Yoga classes are available for all levels. Heather Burt
Stretching through yoga is a great way to relax and get exercise. Heather Burt
Rhonda Jones is making yoga fun for all ages. Heather Burt
Once you’ve met Rhonda Jones, founder of the Happy Dog Yoga Studio, it’s no surprise she’s been named the 2017 Blue Water Woman Entrepreneur of the Year. Aside from her numerous successful business ventures (including Happy Dog), she herself is pure energy and charisma, making visitors feel completely at ease in her studio, while also challenging notions of what yoga is all about.
“Yoga really is for everybody,” Jones explains.
She rejects the stereotype of yoga studios filled with slender 20-somethings in perfect yoga pants, executing the most difficult poses with intimidating ease. That’s not the reality, Jones says. Most of the people in her studios are women and men in their 40s and 50s, of all skill levels.
“We have a student here who is 8 years old, and another student who is 87,” Jones says.
She says her students are seeking the same things she was when she first started practicing yoga 10 years ago--flexibility, calm, and physical fitness ..
Jones moved to Port Huron when she was in fourth grade and started practicing yoga when her own daughters were that age, with a "marvelous" instructor, Kim Nesbitt. Nesbitt didn’t have her own dedicated studio space, though, and after years of shuttling between parks, gyms, and other locations, Jones finally decided she needed an actual yoga studio.
“I asked Kim, if I opened my own studio here in Port Huron, would she teach there, and she said yes,” Jones says.
That was the start of Happy Dog, which is celebrating its second year this April. And while launching one fledgling studio might have been enough for even the most ambitious entrepreneurial spirit, within a year, Jones and a partner opened a second Happy Dog location in St. Clair. In all, Jones has more than a dozen instructors teaching classes for every skill level, from beginners to more advanced yogis.
Why the variety of instructors and classes?
Jones says, “Each teacher offers something unique. If a student isn’t getting exactly what they want from a class, I encourage them to try a new class with a different instructor, because there can be such a vast difference.” Jones offers the first yoga class free, a try-before-you-buy philosophy to make new students feel more at ease.
Even with the Blue Water Woman accolades, Jones isn’t resting on her laurels. She’s just signed a lease on a new studio location in St. Clair, moving from a nearly-hidden space in Riverview Plaza to a more visible and accessible spot next to War Water Brewery.
The new studio is only a short walk from the old location, and when the doors to the new space open May 1, Jones thinks students will love it even more. It faces the river where, Jones says, she’ll be offering stand-up paddle-boarding (SUP) classes in the summer. Actually, the SUP classes will be offered at both the St. Clair and the Port Huron studios, just another reason warmer weather can’t get here soon enough.
For more information about class schedules or packages, or to learn more about what exciting new thing Jones will offer at Happy Dog, follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/happydogyogastudio or visit their website at happydogyogastudio.com.
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