find your community

When I moved back to London from Vancouver, despite being a Brit born and bred, I got some of the fiercest culture shock I've ever experienced in all my travels. A country girl by nature, and fresh from a year of living by the ocean, with yoga at the heart of most of my days, I was bowled over by the size of the city, and the pace everyone seemed to be going at left me feeling more than a little off-balance.

yoga store team in vancouver
Steph and the Robson St. team in Vancouver

While in Vancouver, I'd worked as an educator in the heart of lululemon's hometown, at our Robson store. From my first interview, I was blown away by the sense of possibility and positive energy at the store, but it took moving back to London to make me realize how much the experience had given me.

find your fitness community to feel at home

Moving to a new city, and being able to count the people I knew on the fingers of one hand, might have seemed overwhelming a few years ago. But armed with the one-year goals I'd set back in Vancouver, I had a clear plan for what I wanted to accomplish - I knew I wanted to reestablish my yoga practice, and make connections with those amazing people in the fitness community who inspire you to stretch yourself beyond what you thought was possible. (I always seem to find a lot of them in yoga classes!) That connection to community was something I'd been lucky enough to experience first-hand when working at Robson, whether it was meeting our amazing ambassadors or trying out new classes I never thought I'd attempt. I knew that by finding my London fitness community, I'd start to feel more at home and regain my balance.

crossfit workout gear from lululemon
Steph's living the manifesto and sweating once a day with Crossfit in London.

home is wherever you unroll your mat or lace up your sneakers

Commuting on the tube in rush hour with my yoga mat may not have won me any flavour of the month awards. But when I let out my first om at a north London Bikram centre, I knew that I'd come home - not just to a particular country, but to my yoga practice, which helped me to make sense of those first few crazy months. From that first moment of calm in a crowded studio, came a wealth of new experiences - from my foot hitting the wall for the first time kicking up to a handstand, to trying (and loving!) my first Crossfit class, to running through the amazing urban greenery of Hampstead Heath on a hazy London Sunday morning with twenty other London runners.
running trails at hampstead heath in london
Green space (aka a "heath" to Londoners) in downtown London!

a lululemoner in london

Being a lululemoner in London has inspired me to get out and make those community connections myself - meeting everyone from policemen-turned-personal trainers to future London 2012 Paralympians in the process!

And best of all, while I miss my fellow lululemoners dearly, the folks from lululemon have been with me every step of the way, whether it's their goal-coaching advice ringing in my ears as I rejig my five-year goals on the tube, or their words of encouragement as I blog about another sweaty Crossfit personal best. Whether it's an impromptu goal-coaching session in Regent's Park or trying to convince my fellow Crossfitters to try a yoga class with me, I know I can bring a little bit of lululemon to London, every day.

Have you moved somewhere new and taken your practice and fitness goals with you? How did the move impact on what you accomplished or plan to accomplish?

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I love this post, Stephanie! I lived in Boston this summer and knew all of 5 people that lived there so I can relate to the daunting feeling of being in a big city but not knowing anyone. I took advantage of the classes and run clubs at the Prudential Center and the Harvard Square Showroom to get to know the city and establish a sense of community while I was there. Thank you, lulu, for making out-of-towners feel at home wherever we go!

Comment by Carolyn — September 29, 2010 @ 8:17 am

This is a great post. I live in London myself. Just wondering where you crossfit? Oh and running on Parliament Hill in the Heath is a divine escape into the “countryside” of London!

Comment by Michelle — September 29, 2010 @ 9:16 am

This is a great post Steph thank-you for sharing. We miss you tons at the store but I’m glad you’re spreading the lulu love in London.

Comment by Rebecca — September 29, 2010 @ 10:40 am

@Carolyn – Run clubs are a fantastic way to get to know people and feel connected! And you’re so right, lululemon has a way of bringing people together – in my first week in London I met a girl at Crossfit who turned out to be a friend of someone I worked with at lululemon in Vancouver!

@Michelle Nice to hear from a fellow Londoner! My gym is called Crossfit London UK, and it’s over in Bethnal Green. If you stop by, definitely say hi!! :) And I can’t agree more, Parliament Hill is one of my absolute favourite spots in the city.

@Rebecca I miss you guys too! And I love reading your blog posts. They’re always so inspiring. Keep ‘em coming!

Comment by Stephanie Bales — September 29, 2010 @ 11:34 am

so true! Thank you for this pep talk, a perfect reminder as this week i’m packing up my life to move to vancouver from australia. The excitement of new yoga, new people and perhaps even handstands is wonderful… Yay!!

Comment by claire — September 29, 2010 @ 3:22 pm

Stephanie! It’s so cool to read this post! I love your story. I can totally relate as I lived in London for a few years (now I’m in Vancouver). That pic of the heath made me a little teary, I used to love running through there!

Comment by lesia — September 29, 2010 @ 4:12 pm

Stephanie! I just found this blog post — it’s great! I completely understand everything you’re going through. I just moved to Los Angeles from spending the past 22 years of my life on the east coast. While I may not have switched COUNTRIES like you, I can totally relate and feel a little overwhelmed by switching coasts of a continent…and barely knowing anyone! Your post was very inspiring — best of luck with everything you do!

Comment by Rachael Fine — October 15, 2010 @ 11:43 am

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