Marlene Vale

The Castle Movement

The movement centre offers a variety of classes from yoga to dance to Tai Chi - there's something for everyone.

A group of community leaders have joined forces in a mentoring, supportive partnership to promote health and well-being in Fernie.

The Castle on First has been transformed into a movement centre. Under its roof houses a diverse selection of classes that all, in one way or another, have a focus on movement, said the woman who brought the idea to fruition.

Marlene Vale, who teaches yoga classes at the Castle, has been living in the area just short of 10 years and said she always felt the town needed a community centre.

“I’ve always worked in community centres in Victoria and Ontario, and I’ve been surrounded by lots of movement ideas,” she said, adding Fernie is the perfect place for a movement centre to thrive. A movement centre is a hub of creativity with diverse forms of movement and expression, she said, adding there is a similar business in Nelson and said she got some of her inspiration from there.

“I thought if Nelson can do it, we could too. We’ve got so many talented people here,” she said. “Whether you’re in construction or restaurants or art, everyone who lives here is a master at their craft. There’s so much pride here.”

While yoga is Vale’s forte, she said the centre explores many other types of movement.

“I don’t want to limit myself to just yoga, as all movement is valuable, of course. I have Tai Chi, meditation classes, all forms of yoga include pre- and post-natal [starting] in the fall,” she said, adding there will also be ballet classes, a variety of dance classes, and a spin studio.

While there are a number of classes available now, Vale said the grand opening is Sept. 12.

“That’s where we’ll welcome the community. We have a whole bunch of things going on,” she said, adding there will be demonstrations taking place and that’s also when the spin studio will open its doors.

As a way to get away from a typical business model of top-down leadership, the Castle works as a mutual empowerment business model where each collaborator operates her own business (so far there are only female collaborators) under the umbrella of the centre, and offers support to one another, Vale said.

“Studies show that women work best when we work with each other not work over each other, and that’s so empowering for all of us. And we all want this place to work and to grow. I have close to 10 people saying that same message,” she said, adding the team of collaborators shares the responsibility of business growth and development. “We all want each other to succeed because that’s how we’ll keep this [business growing].”

Vale said she’s had her eye on the Castle located on 1st Avenue for sometime, as it has been for sale for a couple of years.

Starting out on her own, she wondered if she could rent the space while the owner continued trying to find a buyer.

She approached him and pitched the idea of renting it out a few mornings a week to teach yoga classes, and much to her surprise, he said yes.

Her network of instructors caught wind of this and the emails started pouring in, with each instructor looking to see if she, too, could teach there.

“We’ve been working together, dabbling, kind of dreaming where we could go, what kind of space we could have. Nothing in town really worked or fit, so when this opportunity came up, they jumped on it.”

The owner was, again, very accommodating and allowed for more classes to be held, and promptly dropped Vale off more keys for the others involved.

The centre started immediately with five instructors teaching different classes, each having her own freedom, Vale said.

“That’s the lovely thing about it, we’re all our own bosses. We can choose our own hours. We work together. We all have different skills and strengths, but we have this shared vision and that’s really all that we needed.”

The people in the community have embraced the movement centre, she said.

“They’ve been so supportive. I think they see that opportunity and it’s hopefulness. It’s inspiring.”

There are now close to 10 collaborators involved with the Castle and interest continues to grow.

Vale is even renovating what is now a storage room in the building and transforming it into a dance studio that will offer privacy to the kind of dance classes that will be offered there.

“We have a teacher and she does urban, burlesque, hip-hop,. She teaches kind of radical dance,” she said. “I want the dancers to feel like they can really express themselves and really let go. She’ll be teaching edgy kind of stuff.”

For more information on the Castle Movement and to view class schedules, visit www.thecastleonfirst.com.