"Every body is a yoga body," say the staff at Fit Columbia, a yoga studio in downtown Five Points.
With genuine diversity and a nonjudgmental attitude, Angela Yong Sellers, owner and founder of Fit Columbia, said she wants everyone to feel included and welcome at the yoga studio.
"Typically when you walk into a yoga studio, they are almost all young, white females dressed in very nice clothes. That is intimidating to the rest of the 95% of the population. And what we have here is genuine diversity. Our instructor team mirrors most of the population," Sellers said. "We don't have mirrors everywhere, so the most introverted of people are comfortable. We don't have — there's not a competitive vibe."
Sellers opened Fit Columbia in 2010, focusing on nontraditional styles of yoga that feature puppies, baby goats, bungee cords and, most popular of all, aerial silks.
Aerial silks and the other props, as Sellers calls them, allow people to get into yoga positions with little to no risk as with traditional yoga. With customers of all ages, the props allow conditions such as arthritis or joint pain to experience minor impact during yoga experiences, Sellers said.
While it tends to have an elderly customer base, Fit Columbia welcomes every kind of student, experienced or not. Kiley Prevatte, a certified yoga instructor, started her journey at Fit Columbia as a student with no yoga experience. She is now an instructor with 200 certified hours.
Prevatte said yoga can be helpful to anyone, as people "learn a lot about themselves and the people around them." She said nobody's journey with yoga will be quite the same.
"Some people learn how to find a quiet space in their mind. Some people learn body awareness and bodily autonomy. Some people just learn confidence or self-confidence. And, again, not so much with COVID right now, but it's a great place to meet people. I've had so many friendships bloom [at the studio]," Prevatte said.
Mee Jean Sasine, a long-time customer of Fit Columbia, said she loves the different classes, which can't be found at most places.
After first trying an aerial silk yoga class with a group of friends, Sasine soon came back again and again with her children, even hosting a birthday party for her daughter there, she said.
Sasine now holds fundraising events at Fit Columbia for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
"[Sellers] is really great with the community and supporting the community. So, when I was doing fundraising for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, she jumped right in. And we did a — it was a bubbles and bungee class. So, it was like, we did a bungee class and then had champagne afterwards. And then, we also did a beer yoga class for fundraising," Sasine said.
Sellers said she wants to bring positivity to the Columbia yoga scene as a whole.
"It's really important to me that I'm more collaborative. If I can't be collaborative, I at least want to be a springboard. If someone comes here and they do some yoga with us, and they feel more confident, and they start going to other studios, that's still a win for Columbia," Sellers said.
Anyone can take a class, either a la carte or with a membership ,at the studio's newly renovated 2121 College St. location.