September 29, 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: http://oxygenyogaandfitness.com/vs/
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 – www.sciartmagazine.com
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.