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"I want people to fall in love with movement," says co-founder Amanda June Giannakos—the studio offers hundreds of classes for $15 a month.
Before Peloton, before the Nike Train app, before Yoga with Adrienne, there was Namaste Yoga. It was 2006, and Gabriela Schonbach’s simple instructional yoga videos were quietly revolutionary, bringing home workouts to syndicated markets all over the world. Schonbach even had to hire her daughter, Amanda June Giannakos, on summer break from college, to answer the fan mail.
The admin job didn’t just help out Mom: it reinvigorated Giannakos. A former child competitive tennis player, Giannakos was feeling restless, unhappy and unhealthy, struggling with the impact of a sedentary lifestyle—the letters she read reminded her of the joy of fitness. “I was like wait, I haven’t moved my body in so long. And people were loving the show, it was transforming their lives, and I thought I should maybe give it a try.” She started training to her mom’s show and fell in love with yoga; soon, she pursued her own teaching certification and became an instructor herself.
“I fell in love with movement again. It helped me redefine my relationship with it when I left this child athlete phase,” says Giannakos.
That love never left her, even as she earned a law degree and began practicing corporate law. “I always had this desire to do something creative and help people with their fitness journeys,” she says. “I had this idea that wouldn’t quit, that Namaste yoga could be a bigger brand and bigger company.”
So in 2014, she and her mom began scheming and dreaming about an app-based, subscription model yoga experience; the idea evolved into Movement by NM, which finally launched last summer. “It’s a 15-year entrepreneurship story,” says Giannakos with a laugh.
While many small businesses were challenged by COVID, the mental shift around home workouts certainly benefitted the fledgling Movement by NM web platform and app. “Before Covid, there was a stigma or barrier for people working out at home and online, but through necessity, people learned that it’s less expensive, takes less time, and is way easier logistically [than in-person fitness classes],” Giannakos explains.
Of course, the downside to this increased interest in digital fitness is that Movement is facing much more competition than they might have five years ago. Still, Movement manages to stand apart, with surprisingly cinematic production values and instructors who represent diverse body types, races and ages.
“We want to let people know they belong. Fitness can be intimidating, especially for someone who doesn’t see their body type represented,” says Giannakos. “This isn’t about losing 10lbs or getting washboard abs: it’s about changing relationships with fitness so they can fall in love with movement.”
Instructors on Movement are dissuaded from using language that motivates around aesthetics: no one will be shouting anything about ‘beach bodies’ here. “I think that’s something often missed… that really holistic, less-aesthetically-focused attitude. It’s not just about the three-month period before bikini season, it’s let’s teach you how to breathe properly so everything you do in your movement will be stronger.”
Memberships are $15 per month (after a two-week free trial) or $99 for a year, and offer subscribers access to hundreds of classes à la carte—from strength-training to dance classes to, yes, yoga, sorted by movement-type, class length or instructor. (Vancouver fitness buffs may recognize Tight Club’s Keighty Gallagher or Formation Studio instructors.)
Morning Activation is designed to wake up your core and glutes with stretching; a high-energy kickboxing class is intended to get the heart-rate up, but also leave you laughing; Dance Basics is a 15-minute intro that warmly welcomes the two-left-footed among us.
But if making decisions is not your idea of a fun warmup, Movement offers an ever-changing weekly plan to follow. These are a curated schedule of classes designed to be as rewarding as they are “realistic,” says Giannakos: that might mean even just a 5 or 10 minute class on one day, a 25-minute workout another.
More personalized workout plans are also available—answer a survey about your goals and favourite physical activities, and a personalized list of recommended classes, instructors, and even documentaries to inspire will be sent your way.
One more way to help zero in on the right workout for you? Movement’s “In the Mood” playlists help users cut through the extensive library to find suggestions based on how they’re feeling—whether they’re looking to get Restored or Energized, Calm or Creative.
Movement by NM also produces a gorgeous magazine, available in print and digital editions and full of stories about health and wellness—more evidence of the brand’s holistic philosophy. “My passion is people who are just trying to move a little bit more,” says Giannakos.