In less than 24 hours, Shelley Roupas, owner of Feel Better Yoga in Burlington, went from teaching daily classes in her heated studio, to practicing yoga in a makeshift area of her home — correcting her client’s poses over live video.
After closing on March 14 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the yoga studio acted fast, holding its first class over Zoom the following day. Having no prior experience leading online classes, Roupas said she and the other instructors had to quickly learn to tailor their services to this new format.
“Adapting to this whole new way of teaching and sharing yoga through these little squares on a computer, or your phone has been a challenge, but it's also been a huge source of growth for us, and that's always a good thing,” Roupas said.
Now, Feel Better Yoga holds 35 virtual classes a week with 16 different instructors. here are three to six classes available between 6 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. every day.
After paying the $9.99 registration fee, individuals have unlimited access to these remote yoga classes for one week. After enrolling in a class, clients are sent an email with a link to a Spotify playlist for each session so they can play music during class.
For people who cannot attend the live classes, the company has posted over 30 prerecorded yoga videos on their website for free, covering a wide variety of exercise and stretching options.
The studio is also supporting healthcare workers during this time by providing a free pre-recorded 20-minute video made especially for nurses who are working on their feet all day.
“We have tons of EMS people that come to our classes, tons of nurses,” Roupas said. “We were like ‘Okay, people don't necessarily have an hour for yoga at home because life is happening.’ But if you can get in 20 minutes, while you're at work, or 20 minutes at home, with shorter classes, then it's just going to shift how you feel for the whole rest of your day,”
While people can easily make excuses from exercising under the circumstances of COVID-19, Feel Better Yoga instructors have been sharing videos of their new at-home workout on the studio’s Facebook page, to combat this tendency; showing people that yoga can be done in almost any space.
“You can be in your messy bedroom, you can be in your kitchen, you can have your toddler or your pets or life happening around you and you can still get your yoga in,” Roupas said. “So even though we can't go to the studio right now, you can still feel so much better.”
Elon University junior Maggie Davis attended her first Feel Better Yoga class during her freshman and has been going ever since.
Now home in Chicago, Davis said attending the remote classes has been the best way for her to motivate herself to put effort into her practice.
“It makes me feel better than just doing a recorded video because it's holding myself accountable to really do the class full out because I'm having the teachers watch me and correct me and having that community still makes it so awesome. I just love it,” Davis said.
An average of 20 clients are enrolling in each of these online classes, many of them finding added benefits to the practice as a result of the stress and anxiety that can occur from living during this pandemic.
After returning home to Texas after Elon shut down its campus, junior Kylee Smith, a regular attendee at the studio has also been continuing to practice yoga through these remote classes.
Smith said joining the online classes has helped her maintain a normal schedule while in quarantine.
“If I didn’t have the Zoom yoga, I would be going actually crazy. I wouldn’t have what normally keeps me grounded and sane in life available to me,” Smith said.
After Smith’s sports career came to an end, she began attending exercise classes; attending several studios throughout the years. To her, however, Feel Better Yoga stands out among the rest.
“The community aspect of it is what makes it really special. The instructors are always there trying to learn your names and try to get to know you and so I have kind of gotten to know them too,” Smith said. “Which is nice because you don't feel like someone's just trying to teach you. You feel you are actually connected with the instructor and not only that, the other people in the classes.”
Under the conditions of social distancing, the studio employees are doing their best to maintain this strong sense of community. When they are not seeing each other during Zoom sessions, the instructors have been doing other activities over video chat to stay in touch, like having a paint party or even learning viral TikTok dances.
Roupas said she is doing her best to see the positive during this pandemic, viewing the shutdown as an opportunity for humankind to grow and foster new ideas under the temporary circumstances.
“It's been this huge pass of being creative and innovative and trying to figure things out, which, fortunately, what yoga teaches us; take a breath, take action and do what you got to do,” Roupas said.
Feel Better Yoga is constantly in the creation process, Roupas said; looking for new ways to improve their customer’s yoga experience and grow as a brand.
“As we continue to innovate, this new way of sharing yoga I am sure we will incorporate everybody's feedback and insight and ideas,” Roupas said.