Fashion Magazine – Gym / Spiritual stand in?

Is the gym becoming a spiritual stand-in? Examining cultish fitness communities, meditation workouts and muscle mantras

Around the white, light-filled studio, flashes of lime green, fuchsia and black Lycra blur as a roomful of people sway together, balance one another overhead, roll around or gently connect palm to palm. We’re at 80 Gladstone—a movement studio in Toronto opened by yoga teacher Diane Bruni—and this is Contact Improv, which involves moving spontaneously for an hour and a half while maintaining a point of contact with a partner. You sweat and gain strength from bracing your core and supporting your weight so you can lift your partner off the ground, if the urge strikes you, but you’re also forced to be present and mindful, as the movement is always changing. “It’s a wonderful metaphor for life,” says Bruni, who also offers classes taught by a Shaolin monk. “His spiritual practice is qi gong and tai chi and kung fu. It’s not praying and it’s not sitting; it’s all in movement.”

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