Cornerstone Yoga Studio finds silver lining to pandemic with virtual classes

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Despite provincial grant funding being announced for B.C. businesses, a local yoga studi…

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Despite provincial grant funding being announced for B.C. businesses, a local yoga studio is finding it hard to fit the criteria to qualify for the support.

Co-owner of Cornerstone Yoga Studio, Trent Bellamy, says a lot of the requirements for relief funding depend on a complete loss of income, but due to the nature of fitness centres, that doesn’t apply because they don’t have full-time staff.

“A lot of the relief stuff is based on a complete loss of income, so 100 per cent loss. It’s based on payroll numbers, and due to the nature of fitness classes, we only have subcontractors.”

Part of the challenge is not knowing what’s coming next. Bellamy says even when restrictions eased in the summertime, his business had not rebounded to pre-pandemic levels.

“In June, we were able to reopen our doors at a very restricted level, from having 30 people in the studio down to a maximum of 10. And there was still that lingering fear of catching COVID-19. By November, the restrictions got so tight that it wasn’t financially feasible to keep our doors open,” says Bellamy.

One thing the pandemic forced on Bellamy and Cornerstone Yoga was the emergence of virtual classes. While Bellamy says it has opened a new revenue stream opportunity, being in a rural community with spotty internet connections can cause more problems than it solves.

“A lot of people just don’t have space or the ability to step away from their family to practice at home. Ideally, you want to practice yoga in a quiet space where there aren’t many distractions. And a lot of our clients don’t have hard-wired internet, so bandwidth to watch a video is tough for them.”

Another new idea born out of necessity was the creation of a yoga video library.

“There is a silver lining to it. I had many conversations with my business partner about getting Youtube videos up, and it was always one of those things where we never had the time to do it. Then we were forced into it, and it’s been good. We’ve had a lot of really good feedback about it.”

Keep an eye out for yoga classes in the park. Bellamy says plans are in place to create a yoga in the park program to enjoy some socially distant mind-body exercise in the sun.

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