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Category Archives: toronto studio
By: Heather Hope
The teacher of a yoga class is responsible for more than just taking their students through the poses – they set the tone and feeling for that class. So let’s get to better know one teacher through our interview with Jodi Fischtein one of our Life On The Mat course teachers.
Jodi is a mixed-lineage yoga teacher who loves aspects of Ashtanga, Prana Flow Vinyasa and Yin yoga. In 2005, Jodi moved from Long Island to Toronto and has been sharing her yoga practice in Toronto since 2008. Jodi’s training includes prenatal yoga and Thai Massage. She is currently immersed in Dr. Jon-Kabat Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the University of Toronto. Jodi lives in Toronto with her husband and four children.
Jodi was a bit hesitant to try yoga when she began attending sessions in New York in 1999: “I resisted the practice initially as I didn’t want to be still. So I behaved in a silly manner, yet I attended those sessions. Eventually I was subdued by the asana, noting the strength and flexibility I felt. Initially it was purely physical. Years later I began to draw my attention inward, to the subtle body.” When asked what advice she would give her younger self, Jodi responded, “Relax. Speak less. Listen deeply”.
I’m not a gym rat or fitness guru, so when faced with my first ever spin class I was excited but intimidated. I haven’t been into biking since I was kid; I enjoyed it when I was young but lost interest as I went into my preteens and never looked back. I was worried my legs wouldn’t be up to intense spinning, but since I love a challenge I signed up for my first ever spin class and began to prepare.
My workouts are usually done at home and combine yoga, cardio, and some exercises I learned in my preteens when I took dance classes. I wouldn’t say I’m in bad shape but I do tire easily and live a fairly sedentary lifestyle with a few workouts sprinkled in.
After a little googling I learned what basics I needed to bring to spin class: sports bra, sweat wicking shirt, running shoes, and an easy to open one-handed water bottle (no screw caps). My essentials ready to go, I arrived about ten minutes early for the Saturday 9am spin class with Casey.
Practicing yoga throughout your pregnancy can be one of the most empowering, enlightening and inspiring experiences imaginable. The practice vastly supports your own health and wellness, easing the wretched leg cramps, lower back pain and swollen feet associated with carrying a baby. Moreover it also deepens your connection to your baby, while teaching you breathing techniques and movement rituals to assist you throughout your labour. Whether you are attending a specific prenatal yoga class or a all-level yoga class with your growing belly, the overall experience can be dramatically transformed by applying some or all of these tried and true tips from pregnant yogi-mamas.
I am often asked by new students how many times a week should they practice to “nail” their chaturanga, arm balance or inversion. My answer is always the same. Be safe and start slow. Practice once or twice a week, see how the body feels and increase the days of practice from there. The benefits of a regular practice go far beyond perfecting a plank, crow or handstand.
Remember when step classes were the workout-du-jour? “A-step! Grapevine! Around the world!” the perky instructor would yell into her mic (I’d finally get the hang of ‘basic left’ as the rest of the class cooled down). Thankfully, those torturous days are over with. We’ve seen dozens of fitness trends come and go since: Jazzercise, Zumba, Tae Bo a la Billy Blanks. And who could forget Suzanne Somers’ ThighMaster? (Oh, that Chrissy Snow.)
These days, we’re working out smarter. Gone are the days of marathon treadmill sessions. Now it’s all about science-based evidence—in other words, what gives you the most bang for your gym-membership buck. The latest buzz term on everyone’s radar? Functional fitness ((a.k.a. functional training). Think of it as exercises that mimic everyday, real-life activities such as carrying groceries or shoveling snow. Unlike some trends of yesteryear, functional fitness is here to stay. Here’s everything you need to know about the popular workout technique.
Spynga is special. It’s so much more than a studio to take a yoga or spin class. Spynga is a community of people that care. I’ve learned this first hand while undergoing breast cancer treatment over the past several months. I felt like I had my very own cheering squad, pushing me through to the end of my treatments. There would be days when I would not feel great but I knew that if I could make it to a class, I would always feel better. Clients and staff would always offer words of encouragement, share personal stories and ask how I was doing. This caring community spirit helped get me through one of the most difficult periods of my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
I was in the best shape of my life when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had spent the previous two years getting “fit for 40”. My plan was to spin, sculpt and sweat my way into the next decade. My birthday came and I never felt better. I had achieved my goal! I was fit at 40!
However, a few months later my world would be turned upside down when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. At my annual physical my doctor found a lump and a biopsy was done the next day. Five days later I received my diagnosis and I was in complete shock. I was scheduled for surgery and was told that I would be undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. I couldn’t understand how a fit person that has a healthy diet and feels great can be diagnosed with breast cancer. My oncologist told me that because I was younger than the average patient and because I was physically fit I would have an easier recovery.
I would soon come to realize that achieving my “fit for 40” goal would mean much more than looking good in a pair of skinny jeans. Being fit provided me with the foundation for a quick recovery from major surgery and the ability to tolerate months of cancer treatments.
Moms are heroes. Remember those pesky little things called pregnancy and labour? Remember how much reading and preparing we did for those things? Well, creating a human inside you then pushing it out through a tiny hole is just the beginning. It’s the beginning of something harder, something you can’t prepare for, something that requires on-the-job, minute by minute training. Oh, and also, it starts right after you create a human inside you and then push it out through a tiny hole. You’re freakin’ tired, your body aches, your abs are torn apart, you might have staples in places a stapler should NEVER be and it starts whether you’re ready or not. Looking back, this is the easy part. Soon they’re walking, then talking (probably talking back) and the next thing you know they want nothing to do with you, and they leave to go to a party where you’re worried they’ll get pregnant because you probably gave them self esteem issues. (Just a little glimpse in to my scary mommy brain…)
Food Blogger, Spynga Mom and Cook, Rachel Barbaro shares her ideas for easy, healthy and delicious weeknight fare for the fit folks on the go!
I used to take such pride in making beautiful meals and new recipes every night. And then motherhood hit me with all its love and awe and exhaustion. A few months in, it was time to stop calling for take out and get back in the kitchen. Sharing my favourite meals from my blog Friendly Food Snobs that are little weeknight wonders. They’re quick to make, high on veggies and protein and fabulous as leftovers.
Flank steak tostadas got me dreaming of a trip to Mexico. My best kale ceasar salad gets in those daily greens but in a yummy way. I love these coconut peanut butter protein balls as a snack on the go, or to nibble on when you crave something sweet as they’re high in protein, good fats and free of gluten. And to start the last of winter’s snowy mornings slow cooker steel cut oats require minimal prep but deliver a delicious breakfast as the slow cooker does all the work.
Pregnancy took my belly for a big, bumpy, RIP roaring ride. It never occurred to me that as the baby (and your belly) grows, the chances of tearing your abdominal muscles grow as well. With each pregnancy (there were 3) my #DiastasisRecti (DR) expanded and 6 fingers deep to be precise! For those of you who haven’t heard of the DR, it is defined as a separation of your rectus abdominis, AKA your six-pack! When the abdominal muscles move aside, your uterus, bowels and other organs have only a thin band of connective tissue in front to hold them ALL in place. After baby, this condition causes your belly to stick out (yes, just like it did when I was about 5 months pregnant). I was so excited to feel good in my own body again, however, this unfortunate symptom has been quite hard at times on this mama’s soul. People (mostly women) constantly ask me if I am pregnant again. “So…you are going for the fourth?” and “When are you due?” are the most frequent questions that I get. Being a fitness instructor and wearing spandex for a living doesn’t allow me to wear “looser” attire!