We recently had the chance to take a few classes (both essentrics and pilates) at framewrk, a brilliant new studio in Leslieville/Corktown. Its creator, Josephine Cuthill, graciously answered our questions about what a ‘wellness’ framewrk means, how she hopes to create a community around her incredible space and more.
Well TO Do: Please introduce yourself and framewrk to the Well TO DO readers.
Josephine Cuthill: Hi, I’m Josephine and I, along with the help of my awesome partner Jonathan, amazing instructors and a growing community, have started a new studio in Toronto’s Riverside neighborhood called framewrk. Framewrk is a movement studio. We offer a full range of movement practices in a fun, relaxed and welcoming space. Our goal is to be a place where everyone feels like they can challenge themselves without feeling judged and to help people grow, become stronger and go out into the world and build healthy communities.
WTD: Please give us a bit of a intro to essentrics – what is it, exactly?
JC: I teach the Essentrics class, a full body dynamic stretching and strengthening program. The roots of the technique are drawn from ballet, tai chi and physiotherapy and the program is designed to promote lengthened and toned muscles, increase flexibility and decrease injuries. It’s a fluid, non-stop, body weight workout with movement designed to unlock muscle chains, tone and decompress body. Expect to start with big rotational and long movements in standing work and then doing the ab and leg work on the floor which is followed by a deep dynamic stretch sequence to end. Elite athletes have used this technique as a stretch and mobility program for many years and it resonates well with people looking for a movement practice that feels fluid and challenging all at once.
WTD: We know you used to teach essentrics at a variety of studios across Toronto. What prompted you to create your own studio?
JC: I really loved moving around between studios and gyms in the city. I learned a lot by working with successful and influential professionals in Toronto fitness but when one of the studios I had worked at for a long time closed down it suddenly left a lot of my students looking for a new place to do Essentrics. I considered teaching at another studio but the opportunity to create something was too good to be overlooked. I wanted the chance to see what it could look like to create a space that combined awesome classes, great teachers, a warm and open environment and lots of open conversations on issues in wellness and society. I wanted to bring some of the incredible people I knew together in one space and see how that could resonate through the community.
WTD: Can you tell us the story behind the name “framewrk”?
JC: For months I threw around different ideas about the name of the studio. Four weeks before we opened I still didn’t have a name but I had been introduced to Rachelle Saevil at Saevil Row who did great work for Spokehaus and I was explaining to her how nothing seemed to fit what the vision of the studio was. When she asked me to describe that vision I said I wanted to build a studio that focused on fitness but incorporated nutrition and mental heath and mindfulness and that I wanted this to be a framework for overall wellness. She stopped me immediately and repeated the word framewrk. It was the easiest decision to go forward once I heard the name. It’s fun but meaningful and it sums up the what we want to be, a framework for people to build on.
WTD: How do you choose your class offerings, schedule and instructors?
JC: Everything was designed to present a challenge to the body and the mind with instructors who knew how to get the best out of the students in a positive way. Classes, offerings, schedules and instructors are based on what the community wants and how it fits into the studio’s mission of creating community through movement. Our members want challenging classes with good instructors who are personable and know their craft very well. Weather it’s a strength and conditioning class or a restorative yoga class it must challenge the body in new ways. I tried to set the schedule up so that you can often do a very high intensity class and follow it with a rebalancing practice to feel well rounded at the end. Choosing the instructors was based on how approachable and knowledgable they are in their field and how focused they are on creating a fun and memorable experience for their students.
WTD: Strength and flexibility are completely interconnected with mindfulness and overall wellbeing. How do you/your classes incorporate mindfulness?
JC: Mindfulness isn’t just about resting and being still and even though we have some classes specifically designed to provide just this type of mindfulness all our instructors are amazing at reminding students to pay attention to their body and movement patterns during even the most faced paced workouts. Mindfulness comes from knowing what your body and your mind does and noticing when it is at rest and in action. Notice where you resist physically and mentally. Notice your movement patterns, your mental patterns and evaluate their contribution to your overall health. By trying different movement you will learn a lot about yourself and be mindful of the areas where strength is needed or where we need to learn to relax. This type of realization can make a significant impact on your everyday life.
WTD: What role does community take at framewrk and how are you growing that community?
JC: Community is probably the most important part of framewrk. In a community we learn from each other, support each other and grow. We build something special where the individual feels they belong to a bigger movement than just their own existence. When you are comfortable in a class you work harder, relax faster and enjoy it more. We build community by encouraging students to meet, mix and share their experience. We are building a community with our neighbours by partnering to share our wellness ideas and our services. This month we’ve partnered with Impact Kitchen and Torq Ride to give our members perks at both locations.
WTD: What’s next for framewrk?
JC: We are looking at doing more workshops, opening up the space to other wellness providers and business that can offer the community new ideas and food for thought about what it truly means to be healthy. Nutrition and mental health are two of the top priorities.
WTD: What’s exciting you most right now about the Toronto wellness scene?
JC: I personally love the authenticity that is happening in the wellness scene. A lot of well respected fitness and health leaders are opening up about struggles in their lives and inspiring conversations that need to be had. Sheading light on some of the darker places that we all work through at some point in our lives helps people on levels that will resonate across communities and inspire much needed improvement in the lives of people. It’s real wellness. The kind that can’t be found by hiding from the difficult topics.
To find out more about framewrk and for their complete class offerings, click here.