BodyTree Studio

Live, love, eat, have fun and feel good. BodyTree Studio, it’s for everyone!

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After twelve years living in the UAE, I’ve developed a special connection to the capital. Abu Dhabi attracts me with its soft warmth reflected in local architecture, focus on arts and cultural events, close communal living and an atmosphere where people you randomly meet become good friends. Dubai, in contrast, is a louder, busier, shinier and a lot more extravagant neighbour. Dubaians set impressive records; Abu Dhabites love to enjoy living.

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When I heard about a hidden gem of a wellness studio with unique classes, inspirational workshops and ten years of history, it was immediately worth a morning drive to the capital for me. Even for a Dubai girl, BodyTree studio was easy to find. Once I set my destination, Google showed minimal traffic warnings and confirmed I was in for a pleasant trip.

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Upon arrival, I sighted several model-fit girls rushing with little concern to the gate of a spacious villa. I parked right in the front and jumped out. The whole place was surrounded by tall palm trees, lush greenery and blue sky, giving it a Miami feel, though the first thing I noticed was a thoughtful sign on the wall saying (and Bradshaw is never wrong):

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The front desk greeted me with smiles and cheerful comments. I was advised to disclose any physical injuries or concerns to instructors prior to the workout. I was also encouraged to go with a flow, not worry about the choreography and to challenge myself while having a lot of fun. I’m always in for fun!

 

That morning I was about to try BTB – a Bodytree body class designed by women for women. Led by two very experienced fitness instructors trained in dancing, Pilates and other advanced “stay awesome” techniques, the class promised to be a blast. All equipment for the class was provided, including cuff and ankle weights, dumbbells, resistance bands, a mat, and towel and of course, motivation.
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The hour started with a musical warm-up; musical because Anissa, a professional ballerina, included a few pretty cool moves one can use in audition for any upcoming Broadway show. My legs were a little lost for the first few minutes, but not my heart. It was pumping blood, oxygen and good vibes. When I was about to quit, I heard that wonderful world “break” and Nadia took over with arms and upper body exercises. The next segment was high impact and a little intense, balanced with Anissa’s cosmic personality and persistent energy. I jumped, squatted, bounced and laughed my soul out. Girl, it was great!

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However, it was Nadia’s leg workout that practically killed me. Usually I favour mat exercises. You know for a lazy girl like me everything lying down is the best fitness routine. Nadia didn’t let it happen. Raising the same leg up and to the side and flexed and straight with ankle weights and a resistance band repeatedly was a challenge. When we finally surrendered to the baby pose, I was the happiest person ever. Anissa closed BTB class with stretches and dancing, making it an unforgettable experience for my muscles. The difference between first timers and a regulars was noticeable. While my breathing fluctuated from bad to very bad, other girls in the class encouraged me with smiles and non-stop positive attitudes.

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Wrapped in a towel, I decided to drown my sores and fails in a cup of coffee (my personal solution to stress). Conveniently, BodyTree studio has a brilliant Nectar juice bar on the ground level, a few steps away from the reception.

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When it was my time to order I decided to treat myself to something super exciting, but was slightly overwhelmed with choices: turmeric latte, smoothies, fresh juices, signature drinks, etc. The girl at the counter sounded very understanding and just asked me to describe what I felt like. As I felt a little sorry for myself and dehydrated, Nectar bar mixed me a powerful smoothie with coconut water, dates, almonds, protein and probably a bunch of other secret ingredients that boosted my thirst, energy and self-esteem. Impressed with the service and taste, I opted for a few healthy snacks to take home: warm from the oven banana muffins, crunchy granola, soft protein snacks and spicy vegetable toasties.

 

 

 

Refreshed and very happy, I asked if a tour around the house was a possibility. And it was! Accompanied by charming PR and Marketing Manager Grainne, we covered all three floors looking at the state-of-the-art training facilities, equipment, and changing rooms with huge floor-to-ceiling mirrors and showers. I spent half an hour at the wellness and fitness boutique looking through stylish activewear, essential oils and even waiting for the right “gong moment” (super tempting to just do it).

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During the tour I noticed what a fantastic gathering place it was! I spotted moms-to-be waiting for a pre-natal class, an Emirati father waiting for his little ballerina, a Zumba girl in a sparkling outfit, a girl in a sharp suit, a group of moms enjoying “kids at school time” at Nectar juice bar, and a cool mix of personalities everywhere.

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With more than 130 classes on offer, ladies-only workouts, private training, classes for teens and kids, including ballet, mixed group training, fancy Pilates, outdoor meditations, full-moon nights, Zumba (yeee!), free workshops and conversations and so so so much more, I wonder what will bring me to BodyTree studio next?

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Fight Night Team and a Fancy Girl

In anticipation of the returning Fight Night II, a white-collar boxing event on March 31st, a fancy girl like me cut her Maldives trip short for exclusive behind the scenes access to the training zone. What a night it is going to be! Fourteen Dubai seasoned executives including two female brave hearts have traded their business dinners at Roberto’s for an opportunity to physically interact with one another face-to-face, surrounded by a roaring crowd and yelling coaches. Great news, the event is free to attend and will take place at the Round 10 Gym at 2pm on March 31st in Dubai. Exciting!

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Not wanting to admit what a complete idiot I am in connection to  boxing or any competitive sports (my last attempt with Muay Thai failed due to a lack of aggressiveness), I turned my desperate eyes to Hollywood, a trusted source of reliable information. From the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a talented amateur boxer, I studied Kubrick’s Raging Bull followed by unbreakable Rocky. However, it was Gigi Hadid’s defence strategy during Milan Fashion Week that convinced me to jump into my favourite Zumba outfit, tie my hair in a quick chignon and put on some bright long-lasting lipstick prior to committing to an hour of live trial.

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“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. Nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep on moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you are worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits…” Rocky’s alarming voice was looping in my ears again and again as I made my glamorous entrance to the Warehouse Gym reception. My first sweat appeared a few seconds later when I shook hands with Roy, the technical coach of the Fight Night Team who unlike me was chill and confident. After Roy promise not to hurt me, I was ready to take the hit.

The training started with a warm-up followed by an intense three-rounds skipping routine. “Side to side, faster, knees higher”. Joe’s voice was lost on me as I struggled to produce five decent skips in a row. Everyone around me seemed absolutely fine, skipping like pros. Joe, the Fight Night fitness coach continued to be very nice, not yelling for extra push-ups like the movies.

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When sparring began, I did what I do the best – giggled and batted my eyes to avoid participation at any cost. The fighters in front of me were engaged in an incredible boxing waltz, mixing rapid steps with sleek shoulder moves and sneaky defence strategies. I couldn’t believe these were the freshmen who started their first boxing class at the end of January this year.

I was mesmerised until someone tapped me on the shoulder and pointed at resting gloves. “I’m Frank, let’s get you started,” and that was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Frank, was a tough looking guy with the most charming smile. He helped me with gloves, moved my feet apart, stretched and curled my arms in a defensive position. In a matter of minutes, we were practising the basics: “one” and “two”, (“three” was a challenge). Needless to say, my glam had faded away.

During short breaks I noticed how dedicated and focused the whole Fight Night crew was. I was the only one out of breath, quietly sobbing in a corner with my long lasting lipstick smeared all over my face. The fighters were constantly on the move, from bags to sparring and back to the bags.

The last part of the training was mat power exercises. Joe gathered us in a circle so there was no change of sneaking out. Without escape, I dove into rounds of burpies, high jumps, full body crunches and some other painful moves. Believe it or not, I survived!

It was a real pleasure to chat with the crew who didn’t have a single laugh at my ridiculous attempts to beat them at their game. With the attitude of real champions, they were supportive, encouraging and helpful. I really can’t wait to see them in the ring. Are you gonna be there? Do come to say hi if you see me.

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You can shop my look at Zumba.com

 

 

 

 

 

Dream Body, Part Deux

A couple weeks ago I made an adult decision to involve science and new technologies to help me shape the body of my dreams. In collaboration with a diet and frequent workouts, I crashed Google searching other options and ended up confidently walking in Silkor medical center in Dubai for a rendezvous with their greatest Milena. Armed with facts and emotional desires, she sat me down for an honest chat: “Expectations vs Reality” followed by an assessment (read about my previous adventures at Silkor over here).

In brief, a dream body is more realistic than one may think, especially in our era of individuality. Every curve matters! What I consider a perfect shape may appear as skinny-flat to someone named Kim. On the other hand, highly desirable immediate results are often not achievable. It takes a great deal of squats, patience, sugar cutting and focus to move forward with body goals. Once you spot a twinkling light at the end of tunnel, turn to professionals to work their magic. My treatment plan from Milena was targeted to achieve a tighter, smoother lower body while focusing on stubborn fat and contouring with the help of LPG, Velashape, Pressotherapy and Cool sculpting.

LPG, or lipomassage endermologie, is a pleasant, non-invasive deep tissue therapy cleared by the FDA for temporarily improving the appearance of cellulite and bettering body dimensions. One session lasts about 30 minutes and feels like a fancy massage, involving a vacuum roller and a tight white suit.

Velashape is another non-invasive body contouring treatment that uses a mix of technologies (infrared light, bi-polar radio frequency and energy) to improve trouble areas unreachable by exercise and diet. Both vacuum and heating stimulate collagen production and improve skin’s structure.

Pressotherapy is a detoxifying treatment that uses mechanical pressure to improve blood circulation, decrease water retention, ease jet leg and increase lymphatic drainage. The best part of pressotheraphy is getting into an astronaut suit and dreaming of Mars One during the session.

Cool sculpting delivers precise cooling to target fat cells underneath the skin. Frozen fat cells gradually disappear over a period of 6 months and usually never occur in the same areas again. This procedure should be considered as an alternative to liposuction and obviously requires a specialist consultation.

Interested? You can take advantage of Silkor’s complimentary body assessment. Details at silkor.com or over here.

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Be your own stylist with Valenxe

Once upon a time on a late night train from France to Germany, two beautiful girls dreamed up a perfect wardrobe staple for all occasions all around the world. Joined by a third fashionista they designed a pair of truly desirable and versatile leggings with a slimming effect. That’s how Valenxe, the “intrinsic attractiveness” was born. Being hard to impress, I decided to sneak three pairs of Valenxe leggings into Dubai and put these babies to an ultimate style trial, breaking all possible fashion rules in between.

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Look One: Trophy Girl

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It was a sunny January Friday in Dubai, the perfect day to brunch, pool around and show off that hard to get beach body (did you try my insane workout?). So I grabbed my “la vie en rose” shades, a silky shiny tunic by Parker NYAntilla crop leggings in dream navy, and headed to the family friendly Waldorf Hotel on the Palm. Cropped leggings is a challenge to wear well. For me. I visually extend the look of my legs by balancing shorter leggings with either flats or sneakers. Voila:

Look 2: Nasty Woman

They say show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are. Woah-oh-oh-ah-ah-ah! Hanging out with these three unbreakable style gAnnstars: no.1, no.2 and no. 3 led to irreversible changes in my attitude. Armed with a truly Canadian maple syrup candy, a tee with me boyz Beavis and Butthead, I pulled on the leather-like Aspasia leggings in black and rolled away. Do mind the cool hat (this is Rella)

Look 3: Lady in Red

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When the time came to dress for a challenging shopping afternoon with a fellow fashion-addict, I opted for a bright red tight dress, Versace scarf and Bollea leggings in bella fiora brown. Not only did I have a fun time strolling down the new “must-see” district in Dubai, but found a solid number of followers thinking I was a celebrity in disguise.

Look 4: Walkaholic

It’s that time of the year in the UAE when the anticipation of rain is almost as enjoyable as the rain itself. Layered in Aritzia wool jacket and protected by a powerful red umbrella, I felt like Mary Poppins on a mission. Surprisingly my black  Aspasia leggings pulled off a classy as well as edgy look, making my lower body look “gym every day” thinner.

Look 5: Trouble Maker

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Inspired by the adventures of Indiana Jones, I decided to initiate my own treasure hunt and drove all the way to the capital, glorious Abu Dhabi. Dressed in a vintage cotton shirt from Austria, breathable Japanese sneakers, sweet Italian shades and Canadian leggings I was proud to communicate the spirit of a true globetrotter. I did discover a hidden Arabian quarter overlooking the blue water of a little creek and called my trip a total success!

Loved Valenxe – shop’em here! Stalk me on Instagram and Facebook

Update: While on a different style mission, I spotted another Dubai girl rocking Valenxe leggings. I think she wore them better than me! What do you think?

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New Year’s Resolution: Shape Up!

Dear lovely loyal reader,

How have you been? I’m mostly well too (thanks!), struggling to conquer sugar cravings and removing make-up before sleep. My resolutions is “just do it!”The opportunity for a new top me-me-me sounded tempting, a spiritual Klondike on a personal horizon of dreams and hopes.

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However a few weeks through January, when it became obvious that goal accomplishment has already failed, there was one I intended to nail no matter what – shape up! Frankly speaking it would be really cool to get super fit in my 30s and be discovered by Sports Illustrated.

Would you agree that the year of 2016 was the year of healthy living? If research into the benefits of black coffee, red wine and butter left some questions unanswered, Instagram hashtags #fitness and #fit displayed endless motivation and effort towards a stronger body. Meanwhile my initial attempts to exercise were barely successful and rather painful:

Right at that moment the destiny introduced me to Leo.

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Leo belongs to a rare circle of Personal Trainers who don’t brag, but do their job with enthusiasm, passion and contagious persistency. Yelling is not in practice either. Instead, he uses a technique that I describe as “charm and kill”, loading me with a logically connected chain of exercises similar in structure to DNA. Just right when I’m out of breath or motivation to continue, he would drop: “Today’s pain – tomorrow’s gain, smash it Anna” and smile. While I indulge in double Caesars for fun – Leo wakes up at 5am to win Cross Fit “pageants”.

The best is that he focuses on my fading body goals to tone sagging knees, straighten outer thighs and so many many more. Leo delivers a tailored workout every time and gets me stronger, fitter and healthier because a rising star swimwear model is not just a pretty face!

So to keep my New Year resolution alive and get you involved, I teamed up with unstoppable Leo who decided to break our “perfect legs” exercise routine into 5 easy moves. Attention: warm up and stretching are not included in this routine but should never ever be skipped (though skipping is great for lean leggies).

Move 1: Front Squats

A very successful exercise that results in stronger and leaner legs. Choose to start without weight if your recent workout plan involved Netflix’s “Chef’s Table” or spying on friend’s Instagram (I’m certainly guilty), otherwise move some weight off your shoulders to the front, stand with your feet apart and squat! Do 20, 15 and 10 reps.

Move 2: Ball Throw Squats

A variation of the previous exercise engages additional groups of muscles including shoulders. Start with a lighter weight and focus on your posture. It’s important to keep your back straight and straighten knees softly every time. Do 20, 15 and 10 reps.

Move 3: Single Leg Bench Lunges

Stand a meter away from a bench. Keep your back straight, place one foot on the bench, smile, bend your leg and lunge. Do 20, 15 and 10 reps.

Move 4: Curtsy Lunges

A powerful variation of the standard lunge, this exercise tones outer hips and builds better glutes. Bring one of your feet back and across your body. Both knees when bent should be 90 degrees (as always). Do 20, 15 and 10 reps.

Move 5: Forward lunges

This is considered a dangerous exercise, please remember to keep your chest lifted, back straight and knees bent at 90 degrees. Add weight only when a standard lunge has been mastered to perfection. Wear compression socks for an extra support.

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Well done! Let’s make the world a fitter place together, right meow!

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I am wearing Coega sunwear and Zumba wear. For questions and inspiration feel free to reach out to Leo or stalk me on Instagram or Facebook

Teach. Dance. Party – Zumba!

Secret no. 1: It was love at first sight between me and Zumba!

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We met rather randomly. They say opposites attract, so there I was a big fan of mat exercises and a quiet reader of The Economist who meditates to the sounds of Tibet, scrolling through my work mail in front of the studio. “You could use some cha-cha-cha, girl. It’ll loosen up your back”, laughed someone’s voice and a few minutes later it happened. I lost my soul to the wild Zumba moves. Forever, I’m afraid…

To my delight, Zumba loved me back! I juggled and partied through classes leaving behind work stress, the weight of deadlines and pressure from the land of business. I integrated all kinds of sneaky salsa steps into my daily walks around the office. I amused colleagues with occasional “a la cadera” routine on lunch break. I traveled with Zumba wear while my Instagram flourished with Zumba looks from all over the world…

“My moves-my rules” and on a count of four (my lucky number) one summer afternoon a passion had turned into a profession. I registered for certified Zumba Basic 1 instructor training (oh, la la!) in Dubai.

Secret no. 2: You can as well! Everyone can. Around the world  zumba.com

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Being a Zumba instructor with a license to teach for up to a year sounded absolutely awesome! It would be a flexible paid engagement that brings happiness, prolongs wellbeing, encourages traveling and socializing. Top it up with a new collection of Zumba wear every couple of weeks that turns you into a desirable trendy superstar! So without any doubt I was ready to scream “Yes!” and take my relationship with Zumba to the next level. At least spiritually. So to support my commitment with action, I sat down to obsessively study the training manual (the curse of a perfectionist) to be one move ahead and to surprise the dancing community with my witty comments (the curse of a manager).

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On the morning of the training I was ready to jam, learn and impress. Equipped with a spare outfit, water and Zumba protein shake I was fearless, no challenge seemed to be challenging enough. I must admit, I was wrong!

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My first impressions straightened me up. The Bare fitness studio in the heart of Dubai was full. Full to the limits (I had no idea Zumba was so popular in the Middle East), however it was rewarding to find out how easily fitness united people from different regions and counties, including the UAE, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Europe and the UK. There were no boundaries, just the rhythm of dance! Our instructor Steve handled a demanding crowd with a professional sharpness. In a matter of seconds I was greeted, registered and briefed. The fun has started!

Steve was truly brilliant. He had carefully constructed his training in a way that was interactive, engaging and easy to follow. He started with the free style master class giving everyone an opportunity to show off and then gradually moved to teaching the basic steps of Merengue, Salsa, Cumbia, and Reggaeton. With constant repetition and friendly assurance, we all clapped, jumped, laughed and successfully followed his choreography (with variations!). At times, Steve would pause the training to mix standup humor with facts, and would talk us through the dancing routine, music, secrets of being a great instructor and that strictly confidential Zumba formula. I hardly noticed the time fly by.

Loaded with the theoretical and practical knowledge, I couldn’t wait to get home to practice my new moves and steps. Dancing was a part of me. I felt inspired and overwhelmed by the new exciting opportunities and connections. Training with Steve and with all those beautiful, talented and motivated individuals made me realize that I wasn’t alone in this journey to the greater me as a person and as a new instructor. There was more than a community of fitness enthusiasts as Zumba combined it all: people, technology, fashion, innovation, ideas, formula, choreography, music, steps, beauty, healthy supplements, spirit, you name it! Now I’m a part of Zumba too.

Secret no. 3 Here are 10 proven tricks to get through the Basic 1 successfully:

  1. Attend Zumba classes ahead of the training;
  2. Read the manual;
  3. Google your instructor and learn about them before the course;
  4. Invest in trendy Zumba outfit (20% off with antrestain at zumba.com (US));
  5. Carry business cards to connect with great people around you;
  6. Pack a change of clothes, shoes, a towel, water bottle, snacks (I opted for Zumba protein shake);
  7. Monitor your wellbeing: phase up and phase down to stay actively healthy;
  8. Bring camera and don’t go shy on photos;
  9. Try to get closer to the stage;
  10. Have fun! Your first training will be unforgettable!

Find more information about the training at zumba.com. Stalk me on Instagram or Facebook

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High on Fashion and Self-Expression

In a city where I was once complemented for wearing tiny pajama-shorts Downtown, it is still a challenge to stand out. Torontonians often dress not for the occasion, but to blend in to the lush, rich outdoors created by nature and great Canadian civil engineers. They tend to love simplicity, organic, cruelty-free fabrics and tons of layers. Well, do what Romans do when in Rome.

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When I arrived it snowed the next morning. There is nothing more exciting for a Dubai girl in flip-flops than to be exposed to numerous opportunities to show off fur, boots and some serious winter style in May (you may argue that a gold chain is missing in that outfit).

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While the weather was throwing tantrums – my fashion spirit grew as sharp as CN Tower. Pockets, a hood and double stockings made my defense strategy a total success. God Bless Aritzia!

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For a feel of La Vie en Rose (French language is as important as English to Canadians)  – a little pink dress by Moda Aesthetics is a must-have and a must-paired with a locally sourced coat. The camel color brought all the nostalgic memories from the back home. With addition of an Italian scarf and American shoes, all the sudden you look as diverse as Toronto society.

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If you ever fancy a long romantic walk on a foggy morning – head to Lake Ontario waterfront in shaping leggings by Zumba wear. Hold tight to a funked up backpack; its sparkling powers could save you from cycling enthusiasts and random snakes.

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Torontonians taught me another important lesson – no matter how fit, strong, confident or stylish you are, always wear a helmet on every wild off-road adventure (and support your lower back of course).

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What I really love about dressing-up in Toronto is to be a part of something big, bigger than my ego. Stroll through the neighborhoods to camouflage your way into high-end street art installations.

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Then let the rebel inside you shine. Self-expression is what fashion is all about. Go wild!

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Live. Love. Breath. Be Crazy and Happy!

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Secret: 20% off all Zumba wear, shoes and accessories with annatrestain on Zumba US

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