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Modo Yoga Thunder Bay provides a place for community and connection

Owner Debbie Zweep has tried to ensure her studio provides a bit of normalcy in the face of the pandemic.

Like most people trying to keep their business alive in the midst of a pandemic, Debbie Zweep has had to navigate the perpetual cycles of change and uncertainty. But when it’s time to hit the mat, the owner of Modo Yoga Thunder Bay, turns her attention towards building and strengthening her yoga community.

“COVID-19 has really caused connections to be fragmented and we’ve tried to support our students in this world that looks very different right now,” Zweep says. “We already know yoga’s therapeutic value on mental health and I believe it has the power to keep us resilient and grounded in this crazy time.”

Since the onset of pandemic lockdowns, Zweep has helped facilitate the studio’s transition online. This involved integrating new technology and training teachers to alter their teaching styles to fit their new virtual classrooms. When in-person classes were permitted, the studio implemented other changes like increasing its scheduled cleaning times to disinfect the studio after each class. The sizes of classes were reduced to give students more room and to comply with provincial guidelines. It also now has a new air ventilation system that works to regularly replace in-studio air with outdoor air.

And while nothing compares to doing Shavasana in a 40 degree Celsius hot room, Zweep says that going virtual has increased accessibility of classes to people who might normally have scheduling conflicts making it to the studio. It’s also provided introverted clients with a better-suited option, she adds. Right now, the studio offers around 40 classes each week that vary in intensity and are either 45, 60, 75 or 90 minutes long. Zweep notes that after an increase in membership for classes last year, attendance has stayed constant. To her, it’s not only an encouraging sign, but it speaks to the value of the practice.

“My students have always given me hope and I hope that in return I’ve provided them with some peace,” she says. “I look forward to connecting with them when the studio re-opens and building up what we have.” 

In the future, Zweep says the studio will offer students the option of an online membership, an in studio membership and a hybrid membership. Modo yogis can also expect a return to paddleboard yoga, classes at Hillcrest Park as well as yoga at the waterfront this summer. Details will be released on Modo Yoga Thunder Bay’s social media channels. Visit www.modoyoga.com/thunder-bay for more info.