Saimavik Studio: Just BEING in the Arctic


“Iqaluit, and Nunavut as a whole, could use a little extra love and healing,” says Christine Lamothe, co-founder of Saimavik Studio, a wellness studio in the heart of Nunavut’s capital city.

Extra love and healing are what set Saimavik Studio apart from the average fitness centre. Saimavik is Iqaluit’s first facility dedicated entirely to services like dance, yoga, and Pilates. It’s also a place that nurtures the health of the whole person.

“The studio has created a whole new outlet for physical activity, active lifestyle, and healing, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual,” says Lamothe, who launched Saimavik with co-owner Gary Quinangnaq Philip in the spring of 2013.

Lamothe had been teaching classes in dance, yoga and fitness throughout Nunavut since 2006 before realizing that there was enough interest—and need—among her students to create a permanent place for sessions. 

“We put a ton of good intention into every aspect of this project because we wanted to infuse the building with uplifting and empowering energy so that everyone who walked in the building could soak it in and leave feeling saima, which means happy, calm and collected,” Lamothe explains.

“Saimavik” means a place of serenity, peace, and happiness in Inuktitut (one of the primary Inuit languages spoken ). Lamothe’s approach to wellness is all about saima—you won’t hear her pushing more trips to the gym or telling her students to cut carbs.

“Most people know they could probably use a little yoga or physical activity in their lives,” Lamothe says. “Each person has their time and space. I just tell them that they are welcome. The studio is there waiting for them when they are ready.”

Iqaluit’s community has responded positively to the studio’s holistic approach to health. Lamothe anticipates that more and more people will be drawn to Saimavik’s programs, especially as new offerings like drum circles and healing retreats are developed.

“I meet a large number of people who seek answers outside of themselves, who cannot sit with the thoughts and emotions that come up inside of them,” Lamothe reflects. “When one cannot sit and face themselves, they become reactive, and compulsively reach for something to sooth them like drugs, tobacco, alcohol—an addiction. Yoga teaches us to just be with all that stuff going on inside.”

And Saimavik aims to be a place where individuals can “just be”--without fear of judgment or the need to hold oneself up to some preconceived notion.

“Maybe it sounds basic but we all need it,” Lamothe says. “I just try and lead by example and everything else will fall into place.”

Lamothe sees Saimavik as part of a larger wellness movement that is growing across Canada and changing the way people view health.

“I think we're looking back to learn from the past,” Lamothe says. “We've been protecting ourselves and our children with bubble wrap for too long. We need to let our children play more, and we have to be okay with the fact that they might scrape their knee or break an arm. We heal from that stuff. We don't heal from taking on bad habits early in life.”

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