Flow a hybrid regimen of spinning and yoga, which builds muscles and calms the mind, creators explain
Sweat stings my right eye as my aching legs work the exercise bike. Not trying to compete, I’m keeping half the pace of the women around me, their scrunchie-bound ponytails quickly whipping the air to the beat of a Justin Timberlake remix as they sprint their way to a trimmer body.
Half an hour later, a sprite young assistant rubs cool aloe and lavender lotion on the back of my neck, temples and furrowed brow. It’s the aromatherapeutic dessert after the meat and potatoes of sun salutations and downward dogs that leave me trembling and covered in the day’s pollutants that I’ve been secreting over the past hour.
It’s called Spynga Flow, and it’s an unlikely and rewarding workout.
The exercise studio it’s named after, Spynga (1415 Bathurst St.), offers a sort of hybrid regime: 25 minutes of dynamic pedalling through peaks and valleys on an exercise cycle (or spinning) set to music to get the heart pumping and the muscles loose. A 25-minute vinyasa yogic routine follows the cardio and consists of active solar and passive lunar positions, all while using Ujjayi (or victory) breathing to purge the body of toxins.
It all started when childhood friends Sari Nisker, a yogi and Casey Soer, a cycling instructor, reconnected in New York several years ago. Both suffering from corporate burnout, the Thornhill natives started a fitness club fusing their life loves into a physical routine combining the benefits of each activity; cardio endurance through cycling and meditative bodily cleansing through yoga.
“While we were both doing each other’s thing, we realized our bodies were changing in this amazing way,” says Nisker. “We were building muscle and calming the mind. The foundations of both activities are really similar in a sense: You have to be completely present in mind, body and spirit to get through your workout.”
In its 11 months of existence, Spynga has developed a solid client base; mostly ladies from its surrounding areas of the Annex and Forest Hill looking to keep fit and trim (Nisker estimates an hour of Spynga Flow can burn up to 700 calories). They’re a bit more limber — a lot more, actually — than me and the two other men in the studio for the workout; we’re given support straps to place around our feet while negotiating some of the more demanding yoga positions. The women don’t seem to need any help.
But more men and children are passing through Spynga’s doors as a result of its growing reputation, and its range of family oriented and new age-y classes — the studio also has a moms’ and babies’ yoga workout program, a kids’ camp and a shiatsu massage workshop for babies (yes, babies).
“It was around 90 per cent women, but more men are showing up to see where their wives are going,” says Nisker. “We also really value our kids’ programs. It’s important to plant really good seeds in kids’ heads about body image and fitness.”