Whether paddling out on their own atop a rented board or within eyesight of a Paddle Canada–certified instructor, visitors to Epic Surf Co quickly lose themselves to the sound of seagulls and gently lapping waters. With the mist-covered mountains standing guard on the horizon, paddlers are regularly joined by the region’s natives such as eagles, river otters, and sea lions as they make their way past crescent-shaped beaches and coves.
Back on dry land, Epic Surf instructors sign guests up for lessons on the basics of standup paddleboarding, advanced skills, and SUP surfing. Techs within an onsite custom shop bring 23 years of experience to their board repair and artwork, and the surf shop showcases all the wares of their trade, including wetsuits and paddles that double as lances for on-the-water jousts. Guests can also take advantage of Epic’s new beach cruisers—bikes for both men and women.
A city is like a walk-through history book with the stories scrawled along its streets and architecture. The sage-like guides of Hidden Dragon use their knowledge of that landscape to share the stories of Victoria. With that goal in mind, their menu of walking tours entices guests to join them through keystone locales that speak to the indigenous, British, and Chinese cultures that define the city, as well as the paranormal tales that comprise its folklore.
The Crown Victoria Native Island tour explores the indigenous people and British colonists that once inhabited the area. Guests walk past the historic Fairmont Empress Hotel situated beside the waters of Inner Harbour, totem poles, and the quaint historic shops of Old Town. The New World Old Chinatown tour inspired the Hidden Dragon name with journeys through the museums, courtyards, and concealed myths of Victoria’s Chinese community. For an alternative history of the region, guides divulge the stories of ghosts, witches, and demons found in the rooming houses and alleys of Dark Victoria.
The temperature holds at 40 degrees Celsius inside Hudson Yoga's practice room, but it's a phantom heat, generated by 24 panels that radiate warmth in complete silence. At each corner of the room, ventilation screens quietly regulate airflow to all areas of the space, and carbon dioxide monitors keep the atmosphere optimized all class long. Free from the ambient hum of vents and fans, guests can locate peace of mind—and master the poses of traditional hot yoga—without the added challenge of twisting their legs to form ear muffs. More energy efficient than conventional heating, the rigorous climate control is one of many touches that make it clear that the LEED-certified studio was purpose-built for this steamy form of fitness. The 1,600-square-foot practice space hosts up to 55 students at a time for 90-minute traditional hot yoga classes, abbreviated 60-minute heated sessions, and less-frequent non-heated classes, all on a naturally antibacterial cork floor that reduces the impact on hands, knees, and spines.
Though traditional hot yoga is the studio's specialty, Hudson Yoga's instructors hold certifications in an array of styles, helping them to form a well-rounded brain trust that understands yoga inside and out. This eclecticism and experience is why no two of the studio's veteran instructors have the same practice—it accounts for the inflections of Pilates and Thai massage in Maria Filippone's class and the power and precision of Fiji McAlpine's. It also comes out in the studio's special events, such as the workshops and specialized yoga retreats it organizes.
The studio's commitment to serious yoga, however, doesn't mean it's overlooked the peripheral details. Like the filtered water pouring from the shower heads in the changing rooms. Or the dedicated space for hanging and cleaning mats. Or the earthy décor, from grass wallpaper in the lobby to the practice room's ceilings, painted gray to evoke the night sky. Outside the studio, two hours of free parking help drivers get to class on time, and The Hudson's shopping, dining, and soon-to-open Victoria Public Market entice students to linger in the area long after they've stepped off their mats.
Classes at Ashtanga Yoga Victoria blend physical movements and breath together in a mental approach founded on the yogic practices, or eight limbs, students follow to reach their goals together in classes. All of our instructors have been trained and studied yoga in India. Good for beginners and lots for even the most experienced student. Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow, Restorative, Yin, Hatha and many other types of classes offered.
Award-winning Recreation Oak Bay exercises minds and bodies with classes and camps at numerous locations. The facilities all foster a safe, welcoming environment where community members can come together and splash into the pool during children’s or adults’ swim lessons, work out in fitness studios, stretch in sync during yoga classes, or swing through the nine-hole Henderson Park Golf Course. Recreation Oak Bay also keeps children safe from the video-game-proffering witches that lurk in most public parks with a variety of kids' sports programs, including skating and hockey, soccer, and tennis.
The instructors at Two Bettys Bikini Bootcamp commit to a weighty promise—that their clients will be beach-ready in six weeks—and commit their charges to an equally intense workout regimen. The boot-camp classes blend running, stair climbing, hula-hooping, yoga, and even some moves on the ballet barre to set metabolisms racing. But that doesn't mean the teachers act as drill sergeants—to the contrary, each group session is rife with affirmations and support.
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 14 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. On November 8, The Yoga Shala is hosting a show featuring Dave Stringer, a musical performer who practices Kirtan, a form of devotional chanting. The studio also offers teacher trainings each spring and fall and plans a group yoga retreat and a 200-hour immersion to south India in January.