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May 2024

Studio Closing Sunday May 12

By Closing

It is with great sadness and apology for the short notice that I must announce that Sterling Hot Yoga & Wellness will close its doors permanently on May 12, 2024. The final class will be Yin Yoga at 4:30 p.m. Until that time, the studio will remain open and there will be a regular schedule of  all of the different styles of yoga and Pilates classes. I sincerely hope that everyone takes advantage of these classes as you are able and available.

Without your dedication, commitment and ongoing membership, there would not have been such a special community of like-minded people dedicated to improving body, mind and spirit. It truly has been a journey that while it included some difficult situations, especially most recently, left an indelible positive impact on my life. I sincerely hope that holds true for all of you who make Sterling Hot Yoga & Wellness such a special place.

14 years in Midtown Mobile means there is a rich history, before the studio became Sterling Hot Yoga & Wellness. Former studio owner Lucille Allen offered some history of how hot yoga came to Mobile and her tenure as studio owner. Please take a few minutes to read her remembrances before I offer my own closing thoughts:

From Lucille:

When Bill and I walked into the building at 2540 Old Shell, he asked me if I could envision a yoga studio here. I said that I could. Amid old shopping carts and shelving, I saw where the front desk would be, where the lockers rooms would be built, and I saw a great, beautiful hot room where people would improve themselves bones to skin, inside and out. It took us six months to build out the studio, and while under construction, many people came in – they asked us when the church would open, they asked us how long it would be before we would be serving yogurt, and others came in super excited – letting us know that they have been waiting for a hot yoga studio in Mobile and they were thrilled to begin practicing with us.

Even before we were officially open, we held a class there – on our wedding day, with mirrors propped against the wall and the flooring rolled out, we practiced with friends and family – it was the best way to start out the best day of my life.

We opened the studio in mid-October, 2010. I can’t remember the exact date. Liana taught the first class of the day and we had 11 people in the room. That’s a good number – the number that kept popping up to me when I was in Mobile. I took it as a sign of approval from my mother, who died years before on November 11. I taught the afternoon class and thus began the first day of Bikram Hot Yoga Mobile.

We had visiting teachers; some stayed a while, some were here and gone. Visiting teachers who stood out were Tori Young, who taught me so much about grace and presence on the podium. She was stellar in every way. Then there was Jeremy Marcott, who with charm and an easy going perspective, wowed many of us – some in more ways than one. Teddy Ward was our first teacher who went to teacher training. I’ll never forget his first class – he did such a great job and we were all so excited when he finished. He was, and is, outstanding. Teddy stayed with Nicole Tryboyevich Davis in our little apartment on our property and they quickly became fast friends. When it was time for Nicole to open her own studio in Pensacola, Teddy went with her.

Arwen Rice and Brian Evans represented Mobile in the National Yoga Competition. Imagine getting on a stage in New York City half naked and being judged on their form! EGADS – the bravery of those two!

In 2014, we changed our name to Sterling Hot Yoga Works. I loved that name; I still do. We held a class on New Year’s Eve and dozens of people joined us to learn how we came by it and we sweated our way into a new year and a new era of the yoga studio.

When we realized that we could not, in good consciousness, send people to the Bikram teacher training any more, my partner Jodi Chmielewski and I started our own Hot Yoga Teacher Training. Between Jodi’s background in sports coaching and my experience in instructional communication, we developed a comprehensive four-week training. We held the training in Puerto Morelos, Mexico (on the beautiful Mayan coast) twice a year, and today, there are more than 250 Sterling yoga teachers out in the world. I am so proud of that accomplishment. Anna (Percy) Parks was Mobile’s first Sterling graduate. She was a shining example of what we could do. I will always love her for her trust in us.

While I was gone, Julie Jeffress was a reliable, ethical, clever and wonderful support to me and to the studio. I would not have been able to leave the studio without her!

We learned to pivot – we added 60-minute classes; we added other styles of yoga and despite the patches of slow periods, we held strong.

Then I was diagnosed with cancer. My focus shifted from the studio to my own health crisis. The support of the community was overwhelming – the love and encouragement from so many in Mobile brings tears to my eyes even to this day. But I had so much fear about the diagnosis – was the water accelerating it? Was it the food? Frankly, the fear was unreasonable, but that doesn’t make it any less real. When Bill suggested we go back to California, in part, so we could live near his grandchildren and start a new life in a new place, I agreed it would be a good idea.

It broke my heart to leave the city that had embraced us wholeheartedly, but when David Roberts stood up and offered to take the reins of the studio, it helped to make the transition easier. When we opened in 2010, we were the first hot yoga studio in Alabama; when Bill and I drove out of town in 2017, there were five hot yoga studios within driving distance from Sterling.

David took the studio, which frankly had been running on fumes, and got the wheels moving again. He adjusted the schedule; he brought in coaches, he got new teachers with different skills, he offered different services – David poured his heart and soul into Sterling. Major kudos to David for staying afloat during COVID – there was nothing easy about maintaining a small business that required social distancing and masks! But he did it, and he did a great job.

But despite all efforts, running the studio has taken its toll on David, and it’s time. Sterling will soon close its doors. It makes me sad, but I’m so very grateful for the support, for the love, for the good times, and for the challenges. Those are the things that make us all Sterling, and for that I will carry a Sterling piece of Mobile in my heart…always. It’s been an honor, a privilege and a pleasure to be a part of your lives.

From David:

After several years of regular running, including four marathons, two half marathons and many 10K and 5K races, I took a rather long hiatus from any physical activity.

I moved back to Mobile from Florida and some personal challenges and work schedule left me very much out of shape physically and mentally. I finally looked at myself in the mirror one night and did not like what I saw at all, and knew it was time for a change.

In December of 2011, I walked into Bikram Hot Yoga Mobile, and was greeted by studio owner Lucille Allen. “You’re awesome and you’re going to be even more awesome” All I knew was, if this woman had that kind of enthusiasm for someone she didn’t even know, I wanted what she was selling!

And so my yoga journey began. After nearly 13 years, I have taken almost 2300 classes of various styles at the studio we call home. If it became an addiction, it was the right kind of addiction, something that has yielded so many positive results in body, mind and spirit.

So many memories of those first years, countless doubles and an occasional triple class practice the same day. Several 30 and 60 day challenges, rewarded with a t shirt and signing the famous Sterling Challenge Wall. I honor all of you who have done the same.

There are fond memories of staying after class on Friday evenings and doing extra work with other teachers/students like Teddy Ward, Nicole Trboyevich Davis, Becky Kopec, Amber Ramsay and several others. We all worked hard at what we did and felt great afterwards!

It became inevitable that maintaining a high level of practice, attending an intensive workshop in Mexico in 2014 and having the opportunity to be mentored by yogis much more accomplished from a physical perspective deeply embedded this beautiful routine deeply within me. The real beauty is that, no matter my level of physical ability, I was never judged in a light anything less than doing my best, and my best is good enough. Remember that, it’s true for you too.

In 2016, I made the decision to leave my previous career in media sales to attend Sterling teacher training. 30 days of intensive training and mentoring by Lucille Allen, Jodi Chmielewski, Debbie Vojik, Aaron Pappas and 18 other students prepared me to learn how to teach this yoga. Thanks to each of you for your guidance and continuing friendship. Spending an entire month in a yoga “bubble” forges friendships that are unique and special. It’s something I encourage anyone wanting to explore yoga at a deeper level to undertake.

The decision to take over as owner of the studio took place in October, 2016. As aformentioned, Lucille and Bill made the understandable decision to return home to California. Filling the shoes of someone like Lucille Allen was a huge task, but something I felt honored and excited to undertake.

The studio was renamed Sterling Hot Yoga & Wellness, and I’m proud of the excitement of new classes that were introduced, 30 and 60 day challenges, workshops, community classes, community partnerships with Mitchell Cancer Institute and Veterans Recovery Resources.

The studio was voted Best Yoga Studio by Lagniappe magazine in 2019, a testament to your support. Of course, that recognition would not have been possible without the hard work and expert teaching that has always existed at Sterling Hot Yoga & Wellness. There are currently six Sterling teacher training graduates on staff in this order: Michelle Ryan (2015), David Roberts (2016), Tyloria Crenshaw (2017), Sue Bruno, Maryella Matthews (2018). Other current teachers who have made an invaluable contribution to the studio are Allan Grajek, Manja Podratz, Bridget Reiter, Tori Lubecki and Chanda Washington. Much gratitude and love to each of you for making Sterling such a special place. Please take the time to thank these dedicated yogis who put so much time and effort into their craft.

While I could go on with many more words on my experiences and remembrances of the past seven and a half years, I think it is best to close with the most important thoughts that I truly believe. Each and every one of you are owed a deep expression of gratitude from me for what you brought to Sterling Hot Yoga & Wellness. You brought yourselves into this space, in countless cases I witnessed personal transformation and improvement in body, mind and spirit. You created a community that is unique and meaningful in so many ways. Thank you for that, it means more than I could ever have imagined.

Peace, light and love,