Yonge + St. Clair

May 29, 2017

Pop Physique fuses barre with pilates at Yonge + St. Clair

Pop Physique is a unique barre-inspired concept that incorporates elements of ballet and Pilates into a fun and fast-paced workout. Launched in Silver Lake, Los Angeles in 2008, Pop Physique has steadily grown to over a dozen locations across the United States. Their new location at Yonge + St. Clair marks the fitness studio’s first entry into Canada.

We spoke with owner, Richard Arnold, and his partner, Jodi Watson, about the brand, the Canadian expansion for the fitness studio, and taking our first class.

“Pop Physique was founded by a former professional ballet dancer and Pilates instructor, Jennifer Williams,” shared Richard as we toured the studio. “It’s a fusion of her passion for yoga, Pilates, and dancing, all tied into a one hour class full of fun, modern music.”

Pop Physique’s classes are rooted in the fitness methods of Lotte Berk, an English dancer from the 1950s who designed the program to give non-dancers the body of one. Jennifer was so impressed with the results that “she wanted to bring the methodology to more people and channel the original artistic environment of its creator.”

Pop Physique joins the influx of American based gyms and fitness studios establishing themselves in Toronto, and opened their doors at Yonge + St. Clair in February of this year.

It’s difficult to talk about Pop Physique without mentioning butts. They’re everywhere – Pop’s advertising, signage, and website strongly feature the behind. Even the A-frame sitting outside their studio at Yonge and Delisle proclaims that you have a ‘Nice Butt.’

The branding is intentionally a little cheeky. Inside, the studio is outfitted with amusing black and white pin-up wallpaper that brands the workouts as fun and sexy.

“Lotte originally created a unique and fun class structure that was quick to show results,” explained Jodi. “The principles of dance are used to create long, lean lines and tight, compact muscles. A nicer butt.” [Laughs]

The airy studio space provides mats and colourful weights, with bright pink exercise balls and yellow rope waiting for you at the barre.

“It’s a fun workout – but it’s hard. You’ll see.”

For this blog, we attended one of the ‘Pop Physique Classes’ run by Jodi.

It was surprisingly tough.

Fun, upbeat music blazed from the speakers as Jodi directed us through the class. Our warm-up began with two separate kinds of planks and push ups, which flowed into arms – working the triceps, shoulders, and biceps with the light weights, which lead into a stretch.

“You can tell by the stretches how the workout is compartmentalized.”

The meat of the class is at the barre focusing on the thighs and glutes. Admittedly, it was a tough sequence – a lot of shaking and burning throughout the exercise.

The abdominal muscles are worked throughout the entire class with extreme attention on breath. “The core work not only focuses on pulling the abs in, but scooping them towards the spine, getting deep deep deep.”

“It’s where a lot of the Pilates comes in.”

Finally, we do an exercise Jodi called ‘back dancing’ with “that final squeeze of the cheeks and tucking the pelvis.”

You don’t need to be a dancer to take a class, but Pop Physique aims to give you a dancer’s body. The upbeat music at structure of the class made the hour fly by, and challenged me enough to give a good full-body workout.

“The workout is primarily isometric and is about having no momentum – just pulsing and squeezing,” Jodi elaborated, “It’s about contracting and layering more contractions on top, which is why the queues are always ‘squeeze and squeeze and squeeze.’”

Small touches make the workout enjoyable. Everyone has their own mirror, weights, and barre station with the mats laid out prior to the class with plenty of studio space to accommodate larger classes. I didn’t even initially notice that staff removed the weights when we transitioned to the barre.

Richard and Jodi are excited for what the future holds for Pop Physique at Yonge + St. Clair and Canada. As their client base grows, Pop will start more holding ‘master’ and party classes, and plan on holding outdoor classes on the second floor patio of Delisle Court this summer.

Pop Physique is located on the second floor of 1560 Yonge St, offering classes several times a day, seven days a week. The Toronto studio is also currently promoting a new client special, offering 30 days of unlimited classes for $100 to help you get that nice butt.