You’ve seen them before – locked at the knee and joined at the hip in the hot room. They’re Bikram BFFs, and they give new meaning to “doing a double.” Meet our first pair of pranayama pals, Renée & Macauley, who tell us why sweating together is better than stretching apart (these two also happen to be members of our friendly front desk staff)!
When did you start practising Bikram Yoga, and why?
MACAULEY: I started practising – and working! – at Bikram Yoga Vancouver last July. I’d been in a serious car accident in January and my physiotherapist suggested I add yoga to my routine to help with pain management. I was in school full time and looking for a job, so when I saw that BYV was hiring it seemed like fate. These days, between going to the gym and work, I try to get in the hot room at least four times a week – usually with Renée.
RENÉE: I tried three classes five years ago in Australia, but the studio seemed elitist and I didn’t feel “good enough.” Then, in October 2010, I caught up with an old friend who I hadn’t seen in a few months, and she looked AMAZING. She told me she was working at Bikram Yoga in Kits, and asked me to come to a class. I resisted, but the image of her looking radiant wouldn’t leave me. I decided to give it another shot, and am so glad I did! My first teacher was Julia, who, despite her petite size, seemed to fill the whole room with her angelic halo of white-blonde hair and electric-yet-calming energy. It was bizarre; I actually wanted to do everything she was telling us to do. I went every day for the next four days. I think it was during my second class with Danny (when I unwittingly positioned myself directly in front of the steamer) that I decided, albeit in a state of semi hallucination, that I wanted to work in this place and do yoga with these people. It’s worked out pretty great for me! At the moment I’m getting between four and six classes in per week because I go to Whistler on my days off. Come summer, that’ll be back up to six or seven days a week. Also, my 83-year-old Nan, who was a Hatha Yoga teacher 50 years ago in Oz, is coming to visit with my mum this summer, and I’m hoping to get them both in the hot room!
Do you remember the first time you met each other? Was it like at first sight?
RENÉE: I remember being behind the desk at Kits – can’t recall if I was working or about to practise – when Mac came in to do class. I overheard her say she had a job with us. I think she had on a cardigan and her glasses, and I thought she seemed really reserved – I was convinced she’d think I was crazy. Goes to show how wrong assumptions can be (about her being reserved; pretty sure I was right about her thinking I was nuts)! When we opened the Cambie Studio in October, Mac and I started spending A LOT of time together. Our friendship kind of just formed through osmosis – like Indian marriage, no choice! No, I really got to know her – how exceptionally cool she is, incredibly hilarious and that she’s a super hard worker, which I have mad respect for. Frankly, she is rad!
MACAULEY: You were practising, not working! It wasn’t long after I was hired at BYV; I took Danny’s 7:45 p.m. class at Kits. I think it was my second or third class ever, and I died. I got there late so I ended up by the steamer, not well hydrated and having just consumed a Mr. Noodles beforehand – rookie mistake. I managed to stay in the room for the full 90, but when I emerged I felt shaky and out of it. Renée, who’d also taken the class, asked me if I was going to live; I told her it was my worst class to date, and she made me feel better by saying she’d nearly met her maker as well. I felt comforted by her endearing Ozzie accent and her beautiful smile! Then, when we began working together regularly, we also started practising together – and that’s when I knew she was a keeper!
Does having Bikram Yoga Buddy help in any way?
MACAULEY: Honestly, having a buddy is, at times, the only reason I’m able to drag myself to class. When I’m feeling lazy or uninspired, Renée gives me that extra motivation – that, or she doesn’t take no for an answer and tells me I have no choice (yup, just like Indian marriage!). Since Renée and I work together every day, I think the fact we practise together is the only thing that keeps us from killing each other!
RENÉE: For sure! When I’m feeling “meh” Mac will text me something chirpy like “Good morning WOML! Yoga time?” Or something a little weird like, “Well hello my blushing bride! Are you ready to slay this yoga dragon?” or “Want to be my Sherpa up Mount Yogananda?” Who could resist something like that?!
What do you admire most about each other in the hot room?
RENÉE: Macauley is a rock in there! I will be absolutely struggling, sure of my imminent death, and I’ll look over and she is just unwavering! Most of the time she won’t even make eye contact with me to acknowledge my suffering, which in turn stops me from feeling sorry for myself. And she can really handle the heat! We’ll walk out and I’ll be ready to chug three cans of coconut water and immerse myself in an ice bath, and Mac will declare, all chipper-like, “That was just the perfect temperature!” What the deuce?!
MACAULEY: Well I think Renée’s practice is amazing. She’s focused and determined. When she does Standing Head to Knee, angels sing; she’s also got a killer Pada-Hasthasana. She’s so strong in the hot room – practising beside her gives me the strength and determination to hold my postures and never give up.
Macauley: what do you call Renée … besides Renée?
Wifey McWiferson, NayNay, Baberham Lincoln, My Beautiful Bride, Chief, Boss and the Big Cheese. She calls me the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread.
What else do you call Mac, Renée?
Wifey, Wifey McWiferson, Wifey Pants, WOML (short for Wife Of My LIfe), Mac, Mac Dawg, Mac ‘n’ Cheese …
We hear you’re currently going head-to-head in a weight-loss challenge …
RENÉE: Well, I was previously a generally healthy eater. Huge appetite – and a mad sucker for snacks and treats – but I had a hold on things. Then we moved into this mall, and I just went haywire! I was like a kid in a candy store … in a mall! (I also love candy.) Choc-covered pretzels from Starbucks on the daily spiraled into discovering the delights at William’s Bakery, not to mention DQ Blizzards and dashes to Safeway for blocks of Lindt. We also acquired a host of new students/friends who would bring us baked goods, packs of Twizzlers … this one lovely guy even brought us an entire takeout meal for two from the Indian restaurant he manages. Coconut rice, naan and all! Then, there was the pizza: I was getting a couple of slices three or four times a week after work just past midnight. It was off the heezy, and we were travelling fast down a one-way road to total sugar dependency and artery blockages. I guess because I was practising yoga so much I wasn’t gaining any weight, so I thought it wasn’t affecting me. I told my mum (who’s a very healthy eater, uses the treadmill every morning and does yoga a few times a week) what I was eating and she was disgusted. But it wasn’t til that pint-sized angel in disguise, Julia, challenged us in the change room after class about our lackluster and distracted performance in the hot room and asked us what we were eating that I realized it was having an effect. I tried a New Year’s Resolution to cut back on sugar and wheat, but it was almost like I triggered an avalanche of excess from the very mention of it. (I have a tendency to rebel, even against myself.) Mac posed this challenge to me: exercise and healthy eating, loser buys dinner, winner chooses restaurant. We weighed in at Fitness World, downloaded this sweet app called My Fitness Pal and went at it.
Who’s gonna win, and why?
MACAULEY: I am definitely going to win. I’ve lost six pounds since we started and I’m still going strong! My biggest weaknesses are sweets and treats – I think I was an Oompa Loompa in a past life, sustaining myself on sugar alone. I have subbed fruit, which is obviously still a form of sugar … but one step at a time! Plus, I’m going to be on a beach in Australia in a week and I want to be bikini ready!
RENÉE: Mac may have vacation motivation, but I have a solid game plan: Bikram Yoga, no alcohol, more water, no sweets and treats and more sleep. So far I’ve only fallen off once, on Valentine’s Day, when one of our favourites brought us a box of Lindt Balls … and for my buddy’s birthday last week I had a few beers and some punch at my fave restaurant, Grub. But I am stoked! I have all this energy, I’ve lost five pounds just cutting sweets and treats and my skin is looking alive again! And that’s all in just a little over two weeks. I pretty much know what I’m gonna order for my Winner’s Feast. I can taste the glory already!
When you’re not in the studio working/practising, you’re …
MACAULEY: You can usually find us debriefing over breakfast, shopping (because I can’t buy things without her approval), taking long romantic walks on the beach or hanging out with one of several of our BYV Staff BFFs – we’ve got a whole team of them!
RENÉE: Snowboarding in winter, riding my bike Nora and hanging at the beach in summer. And snoozing! I LOVE snoozin’ … and treats, treats and snoozin’! (Reference to Marcel The Shell With Shoes On, Two.)
Do you have a Bikram Yoga Buddy? Who’s your Bikram BFF? Let us (and them!) know by leaving a comment below!