Kohlmeier, an experienced yogi who fell in love with yoga seven years ago, and Slipacoff, a retired high school teacher and fitness guru who has become a passionate Pilates instructor, are looking for local community members who have gotten tired of the treadmill, who want to try something new, something that will work out both their bodies and their minds.
“Julie and I are friends and we got talking about our dreams,” Slipacoff said. “We both had been teaching in rented spaces or in other studios for years and we really wanted to open our own studio that would offer both Pilates and yoga.”
Replete with a large, well-lit exercise space, a storage area and boutique filled with yoga and Pilates-friendly clothing as well as bath and beauty products, Northern Star is both a hive of activity and exercise and a place of calm, soothing reflection, Kohlmeier said.
“I think of yoga as a full body workout,” she said. “We’re doing a lot of strengthening and stretching through a series of yoga postures. It really improves flexibility. And there’s also some mindfulness in connecting with your breathing, which is very important in yoga. It acts like a moving meditation.”
For those curious about taking up the comparatively new yet highly popular exercise of Pilates (yoga is thousands of years old while Pilates was created in the 1920s), Northern Star offers seven classes a week, both foundation courses as well as progression courses.
“It’s about strengthening the core of the body through a series of exercises that’s called a repertoire,” she said. “It’s based on six principles of movement: breathing, concentration, control, centering, flow and precision. And then there are foundation exercises.
“Probably the main benefit of Pilates is that you develop core strength. And that’s not tightening your abs up, it involves strengthening stomach, back, sides and we move around all the joints,” Slipacoff continued. “What you will get if you start studying Pilates is that you’ll have better mobility, you’ll have better stability, you’ll have better posture and these are things that all decline as we age. And we have to address these things if you want to enjoy life to the fullest.”
“Pilates is like yoga in that it’s a practice,” she said. “If you make a commitment to try it, to get the benefits out of it, you get better at it. I often say it’s like piano – if you sit down you don’t play piano right away, but the longer you practice, the more songs you know, the better you play, you get more advanced.”
For those interested in finding more out about Pilates before diving in headfirst, Slipacoff is holding a pair of fall foundation workshops on Nov. 17 and Dec. 8, which will explore the basic concepts of Pilates. A workshop in October sold out extremely quickly, Slipacoff said, which is indicative of the growing interest in Pilates in the community.
“What I’m going to do is first in the workshop is talk about the guiding principles of Pilates, the foundation exercises – we’re going to do them too,” she said. “And in the second half we’ll do a 50 minute foundations class. If people want to try it, this is a great opportunity to see what it’s all about.”
Sitting in the back room of the studio, both Kohlmeier and Slipacoff said they are thrilled with the reception their studio is receiving from the public. Finding fellow fitness lovers and introducing them to yoga and Pilates is a labour of love for both of them.