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:

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!

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