Last Friday, I woke up 10 minutes before my 7 a.m. yoga class.

Instead of jumping in the car for a frantic, bleary-eyed drive to the studio, I spent five of those minutes staring at my phone before rolling out of bed and moseying down to the basement for a gentle hour of stretching and morning affirmations in front of my laptop.

More local virtual class offerings

Signing up for an online class is one way to support local and keep your sanity during code red. Below is a sample of some Winnipeg companies that are doing business digitally:

Hobbies

 Verde Plant Design — Winnipeg’s trendiest plant shop is running virtual wreath-making workshops through December. Cost is $79 per person and includes supplies and greenery.

 Art City — Free art supplies and activity kits for kids and adults available for pick-up at the centre’s new pandemic-friendly take-out window. Project ideas are also available for download online.

 Winnipeg Public Library — A book club for adult readers offered through Zoom. A new book is selected monthly and available for download from the library’s online portal. Free, but registration is required.

Signing up for an online class is one way to support local and keep your sanity during code red. Below is a sample of some Winnipeg companies that are doing business digitally:

Hobbies

 Verde Plant Design — Winnipeg’s trendiest plant shop is running virtual wreath-making workshops through December. Cost is $79 per person and includes supplies and greenery.

 Art City — Free art supplies and activity kits for kids and adults available for pick-up at the centre’s new pandemic-friendly take-out window. Project ideas are also available for download online.

 Winnipeg Public Library — A book club for adult readers offered through Zoom. A new book is selected monthly and available for download from the library’s online portal. Free, but registration is required.

Fitness

My Body Fitness and Nutrition — Body inclusive personal training, group exercise and yoga classes. First class free, $15 drop-in.  

The Community Gym — On-demand spin, boxing, bootcamp, yoga and mobility classes through the downtown Winnipeg gym’s Community365 platform. Two week free trial, $38 a month.  

Thrive Active — Live and on-demand bootcamps, yoga, personal training, multi-week fitness challenges and meal planning. Virtual monthly membership starts at $55. 

Sport Manitoba Fitness Centre — Live virtual interval, mobility and strength training classes offered by certified coaches. Monthly membership $25.

Skill-building

Winnipeg Sews — Group and private learn-to-sew classes for kids and adults offered via Zoom. Workshops start at $30.

Université de Saint-Boniface — Conversational French and Spanish classes for beginner through advanced level students. Eleven-week sessions start at $320 and include course materials.

Winnipeg Film Group — Virtual workshops geared at learning how to edit documentaries, compose film scores and direct movies. Prices vary.

Long and McQuade — Instructors are offering online lessons for voice, piano, guitar, woodwinds, drums and a range of other instruments. Prices average $25 per half-hour private session.

Food and drink

Kenaston Wine Market — The private wine store is running yoga classes and wine tasting sessions via Zoom. Tickets are $45 and include three bottles of wine.

De Luca Fine Wines — Virtual workshops focus on different grapes and food pairings, such as chocolate and cheese. Registration and tasting kits start at $40.

It was a quintessential pandemic experience made possible by hours of behind-the-scenes work and investments by Noah Krol and Marisa Cline, the husband-and-wife owners of Peg City Yoga. Like many local entrepreneurs, they’ve had to make the jump from an in-person business model to a virtual one during the pandemic.

I tried a few local lessons to see if the virtual classroom measures up to the real thing.

Peg City Yoga has been offering online yoga classes since March and Krol and Cline have spent the last nine months accumulating recording equipment and working through technical difficulties.

"I’m very good at bodywork and teaching yoga, not necessarily working cameras and microphones," Krol says with a laugh.

Although the learning curve was steep, the effort appears to have paid off. The class I "attended" for this story was taught by Cline and had high-quality video, clear audio and a downloadable playlist to run at home.

Marisa Cline and Noah Krol, owners of Peg City Yoga, turned down a new lease on their commercial yoga studio in favour of online teaching, a decision that proved to be prophetic.</p>

JESSE BOILY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Marisa Cline and Noah Krol, owners of Peg City Yoga, turned down a new lease on their commercial yoga studio in favour of online teaching, a decision that proved to be prophetic.

Longtime Peg City clients have also been enjoying the online program, which costs $10 to drop in and allows classes to be taken live or within a 48-hour window.

"It seems to have been an accidental hit," says Krol. "As all this settles down and we get back into the live class space again, I think we’ll keep a virtual platform."

This summer, the couple said goodbye to their physical studio above a laundromat in Osborne Village — Peg City’s home for the last decade. The 100-year-old building was under new ownership and instead of taking a rent hike, they opted to turn the front room of their Wolseley home into a plant-filled yoga/recording studio.

"It’s been really sad to lose our space," Krol says. "But being shut down again, there’s a feeling of making the right decision."

The hardest part of working from home is not being able to help students with pose adjustments and working around the schedule of their three kids. Krol and Cline plan to spend the winter filming specialty workshops and building their on-demand library.

‘I’m very good at bodywork and teaching yoga; not necessarily working cameras and microphones,’ Noah Krol says, as wife Marisa Cline teaches yoga online.</p>

JESSE BOILY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

‘I’m very good at bodywork and teaching yoga; not necessarily working cameras and microphones,’ Noah Krol says, as wife Marisa Cline teaches yoga online.

One criticism of virtual learning is the innate lack of human connection. Forum Art Centre seems to have missed the memo.

I dusted off my high school sketch book and sat in on the final class of a 10-week learn-to-draw program taught by Winnipeg artist James Culleton. We practised a series of quick gesture drawings over the course of two-and-a-half hours; reference photos pulled from the internet served as a stand-in for a live model.

There was plenty of chatting and feedback between sketches and the participants described the class as a chance to keep busy and connect with people outside their bubble. Culleton has another group that’s been meeting in a Zoom classroom every Monday since the pandemic began to socialize and talk about art.

"It’s become this neat little community," he says.

Shawna and James Culleton host a lively set of online art classes with plenty of student interaction.</p>

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Shawna and James Culleton host a lively set of online art classes with plenty of student interaction.

Forum offers online private and group classes for adults and kids in everything from painting to cartooning to digital illustration. Ten-week sessions are $175, plus supplies.

"One of our most popular classes is the art of mindfulness," says Shawna Culleton, James’ wife and the programming director at Forum. "It’s using art to connect with yourself and meditate and relax, which under (COVID-19) we kind of all need right now."

Forum made the switch to online classes as soon as possible to keep instructors working and students safe — many participants are over the age of 65. Right now, the St. Boniface art centre is running 11 classes a week compared to 40 pre-coronavirus. Still, less is better than nothing.

"It’s so good for the brain," Shawna says. "Making art is productive, it’s creative, you see the results of what you’re doing immediately. And it’s something you can share, whether it’s online or with other people."

Maria Rawluk, owner of Drop-In Dance, says moving online comes with pros and cons.</p>

DANIEL CRUMP / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Maria Rawluk, owner of Drop-In Dance, says moving online comes with pros and cons.

Keeping with the theme of school-aged activities, I also signed up to try a virtual class offered by Drop-in Dance Winnipeg. I haven’t taken a dance class since middle school and my lasting memory is my mom telling me, "you didn’t look like you were having fun," post-recital. I was using so much brain power trying to recall steps that I forgot to smile. Being able to log in, turn off my camera and dance like no one was watching (quite literally, save for my cat) was a freeing experience.

Maria Anne Rawluk opened the Portage Avenue studio in 2017 with the goal of creating a space for dancers of all abilities to come together. Moving to an online platform has come with challenges and opportunities.

"It’s a very active style of fitness and it can travel a lot so it’s difficult for the instructors to create choreography that can be done in a small space," Rawluk says. "(But) we’ve actually had some dancers join us from outside of the province who have never been able to come to the studio, which has been super cool."

The axeman cometh

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JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS						</p>
JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Posted: 01/12/2020 7:00 PM

Learning to play guitar is a little like climbing a mountain with your shoelaces tied together while reading a book in a foreign language.

It’s arduous, but unlike with Everest, there’s no risk of freezing to death or plummeting into an icy crevasse. Instead, a misstep is just that — a missed step — and when you’re learning, that’s almost as important as the ones that bring you closer to the unreachable peak of acoustic glory.

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Classes run the gamut from tap to jazz to hip-hop and cost $5 each with a portion going to Cancer Care Manitoba and an option to tip the instructor — all of whom are volunteering their time and teaching from home. Rawluk is also working on building a library of classes that can be accessed on-demand.

While the pandemic has forced students and instructors to practise choreography in their bedrooms and living rooms, the Drop-in Dance community appears as tight knit as ever.

"One of our dancers started a GoFundMe for us," Rawluk says. "It’s huge, I think a lot of small business owners have imposter syndrome and when that came up I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t deserve this. Do we need it? Yes. But do I deserve this? No.’

"The whole goal was to dance as a community… I think this just shows how much that’s grown and how much it really affects people."

If the fundraiser hits its target, Rawluk will donate all of her class fees to Cancer Care Manitoba in memory of her dad and support of her Opa, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy.

eva.wasney@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @evawasney

Eva Wasney

Eva Wasney
Arts Reporter

Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.

   Read full biography