The Covid-19 shutdown could have been the beginning of the end for small local yoga studios, but for the resourceful and resilient yogis and fitness instructors of The Outer Banks, it was a whole new beginning. It thrust them into the virtual world, and the result has been a beautiful thing.
Many of them, like Scott Lawlor, aka “Pickles,” of Scott Lawlor Yoga, had always wanted to go online, but found the task daunting.
“I was antiquated, archaic, old and obsolete,” Lawlor said. “But what happened is it kind of pushed me into creating an online presence which I had never really had before.”
Through Instagram live, Zoom, and his own YouTube channel, Lawlor was able to film his “Anti-Viral Vinyasa” class, along with live music from the “Bohemian Song Society” from his own backyard on the canal in Southern Shores to hundreds of people across the country, all free and donation-based.
“The irony of this whole thing is that quarantine, I thought was going to be a quiet time,” Lawlor said, “and instead became this whole new rebirth of mediums for teaching yoga. It was not the most financially profitable time in my life, but I was able to practice with over 200 people sometimes in a night, from Washington, San Francisco, to Florida, to Colorado, and I got paid there in spades. You wouldn’t know it from my checkbook, but I got paid.”
Charlee Ulmer, owner of Village Yoga in Duck and Manteo, echoed those sentiments. She and her group have managed to keep 72 classes a week during quarantine, between online classes and outdoor socially distanced classes. They realized it was a chance to connect even more deeply with people than they could in their physical space. They have had people tune in from Portland, to Salt Lake City, all the way to Costa Rica and Czech Republic.
“It’s been really sweet to connect with people who we usually only get to see for two weeks over the summer, or our second home-owners who normally wouldn’t be able to get a membership with us from where they live,” Ulmer said. “Now we get to build a connection with them every day from their own homes. If this hadn’t happened, it would have been much more difficult for them to get to know us and for us to get to know them. So it’s been really cool to be able to connect with people who we normally wouldn’t.”
For others, like Dan Althoff of OBX Fitness Collective, quarantine has been a time to put what we learn on the mat into action in the community.
“If there’s one thing that this whole situation has made clear, and something that has been clear to me for over two decades, is that your health and your fitness are so very important,” said Althoff. “For personal responsibility as well as a community.”
Their mantra at the Collective is “Happy, Healthy, Helpful.”
“That’s kind of our goal is that people are happy with where they are and what they’re doing and that they feel healthy, but that they are also in a position where they feel helpful,” said Althoff. “It’s derived from ‘Be strong, be useful,’ which is an old French saying. It’s like, what is the purpose? What’s the whole point? Of course, everybody likes a sexy body, but if you can’t use it to be helpful then what’s the real point? I think that everybody is asking themselves these questions. And if they’re not, then they’re missing out on some really fundamental parts of being a human right now.”
That has taken on a whole new meaning during these times. The others feel that as well.
“Even with all of this,” said Ulmer, “when people have been going through loss and anxiety and not wanting to live in fear, even through all of the uncertainty, I still feel so full of abundance, joy and connection. I feel an even deeper sense of community. That’s what Village Yoga is all about – serving yourself on the mat so you can be of service and bring that joy into the community, in the challenging times and in the joyous times.”
For these studios, yoga in the time of coronavirus meant deeper connections, new relationships with people across the country and throughout the world, and an exciting rebirth of their businesses as they embrace the online world moving forward.
As Ulmer put it, “Thank God for technology. Being able to utilize technology for good and positive connection is incredible.”
Where: 1240 Duck Road, Duck waterfront shops; 207 Queen Elizabeth Ave., Manteo
Scott Lawlor Yoga
OBX Fitness Collective
Where: 3810 N. Croatan Hwy, Unit K, Kitty Hawk