It took almost two years for Mary Barnes to get her yoga studio open. Now that it’s open, she hopes to build a yoga and wellness community around it.
Barnes first opened a studio in Bethlehem, guiding classes in a single room.
Her following grew quickly, and soon the room couldn’t hold the students looking to join, she said. Eventually, Barnes decided to open a new, bigger studio in Hickory. Hickory Community Yoga & Wellness opened in May of this year. The business offers dozens of yoga classes as well as Pilates, tai chi and barre. It also offers health coaching, massage therapy, nutrition coaching and Reiki, an energy healing practice.
Barnes brings a background in exercise. She taught group fitness classes and found yoga through athletics.
After deciding to open a new practice, Barnes began a search for a new location. In March of 2019, she found a new location, just a few doors down from Planet Fitness on N.C. 127 in Hickory, in the same shopping center as a health food store and a massage therapist. Barnes, with the help of friends, started work on the space, but construction and permitting issues led to delay after delay.
It was a game of patience, she said.
The delays turned out to be a blessing, Barnes said. If the studio had been open when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, the business might not have survived. Instead, the pandemic gave her another year to build, find instructors and perfect the practice.
In May, the studio opened for two free weeks of classes to bring in clients and iron out any wrinkles in the business. Now, after being open for two months, Barnes’ vision has come to life.
“There aren’t a lot of options around here,” Barnes said. “There are some great studios in town but not what we’ve been hoping for. We want to come together and have a wellness community.”
Barnes wants the practice to build a community of people who support one another and get to know each other. Already, the halls of the studio fill with chit-chat after classes, and Barnes knows her students by name. She takes time to get to know students and help them with health issues.
The studio will be an “oasis” for the yoga community, she said.
Barnes hopes a wide array of people will feel welcome in the studio. There are already classes with a majority of male attendees, she said.
“We hear a lot of people saying they can’t come in because they’re not flexible, or they don’t fit a certain height, but you don’t have to be those things,” Barnes said.
The studio makes every effort to be welcoming and serene. The lights are dim and a small water fountain flows in the lobby. In the largest studio classroom a mural of the mountains at sunset is the backdrop for many classes. At the back of the studio, a small room is open to members for them to use on their own — to meditate or practice yoga, Barnes said. The space is quiet and cozy, perfect to focus on the practice, she said.
After months on end of the COVID-19 pandemic, Barnes thinks people may be looking for an outlet and tool to deal with anxiety. Yoga can help guide people through those emotions. Now is the time to focus on mental and physical health, she said.
The studio is also planning to partner with Stretch-n-Grow to offer classes for children and their parents.
Individual classes at Hickory Community Yoga and Wellness cost $14. Class packages give discounts on classes. A membership for unlimited classes each month costs $109 monthly. There are discounted memberships available for seniors and students. Membership pricing may change.
There are more costs for wellness consultations, massages and private yoga sessions.