Shannon Gorbahn is not a big fan of going to the gym.
“You do feel judged, you do feel looked at,” she said. “It’s just uncomfortable for some people. There is a place for that, we need those gyms . . . But for someone like myself, that’s just not my level.”
After a few months of enduring rather than enjoying workouts at the gym, the Smithers resident tried a fitness yoga class at a local studio.
The class would be the catalyst for Gorbahn to open a new yoga studio in town with classes for all body types.
“I felt that there was a bit of a hole for people who are just starting out with yoga or felt intimidated by a regular fitness class,” said Gorbahn, who earned her yoga certification in Penticton last month.
“I thought I could bring a different element to the fitness world and have a class for larger women, people who have never exercised before, people who are shy about a big class, provide a more intimate class, that is non-judgemental and for literally every body.”
The Smithers Yoga Loft, located just above Gone Hollywood on 1st Avenue, opened recently and is offering a host of new, non-traditional yoga classes throughout the week, including yoga fitness, teen yoga fitness, yoga for round bodies, and a mom and daughter class.
“I’m not shy about going to a fitness class, but a lot of my friends are and this is a safe, cozy, environment to practice yoga. That’s what yoga is, it’s practice, it’s not perfection. We’re here to practice something that reduces stress,” she said.
Gorbahn fell into teaching yoga a year ago and decided to take the course to teach yoga for her own benefit.
“I found it hard to find exercise that I liked to do consistently. This is the one form of exercise that I’ve enjoyed doing. Instead of enduring, I’ve enjoyed doing it,” she said.
Since then, she has opened her own yoga studio, fully-equipped with mats, blocks and bolsters.
Megahn Kilpatrick recently attended one of the practice yoga sessions at the studio.
“She’s very good at motivating people and you don’t feel intimated,” said Kilpatrick.
“Shannon doesn’t make you feel like you’re the odd one out. It doesn’t matter if you’re big or small, she makes you feel like you belong and that makes you want to do it more and that makes it fun.”
For Gorbahn, it’s all about encouraging people to enjoy the exercise that they’re doing.
“You’re still working muscles and working your body. You can feel successful and see improvement quickly when you practice yoga. It’s amazing how quickly you see progress and see the benefits,” said Gorbahn, adding that she hopes to provide classes for couples and partner yoga in the future.
“It’s been a really fun journey for me,” she said.
To register for classes, visit www.smithersyogaloft.com.