Published: Dec 28, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified: Dec 27, 2011 11:51 PM
I recently checked in with Harmony Pilates and Yoga Studio in downtown Apex to see if a program I wrote about a few months ago - no-cost yoga for teens - was still in full swing.
Not only does the class still attract between eight and 20 teens every Friday night from 7 to 8 p.m., assistant director and yoga instructor Erin Donovan said the teens have inspired her and Harmony owner Susan Simon to try out a few other low- to no-cost programs.
"These teens come in so openly every week, but it's made very clear to them that although it's a 'free class' that we don't want them to view it as such," Donovan said. "I donate my time away from my family to be with them, and we ask them to volunteer in their community in some way.
"I've been told wonderful stories of these teens volunteering at their church, becoming tutors. Some are trying to start a yoga club at their school to share what they're learning because it's helping them. They are so inspiring to us and make us want to do more."And so, on Jan. 3, Donovan and Simon will launch YoMaDa, a yoga class for moms, dads and babies, which will run from 9:30 to 10:15 a.m. The class will be offered on a sliding-fee scale, meaning participants pay what they can afford. The idea was inspired not only by the teens, but by a survey Harmony sent to customers they hadn't seen in a while.
"The common theme was no disposable income," said Donovan.
But how do babies even do yoga?
"If we're in planks, (the 'up' position in a pushup), we'll have the kids on their backs, and we lower to do peek-a-boo or give a kiss," explained Donovan. "It's very sweet and wonderful for bonding."
Following the yoga class will be another new program called Cardio Community, which also will launch Jan. 3 at 10:30 a.m. at the studio.
"All are welcome," said Donovan. "Moms and dads with strollers are welcome, too. We mapped out a nice 45-minute walk with sidewalks for safety. There is no fee or registration. All anyone has to do is show up at the studio at 10:30 with their walking shoes on, and we'll leave from there."We hope to get as many people who want to join, to do so," Donovan said. "How great would it be to have 50 people walking together, strollers and all?"
I had one last question: Why focus on free and low-cost programs when they need to make a profit? Interestingly, economic survival was part of the dialogue.
"If it doesn't interfere with our paying students or our regular schedule, why not?" said Donovan. "Susan and I have really watched people struggle to come to classes based on financial issues and through life's transitions. We've worked for a year on what we could do to still stay in business, but bring more to the people who can't afford to come."
Harmony had one trial yoga class in December, wanting to gauge interest. "The positivity from clients and non-clients for the opportunity to come and bring their child with them has been overwhelming," said Donovan.
"We're fortunate to have teachers that have such big hearts and great talent. This is a way for us to serve the community in the way that we do best and enjoy."