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To some, visiting another country is a reprieve from everyday life and an opportunity to learn about another culture. To others, it is a life-changing experience. Jennifer Pritchard?s sojourn in Mysore, India cemented the foundation for what eventually would become The Yoga Shala. During her travels, Jennifer was inspired to return home to create a warm and inviting space for practicing yoga, and is one of a select number of Canadians to receive teaching authorization from the Shri K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute. At her studio today, which was voted Best of the City in 2010 by readers of Victoria News, she and her team of instructors uphold authentic yoga principles to help students improve their physical and mental well-being.

The Yoga Shala?s curriculum is rooted in the Ashtanga style of yoga, in which practitioners synchronize their breath with postures to build up internal heat, flushing out toxins and convincing the spleen that it?s vacationing in Mexico. The instructors cater classes to beginning and advanced students alike, encouraging them to work at their own pace, detailing easier or more challenging modifications to poses. Advanced-level courses focus on arm balances, deep hip work, back bends, and solidifying core muscles. The Yoga Shala regularly hosts community-building social events, and Acro Yoga and Kirtan Chanting nights are offered twice a month. The studio also offers teacher apprenticeships each season and hosts a yoga tour group retreat with a 200-hour immersion to India each winter.

1322 Broad St.
Victoria,
BC
CA

Multiple fitness disciplines converge at Studio 4 Athletics. The heritage-style facility that was ranked number one in the Best of the City Gym/Fitness Studio category by the Victoria News houses two floors and eight training areas, each dedicated to a distinct purpose. The cardio area whirrs with the sound of treadmills and ellipticals, and the strength-training area clinks with the sound of free weights and functional-training equipment. In a cycling room, trainers lead a stationary Tour de France. Other studios play host to yoga, dance fitness classes, and boot camps. Within a boxing ring, instructors teach students how to duel their way to tighter forms, or mix fighting and creative movement into art forms known as capoeira and slap-hopscotch.

715 Yates St.
Victoria,
BC
CA

Owner Liz Lampard and her elite squad of trainers combine a kitchen-sink approach to fitness with an all-comers clientele policy that welcomes sweat seekers to group classes designed to challenge both the peak-condition athlete and the career couch potato. Innovative, high-octane flex-fusion programs combine an array of calorie-scorching methods, with 45 minutes of cardio and strength training followed by 45 minutes of Vinyasa flow or Yin yoga. Group sessions rendezvous at several area locations for kickboxing and boot camp. The company's online booking system makes it easy for clients to reserve their spot in class and schedule three-round sparring matches with Dynamo's kickboxing instructor or tax accountant.

831 Fisgard Street
Victoria,
BC
CA

As they enter the training circle at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's centre, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.

1595 McKenzie Ave
Victoria,
BC
CA

Each day, Bikram Yoga Westshore's certified instructors vaporize stress with deep breaths, warm personalities, and 105 degrees of therapeutic heat. Every 90-minute class revolves around 26 Hatha poses designed to help clients develop lean, lithe physiques. In addition to fostering strength and balance, the poses raise pulses for 20?25 minutes during a cardio workout that builds stamina.

Heat melts tension in muscles, fostering deeper, safer stretches, and induces sweating that works to rid bodies of toxins. Nonporous, hypoallergenic, floor panels ward off germs to prevent sneezes, and optional towel service keeps students dry and comfortable. Fresh air constantly circulates through the room from the heated ceiling to ensure that muscles remain oxygenated throughout the workout. After class, yogis can retire to the showers for an extra dose of relaxation, or search the studio's boutique for a yoga mat or spare parts to fix a broken nirvana.

750 Goldstream Ave
Victoria,
BC
CA

Over the course of his NBA career, Steve Nash developed a fitness vision?one where a place could promote a healthy and balanced lifestyle for all. Within its 18 locations across the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, Steve Nash Fitness World & Sports Club strives to fulfill that vision by maximizing each member's experience in a fun and friendly environment.

Featuring a variety of amenities for all those wanting to achieve their fitness goals, each facility boasts state-of-the-art training equipment for clients' cardio and weight-lifting needs. For those who work better in packs, a wide range of fun group fitness classes are offered, including Zumba, yoga, pound, and LaBlast. Experienced certified personal trainers impart their wealth of fitness knowledge and effective exercise programs, but also inform on the latest in health and fitness, in-club events, and several other exciting member services.

3301 Douglas St
Victoria,
BC
CA