First Baptist Church will be the new home for alleyCat Yoga — which owner Susan Mathis describes as a more sustainable space following the financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mathis announced the move in a blog post on Tuesday, explaining that while financial pressures influenced the decision, some of it was “out of (her) control.” The building’s landlord plans to expand into studio space and has not renewed alleyCat’s lease.
A 28% increase in rents coupled with a drop in customer engagement during the pandemic also affected studios “both mentally and financially” before the leasing issues, Mathis said.
The studio will officially move from its current location at 17 N. Fourth St. to a room inside the church at 1112 E. Broadway Blvd. on June 1.
Mathis added that the overall attitude from staff and students about the relocation was positive.
“We are so grateful to have a meaningful place we can go and are welcome to share this space as part of another spiritual community,” she said.
Before the pandemic, alleyCat didn’t offer virtual classes, but they’ve grown in popularity over time. While that may no longer mean crowded student rooms, Mathis said, people can benefit from the convenience and intimacy that the online format provides.
“You can certainly create a sense of community online, and that’s part of our model moving forward. It has its own character,” Mattis said. “We seek to connect in this way, as we do face-to-face.”
With this move, alleyCat will begin offering separate classes for online and in-person students, rather than the current hybrid format where two groups of students are taught at the same time. AlleyCat coach Lynn Ross said creating separation would allow all students to receive the full attention of staff.
While some of the changes were bittersweet, Mathis said, many of those involved in alleyCat Yoga approached the move with an open mind.
“People, if they’re practicing yoga, have learned a certain level of flexibility, not only in their bodies, but in their minds,” Ross said. “We don’t stick to the same thing. So we built it into our teachings as a way of being resilient in the midst of change.”
“A lot of students say to me: The studio is about people and practice. It’s not a place, it’s not a place,” Mattis said. “And we’ll take it with us.”