Captained by a brigade of trained instructors, Jazzercise Inc's classes amalgamate dance-based cardio, strength training, and stretching into total body exercises eliminating 600 calories from participant bodies while toning musculature. Scored to top 40, jazz, country, and Benedictine monk hits, one-hour jazzercise classes intermingle moves from hip-hop, yoga, and kickboxing during 30-minute aerobic workouts that segue into strengthening weight workouts and a body-loosening stretching finale. Body-sculpting sessions last 40–50 minutes and fuse strength training and stretching movements into positions that fortify cores, chisel arms, and firm legs. Patrons can select a befitting instructor and location online before shimmying into classes that fluctuate anywhere from 15 to 150 participants depending on time, whereabouts, and the number of tubas taking the class.
Ilana Moon and Alseny Diallo teach students how to master the pulsating rhythms of African drums and dance in their weekly classes at Dancing Moon Multicultural Arts Company. Though Ilana started dancing at the age of five, she discovered African dance when she was 12 and has honed her skills since then. Currently a professional dancer in the Zimbabwean troupe, Jambanja, she also teaches hip hop, traditional African dance, and Afro-belly dancing to students aged 4 and older, because she believes it is important for young dancers to gain core strength and flexibility before they learn where Santa really lives. Alseny’s talent as a percussionist grew from a life studying the traditions of his people in Guinea. He has been the lead soloist djembe player in ballets since the age of 12, and has graduated to the rank of artistic director of several ballets, including Le Ballet Taille, which took part in government project La Tour Federale. Dancing Moon’s in-house troupe Kikeyambay also gives live performances of Guinean dance and drumming at festivals and concerts.
VI Fitness—a workout mainstay with a dozen locations peppering Vancouver Island—splits its real estate between coed and women’s only gyms. Coed locations line the floors with a wide variety of strength and stability equipment, free weights, and cardio machines; women’s locations host a similar array of gear but in designs tailored specifically for women. The two gym models are otherwise similar, hosting yoga classes and group exercise courses such as VI Fitness’s signature indoor cycling.
Alternatively, each gym’s team of personal trainers creates customized regimens for patrons with the help of the Polar BodyAge system that measures individual fitness levels. The sessions also motivate athletes and ensure they use proper technique, significantly reducing the risk of injury, overexertion, or the embarrassment of accidentally bench-pressing a treadmill. The on-site child minding watches over exercisers’ little ones while secure rental lockers keep personal effects locked up.
The buoyant instructors of WZ Latin Party Fitness, led by Celine Hall, are successful because they are certified Zumba fitness specialists who love what they do. There is something infectious about Zumba, be it the upbeat music, easy-to-follow dance moves, or enthusiasm of the instructors, and WZ Latin Party Fitness aims to help students of all levels dance their way to health.
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.
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.