’s better to have slightly bigger shoes than shoes you can’t even wear right? I also chose the clear straps because they are more flexible than the patent coloured straps, so they can fit better over time.

709-BRIA Rose Gold Chrome by Ellie Shoes

Luckily, the 709-BRIA fit perfectly! The clear straps at the front are a little hard and tight to fit in at first. With PVC plastic, they can be warmed up with a hair dryer to fit better on the feet.

Unfortunately, the 777-DASHING did not fit as well. It was a bit bigger than the 709-BRIA (I ordered both in size 8). The front straps were more comfortable and looser, but the front tip of the shoe extended much beyond my toes did. So, for the 777-DASHING, I would recommend ordering your true size.

Overall Impression (4.5/5)

Walking and poling in these high heels weren’t as bad as I would have thought! I practiced walking around the pole and used the pole for support if I needed it, but turns out I was OK! Like wearing any new shoes, my feet did hurt slightly after walking around the house for an hour in them. I also noticed my calves ached a little too which meant I was working those muscles out! Yes!

I absolutely love them and these beauties are sitting on my shelf like a piece of art work right now!

777-DASHING Unicorn Heels in Clear by Ellie Shoes

Special Thank You to Ellie Shoes!

Thank you for designing such beautiful heels! They were definitely love at first sight and I just knew I wanted these ones for my first pole heels. The heels in this review and the videos are graciously gifted by Ellie Shoes, so please visit their website to view all the other beautiful designs, then follow their Instagram and their Facebook for daily doses of heels inspiration. 😍😍

How I Met My Videographer

I’ve been filming and posting on YouTube for years, so why does filming with a professional videographer make me so nervous?

I make YouTube videos as a hobby. I do pole tutorials/fail videos. I would barely call myself a professional – not in pole, and definitely not in film-making. But, ironically, I share pole tutorials on YouTube. So first and foremost, many thanks to YouTube for allowing an imposter like me to take a stab in this realm of the online world.

Why I decided to film with a videographer

What started as a side-hobby slowly became an integral part of my life. I’ve certainly gotten more comfortable with poling in front of other people but that also came gradually. Actually, let’s take a few steps back.

Years ago, it might have taken me many tries to get a move perfectly, worst part is, it might not even be replicable! By chance, I fooled the world into thinking I’ve got this! Well, if you filmed 1000+ hours of your fails, surely you will get one decent looking clip. I would never subject any photographer or videographer to that torture as they watch my horrific struggles.

Typical folder containing my raw footage for one pole move, ~5GB in size for an intermediate move.

However, as I improved, my repertoire of moves expanded, my stamina increased and my techniques are more refined. I have a few go-to moves that I know I can pull off effortlessly and still look nice on camera.

I envied YouTubers with beautifully filmed and professionally edited MV-quality promotional videos. I’ve always wanted one too! But being your own videographer while filming pole videos is next to impossible – I mean, I don’t think I can operate a camera, get it to pan, while spinning upside down on the pole.

Then one day, I finally thought, “Ok, I think I’m good enough to collaborate with a videographer for a promo video!” Who knew serendipity was actually spelled “c-r-a-i-g-s-l-i-s-t”?

Finding the right videographer

Ideally, the best avenue to find a videographer would be through friends or referrals. Depending on the type of video you are filming, it makes the whole process a lot more enjoyable when you can relate to the person you are working with. I can’t imagine what it would be like to not know the person who basically would have physical copies of me in every angle possible, including the most unflattering facial expressions! Oh god… yes, please be kind to your photographers/videographers, they hold more power than you think!

Unfortunately I didn’t know any videographers.

The Otion Pictures website looks very clean and professional. He also worked with a lot of different clients!
Sounds legit 😊

I’m sure we all heard the saying, “Don’t talk to strangers!” and maybe, “Don’t talk to strangers online“. I definitely am guilty of the latter! Did I mention I found Otion Pictures through Craigslist? (For those who don’t know, Craigslist is an online classified ads site.) Amongst the slew of sketchy ads, his stood out as the most legit. Maybe I can feature him in a blog post on ‘How to write legit ads’, because he definitely nailed that one.

To summarize, Ocean from Otion Pictures (such a clever name!) was looking for another Cantonese-speaking (✓) girl (✓) who is interested in filming (✓) or has an active YouTube channel (✓✓✓) to collaborate in film-making tutorials for his Ocean Video Tutorial channel. I’m like, “Hey, that’s totally me!” and promptly sent out a email to reach out. Seeing samples of his previous work and his current projects made me optimistic about our collaboration.
I watched a few of his YouTube tutorials and noticed how well-spoken he was.
Then I spent the next few days worrying that I might have to talk on camera if we collaborated.

Meeting Ocean, the videographer

As millennials, we exchanged our contact information through our online portfolios – website, our YouTube, Facebook and IG handles. I think that gives a pretty good summary of a person’s work, don’t you think?

We met up in-person to discuss the projects we could work on, and detailed the logistics of the most relevant one. We decided to do a promotional video for me, Pole Asana, to let my readers and subscribers put a face and voice to the nameless girl behind the tutorial videos.

Ocean’s main audience was on Facebook and YouTube, whereas mine is focused on YouTube and Instagram.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Since we are filming Kimmy/Pole Asana in her natural habitat (aka, my home), I needed to clean out my already-empty place. At the end of the clean up, it was only the pole and 4 walls! Since my place was tiny, every little bit of space was needed for all the equipment.

 

Selfie video with the equipment set-up

Ocean came and rolled out 3 boxes equivalent to over-sized checked baggages. He claimed these were already “top of the line, lightweight and compact versions”… 😒 I can’t imagine what the full-size would look like… With the full set up, I can’t help but feel nervous. Seriously, we set all this up for me? I felt overwhelmed!

Check out the gear in the bottom right hand corner!

For our video, we had 3 major components: the interview, the pole portion, and the yoga portion. One of the three are not like the others, can you guess which?

I absolutely dreaded the interview process, it took much much much longer than I anticipated. I was really hoping to do the pole/yoga parts first since it would help me open up more. Unfortunately because my make up and hair was ready, it made more sense to do the interview before my face starts melting…

The interview took around 2 hours, simply because I didn’t know what to say, I kept stumbling on my words, and laughing uncontrollably at how funny I sound on the camera. Nonetheless, it was definitely a learning experience and I can say I’m more comfortable with speaking on camera now. The pole and yoga portion was the most fun, and most relaxing part for me. Despite never having filmed pole/yoga videos before, I only had to show Ocean the move once to let him figure out how to film it, then execute it 1-2 more times for the actual clip.

While the shoot was physically exhausting, I’d much rather do 5 hours of pole/yoga than 2 minutes of interviewing! Of course, Ocean thought that comment was insane.

 

Overall, this experience was so fun, educational and rewarding! I have learned a few things and wish I could have prepared a bit more in advance. I’ll be writing a blog post soon on how to prepare for a videoshoot!

In the meantime, please take literally ONE minute to enjoy the video that we spent 5 hours filming! And if you haven’t already followed/subscribed, please do so as it means so much to us!

Pole Asana’s links: YouTube | Instagram | Facebook
Otion Pictures’ links: YouTube | Instagram | Facebook 

MPG Sport x Julianne Hough Fall 2017 | Product Review

Fall in love with the beautiful MPG sport fall collection this season. What’s your obsession?

Fall is debatably one of my favourite seasons! As the weather starts to get a little cooler, I love being able to add layers to my wardrobe and choose richer colour palettes. I’m usually a very bubbly person but bright summer colours just don’t really match me. My favourite colour is this deliciously dark purple burgundy, and luckily it comes back every fall! I was super excited when MPG Sport released their fall collection, with gorgeous purple pieces like the Ion Mesh V-Neck Bra and the Carmin Mesh Panel Bra.

Sports bra in raisin
L: Ion Mesh V-Neck Bra; R: Carmin Mesh Panel Bra

Being a yoga instructor, I basically live in my leggings (I don’t even own a pair of jeans, if there’s a super stretchy pair of jeans out there, please recommend me one!). I was in search for a pair of capris with subtle designs and I think MPG had just the one! The Audition Capri comes in a denim-like pattern (maybe this can be my jean alternative?), and the Audition 2.0 Capri comes in raisin and black.

Mesh panel capri
L: Audition in denim; M/R: Audition 2.0 in raisin/black

As much as I love purple, getting both top and bottom pieces in the purple would be a little too much. Thankfully, the stylists at MPG Sport sent me a well coordinated outfit for this review.

Thank you MPG for the handwritten note!

Receiving my first MPG Messenger package was seriously like Christmas. I actually didn’t know what outfit was selected for me and I just prayed for something purple. When I opened the package, there was this lovely handwritten note from MPG, and I jumped for joy when I saw the Ion Mesh V-Neck Bra in raisin and Audition 2.0 Capri in black. I got something purple!

I quickly tried on my garments and I fell in love.

The Ion Mesh V-Neck Bra is a very trendy high-neck piece with a deep-V mesh insert for both style and functionality – it’s great for ventilation and breathability. It provides excellent coverage; there’s really no way anything could fall out regardless of what poses you do (check out my ‘tetris block pose’ in the photo above). The sports bra comes with removable cups for light support, so it’s perfect for yoga and looking super chic while hiking.

I was actually a little worried about how this piece would fit on me. I have a relatively petite frame but also have super broad shoulders, weird right? I’ve always been told to avoid high neck cutting since it accentuates the shoulders, and I would prefer less coverage under the bust to elongate my torso. This piece is probably one of those pieces I thought would only look nice on models, mannequins, and everyone else except me – it’s high neck, and the length is more like a crop top. After I tried it on, I stood in front of the mirror and admired how beautiful the top looked on me! I actually felt glamourous and sexy in this top, and these two words never appeared in my dictionary before. It was the perfect top to use in my yoga photoshoot!

Photo by Alex Schotzki (IG: @schotzkis)

The Audition 2.0 Capri was also a lust-worthy piece, featuring super light weight and quick drying fabric in a flattering fit. The high waist design and gentle compression helps hold your tummy and everything else in place so you can focus on your breathing and asana. The most attractive detail in these capris are the mesh panels and transparent seams at the bottom that adds a unique focal point. While being a gentle compression pair of capri, they did leave a very slight, albeit very cool mesh pattern on my leg after taking them off. So just a heads up for those who plan to take a run in the capris before changing into a cocktail dress, unless of course you want cool patterned legs for the party! The quality of the fabric, seams and design are the fine details MPG really nails and I really don’t think photos do them the justice they deserve!

Photos by Alex Schotzki (IG: @schotzkis)

Even though I previously said I lived in leggings, I usually pair it with a decent top so I don’t look like I just stepped out of yoga class. With this outfit, I felt very well put-together and chic. I wore this outfit to meet with friends a few times and got some beautiful stop-drop-and-yoga shots! Pair this ensemble with an over-sized cardigan and I look street-ready again.

If you aren’t following me on Instagram, please do! @poleasana

If this post isn’t convincing enough to say how much I love the top, just take a look at this magical shot taken with the Ion Mesh V-Neck Bra and a tulle skirt!

 

Photo by barepixel (IG: @barepixel)

What’s your thing to fall in love with this fall?

____________________________
 
Thank you so much for MPG for providing the outfit in this review! The opinions I shared in this post is in no way influenced by the sponsorship and my affiliation with MPG Sport. 

Thinking about competing? Here’s 5 reasons why you should

On August 11, 2017, our pole troupe from Redefine Fit competed at the Great White North Pole Competition 2017 in Hamilton, ON and we placed 2nd! I’m so proud of us!

___________________________

Whether you’ve just started pole or have been practicing for years, there is no doubt video footage of jaw-dropping pole performances have at least inspired your decision to pole! With pole fitness becoming so popular, you’ve probably entertained the idea of performing or even competing when you found out a local event was coming up. So what’s stopping you? The nerves? The doubts? The oh-I’ll-do-it-when-I’m-better thoughts? You’re not alone!

I’ve been doing pole on and off for 6 years and have only recently ever so slightly wanted to experience what it feels to be on stage. During my one-month yoga teacher training course in India (review here), I received a newsletter from a pole studio regarding a pole troupe competition. Was this my calling? I’ve always wanted to perform and the choreographer is my pole idol LeeAnn Ball from DoublePoleTrouble (I fell in love with their IG page a few years ago!). Struggling with the intermittent internet in India, I managed to sign up – Poor Joanne from Redefine Fit probably received an email notification at 3:00am!

If you’re on the fence on whether you should sign up for the competition, I would say go for it! It’s my very first competition and I have so many positive reasons why you should. I’ve narrowed them down to FIVE reasons why you should perform or compete!

We were so lucky to have a photographer shoot and film our practice sessions.
Garon C. also does amazing portraits, so be sure to follow him on Instagram @photobygaron

1. Work towards a goal

No matter what got you interested in pole, a journey is always a journey. Remember when you first started and even a fireman spin left you with bruises? You’ve come a long way thanks to hours of practice and you even have numerous pole kisses (aka. unsightly internal blood clots) as proof of your hard work. But… is it enough just to share cool tricks on YouTube and social media?

Part of me needed more than just cool pics and video to show friends on my phone. I wanted to experience what it takes to prepare a routine for stage, I wanted to know what it feels to be on stage, with all eyes watching. Yes, it’s very daunting for an introvert! Once I committed, it felt invigorating to tell friends and family that I’m preparing for a competition. Coming from a very traditional family, it really changed my parents’ perspective of pole sport (they realized it’s actually a thing!) and their support for me meant everything!

Beautiful shot of our performance at Bay City Music Hall by Peter Y.
(Instagram: @peteryeungphotography)

2. Meet amazing people and be inspired

Whether you are performing solo, as a couple or in a troupe, you will likely need guidance from a choreographer or pole instructor. These are the people that will inspire you as you come up with your routine.

I already knew LeeAnn was talented from my daily IG-stalking therapeutic sessions, I didn’t know she was THAT amazing. There are probably many times during practice that I completely zoned out just from admiring how she moves, teaches and practices. As a choreographer, she is so creative and inspiring! Even when we as a group were terrible and out of sync (and we know it), she would throw in genuine words of encouragement.

Being part of a troupe was an amazing experience and it’s really the best way to ease yourself into a performance/competition! I got to meet 7 other incredibly talented girls of varying different personalities. The positive energy and encouragement is so contagious! I especially loved discussing costume ideas with them and doing each other’s hair and make up together. Meeting these girls and being able to share the stage and whole experience with them is a memory I won’t forget!

The Redefine Fit Pole Troupe and our choreographer LeeAnn Ball.
Photos by Garon C. (Instagram: @photobygaron)

3. Perfecting a routine

There may be some things you are particularly good at, and some that you sort of avoid… For me, I love being on the pole and nothing scares me. Floorwork and any dance component? Nope, somehow my arms and legs don’t connect to my brain for any choreography once I’m on the ground. Did I also mention I can’t count beats? Throw in a group dance and that instantly became the most stressful component for me.

For this particular routine, LeeAnn already had a magical vision in mind – Alice in Wonderland themed story/pole/group dance. With that being said, she gave us the freedom to design our own short 30s combo. As for me, I had two pole parts to work on: my doubles routine with my twin, and my solo combo. Since the doubles routine was already choreographed, I spent a long time figuring out what to include in my combo. Thirty seconds isn’t a long time!

By the 10th week of practice, I still didn’t have my combo perfected. I wanted to do too much with not enough time. LeeAnn only had to take a look once, gave me a few suggestions and voila! I had my combo! Which goes back to point #2, you meet the most amazing and inspirational people.

In the end, everything will always work out! You learn what you like and don’t like, you learn what you’re good at and what needs more attention.

My allegra on stage!
Photo by Peter Y. (Instagram: @peteryeungphotography)

4. Push your limits

Throughout your pole practice you might have learned countless number of tricks and have a few favourites. While you may be able to execute each move flawlessly, stringing them into a coherent combo may require some more work.

In pole practice, I always practice each move on both sides to balance things out or try another move to let certain parts of the body rest. However, when practicing for a routine, you subject your body to practice the same move, on the same side, repeatedly. For the 12 weeks, I’ve abused my thighs, shin, ankles and foot practicing the same moves repeatedly. Stock photo for domestic violence awareness poster? Check. I’ve never bruised this much in the past six years of poling. Does this mean it’s also the hardest I’ve ever practiced?

Had fun doing a mock up poster with my battered legs.
Who needs dresses, skirts and shorts for the summer anyway?

You will likely get nerves the few weeks leading up to the competition. For me, I had the most terrifying nightmare – succinctly put, let’s just say, half our troupe had stage fright and dropped out last minute, our choreographer wasn’t there when we performed, DJ played the wrong version of our song, we totally bombed our group dance (in the bad way)… Thank god it was only a dream!

Waking up early Sunday mornings for 12 weeks was no easy task, but practicing with these beautiful ladies made it worth it!
Photos by Garon C. (Instagram: @photobygaron)

5. You’ve been inspired, now it’s your turn to inspire

Time is ticking, you’re waiting for the previous contestants to finish their routine. You anxiously pace around, do some last minute stretching while waiting for the MC to call you onto the stage. You walk into the lights, and your nervousness becomes excitement. All the past few months of work boils down to this – 5 minutes.

You hear the music and your body just effortlessly moves. Your brain no longer needs to think because the movements and dance embodies you. As you go through the challenging parts of your routine and perfect it, you can’t help but smile. You smile as you enjoy the process, you smile because the audience is watching and you can hear their applause. The applause continue and you bow, grinning ear to ear. You did it! You earned these recognition so just enjoy it!

If anyone were to ask me what I felt while on stage, I think the correct term would be ‘euphoria’. I enjoyed every moment of it and really hope everyone can feel this way at least once! I can finally say, I’ve been on stage, and I’ve competed. Even if we didn’t win anything, we won!

Redefine Fit owner Joanne was so sweet in preparing these framed photos with signed plaques to commemorate our achievements. Such a thoughtful gift!

Final words

If you’re ever on the fence about it, find a studio that offers troupe performances/competition, it’s an amazing way to build up confidence to go up on the stage! In Toronto, ON, Redefine Fit constantly organizes troupes, so be sure to check them out!

_____________________________

Still not sure? Let me know what’s stopping you!

Infinity Yoga & Fitness | Studio Review

Beautiful artwork in progress @ Infinity Yoga + Fitness

In the past week, I had the opportunity to visit Infinity Yoga + Fitness, a new yoga studio opened in Richmond Hill! I learned about the place through Facebook when one of my friend, an instructor at the studio shared that she was teaching there.

Of course, I’m always looking to visit different studios so I looked up the website to see what the schedule is like. I wanted to comment on how beautiful the website is! All the information you need is very easy to find as well.

Clean, chic and sharp reception area

Infinity Yoga + Fitness currently offers around 3-4 classes per day, where two of those classes are after work hours. For those who work a 9-5pm job, there are a few classes that conveniently begin at 6:30pm so you can grab a small dinner before heading to class. While the schedule does not offer too many classes, I believe this is only temporary since they’re still fairly new! I’m sure with time, there will be plenty more classes on the schedule.

The different classes offered are also very interesting since it’s a fusion between yoga and fitness. You’ll easily find your vinyasa, hatha, yin and restorative classes on most days. If you’re looking to sweat and try something other than yoga, they also have high intensity training (HIIT) and ballet barre classes.

Loving the red sofa in the waiting area

Feeling a little lazier and still recovering from a surgery (4 wisdom teeth extractions!), I opted for a restorative class with Jenna. I arrived a little earlier to take pictures for the review and chatted with the owner Joanna. From the second I walked into the studio, Joanna was so friendly and I felt like I was visiting a friend I haven’t seen in ages. I’ve never met her but her whole demeanor felt very genuine and she was very happy to answer some of the questions I had about owning a studio, hiring yoga instructors and so on – questions I’ve always been curious to ask but was scared to.

Another angle of the waiting room – it just looks too beautiful!

The practice room was very spacious with lots of mirrors and possibility to turn up the heat reallllly high (I was told it was previously a bikram yoga studio). The room was dimly lit by flameless candles placed throughout the studio. As I unrolled my mat and sat quietly, I can hear Joanna warmly welcoming all the guests.

Gorgeous wall to floor mirrors on all 3 walls give the illusion of an infinite room

Class begins and we were encouraged to think of one person to dedicate this practice to. The idea was we are usually more willing to push ourselves for someone we love than we would for ourselves. In times of struggle and discomfort, think about this person and we will be able to overcome the challenges.

Spotless change room featuring 6 showers

The last restorative class I took was in Victoria at Found City Yoga, immediately after a bikram class. In that class, I was able to snooze off in the poses since we held them for at least 3-4 minutes each. At Infinity Yoga + Fitness, the class was much more dynamic and so you won’t have the opportunity to take quick naps 🙂

Even the soap dispenser matches the red colour accents!

What I really love about the class was the instructor, Jenna, was very hands-on. I am probably very biased, but I love classes where instructors offer adjustments, even if it meant just tilting my arm a little farther back in Triangle pose, or asking me to opens me knees out a little more in Warrior II. Jenna walked around and attentively made adjustments to all 10-12 of us. She’ll add just the perfect amount of pressure to get you deeper in your stretch, offer variations to further challenge a pose you thought you were comfortable in, and most importantly ensure you have the correct posture.

Open concept change room with lockers (bring your own lock)

If you’re looking for some great yoga classes with friendly instructors and a welcoming new owner, please visit Infinity Yoga + Fitness. Their first class is free, so what’s not to love!

Ajna Yoga | Studio Review

 

I’ve been to many yoga studios before, taken many classes and none was quite like the unique class I took at Ajna Yoga!

What is yoga? Traditionally, yoga has always been a practice for the body, mind and spirit. In the western culture, yoga has often been associated with fitness classes, focusing heavily on the postures and movements rather than connecting with ones mind. If we were to take only the physical aspect of yoga, then wouldn’t it be great if yoga instructors had a background in anatomy so they can better explain how these postures actually benefit the human body?

 

Anatomical spine and brain models on the window ledge

This is my first time taking a therapeutic-based yoga class so I wasn’t sure what to expect! Stepping into Ajna Yoga was a very different experience. At first glance, the studio is what you would expect from any other studio, clean open space. Upon closer inspection, you will notice the shelf of props has a lot more variety, including spikey balls, deflated balls, foam blocks in various shapes and sizes, akin to those used in pilates or physiotherapy. I started to cue in the subtle differences from the anatomical models on the window ledge, namely the spine and the brain model.

Once class began, I felt reminiscent of my years studying anatomy in university courses. Jules, our instructor led us through the Hips, Necks, and Shoulders class. The language she used was similar to those in your typical yoga classes, but she occasionally added scientific names of bones, muscles and body parts. What I really loved about therapeutic-based yoga was when she also reported findings from scientific studies to support the beneficial claims.

We used a total of 10 different props for the class!

The class I took was a relaxing class, utilizing a range of props to help target specific body parts in our stretches. The class was relatively small with 12 other students and Jules paid plenty of attention to each one of us. She remembered all of the students by names, and for newer faces, she came by often to make sure we understood the instructions. Unlike the other fitness-style yoga classes I’ve visited, most of the students in the class were older and had more even mix of men to women. Overall, the class was very gentle and very appropriate for the audience.

After spending an hour through a slow sequence of long stretches and playing around with a few props, I laid in shivasana and thought how great it would be if my parents and in-laws could take a class like this regularly!

The therapeutically-based yoga class would be a great addition to your regular practice as it offers gentle stretches and movements to help increase awareness of your body. The instructor was amazing and so knowledgeable! The explanations and little tid bits of scientific knowledge offered also makes you feel smarter after every class!

After the class was over, I thanked Jules and asked if she could give me a copy of her class schedule and highlight the classes that would be suitable for my parent in-laws (I was visiting them in Victoria, BC over the holiday break). Jules explained a lot of the classes offered at the studio are therapeutic in nature and therefore are perfect for an older demographic.

Unfortunately, while the class schedule offers plenty of classes, the times offered doesn’t quite work well with my mother-in-law as she still works during the day time. Perhaps I can recommend Anja Yoga to her once she retires!

_____________________________________________________________________
Thank you to Jules Paynes, co-owner of Ajna Yoga for welcoming me to your studio!

Ashtanga Yoga Victoria | Studio Review

Ashtanga Yoga Victoria

Welcome to Ashtanga Yoga Victoria, a studio which specializes in Ashtanga yoga through a Mysore teaching method!
If you’ve never tried a Mysore class or you’re not sure what it is, here’s a little definition from AYV:

“Mysore” is the traditional way of learning Ashtanga yoga and is named after the Indian city where Phattabi Jois lived. Mysore is a self led practice, through Ashtanga postures (also called Asanas). This “self-practice” is performed under the guidance of a highly experienced teacher, who helps the student advance through the series by teaching new asanas when it is safe to do so.

Reception and boutique

Since Mysore is a self-led practice, you can practice any time you want and for as long as you want. There are long sessions of Mysore classes on their schedule and you would drop in when it’s convenient for you. Another benefit is the individual attention you get from the instructor. Since everyone is doing their own thing, the instructor will walk around and help you with what you are currently working on. Lastly, Mysore is great for working at your own pace. For example, if you have injuries that require modification, the instructor will show you different asanas to work on.

Women’s change room and mat storage

Unfortunately, it was the last day of my short vacation at Victoria, BC so my schedule was rather tight. I wasn’t able to try the Mysore class but I did join their Hips ‘n’ Hammies class, led by Sachiko Walton.

Ashtanga Yoga Victoria is located in the heart of downtown Victoria at 560 Johnson St. As with downtown locations, parking can be a little hard to find but there are definitely options. The closest parkade is the Bastion Square Parkade, which offers the first hour for free! The studio is located on the second floor of a quaint building with high ceilings and beautiful windows.

Men’s change room

The studio spreads out through a few units on the second floor of the building. The receptionist, boutique and changes rooms are located in unit #203 and the main shala is in the unit just adjacent to it. The washrooms are accessible in the building using a key from the receptionist.

When you enter, you will be greeted warmly by the receptionist behind the desk. There is an assortment of yoga gear for sale, featuring Manduka yoga mats, clothing, towels and bottles of Ayurvedic potions. Do be sure to arrive earlier if this is your first visit as the check-in process requires an online waiver form and payment system. I really liked the idea of going paperless since it’s so eco-friendly and they even email you a copy of the waiver!

The women’s and men’s change rooms are small rooms tucked away in a hallway behind the receptionist, with the women’s being slightly larger. Both rooms offer mat storage space should you want to keep them there, although I’m not sure if there is a rental fee.

Main Shala

Since I wasn’t accustomed to yoga studios being in separate suites, I stumbled into an empty room behind the change rooms and thought that was the studio. It was small, but so beautiful – exposed brick walls, gorgeous windows and so warm! Unfortunately, Sachiko chased after me and told me the shala is in the unit next door. Oops!

The main studio room (shala) was even more beautiful. It had almost floor-to-ceiling windows, making the room invitingly warm and bright on a cold winter day. The shala can comfortably fit 12 yoga mats with plenty of space between you and your neighbours and allow the instructor to walk freely.

Props – bolsters, yoga blocks, straps

After committing to a barre class the day before, the Hips ‘n’ Hammies class was perfect to stretch my tired and cramping muscles. Sachiko led the class through a few Sun Salutations A and B series to warm up our bodies for the asanas. The stretches consisted of a variety of standing forward bends, standing hand to big toe (front and side), dancers pose, triangle pose, lizard pose, seated straddle poses and pigeon poses. These poses were great for opening the hips and hamstrings, as advertised in the class name and description. Throughout my yoga practice, I’ve become pretty familiar with these poses and often use them to train for my flexibility. For this class, I was hoping to learn a few more poses to incorporate into my practice, and receive feedback and adjustments on what I was currently doing.

The secret room I stumbled into!

Ashtanga Yoga Victoria specializes in Ashtanga yoga (evident in the name!) and a Mysore style of teaching. AYV embraces the yogic traditions and practice, rather than making significant modifications to cater to the western mainstream fitness classes. The studio is a great introduction to the history and philosophy of yoga – from calling it a shala instead of ‘studio’, dedicating many web pages and resources to enlighten students on what yoga is, and the deity statue and photos of gurus at the front of the room. With the breathtaking high ceilings and grandeur windows, you’re sure to find inner peace as you settle into your practice with AYV.

Studio Fitness in Victoria, BC | Studio Review

Studio Fitness in Victoria, BC


On this brilliant New Year’s Day, I visited Studio Fitness which specialized in barre, pilates and dance. I felt especially happy since the sun was shining, there was no traffic on the drive to the studio, everything was off to a perfect start. The studio is located inside the Quadra Sports & Fitness with plenty of free parking in the back. There were no clearly marked signs indicating where the studio was but to quote Justina Bailey, the owner of Studio Fitness, ‘Just follow the women in legging and you’ll find us!’. Surely enough, I found it!

Mirrors in the studio
Having only taken 1 barre class before, I consider myself a complete novice! Justina recommended I jump right in a try the Essentrics Barre class:

The Essentrics exercise program offered at STUDIO FITNESS is the same program that has been aired on PBS as ‘Classical Stretch’ since 1999. It has been rated the #1 fitness show on the network for over 10 years. Essentrics is used by numerous business professionals, Olympic athletes and celebrities. Performing the STUDIO FITNESS Essentrics stretch class will help slow down the aging process while keeping the body young, attractive, strong and healthy. Participants will notice an immediate increase in flexibility and a release of tension in their muscles after each class – improving their posture and range of motion. Stress is released and aches and pains are soothed through the gradual unlocking of the entire body. Justina Bailey has learned the methods directly from Miranda Esmonde-White at her facility in Montreal. More info about the brand here: Essentrics.com

Even with the amazing class description, I wasn’t sure what to expect. In the back of my mind, I thought it would be like a pilates-barre type of class. Sore legs and butt? Sure, I need to work off all the food I ate over the holiday anyway! The class was surprisingly full (around 20+ students) for new years. Perhaps everyone had the same thoughts as me (eg. holiday guilt, new years resolution, etc).
The barre is actually a bamboo stick!
The essentrics barre class began with the students in the middle of the room facing the mirror as we began doing warm up exercises similar to those you do in dance classes. The warm up exercises were dynamic and flowed well with the playlist Justina picked. As we progressed through the warm up exercises, the music also seamlessly picked up in pace to match!
As we transitioned towards the barre, we completed series of workouts for the legs, butt, core and arms, balanced with active stretches to strengthen and lengthen our muscles. While at times the class felt challenging and our muscles shook relentlessly, the atmosphere was light-hearted and we laughed at ourselves while we acknowledge the shaking legs. In the different poses or reps we did, Justina would make sure to come by, offer encouragement and adjustments.
Storage cubbies and banana leaf plant
My favourite part of the class was the last portion. No, not because it was coming to an end, quite the contrary! I actually loved the class and didn’t want it to end. But the last portion of it was dancing in slow motion, while stretching and strengthening. Again, all the movements worked soooo well with the music she is playing (I really want her playlist now!) I’ve never really done something like that but the way Justina led the class to flow with the music while being strong, graceful and confident was beautifully unique.
At the end of the class, I just had to ask what this whole dancing/stretching/flowing thing we did was! She said essentrics is ‘tai-chi to music’! On hind sight, it was exactly that! The movements in the class were so fluid like water and air that it felt like a dance class, but also strong and powerful martial art. Truly the best of both worlds.
Registration area
I really want to thank Justina for introducing me to Essentrics. It was a great work out that disguised itself as a fluid and graceful dance. The moves were super simple to follow along, even for someone uncoordinated like me and have trouble memorizing dance steps! Justina was so sweet and beamed with positive energy. She is such a strong and graceful instructor role model that it’s no wonder women are drawn to the class, even on a holiday!
Now that I’ve fallen in love with essentrics, where else can I find classes? According to Justina, there is only 1 other studio in Victoria that offers essentrics, but is very popular out in the West.  On the Essentrics website, there are two offerings in Toronto from Framewrk and MisFitStudio, so I might visit them some time soon!