New Tipp City yoga and barre studio seeks to create a more inclusive, therapeutic experience

Along with countless other businesses impacted by the closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic, boutique fitness studios have had to find new ways to reach their faithful customers, like offering online versions of their classes. However, now that fitness centers are permitted to open to the public once again, many wonder what an experience at their favorite boutique studios will look like post-coronavirus.

One local business, opening its doors to the public for the very first time last week, shares a glimpse into the new normal.

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The Yoga Barre & Co., a boutique studio offering yoga and barre classes, just opened its doors to the public in downtown Tipp City on Monday, June 1. Despite the new regulations put in place to keep her customers safe, owner Sarah Gillenwater still hopes to provide a rejuvenating fitness experience that everyone can enjoy.

“ I was nervous that people weren’t ready to come back,” Gillenwater said. “I took a poll beforehand, so I could see their comfort level. I know there's still half of my people that are just not ready to put their toe in that water yet, and I get it. I was nervous about opening, so I totally understand.”

Gillenwater, a graphic designer, Etsy shop owner and barre instructor, has managed to form a tight community of fitness and wellness enthusiasts in the Tipp City area, and yearned to find a way to give her clients the barre and yoga experiences they so desired. Thus, Yoga Barre & Co. was founded.

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Just within the past few months, Gillenwater has managed to turn a downtown Tipp City studio into a wellness mecca. While she was busy making the space her own, Gillenwater was also working hard to provide online fitness classes to old and new fans of her enthusiastic energy. However, after three months of these virtual offerings, Gillenwater felt the need to help her clients in a more personal setting — all while implementing procedures that would keep her clients safe.

“I have to restrict my numbers based on how many people I can fit that are six feet apart,” said Gillenwater. “So, I can fit 10 mats while keeping everyone six feet apart, and I can fit 12 barres because I ordered extra barres. I ordered portable barres so I could get a few more people in there. It’s just me making sure everything's clean and sanitized before and after class. I have to wear a mask before and after class but not during, which is awesome. I'm actually not supposed to come in contact with them unless they ask me to adjust them and if I go within six feet from them, I have to put the mask back on.”

In addition to these policies, Yoga Barre & Co. will also move to a contact-free check-in system through the website or Glofox app. All guests will be asked to wait in their cars until 10 minutes prior to each class starting. Guests will also be asked to sanitize their hands upon entering, to answer questions about their health and maintain a distance of six feet from other clients. For a full list of these procedures, pay a visit to the studio's website.

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Gillenwater also comes from a family of entrepreneurs, with her sister-in-law behind the new female-led brewhouse, Chaffee’s Brewhouse, opening in Tipp City, as well. The two businesses plan to host a Friday night event that involves guests taking a class at Gillenwater’s studio and cooling off with a craft beer at Chaffee’s Brewhouse afterwards.

The studio will be open seven days a week and will work to offer barre and yoga classes in the early morning hours, afternoon and evening to cater to the busy schedules of clients. Head to Yoga Barre & Co.'s website to view the full roster of classes and to sign up for any that are not yet full.

Going forward, the studio will still be offering online classes for those who do not feel comfortable attending in-person classes. Message the studio on Facebook for more information about online offerings.

“Probably in about a month or six weeks, I'll be launching an online library where you can pay a monthly subscription for classes,” said Gillenwater. “So, you won't have to do them when I do them. You can go and do them on your own time. So they'll have, hopefully, ways of being able to filter things. So, if you want more of an auto-focus or things like that, you’ll be able to have that with a monthly subscription. It's all through the same Glofox app, so they won't even have to do anything else. They'll just have it all right there in their app.”

Along with Gillenwater teaching Barre Intensity classes, the studio will have two other yoga instructors on staff, leading restorative yoga classes like Hatha Flow and Vinyasa Yoga. Still unsure what a barre class exactly entails? Well, Gillenwater is happy to explain — and don’t worry, no ballet training is required to make the most of a barre class.

“There's a common misconception that barre is ballet and that they have to know how to dance,” said Gillenwater. “Honestly, it's not dance at all, though it uses the fundamentals of ballet. You’ll do things that would normally be first, second, third, fourth position of your feet, but we've simplified it and taken the ballet terms out of it. It's small repetitious movements, or isometric movements, that burn out the muscle to create tone and length. All of those isometric movements are working your auxiliary muscles, which support your larger muscles. So it's a great thing to pair with for the runners. It helps support their knees and it helps get all of those tiny muscles that they need to be able to support the big muscles they use when they're running and it helps build their core and upper body strength.”

While building her online community and eventual brick-and-mortar presence, Gillenwater sought to create a space that met all of her clients’ needs without giving her the guests the idea that it was only an establishment for elite athletes.

“I want to create a place that feels elite without being elite,” said Gillenwater. “Without an elitist attitude. I want them to feel like it's their speakeasy of workouts. Everybody's welcome.”

Yoga Barre & Co. is located at 27 ½E. Main St. in downtown Tipp City. For more information about the studio, pay a visit to their website or Facebook page.

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