Gillian Brown describes herself as a holistic health coach. The Canadian yoga instructor, Reiki practitioner, and wellness blogger has a degree in Applied Human Nutrition and a passion for passing her healthy lifestyle on to others.
Jana Webb came up with the name of her successful fitness practice more than seven years ago while she was working with CFL player, Henry Burris. “I owned a yoga studio at the time in Calgary,” she says. “He said, ‘You need to brand this. You have to call it something.’” Their brainstorming session resulted in Joga – “Because of my name Jana and yoga for jocks.” Webb now travels all over the world teaching her technique to sports teams, and soon she’ll be opening it up to the urban athlete as well with a location in Toronto. The single mom and successful businesswoman recently starred in the first season of Real Housewives of Toronto.
What was the driving idea behind your company, Joga?
I was in a car accident many, many years ago and I had to rehabilitate my body, so I was introduced to yoga. But I couldn’t actually do yoga because I was an athlete, so my body just wasn’t built for it in that I couldn’t touch my toes or do a lot of the positions that were offered. I learned about a program in Japan that prescribed individual movements based on your anatomical structure. I learned that style of yoga, brought it back to Canada, and I started teaching. I ended up getting a call from the Calgary Stampeders (CFL team) to go and teach yoga. I started working with them and learned very quickly that these athletes need something completely different than a traditional yoga program. They need something that can fit with their training regimen, something that could be implemented during off-season.
What is the biggest difference between traditional yoga and yoga for athletes?
I actually look at the biomechanics of sport. For example, a common yoga posture would be tree posture. In a football game you would never see an athlete stop and do the tree posture, but what you might see is them balancing on one leg with their knee bent and their arms out reaching for the ball with their back leg somewhere in space. What we do in Joga is emulate those athletic movements. It’s more of a movement-based style that’s focuses more on the biomechanics and what the athlete needs to achieve in terms of performance and injury prevention.
Do you mostly work with football players, or other athletes as well?
We work with the CFL, NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL – you name it, we work throughout all leagues. Now we’re taking this to the urban athlete and positioning [Joga] for the mom athlete, the corporate athlete. Pretty much anyone who has ever played a sport in their life thinks they’re an athlete (laughs) and they still go to the gym and they still train like an athlete. We’re now excited we have a bricks and mortar opening here in Toronto and we’re going to be able to offer that to the urban athlete.
What was the experience like filming Real Housewives of Toronto?
Ironically, I actually went to school for film and television, so I felt very prepared in that I kind of already understood what that meant in terms of understanding how a set works, how different shots work, and how to be on camera. That came very naturally for me. I tried to be an actress at one point and I thought, I am not good at this; I am just better being myself. So [RHOT] was a perfect fit for me because I am who I am.
What do you think sets you apart from the rest of the cast?
I think there are quite a few things. One is that I am doing this completely on my own. I started my business by myself, I’ve built it entirely on my own, I don’t have any husband that, one, supports me in what I’m doing every day and, second, supports me financially. I really am doing this by myself.
As a busy single mom, how do you stay healthy
I think now more than ever I’m really practicing and focusing on that, but I definitely get my workout in every day. I eat well, but I definitely don’t have a regimen. I eat burgers, I love beef jerky, I eat pepperoni, and I love wine. I love eating! I just try to find that balance.
What do you do to really treat yourself, to indulge?
For me it’s always a big steak and a big bottle of wine!
What’s your favourite spa treatment and why?
These days my esthetician does this non-surgical facelift treatment where she takes something like an ultrasound wand and it emits a whole bunch of little vibrations that help with the elasticity of the skin. No knives involved!