By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — Ally Ubiparipovic and Jaime Fagan are ready for Rockford to see yoga as more than a workout class.
The co-owners of 815 Yoga Collective are in the midst of renovating new studio space at the Edgebrook shopping center that will allow them to expand their focus from movement-based classes to a more holistic approach to mental and physical health.
The new space in Edgebrook, 1639 N. Alpine Road, suite 1615, will have additional space outside the studio that allows for hot and cold therapy and personal spa time. The pair are also moving their business outside the four walls of their brick-and-mortar studio with meditative hikes, book and writing clubs and other modes of practicing mindfulness.
“This word yoga as we know it in the west and this country has come to mean an exercise class, and it’s really not,” Ubiparipovic said. “What we talk about is yoga being the top of a mountain with many paths to the top. Yoga, the word, is an experience of what you get once you’ve hiked to the top of that mountain.”
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815 Yoga held its last classes Tuesday in its downtown studio at the Indoor Rockford City Market. It has a host of construction work to do before opening its new studio, which is behind the Sonny’s Place restaurant at Edgebrook. The pair is targeting opening in May or June, depending on construction.
In the meantime, it will hold online classes, a book club at its Edgebrook neighbor Lucha Cantina and other activities such as backyard gardening, seed starting and using art and creativity as a means of mindfulness.
“We’re really looking at overall wellness, not just exercise.” Fagan said.
Fagan, a former English teacher, said the goal is to allow people to come together and get to know each other without judgement.
“The main focus of our studio at this point is community and bringing people together,” she said.
The new space will have a room for reiki, which is a therapeutic and calming practice also known as a Zen garden. There will also be a spa suite with a shower and sauna, a cold plunge and a hot tub for clients to book by the hour. It’s about triple the size of the downtown studio.
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There are also infrared heat panels that will allow the studio to provide hot yoga sessions.
“These radiant heat panels heat the floor, heat the air all to the same even temperatures, so it’s a really nice experience,” Ubiparipovic said.
Ubiparipovic, 29, started practicing yoga about a dozen years ago. She, like many, discovered it as a fitness routine and slowly learned more of its physical and mental disciplines. She founded 815 Yoga about six years ago and is now a 500-hour yoga instructor.
Fagan, 42, started as a client before becoming an instructor and now co-owner of the business. She has family ties to the studio’s new home at Edgebrook. Fagan, whose maiden name is Zanocco, will be a third-generation of Zanoccos to work at the shopping center. Her grandfather and great uncle were among the first tenants at Edgebrook when they opened Zanocco Ace Hardware in 1974. The store is now run by her father, John, and his cousin Dean Zanocco.
“Rockford is a big city, but it’s so small, still,” Fagan said.
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815 Yoga spent five years in a studio along East Riverside Boulevard before moving to downtown a year ago. Ubiparipovic said she had always hoped to locate at Edgebrook one day.
“We’re just so excited,” she said. “It’s such a great feeling to be so welcomed: All of the other business owners at Edgebrook as well as our clients have been jumping up and down hugging us that we’re coming in.”
This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @KevinMHaas or Instagram @thekevinhaas.