Today we're sitting down not only for great coffee, but bacon-lettuce-tomato and avocado sandwiches which in this restaurant are called BLATS. They are famous and delicious. Michelle's usual choice of coffee is an iced caramel macchiato, but today she's having a hot cup of the Dock's House Blend. 

Michelle is one of  Spooner's Yoga instructors, and she credits a lifetime of sports, cheerleading, weight training and group exercise classes for her initial interest in fitness which led her to yoga. A Shell Lake High School graduate, she attended college to become a radiologic technologist in Minnesota. Even then Michelle kept up her love of fitness by joining a local gym. She and her husband have a daughter and eventually moved to Spooner. 

Jobs in radiology were somewhat challenging to find when they first moved here. Already having a thorough knowledge of the body and how it functioned, she pursued a career in physical fitness. 

While working as the manager of the fitness center in the Civic Center, she took on the job of teaching yoga and other fitness classes.  After the Civic Center closed, she took a job at The Body Shop Fitness Center in Spooner.

She's been at the Body Shop since 2012 as the center's manager and yoga instructor.

Michelle, why did yoga become such an essential part of your life? 

Yoga is beneficial for your mind, body, and spirit. It develops inner awareness. Yoga is not just about working out, it's about a healthy lifestyle on and off your mat. 

With yoga's popularity growing each year, how many kinds of yoga are there, and how many varieties do you teach? 

There are about 15 different kinds of yoga.  I focus my classes on Hatha, Vinyasa, and Power Yoga.

Since you've been at the Body Shop for six years, have you seen a significant turnover in yoga students? 

No, I have not.  There are so many ways of practicing yoga to achieve significant benefits that it has a high retention rate. 

Yoga's deep breathing and meditation helps relieve stress and declutter the mind. It develops inner awareness and enables you to focus on the present moment. You learn to take your yoga practice off your mat and into the world. 

What's the average age of your students? And what kind of clothes do you recommend they wear for class and why aren't there any mirrors in your yoga area?

Yoga is for all ages. It is best to wear clothes that flow with your body, comfortable and loose fitting. We do not have mirrors so people can focus their awareness inward rather than how a pose or the people around them look. 

What are the physical benefits of yoga? How many times a week do you teach yoga?

I believe the physical benefits of yoga are increased flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone, improved respiration and energy, cardio and circulatory health, improved athletic performance and improved balance.  Right now I am teaching yoga four times a week. 

You mentioned that people who are training for the Birkie or a marathon often take your classes. What can yoga do for them and other athletes?

Yoga's focus on strength training and flexibility is a fantastic benefit to your body. Yoga is meant to strengthen your body from the inside out. Each of the yoga poses is intended to reinforce the muscles around the spine, improve your core, improve your posture and alleviate back, shoulder, and neck pain. 

In the summer you offer a yoga class Friday at 9a on the Shell Lake Beach in Shell Lake for the members of The Body Shop Fitness Centers. Can anyone take this class and why do people love it?

Yes anyone can take this class for $8 per class. People like to be outdoors and be one with nature. It is indeed a beautiful experience. You learn to focus your attention on what you are experiencing in that present moment without judging yourself. Practicing yoga has shown to increase mindfulness not only on your mat but in other areas of your life. 

Are there any new yoga classes starting at The Body Shop Fitness Centers since your three established classes are full most days?

Yes, our Spooner location will be adding a Monday at 4p yoga class for the month of April.  We also offer Monday and Friday at 9a and Wednesday at 5:15p. All our classes are free for members. Nonmembers can pay $8 to take one of these yoga classes. 

 The Body Shop Fitness Centers in both Spooner and Shell Lake are open "every minute of your life," but the majority of the time only by key card.

When are you actually at the Spooner location so people can stop and talk to you?

I am at the Spooner gym Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 10:30a until noon, Tuesday and Thursday 8:30a-11:30a. You can also call 715-939-1163 and ask questions about our yoga classes.

The Spooner gym is located next to Nicks restaurant at 116 Vine Street and highway 63.

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