Month: September 2020

Oxygen Yoga & Fitness: A Heated Yoga Studio, Molecular Art, and A Fresh Start

Warm up to the heated interior of Oxygen Yoga and Fitness yoga studio located at 1560 Yonge St. which boasts a fitness space that comes equipped with a far-infrared paneled ceiling to bring up the temperature for a refreshing, deep sweat each and every class.

We take a deep dive into the fresh new angle that owner Ronit Wilk and her team brings to the health + wellness scene in the neighbourhood.

What you’ll find in this article: A Q+A about the studio and inspiration for this yoga studio, 5 Tips for healthier living, and an intro to SciArt – the multi disciplinary approach to science and art that inspired this franchise location.

Q+A Explore The Infrared Studio

Yonge + St. Clair (YSC) : Let’s talk about the big, infrared studio you’ve created inside your unit. It’s nothing like we’ve seen before and feels like a tropical retreat the moment you step in. Can you tell us more about it?

Ronit W (RW): It’s not your typical yoga studio! We use far-infrared panels to warm up the room. It helps with detox, relaxation, pain relief, weight loss, skin purification. We also have a state-of-the-art air exchange system that brings fresh air to the yoga studio while people are working out, nobody else has this to my knowledge, and we’ve purchased a fogger to disinfect the studio and the equipment between classes.

YSC: Can you describe how those benefits tie in with how your classes are led?

RW: For each category this is how it works:

Detox – In normal room temperature, the heat hits the skin then penetrates down into the body to eventually heat up your core. In a far-infrared room, the heat bypasses the skin and hits the core temperature and radiates outwards. We target raising that core temperature so that your body is able to release toxins and sweat it out!

Relaxation – The heat promotes relaxation (which you can feel the moment you walk into the heated studio) which in turn helps lower your stress hormones called cortisol. The goal is to balance your cortisol and as a result your thyroid, insulin, testosterone and estrogen will also be kept in balance.

Pain Relief – The heated studio also help in releasing muscle and joint pain by increasing circulation, which in turn lowers inflammation.

Weight Loss – With the increase of your core temperature, your heart rate increases which encourages your body to work harder. Combined with the exercises throughout the duration of our classes, your body works harder to lower your core temperature and that process helps with weight loss.

Skin Purification – Sweating in the additional heat purifies the skin by eliminating toxins from your skin’s pores. Clients notice that their skin becomes clearer, softer, and healthier looking.

YSC: Most guests will notice that you have SciArt pieces framed at the entrance of your studio – they are microscope images – can you tell us more about those?

RW: Those art pieces are images of hormones that regulate mood and emotion! They include the molecules that help us experience joy, optimism – reflecting the focus of our studio’s approach and the benefits of what we bring to clients.

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Meet the Owner and Team

YSC: Has your expertise always been in this industry?

RW: I was a scientist at the University of Toronto. I have the designations of BSc / MSc / PhD… For many years I was incredibly engaged in the field and worked for many institutions associated with UofT which included SickKids, Mount Sinai, and the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research. However, about two years ago, the funding for the lab I worked at simply ran out and I was faced with two options: to continue as a Research Associate in the field or to start something on my own and switch careers. I opted for the latter. I got interested in Art based microscopy images, SciArt.

YSC: It sounds like you must have had a realization of some kind to turn your attention to running a local studio?

RW: For years I had viewed beautiful organisms and cells under a fluorescent microscope and wanted to share those gorgeous images with the world. As I spent more and more time sitting down to design and draw, I wanted to get moving again, and went to the Oxygen Yoga & Fitness near my house with my husband. We immediately fell in love with the classes and felt a positive change in both our bodies and attitudes—this was not your typical yoga and fitness studio.

Once we learned that franchising was an option, the Yonge & St. Clair community in Toronto seemed like the perfect spot to place our studio. After renovating the space for many months and paying attention to all the minute details, we opened in November 2019. We are excited to be re-opened after this 4 month lockdown due to the pandemic. We are back stronger! And I’m running the studio with my husband Daniel.

YSC: Your approach is brought to life by a dedicated team as well, can you tell us what your clients can expect when they come to Oxygen?

RW: We have the best group of instructors and staff. Our goal is to make everyone feel welcomed and not judged. We offer every class for Yoga and Fitness at levels 1, 2, 3 so everyone is welcome. We have a range of classes from “Deep Stretch Relaxation with Candlelight” to “Yoga Flow” to “Power Fusion” to “Tone and Sculpt HIT” and even “Boxing Fusion.” I can say that all of our classes are fun, with great music and it’s all very engaging.

YSC: Are there any special moments you’ve had throughout this journey with the local clients here at Yonge + St. Clair?

RW: I’ve had so many! Even though we haven’t been open for very long, I’ve watched the community grow. Some members and I can talk for hours and it’s incredible to see their journey. For instance, I have a 66-year old member who is a stroke survivor, and prior to the lockdown, she came to OY&F every day. Since we’ve reopened she’s been back every day, and just surpassed the 2 year mark of when she had her stroke. We’ve started friendships here – people who met here and stayed friends. We have families come in, mothers and daughters, couples and work partners. We’re creating our own family here. We also have a lovely lunch crowd that came by almost every day. Some of those members have now informally joined the ‘100 class club’! I find it so impressive that they’ve completed this milestone despite only being open since November 2019.

5 Tips to Better Living

YSC: Can you shed some insight, some tips for living life according to you?

RW: Five tips for a better living: 1) Be present in the moment. 2) Before going to sleep, think about 3 things that you appreciate in your life. 3) Every story has another side… be positive and optimistic. 4) Be empathetic always. 5) Do more yoga and fitness 🙂

Get in Touch with Oxygen Yoga & Fitness St. Clair

YSC: What are some of the best ways for new clients to stay in touch with you?

RW: The exciting thing is we have our own app – Oxygen Yoga & Fitness App – Yonge + St. Clair Location – to book classes and everyone can try us for an entire week of classes for only $10. There’s also an online class series for anyone who can’t make it to the studio:

We’ve been working very hard with the other Toronto OY&F locations to have online workout sessions and some workshops. Even when the lockdown is over, please look out for full online classes in the near future! You can always check out @oxygenyonge_stclair to learn more or email to book in-class sessions.


More on SciArt


“Art and science have long shared a common ground; the ground of boundless inquiry about the nature of our existence. It has only been for the past few decades, however, that artists have turned their creative gaze towards the sciences as their sole source of artistic information, inspiration, and conceptualization. SciArt, or science-based art, is the avant-garde of the art world, with an increasing number of artists who hold doctorate degrees in the sciences, who are funded by the NSF, and who hold artistic residencies in scientific institutions such as CERN.” – Julia Buntaine Hoel, Founder of SciArt Magazine –

Ronit’s first venture was through SciArt Prints (@sciartprints), a start-up that merged her scientific background with her love for art. You can also use the Instagram link to find printed scarves featuring her SciArt. Alternatively, visit this link to see the website. Some of these art pieces can be found inside the Oxygen Yoga & Fitness location at Yonge + St. Clair, at 1560 Yonge St.

The SciArt featured in the lobby of Oxygen Yoga & Fitness include enlarged, microscopic photography and art of molecules including:

Love: Digital illustration of real Oxytocin crystals, the love hormone.

Joy: Digital illustration of real dopamine crystal, a neurotransmitter related to Joy, focus and pleasure.

Balance: Digital illustration of an Estrogen crystal, important for bone health, sleep, mood and general healthy metabolism.

Health: A Vitamin C crystal image, reminding us that good nutrition is essential for good health.

Optimism: Digital illustration of beta-endorphin, it is a neuropeptide that we produce when we exercise, and when we are happy and laugh.

To explore more art in the Yonge + St. Clair neighbourhood, visit the free, local public art including the Deer Park mural piece by birdO at 1 St. Clair E, the phlegm mural at 1 St. Clair W, and the #WaterfallYSC installation by Studio F-Minus at 1406 Yonge St.

A Look at Foot Health with Chiropodist, JD Cowen

Although travelling to far off destinations may not be in the cards, your feet can be your passport to discovery. And from a wellness perspective, just getting outside can boost your mood, reduce stress, and shake off those cobwebs.

Marylene Vestergom, a local freelance writer and marketer, had a conversation with Jeffrey D Cowen, Chiropodist-Foot Specialist at JD Cowen Footcare to explore the importance of foot health an often-overlooked aspect of self-care that can contribute greatly to one’s health.

Marylene has generously contributed this article to the Yonge + St. Clair BIA to spotlight the impacts of footcare as well as how local practices have been responding to the challenges brought about by COVID-19

Marylene Vestergom, for Yonge + St. Clair: Paying attention to the health of your feet should be a lifetime investment. The average active person takes around 7,500 steps a day. And by age 80, they’ll have walked about 216,262,500 steps or around 177,000 km in their lifetime. That’s equivalent to walking about five times around the Earth. 

Jeffrey D Cowen: Your feet are fine-tuned instruments. One of the most overlooked parts of health care is our feet. I try to educate my patients to be more aware of them, by doing some simple checks every so often of toes, toenails, and the bottom of their feet for things like cracked skin or nails that don’t look healthy. And to seek treatment right away. Now more than ever, it’s important to invest in their feet.

MV, Y+S: Are you finding your patients walking more?

JDC: Yes. People need an outlet to keep fit and healthy – mentally and physically, and walking is one of the best remedies. But as we age – gravity is not our friend. Considering the impact our feet endure over our lifetime, it’s not surprising that those over 40 will start experiencing thinning of the fat pads in the heel and ball area. As a preventative measure, I would recommend they don’t walk barefoot on floors, especially if you have dropped arches or a bunion. Your feet have to absorb the pressure coming from the hard floors, and it can lead to more discomfort. 

MV, Y+S: What are some instantly actionable tips that people can do to immediately take care of their foot health?

JDC: Here are some quick tips:

+ When buying shoes always have your foot measured. Sizes differ between brands of shoes – make sure to get the right fit. If running or walking shoes are on offer, check out a specialty store like New Balance which offers orthotic friendly options and professional fit service.

+ Shop for shoes at the end of the day when the feet are most swollen and don’t get too caught up in the shoe size — comfort is more important.

+ To prevent irritations such as blisters, avoid cotton socks, as they can trap moisture. Choose moisture-wicking synthetic fabrics such as nylon, polyester, and spandex. And make sure the sock fits your foot.

+ Moisturize your feet to keep them supple and prevent cracks in the skin.

+ Massage your foot by rolling it over a tennis ball.

MV, Y+S: Let’s talk about your business. How has COVID-19 impacted your business?

JDC: Like many businesses in order to curb the pandemic, we were closed by the Ministry of Health. We re-opened late June, and since that time we’ve been managing a backlog of patients who went without care. This was especially consequential for high-risk patients like those who have diabetes. 

MV, Y+S: How has your clinic changed? 

JDC: Although I offer virtual podiatry care, it is limited, given much of what I do is hands-on and procedural based. I have however, increased my electronic communication with patients, and I try to provide follow-up care via email or phone.  

MV, Y+S: What can your patients expect when they visit you? What are your COVID procedures?

JDC: My clinic is employing all Ministry of Health guidelines in terms of COVID-19 protocols, which include full mask requirements, floor distancing markers, pre-screening before a patient enters the clinic, multiple hand sanitizing stations throughout the clinic, full front desk screen shields to separate the patients from the front desk staff.  Most importantly, I am only seeing two patients per hour in an effort to maintain full distancing between patients. So, I’m seeing half the number of patients per hour; subsequently, each treatment room and the waiting room is fully cleaned/wiped down in between each and every patient with anti-COVID / anti-viral disinfectants.

MV, Y+S: How have your patients been dealing with COVID-19?

JDC: My patients are certainly having a difficult time with home isolation and there is an increased struggle with mental health issues.  I spend extra time with each patient to just talk with them about how they are managing and I often ask patients to email me from time-to-time, just to check in. It’s essential to keep the lines of communication open. 

MV, Y+S: How long have you been in the Y&S area?

JDC: I’ve been in this area for 12 years now, and I’m looking to move my residence to the Y+S neighbourhood based on my comfort and sense of community I feel here.

MV, Y+S: What makes this neighbourhood special?

JDC: The old neighbourhood ‘old Toronto’ feel that pervades each small hub of streets, as well as, the warmth of the people that live here. It’s a slower, down to earth feel here. It’s been heartbreaking to see many businesses have been suffering. That’s why it’s great to see the Yonge + St. Clair community supporting small businesses in the area. We are open for business.

MV, Y+S: Anything else you’d like to say to the community?

JDC: It’s important we don’t take our feet for granted. The sole of the foot contains millions of nerve endings that help to transmit information to our brain on how to balance and react to our surroundings. So, addressing any underlying foot issues helps us age more gracefully. Imbalances are common, and when you add any injuries — even a blister — pain changes the way you move. Your feet are the blueprint to your well-being. If you lose mobility, your health and quality of life will be impacted. So, take care of your feet.

Visit:  JD Cowen Foot Clinic, Balmoral Medical Arts Building @ 1366 Yonge Street, Suite #403 or visit or call 416-920-4878

Back to School Ideas at Yonge + St. Clair

Schools are back in session starting September 15, 2020 across Ontario. To help you get the most of your back to school preparations, we’ve compiled a list of local retail that will cover your school shopping essentials, along with new and interesting points of interest at Yonge + St. Clair.

Shop for School Locally

The Papery
Located at 1424 Yonge St.

Who they are: The Papery offers a range of personalized paper goods but it’s much more than that, it’s a boutique store with a wide variety of products that should keep you busy browsing their selection.

What to shop for: If you’re in the market for something beyond your bulk order variety goods and prefer to have stationery that feels like its truly your own, make this your shop to visit. When you walk in you’ll get a sense that there’s a lot of care given to the categories of paper goods carried here. Recently the Rhodia brand of notebooks they carry have been popular – featuring pages that are lined, blank, graph, or french-ruled to meet all your note-taking needs.

They’ve recently started showcasing more of their products on Instagram, which you can browse here: 



Midtown Tech
Located at 1391 Yonge St.
416 925 8324

Who they are: Midtown Tech is Yonge + St. Clair’s neighbourhood authorized Apple retailer and repair shop. It’s a local independent store and you’ll get direct customer care since the owner is often around, assisted by friendly and knowledgeable staff. You can tell these are folks who have an interest in the technology they’re working with.

What to shop for: If you’re shopping for both new and pre-owned Apple goods this is the place to go. And if you’re looking for additional electronic essentials, including attachments to turn your cellphone into a wallet, bluetooth speakers, wireless headphones and more – they have it.

This season they are also offering curbside pickup and service, delivery, and phone orders. See their website for more information:



Book City
Located at 1430 Yonge St.
416 926 0749

Who they are: Book City is an independent Toronto book chain that offers some of the best book finds for great prices.

What to shop for: From the newest releases to bargain gems, Book City gives you enough selection to create your quintessential book nook. If you’re shopping for kids, they have a dedicated children’s reading section. The shopping experience here is always worth the trip as they frequently update their stock.



Paperboy Cards and Gifts
Located at 7 Pleasant Blvd.
416 926 8622

Who they are: Paperboy Cards and Gifts carries unique finds that are fun and fresh, with a flair for boutique novelty goods.

What to shop for: They are stocked wall to wall with cards, gifts and specialty goods for any occasion, stop by to see what’s in stock!



More Local Services

Oxford Learning Rosedale
Located at 44 St. Clair E – 2nd Floor
647 691 9283 

Who they are: The Oxford Learning Centre is a local tutoring service to help students advance their Math, Science, English or French skills in the classroom.

What they do: Offering both in-class and online tutoring services, students can advance their skills and gain confidence with key subjects. From exam prep to accelerated learning, you’ll find programs that offer hands-on education.



Forest Hill Orthodontics
Located at 72 St. Clair W
416 921 6772

Who they are: A family focused orthodontics team that’s dedicated to providing the best treatment and solutions to patients of all ages.

What they do: The Forest Hill Ortho team covers all forms of dental care, whether it’s braces or an Invisalign, to same day care, to personalized care and treatment.



Straight Up Health
Located at 2 St. Clair W – Suite 1004
416 666 5482

Who they are: Straight Up Health is a local team of therapists and social workers who specialize in positive wellness and mental well-being for young adults and adults.

What they do: Providing both in-office and online sessions, Straight Up Health is modernizing the way that young adults can approach mental health, taking a special focus on the productive and positive aspects of supportive therapy.