Photo cred: Kyla Doering
There is a lot of buzz in the Queen West community right now as our local lululemon store eagerly anticipates the opening of their new home and a new hub for our growing community. In anticipation of the space that will open mid-August I was invited to an event a few weeks ago in partnership with Fuel Training Club + Misfit Studio. I wasn’t given much detail other than to come prepared to connect, sweat and have fun with the other folks attending. I didn’t know who would be attending or how many, so after our Tribe Fitness Wednesday Community Run my coach Heather and I headed over to lululemon Queen West to immerse ourselves in an evening of community which was dubbed – The Exchange.
“The Exchange – a place to build, connect, learn and grow. A gathering of remarkable gamechangers, makers + movers, the people of Toronto making waves in their communities. Some learning the fine art of balance + finding time for their side hustle, others recently taking the plunge into owning their own business – some on the other hand, are leaders & have worked many years to become the entrepreneurs they are today. Tonight they arrived with little detail – just to be open to the energy, of what the night would bring. A celebration of the risks one must take to pursue a life, that at the end of the day, boils down to something simple – waking up every day, and loving what you do.”
For me it’s nights like this I go to bed with a spark in my soul, I may be tired but I was full of prospect, intention and gratitude for this community after having the opportunity to participate in the events that unfolded over the 4 hours of the night.
Events of the Night
We arrived at lululemon Queen West slightly water logged after getting caught in a flash flood on the Tribe Fitness Community Run and ready to see what Reggie + folk at lululemon had in store from us. Amongst the group of participants in tonight’s activities were a number of faces that I recognize from sweating in the city + social media:
- Heather Gardner (Founder, Tribe Fitness), Cassie Day (Personal Trainer), Lindsay MacAdam (Writer, Blogger), Johanna Robles (Blogger), Melanie BW (Blogger, Tribe #solesister), Mike Krupica (lululemon Queen West Community Manager), Moe Bsat (lululemon Queen West Educator, Run Lead for Academy of Lions) + a few more!
We hit the pavement and headed to Fuel Training Club – my second home after Tribe Fitness where I train two mornings a week. We were told that once we arrived at Fuel we would be tackling a 30 minute workout, followed by a Q&A session with Founder + Owner Greg Hetherington. Greg greeted us at the door and told us to prepare ourselves for 10 minutes of Mobility/Movement Prep, followed by a 30 minute interval workout that would combine the best of cardio and strength. I’m used to the intensity of the Fuel workouts, they are tough but they make you feel like you’ve put in the work whether it’s a 30 minute condensed class or a 50 minute class on a Tuesday morning at 6am. I partnered up with Heather and we were ready to kick things off on the infamous Curve Treadmill as we go to work.
After our sweat session we sat down to hear Greg speak about his transition from taking a passion and turning it into a business, once Fuel was up + running he worked hard to ensure that Fuel developed a community in order to sustain the relationships people made a the gym and give Fuel a unique positioning amongst the other training facilities in the city. Greg believes that the success of Fuel is rooted in the community that he has fosters amongst the folks that train at both locations and being an Ambassador for a brand such as lululemon has helped him in developing the pillars of a community.
After we left Fuel we headed out into the night for a 3km run to the new Misfit Studio location on Ossington and Queen, not yet open to the public this second space for the Misfit Studio is an exciting addition to the first space in the loft of the old church on Queen West. Arriving at the space we were welcome by lavender in the air, dim lighting, a room for of mats and smiling faces who had been anticipating our arrival. We were being gifted with the opportunity to be the second class to practice in this untouched gorgeous space before it’s grand opening on August 2nd. I always know when I practice with Amber that I am in for a magical journey and it was nothing short of that as she led us through a 30 minute practice focusing psoas and shoulders – just what I needed after a run + Fuel workout.
The mantra for Misfit Studio has always resonated with me from the first time that I walked in the doors when I moved to Toronto in 2014, it’s something that celebrates those of us that don’t fit in, that don’t want to fit in and who are hungry with passion to change the world. Amber has always been such a thought provoking soul to me, she has struggled/hustled/passionately pursued her dream of having a studio for over 7 years after yoga instructor suggested she do her teacher training. As someone who is a trained professional dancer Amber took to yoga/pilates as a way to channel her energy and clear her mind, what she developed over the years was a unique style of movement yoga that holds traditional poses while flowing through movement to get into all of the sweet spots.
After class Amber shared her journey with us all, sharing so openly her transition from dancer to yoga instructor as she started her business off in a small space in Parkdale before one day being listed on a Toronto Blog ‘Top 10’ list and the having people lined up at the studio before she even arrived. She had created something unique, a practice unlike anything else in the city which at some mainstream studio can be quite stale and uninspiring. She wanted people to wade through the BS of everyday life and come to class to let lose + explore the body. Speaking about her struggles, finding her moments of clarity and understanding that having a business isn’t her the only thing about her, it’s a part of her life but there are other components that make her up as well. As she spoke about the undercurrent of negativity and judgement that is so prevalent in society today, the labels of influencer and people never being satisfied a lot of these things resonated with me – both when I look back at where I was a year ago today and recently as I continue to find my place in this writing + ambassador community.
I have a lot of respect for Amber opening up, for reminding me how are I’ve come and what it took last year to break free from things that were no longer serving me to help me work towards the better place that I am in today. It is women like her who I continue to be lucky enough to cross paths with that motivate me to keep hustling and chasing my dreams because through all of these stories that were shared tonight it is the folks like us who put in the sweat who come out better for it on the other side. It’s experiences like this and people like this who I get to be in the company of that drives me to pursue this passion and continue to tirelessly work to help foster this community.
Tonight I was reminded why I do what I do post 9-5pm – side hustle, volunteer, mentor, continue my learning and connect with folks like everyone in the room tonight. This community that we are building of acceptance, openness, collaboration and sweating along side of each other is really something special that we are all so proud to be apart of. We will continue to celebrate along side each other as we each take our own steps + risk to developing ourselves and working towards doing something that allows us to wake up each and everyday saying, “I love what I do!”