In 2010 Amber Joliat chose to create a home in Toronto for her signature movement style and MISFITSTUDIO was born. Amber’s unique approach taps into the transformative powers of movement, inspiring mind, body and soul to untangle and open from the inside. Dance-like sequences set to powerful music drive in elements of connection for the physical, emotional and energetic body to align.
We chatted with Amber to talk about how dance can help manage the highs and lows of life with strength and grace, how to love yourself, and what makes her studio different.
WEHL: Tell us a little about yourself and what wellness means to you.
AJ: Movement was my first language. First as a dancer, to a yogi, then pilates and always as a blend. We are products of our choices and choosing to move my body every day has been wildly beneficial. It has kept me sane. Wellness to me is learning how to work WITH yourself, mind, body and soul. Treating yourself as though you love yourself. Period. You only get one shot at this life thing.
WEHL: What is your personal philosophy on wellness?
AJ: Learn to love yourself. Treat yourself well, inside and out. Get a hold of your heart, slow your breath, calm your mind, feed your mind/body/soul with the transformative powers of movement. Enjoy nourishing food, clean water, good wine, find activities and pleasures that light you up. Have meaningful relationships, build strong connections with others, let things go. The only one that suffers by re-living the past is YOU.
WEHL: How is MISTFITSTUDIO unique?
AJ: To me, the most profound shift occurs when you LET IT.
We honour each body that chooses to SHOW UP.
We believe in the magic of movement, how it can set you on the path to healing.
By consciously removing the words fitness, exercise and workout from our vocabulary, MISFITSTUDIO feeds intention into every element. The HOW to move the body, the CELEBRATION of how you CAN move your body, infused with LOUD and PROFOUND music to help connect the physical/emotional and energetic bodies together. Remembering we are all spiritual beings having a human experience.
We offer every type of movement, from slow and melodic stretching classes to big and boisterous cardio dance parties, we encourage you to discover movement that speaks to your soul. Really, that is when the shift happens, when you LOVE what you do, it’s not a chore and as far away from punishment, it’s pure joy.
WEHL: What inspired you to start your ‘movement’ studio?
AJ: By being sick of not FEELING good in Toronto studio culture. It was soul sucking, highly competitive, rampant body shaming. And I was sick of it.
I thought, there has GOT to be a better way.
So, out of a reaction, I opened MISFIT in 2010.
To honour everyBODY.
WEHL: Your class names are all playfully named; how did you come up with the variety of classes that you teach?
AJ: It’s vital to offer a balanced variety of movement.
There are HIGHS and LOWS in life, so too in our movement classes.
Reminding us that strength and grace lives inside us all. We have the capacity to move with both.
In fact, we crave it. WE NEED IT.
Also, humour and lightness are wonderful tools in life.
Knowing you are going to bounce around on a trampoline to a class called GET HIGH one day and then chill out from your week at a class called GET RELEASED.
That feels real to me.
Real talk, real needs, real connection.
WEHL: What are some of the health benefits of participating in your classes?
AJ: Genuinely feeling good.
Remember the last time you felt GOOD?
Yes, that is the greatest benefit.
And connection. How to connect to yourself, your heart, your breath, your like-minded brothers and sisters, connect back to what matters in life. Learning to love yourself, so you can better love each other.
The strength of knowing WHO you are, that to me is real core strength. Deep, true, real.
WEHL: What would you tell someone if they are coming to your studio for the first time?
AJ: All that is required is an open mind.
WEHL: Both of your studio spaces don’t have any mirrors – why did you do that?
AJ: My very first dance teacher said “ you learn to dance from your soul.”
Living by this motto, I pass it on to all the incredible teachers and therefore to the humans in the studios.
Trusting enough to close your eyes and remember to FEEL something.
Trusting that ultimately the shapes we make in class have NOTHING to do with what they look like, they are all about remembering how to FEEL.
Mirrors perpetuate the superficial nature of this time in life.
We live in a time where we have forgotten to feel.
I encourage it.
More and more and more.
Feel all the feels.
WEHL: You have an online class subscription; why did you want to start that?
AJ: This was a big obstacle to overcome for me. For a long, long time I was asked repeatedly to make videos for the moms, the travellers and artists who are all over the place with their schedules.
What happens in class is magic, it’s meant to occur in the moment, be impermanent.
Inspired by what is happening RIGHT NOW. The permanence of videos freaked me out. But, once I shifted my perspective and saw that making videos was an expression of art! They have been wildly successful. Most people use them when they can’t make it into the studios or are away for extended periods of time.
They have become cult classics! We learned so much from season 1, season 2 was incredible and season 3 we’re about to drop! So exciting!
And, fun fact my husband makes all the music for the videos, so we collaborate and have the best time co-creating.
WEHL: You’ve recently started a podcast; what is it about and what are some of your goals of it?
AJ: Another collaboration with my hubby, he ran a radio show for 10 years, so he produces the podcast, which gives me creative freedom. The podcast is a way to extend the BIG conversations that already happen at the studios. A way to continue to spread the MISFITSTUDIO gospel. Shifting perspective, opening and sharing personal journeys of self-discovery and self-actualization. Doing our best to reveal the truth of living fearlessly (or working on it) and shine light on all the inspiring humans in our MISFIT FAMILY.
WEHL: What kinds of activities do you do when you feel like you are overwhelmed or stressed out?
AJ: Other than moving every single day, I love to paint, go for long walks and pick flowers and cook meals with my husband; it’s soothing for me.
WEHL: Do you have any advice for an entrepreneur who’s interested in building a socially conscious fitness business?
AJ: Only start a business if you can’t IMAGINE your life without it. Find your personal expression, don’t steal anyone’s ideas, find your own, don’t be lame. TRUST YOUR INTUITION. Tap into your intuition. The wise woman inside knows what to do, she always does.
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