Pilates and Yoga Connection opens in Heron LakeHERON LAKE — Tucked around the side of a building on its main drag is Heron Lake’s newest business — Pilates and Yoga Connection.
By: Beth Rickers, Worthington Daily Globe
HERON LAKE — Tucked around the side of a building on its main drag is Heron Lake’s newest business — Pilates and Yoga Connection. Angela Stenzel opened the fitness studio on Oct. 5, giving her an outlet to introduce southwest Minnesota residents to the benefits of both yoga and Pilates exercise.
“I’ve been teaching for 17 or 18 years, but I was doing different kinds of fitness — cardio, cycling or spinning, kickboxing,” she explained. “Then 10 years ago, I did my first yoga class.”
Yoga was a revelation for Angela, who has endured sciatic nerve problems her entire life.
“I knew I couldn’t continue to teach such hard-core classes all my life,” she recalled. “And with yoga, I saw 75- and 80-year-old women and men teaching classes, having this great flexibility at that age.”
After receiving her certification in yoga and Pilates, Angela operated a studio in Florida with her sister. When she made an online love connection with husband-to-be Dave Stenzel, a Heron Lake area farmer, she followed her heart to Minnesota three and a half years ago. They have a daughter, Halle, who just turned 2.
Before opening Pilates and Yoga Connection, Angela taught classes — and continues to do so — at the Worthington Area YMCA.
“We were thinking about it for a while,” she said about the decision to open the studio in Heron Lake, “and then we found this location, and I decided to give it a shot and see what happens. I’m just so happy I can teach — I feel good if I have just one or five students.”
The Stenzels did most of the renovation work themselves, turning a building that over the years has housed a movie theater, a museum and a hair salon into a workable fitness studio space. Its former owner left behind elaborate wainscoting and a chandelier that had been salvaged from a museum in New York. Dave used a laser level to mark out an elaborate painting treatment on the coffered ceiling. A well-chosen color scheme is relaxing and energizing at the same time; carpet tiles provide a comfortable surface for classes; and one wall is covered with mirrors so participants can check their poses.
Angela has outfitted the studio with the accoutrements of her trade, including yoga mats, bolsters, blocks and straps. She hopes to eventually add more elaborate equipment so she can expand her Pilates repertoire.
The current class schedule is: Monday, 9 a.m., Vinyasa Flow, 6:30 p.m., Gentle Yoga; Tuesday, 9 a.m., Power Yoga; Wednesday, 9 a.m. Pilates, 6:30 p.m. Piyo Fusion; Thursday, 9 a.m. Gentle Yoga; Friday, 8:30 a.m., Hatha Yoga, 10 a.m., Warm Yoga.
Yoga and Pilates are two separate forms of exercise, although they share some basic principles. Yoga is a series of postures and breathing exercises practiced to achieve control and harmony of the body and mind.
“People really like it, can see the changes in their body, what you can feel in the muscle and through your organs, what it does for you inside,” Angela explained. “It’s just an overall good way to exercise.”
At Pilates and Yoga Connection, Angela offers several styles of yoga.
“For the Gentle Yoga, we use the blocks, bolsters and straps to make it easier,” she said. “The Power Yoga is very popular, with more of a fitness base. It’s repetitive exercise, doing three to four poses at a time. It builds strength and cardiovascular. Vinyasa is a flowing posture; each movement guides you to another movement. I tell people it’s kind of like dancing. Hatha is for beginning to intermediate. It can be intense, because you have to old on to a poser for five to 10 breaths.”
Pilates, Angela explained, is more of a core-based exercise, involving more movement and abdominal focus.
“A lot of athletes are doing both to rehab and strengthen deep abdominals,” she said. “They are similar, but not the same. Pilates is a lot more about strength, building muscles. Yoga has more benefit to the organs, in releasing of toxins.”
Angela likes to keep her class sizes small so that she can give individual attention to her clients. The exercises, she stressed, can be tailored to meet anybody’s needs and physical abilities.
There’s also a social component to the sessions, with many of the participants arriving early or staying late to indulge in a cup of coffee or organic tea and some conversation.
To encourage more people to give yoga or Pilates a try, Angela is offering one free day each week for a month. In October, classes were free on Wednesdays; in November, the free day will be Thursday.
“Every month, it’s going to be a different day, and that’s just going to be part of the studio,” she said. “People can just try it and see that it’s a good investment in their health.”
Upcoming for 2012 will be workshops in a variety of topics, including aromatherapy, yoga and Pilates modifications and partner yoga.
Pilates and Yoga Connection is located at 225 10th St. in Heron Lake (entrance is on side of building). For more information, contact Stenzel at (507) 822-4882; or visit the website, www.piyoconnection.com.