How I went from failing gym class to making fitness my life's work.

I’m Anna, Owner & Director of North Movement Studio. I’m happy you’re here. I want to share a little about me, and what brought me to create this space.

anna in studio vert
anna and dog

I’ve been in the fitness industry for over 18 years, and am incredibly passionate about Pilates as a movement practice and as an integral key to experiencing life to its fullest. Although I (obviously) love fitness and moving my body – enough to make it my life’s work- this wasn’t always the case. I’m sharing my story for two reasons: 1) I have a feeling you may somehow relate to the awkward teenager who almost failed grade 9 gym, and 2) I want you to know that you’re in good hands when you take my class.

Awkward? Oh, Yes

Yes, I was the awkward teenager who almost failed grade 9 gym class. Looking back, it’s so obvious that I didn’t feel at home in my body, which is why I was uncomfortable and unwilling to participate.

But despite that, I was drawn to yoga, and took my first class in my mid-teens. I’ll never forget the first time I found myself in downward facing dog- it was also the first moment I finally felt at home and at ease in my body. I fell deeply in love with yoga and wanted to be on my mat as often as possible. 

After I finished high school, with equal parts courage and naivety, I signed up for a 200 hour yoga teacher training course in Byron Bay, Australia. My intention was to deepen my yoga practice and to see the world, but as soon as I started teaching, I knew I had found my calling. My time in Australia left a lasting imprint that forever shaped my approach to movement, the human experience, and our connections to each other.

Next Phase

It was my plan to go to university when I got back to Canada. But despite my straight-As, multiple academic scholarships, and my full pick of universities – I lasted three weeks sitting in giant lecture halls before realizing my heart wasn’t in the right place. I started teaching yoga to my family and friends and grew a small and loyal clientele. I loved that I could help people through movement and see the positive changes ripple into the rest of their lives.

My clients began to ask for more core exercises, so I signed up for my first Pilates teacher training course when I was 21. Unlike yoga, it was far from love at first practice. I didn’t understand what all of the little movements were about, and couldn’t appreciate their value. Pilates didn’t feed my soul like yoga did so my eyes were glued to the clock during every class. But, I started receiving compliments on my posture, and people started asking me if I had gotten taller. I also began to notice a lot of progress in my yoga practice, even though I was practicing less frequently.

I was quickly getting hooked on the benefits of Pilates, so I took my Pilates equipment training course (Reformer, Chair, Cadillac), which was where my passion for anatomy and biomechanics was ignited. I loved the science behind Pilates and understanding how the body is designed to move. This kicked off my never-ending quest to learn all about movement. Over the last 18 years I’ve taken countless anatomy courses, studied many different movement modalities, and had the good fortune to learn from industry leaders at the top of their fields. I will forever be a student so that I can continue to pass this knowledge onto my clients.

From all of the courses I’ve taken, and all of the people I’ve taught, I have developed a unique approach to Pilates. I draw on the mindfulness aspect of yoga, and combine it with the science and structure of Pilates. The guiding principle behind every workout I teach is to help people become more present in their bodies and aware of their place in space. From there, the movements I teach are rooted in biomechanics that create a strong and functional body from the inside out. The result? My clients get stronger, faster; they build more body awareness; and they are less prone to injury. Because of all of this, they are able to lead more fulfilling lives – they run faster, pick up their grandchildren without pain, and have reduced back pain.

Early on in my career, I discovered how much I love creating and fostering community. It has always been my goal to connect with my clients on the mat, and to help them connect with their fellow classmates before and after a workout. To me teaching a good Pilates class goes way beyond exercise selection and sequencing. It’s a little bit like throwing a cocktail party. I want to make sure that everyone gets what they need so I take requests on the fly and offer modifications and progressions to suit all levels. But equally important is that I want everyone to feel welcome, cared for, and connected.

The beginning of my teaching career brought me to some of the top studios across the GTA, as well as in my own home studio, and the homes of my private clients. I also led classes in Muskoka (hello, early days of North by North), at offices, during conferences, and even in retail stores. Regardless of the space, my commitment and passion for teaching an incredible Pilates class and connecting with people continued to grow stronger.

It was always my goal to open my own studio, and after years of many ‘almosts’, I opened North Movement Studio in the Leaside neighbourhood of Toronto in 2015. This bright and beautiful space was my dream come true. It was a full-service studio with mat and equipment classes, as well as a diverse roster of specialty classes including Mom and Baby, Restorative, and the Men’s Power class. The studio was filled with countless ab curls, sweat, laughter, and a strong and vibrant community, and for that, I am incredibly grateful.

I wasn’t ready for the studio to close, but 2020 changed everything. It took me a while to find my stride in the virtual world – I never thought I could miss the sound of a collective breath so badly. But I’ve learned that connections run deep, and community is everywhere. With that in mind, I’m more committed than ever to continue to connect with my clients and keep them motivated to living their best lives.

I can’t wait for what the future holds for North Movement Studio. Whether it’s in the studio, the park, or from the comfort of your home – I’m here to connect and move with you.

AnnaSignature