The End of a Very Short Era: Goodbye, Grateful Spirit Yoga

Dearest Amazing, Wonderful People,

I have forfeited the rights to the Grateful Spirit Yoga brand by not continuing aerial yoga, which was suspended due to safety issues by the owner of the building.

I have canceled the lease for the Yoga studio and will not manage Grateful Spirit Yoga past June 6, 2018. I am relinquishing responsibility for several reasons.

The aerial yoga was terminated by the owner of the property, Bob Newberg, due to safety concerns, on May 2.

“Due to the  ongoing concerns with the safety of the aerial yoga support systems,  I must require that you immediately stop all use of the aerial swings.  The use of the swings may be resumed when the following are completed:
  1. Inspection of the entire aerial system by a Licensed Structural Engineer.
  2. Completion of any modifications, additions or deletions to the aerial system and the support structure that may be required by the Engineer.
  3.  The addition of Tres Robles, LLC. to your Certificate of Insurance as additional insured.  Also, evidence that aerial yoga is covered by your insurance.
  4. Certification by the Engineer that any required  modifications, additions or deletions have been completed and the entire system is safe for the intended use. I am sorry for this disruption to your business but it is essential that we take these steps to insure the safety of all concerned.”
Although Bob and his own contractor, Mike, rigged the beams for the hammocks themselves, they would not take responsibility for ensuring their safety when I took over the business in April. At least one wall to which the beams are attached is a floating wall and I doubt it will support long-term pressure. One of the ceiling beams has split significantly since I took ownership on April 1 and the drywall is also splitting in a more exaggerated way than when I took ownership. There are also cracks in the ceiling. Before I took ownership, one of the hammocks fell and injured the instructor during a private session.
The first week that I took ownership, a building inspector came in (the husband of an aerial student) and made several reasonable suggestions for securing the apparatus to increase safety. Bob and Mike refused to implement the suggestions, stating confidence in the work done by Mike. I understand from the building inspector that Mike was very angry when they spoke, possibly because the inspector critiqued Mike’s work. There is no room for pride when it comes to the safety of students in my classes.
The lowest bid for a structural engineer to come inspect the studio was $1000. I decided not to pursue this avenue. Thanks to everyone who hustled that week to find an engineer for me. You know who you are!
The aerial yoga classes were a primary revenue generator for GSY. Prohibiting classes stops a significant revenue stream.
There’s more.
Then, on May 6, within five weeks of proprietorship, I received another email from Bob, the landlord, stating that “By having exercise classes at your location you are in violation of the lease agreement… By having exercise classes, you are in direct competition with Healthy Inspirations. [the neighboring business]” I was reminded in this email from Bob that the only activity allowed in the studio was “Yoga,” as stated on the lease agreement.
Anything that I would like to offer the community beyond Yoga in this location, therefore, including sound healing, film showings and support groups, would also be in breach of the contract I had signed. I did not consider that offering classes not offered by Healthy Inspirations would be a conflict of interest.
The owner of Healthy Inspirations, Tricia Williams, perceived that the Barre Yoga Fusion class, which would have been a full and profitable class for the teacher, conflicted with her business.
It never occurred to me that I would be so restricted in a rented space. Perhaps I was naive.
Tricia must have consulted with Bob with her complaint after briefly speaking with me – literally coming to the studio door two minutes before a private session at 8am with my student on Friday morning  – of her concern that I would take clients from her business by offering this event, even though her business does not offer Barre classes and even though the Barre class includes Yoga.
Bob further required that I receive written permission from Tricia to offer the Barre class. When I requested a conversation with her about it, via email in which I cc’d the Barre instructor and Bob, she flatly refused to discuss it.
I wrote to her:

“Hi, Tricia,

Tara Orlick, the Yoga Barre instructor, and I would like to meet with you to bring understanding to the perceived conflict which concerns you regarding the scheduled monthly Barre workshops at the Yoga studio.
Would you be willing to meet with us this week for a conversation?
Bob, our landlord, requested that you write a letter of approval for Grateful Spirit to host the Yoga Barre class. We are eager to confirm with registered clients that the class is a “go.”
Mornings at 9am work for me to meet, except Wednesday, and other times can be arranged. Tara can be flexible and take a break from her work at our convenience.
Thanks!”
She replied:

“Thank you for wanting to bring understanding to the perceived conflict, however, I am currently focused on consolidating both my centers into the Atascadero location.

At this time I am in no position to consider the allowance of more than yoga in the Tres Robles center.
I appreciate your compliance and understanding.”
I had been clearly warned by multiple people before I took on the business about Tricia and how difficult she was to work with, and there were several other incidents between myself and Tricia that give me reason to believe that this woman is not supportive of our business, creativity and freedom in serving our students, including respecting quietude in the shared hallway. Respect for our need for reasonable quiet to support the meditation in the studio during Yoga classes has been a challenge the entire first month in business.
I have forfeited the rights to the Grateful Spirit Yoga brand by not continuing aerial yoga, which was suspended due to safety issues by the owner of the building.
The work I have done in the past three months to build the studio and it’s reputation must be absorbed by a new identity, should we continue as a business entity. I imagine keeping my business name, Brooke West Yoga, as I move forward.
I feel a responsibility to the teachers at GSY to resolve the loss of a venue, as they have committed to teaching through June. I have a responsibility to my private clients to continue offering Wednesday and Thursday evening classes through July, as those classes are included as part of private yoga therapy programs.
I believe that my concept for GSY as a therapeutic yoga venue is valuable and needed. I have received wonderful feedback over and over, including “Atascadero needs this!”
Every teacher who has taught at GSY has also received incredibly positive feedback about their classes. They are all talented and passionate people – exactly what our society needs right now. I am very grateful that they agreed to accompany me on this journey thus far.
This has been a wonderful experience. I have worked my ass off. I know that the other teachers have put their heart and soul into what they do, too.
Safety is my priority as a Yoga teacher. I am proud of myself for listening to my intuition, asking questions about the aerial yoga hammocks, not being bullied by the neighbor and stepping away from danger and disrespect. It was an efficient decision, made quickly and without consulting anyone. I feel it was a necessary move and feel very calm and positive about it. It is inconvenient, but far less inconvenient than someone being hurt or more classes being canceled because of greed, fear and the territorialism of someone threatened by something healthy and which brings joy to those whom we serve. I believe that there is enough business to go around and that every student will find and resonate with their right teacher. I hope that everyone will understand why I chose to strike out, away from Grateful Spirit Yoga and all that came with it.
Rent is paid through May 31.  We are welcome to stay through June 6. Bob generously waived the rent for those final days in June.
I will be out of town and my classes will be canceled from Wednesday to Tuesday, May 23 – 29.
I plan to relocate services to an office on Morro Road (Highway 41). Please stay tuned.
I Send You So Much Love and Gratitude for your Grateful, Adventurous and Giving Spirits!!! Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or feedback.
Hari AUM TAT SAT
Shanti Shanti Shanti
Peace Peace Peace

 

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