A L L E D I T O R I A L

All posts on Travel, Retreats, Yoga, Wellness, Food and Fashion

If you’re a newly qualified / soon to be qualified teacher and this blog post resonates then I would highly recommend reaching out to Annie Clarke (annie@mindbodybowl.co.uk) who has a dedicated Mentor Section on her website (link in copy below)

If you don’t live in London and/or have a particular yoga teacher in mind who you love learning from, then why not ask them to act as your Mentor in your first year of teaching – perhaps drawing on the points I have highlighted below (where Annie has helped me) to get you started….

For Annie, new teachers, and all of us who know that we are all still learning….

Meeting Annie…

It was a little over a year ago that I went to my first yoga class with beautiful Annie Clarke. I remember the date because it was the first day of London Cocktail Week, for which I was managing the press, so I knew starting the week with a yoga class was probably a wise idea!! 

The class was gorgeous. Tuning into the groups’ needs at 6:45am on a chilly Monday morning, Annie started the class slower and more mindfully than I was used to in my practice.

A kind, calming and intuitive teacher, Annie talked through Qi (chi) energy and had us pacing ourselves through her creatively sequenced vinyasa flow class.

Slowly and surely building heat in our bodies, we journeyed thorough sun salutations, hip, hamstring and shoulder openers, through to balancing, a Pincher Mayurasana practice and closed tradition Ashtanga style into a blissful Savasana.

The class was so beautifully put together that my good friend Faith and I failed to notice each other for the duration of the class (even with my mat directly in front of hers)!

It was only later that evening when meeting Faithy for a drink at London Cocktail Week, where we told each other about “the amaaaazing yoga class we went to that morning,” that we realised we’d been flowing in the same class.

Now THAT is journeying within and dropping the distractions when you practice!

Pratyahara (sense withdrawal) at its best! Thanks Annie! ūüėȬ†

At the time I was about 2 months away from completely my 200 hours Yoga Teacher Training; and as I was falling in love with Annie’s¬†¬†morning class, I remembered something my Course Leader had said to me:

“Be sure to take on board all of this feedback you are getting from your leaders and your course mates while you study; both the positive and the constructive.¬†

When you become a teacher, especially in London, you will soon notice that people come to your class, practice, and walk straight out when it’s over – which is totally fine of course – but it’s worth noting that even if they’ve loved your class, it’s unlikely they will take the time to tell you, so listen, learn and appreciate the feedback now.”¬†

That piece of advice struck a chord with me and so I made a commitment to take the time to tell the teachers that I really love, exactly what I loved about their classes.

They’ve given their time and energy to guide a group practice, and some teachers wear their heart is on their sleeve – so I believe it’s a lovely thing to do in return.

After class I spoke to Annie who was so approachable, encouraging and friendly Рand who looked genuinely appreciative of the genuinely delivered compliment. We got chatting and the fact that I was training came up. 

I started going to more and more of Annie’s classes – I’m pretty fluent in her public class timetable actually – and we’d always chat a bit after class about my course. She took a genuine interest and took me under her wing, especially as I was gripped with nerves at the idea of ever teaching a public class, or how to even go about getting an audition for one!

A couple of weeks before I passed my Teacher Training, I was regularly attending Annie’s classes and we were becoming more pally.

I remember being so thrilled and taken aback by the generosity when she offered to have me assist at some of her bigger yoga events and day retreats in the next year and that, as a way to help both relive some of the nerves that so many newly qualified teachers experience, and to help get my foot in the door/some exposure to add to my fairly thin looking Yoga CV. 

The Yoga Mentor…

That very kind offer shortly evolved into Annie suggesting that she take on a Mentor Role, in which we could meet for coffees, chats and check-ins so that she could understand how I wanted to shape my teaching path and help guide me there.

She has been true to her word and so much more over the last year: 

She’s been a shoulder to cry on, a sounding board, a giver of practical advice, recommended me to studios to help get my foot in the door, called on me when she’s needed classes covered, had me assist at her Water Element Day Retreat as a Karma Yogi*, invited me to assist her teach at LuluLemon Sweatlife Festival and more broadly, has shared her time, energy, wisdom, love, expertise and support.

Annie has spared time to meet me for breakfast/a coffee in between teaching her classes and even on route to the airport. – Which has never gone unappreciated.

Over the course of the year, Annie’s practical advice has gone from how I might get a yoga class / audition in the first place, who to contact and how to approach them; through to how to set up a class of my own, including all logistical advice re payment and cancellation policies, as well as how to politely and fairly give up classes when I’ve felt totally over-stretched, without allowing me to feel bad about it.

Further practical advice has been to build (genuine) relationships with the studios you practice at in the lead up to becoming a teacher to help when the time comes to hand in your CV, to teach community classes so that you can practice teaching a group under less pressure (plus it’s a generous way to be with your time), to assist the teachers you know and love in their classes, to offer yourself up for cover, to be gracious¬†and reliable¬†when covering classes, to not be afraid to ask for feedback – and more so to not be afraid to have your students pass the feedback on to the right places.

She has put in kind-words across London’s Yoga Teacher community, for which I owe my audition at FRAME, as well as other opportunities to cover classes for friends of hers.¬†

Graciously (and excitingly) Annie had another of her mentored yogis, Kelle McGrath, and I assist as she taught 300 yogis during the first class of the day at LuluLemon’s SweatLife, which was an incredible moment – especially for someone in their first year of teaching.¬†¬†

Not having lost sight of how daunting the first year as a yoga teacher can be makes Annie a compassionate and authentic mentor, and one who is extending her big sister like wings to help a few more yogis straight outta school.

If you’re a newly qualified / soon to be qualified teacher and this resonates then I would highly recommend reaching out to Annie (annie@mindbodybowl.co.uk)

Get in touch with Annie via her Mentor Space on Mind Body Bowl.

Yogi’s are compassionate – don’t be afraid to ask for advice. You never know, you’re mentor might even feel that in mentoring a junior teacher, they too are growing in their own way and on their own yogic path.¬†¬†

In the words of Celest Periera, international yoga teacher and author of The Yoga Mentor – a really fab, comprehensive and incredibly useful book aimed at new teachers – “We are all still learning….”

I owe a lot of my yoga highlights, and some of my best advice, over the last year to Annie ~ thank you lovely one.

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I’m not sure if my view is clouded through living among a beautiful, albeit slightly London-centric, Yogi community….

But it does feel like YIN Yoga is increasingly cropping up on studio timetables, retreat schedules and becoming more broadly understood and practiced by people all over the capital ~ and the whole world ~ which is amazing!

I truly believe that yoga, meditation, and mindfulness (and actually anything with a self-healing and holistic quality) being more widely practiced and accepted*, is a positive thing.¬†Particularly when the type of Yoga being delved into more deeply is YIN…

*To add a side note on the increased ‘popularity,’ of Yoga, Meditation and Mindfulness; I do get a certain amount of flack for being a yoga teacher.¬†

I’ve met people at work or at parties who really don’t mind telling me outright that “Yoga teachers are all full of bullshit,” or “Yeah, most of the girls I know from school are all into Yoga and Reiki now ~ because it’s fashionable…”

Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion. 

But how about stopping for a moment to flip that observation on its head and acknowledge that perhaps more and more people have simply found a way to connect, slow down and heal. 

Perhaps it isn’t about ‘what’s fashionable,’ perhaps meditation isn’t that great a mystery, perhaps yoga isn’t just the flexible, and perhaps the benefits, if you let them in, are real.

…The reason that I feel that our YINcreased appetite for a softer slower practice is so amazing (and why I have come to love it so so much myself), is because is shows that westerners are understanding and connecting to the essence of yoga without so much attachment to the physical.

We. Are. Slowing. It. All. Right. Down….

Becoming….Still

Finally we are not just attributing Yoga to a form of exercise, a way to lose weight, tone the body and stretch out the muscles. We are making more time and space for stillness, to delve in, and to surrender to letting go.

It’s very hard as humans, westerners and Londoners to just be still, to be OK with not striving for something and to be patient to the process of Yoga. So I believe it is wonderfully positive that this willingness to create time and space for ourselves is actually happening.

Of course I completely understand the attraction to faster paced yoga practice! It’s so natural that we would try to steady a racing mind with a racing moving meditation.

Vinyasa and Mandala Flow are amazing ~ I love love love these practices ~ and completely get that flowing with the breath and moving in creative sequences around the mat is a much easier way to keep the mind still. ~ You have breath-sycronised moving mediation to keep the mind present. It becomes a lot harder to keep the mind still when you are in the same asana/pose for minutes at a time, so I love that more and more of us are showing up for YIN.

A YIN practice is something I would have hated four years ago ~ no way could I have been still with my mind for that long! And actually it was only in December 2015 that I tried a handful of YIN classes in India. Although I quite liked them and could understand the benefit, I didn’t make time to pick up the practice again until a year later.

Now, seven months on, I practice YIN at least four times a week and teach it twice a week.

I attend studio classes with some amazing teachers, but my favourite time to practice YIN is at home before bed with Jamie.

So, what exactly is YIN?…

YIN balances your YANG (Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyenga, Power, Rocket, Mandala) practice. –¬†It is yoga for the joints, not the muscles

YIN is a slower paced,¬†restorative, lunar practice¬†with asanas being¬†held for longer periods of time‚ÄĒfor beginners, it may range from 45 seconds to two minutes; more advanced practitioners may stay in one asana for five minutes or more.

Most classes in London guide four minute holds, which for a lot of us is enough. I tend to teach six minute holds ~ (this is only if I don’t have beginners in my class, and after letting the class know that is what we are doing, and why) ~ because I believe it allows students, with some experience of YIN, to fully benefit from the practice.

~The reason I love practicing at home is because it gives me the freedom to go as deep as I’d like into the practice. Jamie and I light candles, put on super chilled tunes and stay in our holds for 8-12 minutes.

It sounds (and is) intense! But WOW it is amazing.

Without a teacher there to guide you and talk through the practice, (which is helpful and something I would always recommend if you are a beginner to YIN), and provided that you r commit to keeping the mind still via conscious breathing,  then you will drop to another level of consciousness. Total ultimate zen.

The rebounds (where you spend one or two minutes laying flat on your back after the long-hold pose) after a 12 minute hold is insane! You feel totally stoned, clear in the mind, and soooo ready for bed afterwards. Your physical and subtle body open, you heal, clear out the clutter ~ and, while it isn’t the point of YIN, you will notice a huge change in your Yang practice!

Where can you make time and space for YIN?..

I teach x3 public YIN Classes a week ~ listed below:

And if I’m not teaching, these are my favourite YIN classes that you should definitely check out..

 

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Flying Solo At A Yoga Retreat…

Until last month I’d never been on a Yoga Retreat before.¬†I’d worked at one – Soul & Surf, Kerala in southern India – but I hadn’t been a guest fully immersing myself in the zen.

Nor had I ever been to Ibiza. – So when my first & favourite Yoga Teacher, Steffy White, announced her 2017 summer retreat, I jumped on in.

I say ‘jumped on in’, but was probably a little more hesitant that that.

Not because I was unsure about Steffy’s yoga (I go to 2 or 3 classes with her most weeks so I know how much I love the Yang and Yin she offers). And I need zero persuasion to be get to the beach. The hesitation was the idea of going on holiday on my own…

Steffy was totally encouraging when I asked her about going at it alone and sharing a room with strangers-who-inevitably-turned-friends; reassuring that lots of people fly solo on a retreat – and that I’d be spending a week with like-minded souls, all there for a similar reason.

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So with that I booked my first ever solo holiday.

It was a totally liberating moment, knowing that I’d worked hard enough over the year to be able to treat myself to a trip that was all my own. A chance to spend hours practicing what I love doing most, delving deeper into my practice, relaxing and re-energising – and all with a teacher that I admire and really resonate with…

And of course knowing that I’d be heading off to Ibiza was pretty amazing as well!

Down to the details…

The Retreat was through Steffy’s company White Light Yoga

The theme, Journeying Through The Chakras...

Sharing Steff’s fascination with the subtle energy system of the body and the way in which we can use yoga (yin and yang) breathing and meditation to unblock and rebalance ourselves – the theme of her Ibiza retreat more than resonated with what I am (and my teaching) is about.

I recently furthered my teacher training with a 20-hour course in Mandala Flow & The Elements with The Yoga People.¬†(I will be going on to take the full 100-hour Mandala & Shamanism Course in Goa next March).¬†But thanks to my 20-hour introduction to Jamie and Dulce’s Mandala training, I have some understanding, and come to feel the benefit, of¬†creating yoga and meditation practices and classes centered around the connection between each Element and its corresponding Chakra.

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My key learning from the training, and what I most looked forward to (and subsequently, absolutely loved about Steffy’s retreat) was delving into Chakra and Elemental focused yoga practice and understanding how this offers up an intention to bring healing to our first four energy centres (the lower four Chakras / the lower parts of the physical body), of which each is connected to an element (Earth, Water, Fire, Air).

I knew we would be working deeply (both physically and spiritually), to connect the breath with a still mind and the subtle energies of the body, via creatively sequenced, inspiring dynamic and soothing practices. – With a teacher I couldn’t trust and love to learn from more.

So, what was included?…

Where we stayed

We were so lucky with our villa. Steffy found the most perfect home at the stunning Casa Lakshmi Luz. Casa Lakshmi Luz is a true oasis, a heavenly space that holds the group energy, amidst the peace and tranquility of the beautiful Ibizan countryside.

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The interior is bright, spacious, welcoming and tranquil. A home from home where you can fully relax, unwind and breathe into your retreat.

Step outside onto the pool terraces and chill-out gardens and outdoor yoga deck, with Moroccan influences, there are many spaces to rest your head, siesta, relax and dream ‚Äď choose from sun or shade, comfy sun lounger or colourful hammock.

Casa Lakshmi Luz is located ten minutes from the golden sands and turquoise waters of Cala Nova and only a 15 minute drive from (now) one of my most favourite beaches in the world, Benirras.

The yoga

We woke up around 7am each morning an honoured a silent hour (Vipasana) – it’s amazing. Spending the first hour of your day with yourself, in silence. Perhaps meditating, perhaps writing your journal by the pool; perhaps making yourself a giant Quinoa Milk Latte and sitting in the hazy early morning sun smiling – rather than sleepily and mindlessly chatting – to your fellow retreaters.

It’s beautiful. Peaceful smiles and morning nods of the head to acknowledge each other, while you’re with yourself and a slow morning mind as you pick up your mat, bolsters and blocks to make your way over to the stunning Shala for 2 hours of insanely amazing dynamic flow.

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I’ve tried at home to keep the Vipasana up with Jamie – just 10-15 minutes of silent acknowledgement in the mornings to meditate, set intentions for the day – and enjoy coffee in bed in peace – sometimes we manage…

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Every morning with the exception of a rest-day mid week, we practiced a two-hour dynamic, creative Vinyasa and Mandala Flow; focused on a particular chakra (moving from root to crown) connected to its corresponding element.

The classes were amazing, inspiring and pushed you (in a kind way) to try the things the mind will often tell you you can’t do – but when in the breath and an open space – the body might just take you.

We played with inversions, closed with Yin and enjoyed a long, sweaty savasana before an amazing breakfast buffet feast of plant based goodness was served.

In the evening we luxuriated into long-hold Yin practices, working with the same chakra. It was intense, soothing and hazy – quieting the mind and surrounding to a deep restorative pose for minutes at a time is the perfect balance to the morning’s yang – leaving you feeling pretty stoned.

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Steffy’s practices are creative, soulful, well prepared, fun, functional and spiritual.

The food

The food was off the chain! Staying with us was Sarah of Bondi Kitchen – who when she isn’t feeding grateful retreaters her homemade Lifechanging Loaf (a vegan, gluten free loaf using seeds), clean, raw peanut butter cups, baked granola, falafel and watermelon gazpacho; is the on-set chef for the likes of Wonder Woman – giving her that paleo power, or cooking at home for Will Smith.

We were utterly spoiled with nourishing, vegan, seasonal, plant-based, locally sourced, heavenly brunches, lunches, snacks and dinners.

The Bondi Kitchen is launching in Wholefoods soon with resealable protein balls – def worth checking out!

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Typical Schedule

  • 7.30am: Teas, coffees and juices
  • 8-10am: Dynamic Elemental flow
  • 10am: Breakfast
  • Free time: beach/nap/sunbathe/pool/journal/explore/book in for massages and therapies/ do whatever your heart desires!
  • On some of the afternoons there were optional inversion workshops, a workshop on creating your own self-practice at home, Reiki massages and a Gong bath.
  • 6-7.30pm Yin yoga
  • 7.30pm: Dinner

During the days we either chilled by the pool, visited the old town or headed to beaches to sunbath (we hired a couple of cars between us to get around). On the last night we watched the sun set with cocktails at Experimental Beach Club.

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I honestly had the best time. In the middle of the week I took myself off to Benirras beach and spent a solid 10 hours moving from sand to sea. (I had aggravated an old injury in my back so wasn’t allowed to yoga for a day).

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I think it was the first day of the entire year that I didn’t have something to do or somewhere to be and while floating around in the sea a whole lot of everything was dropped. It was my favourite day of the year. Utter bliss.

The week was amazing. I’d recommend booking onto one of Steffy’s retreats, either with friends, your lover, yourself – dropping any expectation and being open to everything you delve into on the way.

2018 Retreats will be listed here soon

 

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Hip n healthy honey and Founder of ROOTED London, Pandora Paloma is a smart, switched on and soulful London-based yoga teacher and food coach encouraging the next generation of wellness warriors to listen to our bodies and feel our souls with the first in a series of ROOTED Intuitive Eating and Self-love healing workshops.

The first of its kind, ROOTED’s: INTUITIVE EATING AND SELF-LOVE HEALING WORKSHOP begs the questions….

When did we start focusing solely on what we were eating, and forgetting why we eat the diet we do?

When did body image become only our size?

When did we lose the ability to love ourselves unconditionally?

…Aiming to workshop the answers using a mix of yoga, breathe work, self-love and healing tools, cookery demos and intuitive eating, at Blank 100, De¬†Beauvoir Rd, N1 4EN this Saturday (8th April).

No yoga experience is needed Рand food tolerances are catered for Рduring these four hours (11:00am Р3pm) of bliss, connecting to our deeper intuition, our bodies, and to find true self-love.

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If it sounds overly-Ommm think again. This is a constructive workshop, where guests can learn tools to use over and over again, plus learn a little bit more about why we eat the foods we do and the importance of the relationship we have with our diet, perfect for anyone who…

Р want to build a happier relationship with food
– want to connect to their intuition on a deeper level
– want to find room for a little more self-love
– quite simply love yoga and food
– want to learn more about a plant-based diet
– wants to take time out for some me time
РI could go on….
PANDORA PALOMA ROOTED LONDON YOGA LISBON
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Frustrated with the lack of health advice that felt real and balanced, Pandora retrained as a naturopathic nutritionist and yoga teacher and in 2013, launched ROOTED with a view to get people eating better, and moving more.

Pandora’s philosophy is ‘listen to your body and feed your soul’. Her aim is to get people off endless dieting and jumping on the next green fad bandwagon and instead, adopt an approach to diet and lifestyle with balance, appreciation and enjoyment. Her passion is to drive people to feel and experience a deeper mind and body connection, from what they put in your body to how they move. Specialising in intuitive eating, she focuses less on what we are eating, and more on why, looking at our relationship with food on a deeper level.

ROOTED: INTUITIVE EATING AND SELF-LOVE HEALING WORKSHOP

SATURDAY 8TH APRIL | 11AM Р3PM

4 hours of pure bliss to include:

10.45am – meet and greet

11.00am – self-love yoga flow session

11.45am – opening ceremony – self-love healing

12.15pm – finding your intuition workshop

1.15pm – intuitive eating – cooking workshop

2.30pm – closing ceremony

3.00pm – finish

BOOK HERE

 

Spring is stepping up… Finally we can see the light and shake off the saddest¬†of the seasons with a healthy mind and body by checking out some of London’s most inspired ways to work out this month….

For the blissed out babes…¬†Saturday 11th March | 2:45-4:45pm

DETOX YOGA WORKSHOP with Bess (Frame Kings Cross)

Recover and recharge with the beautiful Bess’s specifically designed yoga workshop. Expect lots of juicy twists, breathing exercises and restorative elements to leave you ready for the week ahead.

This workshop will begin with yin yoga to relax and prepare your body, before warming and detoxifying with sun salutations,twists & breathing exercises. The session will end with blissed out yin yoga to leave you completely restored.

This workshop is open to all levels, offering more advanced postures for the pros and modifications for the beginners and of course it will be lots of fun! Come one come all!

For the Red Priestesses… Sunday 12th March | 4:30-6:30pm

THE SEAT OF FEMININE FIRE-FLAME AND RECLAIM! with Beth (Stretch Broadway Market)

A specifically designed strong physical yoga practice that creates and generates heat, highlighting the seat of the feminine fire within the body.

This strong and transformative practice will be followed by deep relaxation, and meditation.

This awareness is then directed through energetic channels connecting to the heart and mind. The direct experience of this cultivates the insight and clarity to use this fire to purify and burn through that which no longer serves, and confidently and passionately conceive a more vital and energised daily existence.

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For the #girlboss in you…Thursday 16th March | 7.30-9pm

WERK IT¬†¬†with¬†Katherine Ormerod (FRAME Queen’s Park)

Have a business idea but don’t know where to start? Learn how to grow your side hustle when you work full time by joining Frame in conversation with consultant and editor of WorkWorkWork.co Katherine Ormerod over a glass of bubbles and nibbles.

After a start at MatchesFashion.com, Sunday Times Style and then a freelance stint, she joined Grazia and, later, Lyst while launching a successful editorial and content consultancy on the side. Today, Katherine works full time on WWW and helping brands build out content strategies across social and digital platforms.

How did she know when she could take her side hustle full time? When did she know she was ready? What’s the reality of working for yourself? All will be revealed…

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For the hot mamas… Saturday 18th March¬† | 2:45-4:45pm

PRE-NATAL PILATES  with Emma Hayward (FRAME Kings Cross)

Join Pilates instructor and Osteopath Emma Hayward for a dynamic flowing pregnancy pilates class with a focus on optimal fetal positioning and birth, followed by a talk about how osteopathy can help prepare your body for birth and beyond.

A dynamic flowing pregnancy pilates class aimed at woman wanting to stay active and comfortable during their pregnancy whilst prepare their bodies for birth. Full of tips and moves to help support your body and baby during labour.

Followed by a discussion about the importance of pelvic and hip alignment on optimal fetal positioning and how osteopathy can help.

For the Chaturanga Chiccas…. Sunday 19th March | 10:00am-1:00pm

TAKE FLIGHT РFROM YOUR PERFECT CHATURANGA with Jennilee Toner (Stretch Broadway Market)

Join Jennilee Toner, international yoga teacher and author of The Perfect Chatuanga: A Comprehensive Guide to the Human Body, through the Practice of Vinyasa Yoga, for this 3 hour DYNAMIC, FUN, INFORMATIVE and PRACTICE-CHANGING workshop!

This workshop includes:

  • Embodied Anatomy lecture on the shoulder girdle
  • Tools and techniques to strengthen, stretch and stabilize shoulder girdle for your PERFECT CHATURANGA
  • Flow practice exploring safe and intelligent transitions from your PERFECT CHATURANGA into fun and challenging arm balances and inversions
  • Cool down with heart and shoulder openers

For the full-body-working-femme fatales… Saturday 25th March | 2:00-3:30pm

ARMS, ASS AND ABS Access all areas workshop with Diane (FRAME Victoria)

The ultimate full body workout neatly packaged into 90 mins! Diane will leave no stone unturned in her quest to whip every area of your body into shape.