If you asked me to describe my ideal weekend, I’d tell you that it would involve a couple of solid sweat sessions, delicious food and time spent hanging out with friends. These things make me feel alive, energized, connected, and every time Friday hits, I find myself finalizing plans to ensure all three are accomplished.
As luck would have it, this past Friday a new spot in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood opened that already has my heart. TurF is a place to work out, hang out, and enjoy thoughtfully-prepared food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or any time in between. The founders are Deanne and Delaney Schweitzer, two BC-born sisters who played big roles in shaping lululemon during its early days. Fast forwarding to now, TurF is a result of bringing a dream to life. It was born out of their love for healthy food, thoughtful apparel, conscious workouts, amazing coffee and building community. Sign me right up. 🙂
In addition to founding sisters, the team at TurF is made up of wonderful, equally passionate individuals who have been nothing short of delightful to chat with since the moment I walked through the front doors.
The restaurant – a bright, open space lined with long tables – seats about 70 people, and there’s also a covered patio which I’m anticipating spending many sunny weekend afternoons sitting on this summer. Coming out of the kitchen you’ll find vegan-friendly plant-based eats (most of which are gluten free – hooray!) with options to add sustainably sourced ‘happy proteins’. There’s a heavy emphasis on whole foods, no processed junk, environmental responsibility and local sourcing whenever possible. That’s a pretty sound food philosophy, if you ask me.
Menu selections include superfood-infused smoothies, juice, toasts, bowls (breakfast-y and afternoon-ish variations), salads, sweet treats, coffee, tea, beer and wine. So far I’ve tried the Birdee Bar – a sweet and lightly salted, super seedy house made granola bar – as well as the Quinoa + Roasted Greens Bowl. This is a medley of red quinoa, cilantro, ginger, roasted broccoli and brussels sprouts, pickled cucumber, radish, bright pink beet hummus dressing and chickpea crackers. In other words, it’s a party in your mouth and totally hit the spot. Everything I’ve seen come out of the kitchen has been a work of art.
Check out the full menu here.
Just past the restaurant area is the shop, full of all sorts of beautiful finds. TurF collaborated with a local designer on a collection of sweats and tees, and also carries some international brands. In addition to clothing, you’ll also find unique jewellery, socks, candles, and Turkish towels. Right now I’m thiiiiiiiiiiis close to caving in and buying one for myself!
Moving over to the sweaty side of things, TurF’s team of talented instructors teach dance, strength + cardio, boxing conditioning, and meditation classes. TurF is also the first studio in Canada to offer The Class by Taryn Toomey, which I had the pleasure of trying on Saturday morning. In short, it’s a series of very simple body movements done in high repetitions to carefully curated (awesome) music, designed to develop long, lean muscles. Simple, but not easy!
Developed in NYC, The Class is described as a cathartic mind-body experience that challenges the body and engages the mind. In a way it was a bit like kundalini yoga in that there was a mixture of super energizing movements and stillness. The music was loud and so was the breath of everyone in the room. As we stood on our mats and the beat started pounding, I definitely had a few moments where shivers ran down my spine. The energy was amazing and reminded me a bit of being at some sort of dance cardio rave at 9:30 on a Saturday morning.
Soon after we got moving, it became very apparent that this was about far more than what the body was physically doing – it was a test of where the mind goes in the face of discomfort. My body and mind were definitely challenged, and it was intense. I think my emotions ran the entire spectrum, from “this feels amazing!” to “my glutes are on %$!@ing FIRE!!!” We went from dancing around on our mats (so much fun!!) to doing things like lying single-leg raises…..for an entire song. That might not sound like such a big deal but give it a try and you’ll soon see what I mean. Yoooooowwwza!
So who was it that got me doing more burpees, leg lifts and glute bridges in 75 minutes than I’ve ever done before? Her name is Angela Hartman, and currently, she’s the only trained instructor teaching The Class in Canada. I’ve only known her a short time, but friends, this girl is an absolute gem! She’s stunning, inspiring, creative, athletic, strong and radiates positivity. To help you get to know her better, I figured it would be fun to do a little Q+A. Sooo….. here she is!
Q: How did you first discover The Class, and for someone who knows nothing about it, how would you describe it?
A: I was living in NYC for 3 years and found The Class by Taryn Toomey through a good friend. I took Taryn’s class and was hooked! I went as much as possible for the three years that I lived in NY started going on retreats and spending more time with The Class team. I would describe The Class as a cathartic mind body experience…simple, repetitive calisthenics and plyometrics where you challenge the body and engage the mind.
Q: In the one I attended, we did a lot of burpees, jumping jacks, leg lifts and glute bridges. Do all classes follow a certain format, or do they vary quite a bit from one to the next?
A: No two classes are the same but every class will have recognizable cardio songs (like burpees, jumping jacks, etc although those may vary as well!) For the muscle contraction exercises – they are different every class.
Q: What are some of your favourite places to sweat in Vancouver (aside from TurF, obviously!)?
A: I personal train with Keighty Gallagher, the owner of Tight Club. She has helped me so much with all the imbalances in my body and building my strength. I love running and run several times a week with friends. I practice yoga when I can fit it in and I meditate every day.
Q: How would you sum up your fitness philosophy?
A. I think it’s important to find something you love AND also know that the body establishes imbalances if you only do one thing. it’s important to incorporate some type of strength training as you age and yoga and meditation are KEY. I used to be so strict with both my exercise and food regime and I’m much more balanced and relaxed now. It’s a commitment to do things that make me feel good and not deplete me.
Q: What fitness/wellness trends are you loving right now?
A: I don’t know as I’ve been an athlete my entire adult life with a passion for health so I don’t think of it as trends but more my own personal journey into what is working for my body at certain times and different ages. I think of my health goals like my life, an ever-evolving journey. As I grow and learn, my goals and how I spend my time changes. I do think that everyone should commit to eating vegetarian most days of the week – not necessarily for ethical reasons but for environmental reasons.
Q: Who are some of your role models?
A: So many as I surround myself with people I admire. The two co-owners of TurF, Delaney and Deanne are huge influences in my life and teach me things everyday. I feel blessed to be in this journey with them. The team from NY and LA who are all working and teaching The Class by Taryn Toomey including Taryn, Nat, Jaycee and Becky have done a lot to support my teaching and continue to allow me to grow.
Q: For the foodies amongst us (myself included), what’s your favourite thing on the TurF menu?
SO MANY THINGS. I’m a very passionate coffee drinker so I love the cappuccino with the TurF homemade Almond Milk. I love the breakfast bowls like the forbidden porridge or the Baked Oats. For lunch I like the Kale Cesear Salad or the Kimchi n’ Mash. You will always find me sneaking one of our cookies, they are so good.