In the short time since it opened, One Academy has developed a reputation for tough (and seriously fun) workouts and total sweatfests. But pay closer attention and you’ll note that the studio’s real goal is to build all-around athletes, which means not only breaking down the body but working to repair and restore it as well. Enter the studio’s latest offering: weekly One Academy yoga sessions.
The One Academy yoga class is held on the large section of turf that runs down the center of the lower level and you can choose to put your mat on the turf or on the rubber flooring (we suggest the turf for extra cushion). The lights are on throughout the entire practice and in this specific class, some top notch throwback R&B tracks were playing as well.
The first half of the One Academy yoga class was focused on power flow inspired movements which warmed up the body and put our stabilization muscles to work. The second half included more of a yin style practice with longer holds and deeper stretches.
This class is open to all levels, however, we suggest having a couple of yoga classes under your belt beforehand so that you are aware of the proper names for the poses and transitions between them.
The instructor Dre (aka @ThisYogiLifts) is not your average yoga instructor. He is a strength conditioning coach, nutritionist, lifestyle coach, and of course yoga teacher. As his handle suggests, he has a passion for bringing together the weight lifting and yoga communities.
“One of my goals is to bring yoga to where it needs to be, and often times it’s in places where yoga wouldn’t normally be found,” he told us. “Fortunately, due to my appearance and background in fitness, I am able to go places to introduce yoga where it wouldn’t [otherwise] be given a second look.”
We sat down with him to find out more about how he is breaking the yogi mold:
Can you tell us a little about your background in the Toronto fitness scene and where people can find you?
I began my journey into the fitness scene as a trainer, and then evolved from a consultant to a fitness director. After realizing the big box gyms weren’t a good fit for me, I went back to my roots. I started coaching clients and teaching more classes, which led me to yoga. I began doing more of what I loved and less of what I didn’t. I currently lead classes at One Academy in Toronto and Coach J Fitness Studio in Thornhill, where I coach something that I refer to as Lift + Flow.
How is One Academy yoga different than practicing at other yoga studios and what do you want your clients to feel after your class?
The vibe is definitely different than at other yoga studios: the energy is always on full swing at One Academy. You can feel the Yang all over that place, so I do my best to harmonize the Yin and Yang in practice. I offer something familiar in the style of power yoga but also bring the Yin to settle the constant high energy radiating from One Academy.
My goal is to have people leaving every single class with the feeling they are progressing to better and healthier movements. Coupled with that, I want them to feel a deeper connection to their bodies and mind while having fun doing so.
What are the common misconceptions you’ve noticed about yoga and why do you want to change that view?
One of the biggest misconceptions I’m familiar with is that yoga is for women, and if you’re a male doing yoga, you are some scrawny dude. Yoga is something any gender or body type can do and reap benefits. Not just physical, but also speaking to mental strength and resilience. There is a clear correlation of how you show up on your mat to how you show up in life, and if you can strengthen your practice you can strengthen how you approach life.
You’ve said your platform, ThisYogiLifts, goes “beyond just lifting and yoga.” What does it mean to you?
My aim is not to just impact people through physical avenues, but inspire and ignite people to live and play big. I aim to guide that shift so others can reveal their greatness and their best to the world, while stepping out of their comfort zone. Mediocrity is common and life is short, so why live and play small when there are endless possibilities to what we can create?
What’s exciting you most about the Toronto fitness and wellness scene right now?
There are more and more fitness and wellness outlets popping up in Toronto. From new studios and gyms to clinics and plant-based restaurants. I’m very excited that fitness and wellness has become a trendy thing to explore and that it has people eating better and being more active.
One Academy’s yoga classes are held every Tuesday and Thursday. For more information, head to their website.