Article: The Fitual
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
The Studio Series: our top studio picks for the best workouts around the world.
Featuring inspired spaces, specialized workouts and innovative approaches to fitness and wellbeing, we’re rounding up the top fitness studios around the world.
Whether you live in a city with a featured studio, are traveling to a city with one, or are simply inspired to scout out a similar style of fitness studio in your community – we hope this series motivates you to get out there and try something new. And now with virtual workout options exploding in popularity due to Covid-19, more studios are offering a digital fitness experience from the comfort of your home, making it easier than ever to find your studio “soulmate”.
We teamed up with the studio to see what all the hype was about. Geared up in the head-to-toe MPG, members of The Fitual community took us through a heart-pumping, dance-inspired cardio class and high-intensity Lagree sweat session. And, by the end, we understood why The Fitual following just keeps on growing.
Front: The Fitual Studio Founder, Chalnessa Eames, leads a dance-inspired cardio class wearing the Strive High Waisted 7/8 Printed Legging.
Left: Studio Founder, Chalnessa Eames
Right: Director of Operations, Alex Gorlick
Your Fitness Ritual
When you walk into The Fitual studio, the first thing you are greeted with is a large sign that reads “Don’t Half-Ass Anything, Whatever You Do, Use Your Full Ass.” Motivational and genuine with a touch of levity, this phrase perfectly captures the heart of the studio and its founder, former professional ballet dancer, Chalnessa Eames. Her positive, upbeat teaching style makes for an infectiously optimistic environment that has created a fierce following of women from all walks of life, ages, and fitness levels.
“Feeling that you are needed in this community and are offering an experience or a fitness ritual that so many people love is really gratifying. This community of strong, empowered women who come from all different backgrounds is just so inspiring.”
Knowing that she had something unique to offer, Chalnessa opened her studio called The Fitual, a play on the words Fitness and Ritual. And, providing a fitness sanctuary where her clients can create their own fitness ritual is exactly why her studio is garnering so much buzz. The Fitual is the first of its kind studio in Winnipeg, Canada that combines dance-inspired cardio, intervals of intense movements and Lagree Fitness.
“I knew there was a need for a studio space with a different vibe. There wasn’t another studio with dancer-style energy that focused on upbeat music and intervals of intense movement. I knew that offering Lagree Fitness would be a perfect fit for the studio too as it was not being offered anywhere else and it’s high intensity but low impact, making it accessible for all.”
The Beat Goes On
When she opened her studio in late 2019, Chalnessa had no idea that in just a few months, a global pandemic would force her doors to temporarily close, leading to a new door, that would swing wide open. Turning a difficult and unexpected situation into an opportunity for growth, Chalnessa was forced to shift gears fast, creating a virtual fitness option that would turn into The Fitual Anywhere platform, allowing her community to continue their much-loved classes from the comfort of their home.
“I spent maybe two days figuring out what I was going to do next. Then I grabbed a camera, filmed a workout and posted it to my Instagram. There was so much positive feedback from my community, I knew I had to find out a way to keep these virtual classes going. It was the best thing I could have done, and it kept our spirits up as much as it kept our fitness routines up.”
With no signs of slowing down, Chalnessa has turned lemons into lemonade, seeing huge success with The Fitual Anywhere platform which already has over 250 subscribers, including people from all over the world like Scotland, Italy and the UK.
“I’d love to expand The Fitual Anywhere on a global scale and continue to grow this amazing community!”
Q&A with The Fitual Studio Founder, Chalnessa Eames
Q – How did you choose this career path?
A – As a former professional ballet dancer, I found yoga in my early twenties, and I knew that when I retired from the stage I wanted to stay in that realm of movement while continuing to practice fitness in a community-based atmosphere that dancers are accustomed to.
However, when I decided to retire from ballet, I still didn’t know what I was going to do. So, I obtained my personal training and yoga instructor certifications and knowing I did not want to work in a gym or for someone else, I figured I would create my own fitness program. Six months after I had my daughter, I started teaching my classes and have never looked back.
Q – When did you open your studio location and why did you feel that it was the right time to take that step?
A - I opened my studio location on Nov. 1st, 2019. Training out of my home and renting group spaces, it got to a point where business was really growing, classes were at capacity and I wasn’t able to see all of my clients as much as much as I wanted. I knew there was a need for a studio space with a different vibe than what was being offered here in Winnipeg. There wasn’t another studio with dancer-style energy that focused on upbeat music and intervals of intense movement.
Q – What makes the The Fitual studio space so special?
A – Our space has a very clean and modern aesthetic with state-of-the-art equipment, our workouts are unique and ever evolving, our trainers are very skilled and deeply invested in the care they are providing. Our number one goal is to keep everyone safe while helping them get the most effective workout for their body. We never want anyone to feel like they need to keep up with the person next to them. This is your body, your progress, your workout.
Q – What types of classes are taught at The Fitual?
Alongside Lagree Fitness, there are other unique and effective classes offered, making it easy to “find your fit.”
“The Fitual” class is the signature high intensity option that sculpts and strengthens with an intense mix of cardio, resistance training and core intervals for a full body workout. “The Ritual” is a lower intensity, low impact class that blends ballet basics with yoga and bodyweight exercises. Core Training classes specialize in prenatal and postnatal fitness and Private Training classes are also offered.
Q – Why did you decide to incorporate Lagree Fitness into your studio, making it the first of its kind in Winnipeg?
A – I knew that offering Lagree Fitness would be a perfect fit for the studio as it wasn’t being offered anywhere else and it is an ideal form of cross training that anyone can do. It is also perfectly suited to the “weekend warriors” who do intense recreational activity and want a conditioning routine to complement that.
Q – For those who don’t know, what exactly is Lagree Fitness?
A – Lagree Fitness is a transformative workout that’s high intensity but low impact, making it accessible for all ages, fitness levels and body types. Done on a Megaformer machine that can be adjusted to accommodate a wide range of targeted exercises, Lagree strengthens the body without bulking up muscles by creating a neuromuscular adaptive response.
Q – How did you first learn about Lagree Fitness?
A – In 2011, I was moving towards the end of my ballet career and there was a Lagree studio in Seattle (where I was living and working at the time) that everyone was talking about. I tried my first class, it left me sore for days in new ways and I was hooked on the intense workout it provided with such little impact. From that point on, I would always find a Lagree class to take whenever I was traveling.
Q – How did you react to the Covid-19 pandemic and pivot in response to the unexpected turn of events?
A – We immediately dropped our class sizes as concern was starting to spread about Covid-19 and I was one of the first fitness studios to close in response. I just felt that closing was the responsible thing to do, even though other gyms were staying open. I spent maybe two days figuring out what I was going to do next. Then I grabbed a camera, filmed a workout and posted it to my Instagram. There was so much positive feedback from my community, I knew I had to find out a way to keep these virtual classes going.
Director of Operations, Alex Gorlick teaches a Lagree class.
Q – How did your grow your digital workout approach?
A – I decided to go live on Instagram and try to make it happen. Despite technical issues and initial frustrations, people were watching live and it felt right, so I decided to do it every morning and it just grew and grew. I felt connected to my community and they felt connected to me. My whole following doubled in size.
Q – How did your community respond?
A – I received so many acts of kindness from my clients who were grateful to be able to keep moving together, despite the uncertainty of the outside world. My memory of Covid-19 is seeing these women every morning tuning into the Instagram Live classes, laughing, crying and sweating together. It was the best thing I could have done, and it kept our spirits up as much as it kept our fitness routines up.
Q – Tell us about the new Fitual Anywhere platform that you recently launched.
A – At the beginning of May, I launched The Fitual Anywhere digital platform offering a variety of on-demand online workouts for only $24 a month. This includes a Lagree-inspired class that gives you all the benefits of the workout, without the machine. Our Instagram Live classes have moved over to The Fitual Anywhere platform as well. I wouldn’t have this success with the platform if I didn’t have the success of the studio first, so it all happened for the right reason. But Covid forced me to explore this digital space quickly and it ended up working out so well.
Q – What is the most rewarding part of owning your own studio?
A – The people I get to see everyday. The happy faces and the constant coming back and wanting more. Feeling that you are needed in this community and are offering an experience or a fitness ritual that so many people love is really gratifying. To know you are providing something that resonates with so many people is pretty incredible. This community of strong, empowered women who come from all different backgrounds is just so inspiring.
Q – Why do you love wearing MPG while training?
A – When I find something that I love, I stick with it. MPG clothing moves so well on my body, keeps me cool and dry during my sweatiest classes and the pieces are just gorgeous. Everyone is always complimenting my workout style.
Q – What is your 5-year vision for The Fitual and where do you hope to be in 2025?
A – The thought of opening a satellite studio location is there, but I want to continue to grow The Fitual Anywhere platform and reach more people. Now that the studio has recently reopened, with a reduced class size capacity for the time being, the digital platform is offering my community more freedom to choose how and where they exercise. It’s great for my prenatal and postnatal moms who are stuck at home and can really benefit from a targeted workout without having to leave the convenience of their own home. I’d love to expand The Fitual Anywhere on a global scale and continue to grow this amazing community!