MICHELLE BLOEDORN

I have always been drawn to yoga as a form of wellness. I started to dabble in the practice my early freshman year of high school as a way of coping with severe anxiety and found it to not only remedy this but discovered the beauty that my practice was entirely my own. I had never exactly been conscious of being active, being shy and not naturally athletic school gym class didn't do anything in fostering an appreciation for team sports or activity in general. So when I started practicing yoga and I was reminded it was about MY body and where I was THAT day, it really resonated with me, and that mantra, in addition to many others, I have taken with me into my daily life. In summer 2014 I rediscovered a regular yoga practice at Healium, in an effort to get more restorative sleep and the rest is history. Since then I have made an effort to practice at least 3 times a week and have experienced more balance than I ever could have imagined. With all the great benefits I have already noticed, I'm excited to see where else my practice will take me!


TOMMY MARCOWKA

 Tommy, 45 years old.  Formers: soccer, basketball, football player, boxer, skinhead, musician, U.S. Marine, chopper jockey, gnarler, little league coach.

Currents: husband, father, firefighter, culinary enthusiast, dog lover, custom vanner, surfer, hunter, rock'n'roll animal, humbled yoga practitioner.

Futures:  Continue to raise our family, stay healthy as I'm getting older, practice yoga (the ultimate in passive aggression), retire young, surf warm waves, paddle outrigger canoes.

"I thought I was in good shape until my first two classes......one vinyasa, one power hour.  Needless to say I got my deck re-shuffled.  The things I like the most are its difficulty & relatively low probability of getting injured."  "Great workout".


EMILY MASON

Growing up, I was not an active kid – and I hated sweating or exercise of any kind. Not having regular physical activity caught up with me in a big way in college – I was well over 200 lbs by the time I graduated. While in my mid-20s, I decided that I needed to make a change, and joined a gym. Over the course of a year and some, I was able to lose 100 lbs – now, the challenge would be to keep it off.

I started taking yoga classes 4 years ago through the Milwaukee recreation department as a way to mix up my fitness routine, maintained that weight loss for several years. As a complete newbie to yoga, these classes were a great way to build my confidence and strength and prepare me for something more.

I did have one bikram experience prior to visiting Healium – and boy, was I NOT prepared for that. Luckily, I wasn’t completely put off by the idea and challenge of heated yoga, and gave it another shot at Healium after seeing a poster for the newly opened studio. I was absolutely hooked by the classes and teachers – and the friendly students that keep coming back.

In late 2013, I had an abdominoplasty to remove excess skin and realign my abdominal muscles from years of being heavy, which sidelined me from yoga and other activities for a few weeks. Getting back into it again was tough, but participating in the various challenges have helped me not only build strength but also a regular practice. My goal this year is to make it to 200 classes – which is definitely a doable goal. My husband Chris even joins me at class on a regular basis, and rarely even complains about the heat anymore.

Ironically, I haven’t been to the gym in awhile – and yet I’m in better shape than I was a year ago. The combination of strength training and cardio that I get through classes not only keeps me engaged, but works my whole body! 


ANDY KRAFT

My mother always attests to the gray hairs I had given her while I was growing up. It seemed like every time I went out to ride bicycles with friends I’d come home with fresh bruises and scrapes and various articles of clothing freshly blood stained. As I started to ride motorcycles and ski, the speed increased and so did the significance of injuries. In 2002 I broke a thumb and elbow after not quite sticking the landing of a backflip on skis, in 2007 I tore my ACL and broke a toe coming up short on a motocross jump, and two years later in 2010 I broke my femur during another dirt bike mishap. That last one left me in the hospital for two weeks with a couple nights spent in the ICU. Since that point I’ve had a 12” titanium rod in my leg and another 3” bolt connected to that for a total of eight pieces of hardware inside of me.

As soon as possible I always jumped back into physical activity but over the year’s aches and pains had increased from intermittent to a regular part of waking up in the morning. At this same time I really started to connect with road bicycling. This year I noticed that it wasn’t the burn in my legs or screaming lungs holding me back, but rather the pain in my lower back making me ease up. I wasn’t having fun anymore. I had to do something different. My wife Amy had experience with injuries as well playing roller derby with the Brew City Bruisers. She suggested I visit the league’s physical therapy sponsor. Treatment was almost exclusively stretching through yoga poses.  That was a tough month but it cemented in me that feeling better was going to be a journey and not a single event. Finally it had clicked in my head that although I had always kept active after injuries, all those events had led my body to the stiff and battered state it was in. It took me all those years to figure out that localized pain was actually being caused from a lack of strength and flexibility throughout my body.  

When I competed that short period of physical therapy I knew I needed to stick with the effort. Amy had heard good things about Healium and early this spring we decided to try a Slow Flow class. Going to the studio the first time was intimidating but I left that first class feeling energized and relaxed. The stress relief hadn’t been something I had considered going into it but now it’s one of my favorite parts. I’ve continued with practice both at Healium and on my own at home with great results this summer. I recently took my first hot yoga class and that’s opened up an even more amazing experience. I’m starting to see yoga as a new part of my life I’d struggle to ever do without. Thank you so much to all I’ve been able to practice with, my wife Amy for encouraging me to put in the effort, and Healium’s instructors for your patience and guidance. Thanks to the movements and methods I’ve learned at Healium I no longer wake up with pain. Now burning legs and screaming lungs are all I feel when I’m on two wheels.


INDIA LATHON

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I just realized.  I've been doing yoga for about 20 years now!  After moving into my first apartment, my room mate came home from her first college yoga class, exclaimed "this is my favorite part!" and we would lie on our apartment floor in corpse pose for hours after that.

I'd always been reasonably athletic, but I wanted the long, lean "dancer's body" so I turned to yoga more.  I purchased videos, but ended up admiring Rodney Yee's physique more than practicing.  I attended classes at Bally's, where I was introduced to fun and challenging poses that they gave us no clue how to begin. 

At the Riverwest Yogashala I discovered Iyengar yoga, with all its props corrections, and challenges.  I began to understand the poses and the importance of alignment.  A friend introduced me to Bikram and after months of doing that regularly, I noticed that the knee problems that had plagued me all throughout my that teens and early 20s had disappeared.  I had a work/trade position cleaning the carpets so I went to Bikram faithfully, sometimes twice a day.  My asthma disappeared.

Because of work, I was unable to keep my work/trade position, so I gave it up, but I also put my regular practice on hold for two or three years.  When I moved to Bayview, Healium was just a month away from opening their studio, and there was an apartment for rent right over it!  I saw it as a sign.  I would have no excuse not to have a regular practice if I lived above the studio!  I jumped at it.

Thanks to the variety of classes at Healium, and the very different teaching styles, there's a variety to my practice now that I never had before.  I appreciate the meditative aspects of yoga much more.  I believe that just as your emotions and stress change your body and how you carry yourself, you can change your emotions and stress level by moving, holding, and changing your body.  Yoga has helped me to manage a lifetime of social anxiety.  It's helped me to understand balance - flexability vs. strength, acceptance vs. determination.  I'm moving out west very soon, and my first priority has been finding a studio that will shape my home practice as much as Healium has!


HEATHER COOK

  My name is Heather, Milwaukee born and raised, and have been practicing yoga since 2009.  I began with Bikram (with Robyn), and thought that was the only type of yoga until I took a Vinyasa flow class at Healium (with Robyn, by chance, I had just moved a block from the studio); my first downward dog was not until 4 years into my practice!  I love yoga because of its slow pace.  I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 2, my right leg was longer than my left for many years as I grew, and between the discrepancy and pain, I did not participate in many sports and was bullied for how slow I was.  Yoga makes me feel like an athlete.  I am not speedy, and yoga doesn't want me to be.  I manage my pain, weight, and mind with yoga.  I joke that yoga (and my husband) tugs at my balloon string; I am a spontaneous busy bee and often float away in my thoughts, so I need all the grounding I can get.  Yoga is simultaneously an invigorating and calming practice, and something everyone deserves to have in their life.  I have worked in the health/wellness industry for 6 years, and when I am not on the mat you can find me in a kayak, in a thrift store, eating a burger, brewing tea, or watching football.  Yoga goes beyond the cool leggings and fun poses, it is something unique, ever-changing and ALL MINE. :)  The community at Healium is exquisitely kind, friendly and goofy, cheers to all of you on your journey.


MARK WIENER

  My yoga journey started over 12+years ago, preferring an active lifestyle (running, weightlifting, hiking) participating in a number of sports activities (soccer, snow skiing, beach activities, golf, tennis ) and adhering to a daily workout regime, I first came across yoga to help me become more flexible and “improve my golf game”! Needless to say, my golf game has never improved, but that is because of the “archer” not the “arrow” – but that is a whole other story. Lol - I did indeed become much more flexible, over time, and loved being in the “present” during a yoga practice. I find that yoga suited and enhanced me as a person, and balanced a hectic and sometimes overwhelming work and daily schedule.

Finding a Hot Vinyasa yoga practice early on was a true blessing to me. To be able to be active, moving, flowing, breathing and sweating out what is inside me allowed me the relief and calmness I needed in my life. I feel very fortunate to have the found this in my life. I first took beginning yoga classes and then gained the confidence to go out of my comfort zone to seek what suited me.

People who know me, know that I am a type A personality and tend to be happy and look at the glass half full, however, a number of “vision quests” occurred that radically made me rethink whom I am and who I wanted to be, and I am still on that journey. I suffered a stroke and work and personal/family issues (taking care of my twin daughters (now 24 years old) and my Dad (whom has now passed) – at the time caused a lot of stress, in addition to my career and profession, became at times, overwhelming. Without Hot Yoga in my life, I would have had a difficult time working through these “orbits.”

I relocated to Bayview approximately three (3) years ago, and was in search of a hot yoga studio similar to what I practiced in another Milwaukee community. Finding Robyn and the rest of the Healium instructors and staff was a true gift! Robyn is a powerful instructor, and energy to our classes, unlike I have ever encountered anywhere else. Each time I walk in the door, it is ALWAYS a warm (no pun intended – lol), welcoming , and nurturing environment for ALL levels of yoga. Each time I practice – I get to look inside myself and discover something new each time. Healium has taught me to breathe (literally), not to judge - either myself or others, and to help or assist when you can. The energy that each of collectively brings to a class is addicting and has yet to be duplicated at other studios that I have attended whether be travelling or joining friends at “their” studios. I have made true friends at Healium, who although have our own lives – we are all part of each others journey, and we all ask how the others are doing, walking into a yoga studio sometimes appears intimidating. I love the fact that new yogis come to class and love seeing them return, especially knowing the first couple of classes can be physically and mentally draining.

Getting back to who am and who I want to grow to be – Healium has given me the confidence in my practice that I am considering going on a yoga retreat (which I have never done), and possibly taking the teacher training and being honored to successfully teach or lead a yoga class in the future to those who have the desire to find yoga to be part of who they are.


SUSAN KNOWLES

I’ve been practicing yoga on & off for the past 8 years, but had never developed a steady practice.  In 2012 I was in a serious car accident that resulted in a cervical fusion. I went from being a fit, healthy, super active person to a new norm of constant headaches, TMJ, and pain and weakness in my neck and arms- even after the fusion.  Every day activities were exhausting and difficult and I was definitely not a lot of fun to be around.

 I was turned on to Healium by a friend and decided to give it a try.  I have to admit it was pretty humbling when I first started and my ego definitely got the better of me on a lot of days…but the instructors were so great that I stuck it out.  Their kindness, patience and willingness to answer a question or offer a modification gave me the encouragement to develop a regular practice.

 I wish my story ended there, but unfortunately another car accident in 2014 put a temporary stop to my yoga practice for several months.  The good news is that after this accident I was willing to do almost anything to get relief from the headaches and pain so I (very reluctantly) tried hot yoga.  Wow, I did not know what I was missing all of those months! The heat was a little overwhelming at first, but with the support and guidance from the awesome teachers at Healium I am now a true fan of Hot Yoga.  Hot yoga has given me pain relief and increased range of motion like nothing else I’ve tried. (And as an Occupational Therapist, I’ve seriously tried everything.)

 And while the physical benefits from yoga have been really beneficial for me, I have to say the mental and spiritual benefits have been even bigger.  There is such an amazing sense of community at Healium and I've made some great friends- most nights I leave laughing (sometimes at myself) and in such a positive mood.  I’ve seen this carry over to all aspects of my life and I’m truly grateful for it. 

 Yoga at Healium has meant so much to me over the past 2 years that I’m now signed up for Teacher Training in the fall.  I feel really lucky and blessed to have found yoga again and am looking forward to giving back to the yoga community.

 The wonderful thing about yoga is that it will meet you wherever you are physically and mentally.  You don’t have to be in perfect shape or be a Zen master to do yoga, just show up.  Ask your teachers for help.  Cut yourself some slack.  Keep trying a new class until you find something that clicks.  And have fun!


JILL LEDOUX

I started practicing yoga about 2 years ago in what was a particularly rough patch emotionally in my life.  I needed to find an outlet to the many losses that were going on around me. Yoga had always seemed interesting to me but I was super intimidated by it.  I finally took my first class and was instantly hooked!!  It really helped me to relax & deal with the things I could not control.  I've learned to relax & just appreciate life for what it is & am able to enjoy my 3 kids & 2 beautiful granddaughters so much more.

After practicing yoga for about 3 months I took my first hot yoga class & thought it was the coolest thing!!!  Imagine how thrilled I was when I discovered Healium & it was just minutes from my house!!!!  I think the January yoga challenge was another cool experience.  I tried so many classes that I know I would have never tried had it not been for that challenge.  Classes I didn't think I'd be very fond of turned out to be some of my favorites & are now a part of my regular practice.  The teachers at Healium all bring something different to the class & I absolutely love that!!!  

All I can say is Thank you Robyn & all the teachers.  I've made some great friends at the studio & live a calmer & happier life because of it


HOLLY DOAR

Although I have attended hot yoga classes for several years now, I never considered it to be a focus in my life until I started attending classes at Healium. The two main things I enjoy about Healium are the amazing teachers and how warm/welcoming the vibe is. 

Prior to attending classes at Healium I was seeing a physical therapist twice a week for back and neck pain. Most weeks I now try to attend at least five classes at Healium. Honestly, my back and neck pain is now non-existent and my overall health is wonderful. 

My husband and I are also pregnant with our first child and attending regular yoga classes has enabled me to remain balanced both physically and mentally. People are always asking, "how you feeling?" in reference to the pregnancy, and my response is (without even thinking about it)  "awesome" or "really good." People seem surprised by this, and I always tell them, "it's the yoga." ;-)

I feel so lucky to have such a great studio in our neighborhood. My advice to others, is not to be afraid to try a yoga class at Healium. It is a very welcoming experience, and doesn't matter if you have ever done yoga before or not - all classes can be modified. The heat feels amazing all year round and your body will thank you! 


SUSAN NICHOLSON

So...How I came to yoga...some years ago, during a rather "down" point in my life, my friend Alicia (now a yoga instructor), suggested I try a class close to my home called "Yoga Made Bearable" (yup, it was spelled that way, and featured a cute little teddy bear in the ad). I started going even though Alicia didn't show.  Our teacher, Susan Apthorp, was in her 70's (then), and always inspired us with her amazing flexibility and beautiful outlook. Since those days (roughly 10 yrs ago), I hadn't done yoga in years, and saw Healium's Open House party last August, and popped in.  I bought a pass, and thought "what the heck".  I'd been looking for some "me" time. Women/Moms/wives seem to always put themselves last on the care list, and it can be frustrating to say the least.  How are we to care for others when we, ourselves, need time and care that's often ignored?!  I'm a full-time mom and professional musician (playing with my husband John / "Jack" in Frogwater - www.frogwater.us), so any excercise or self-growth/improvement is VERY appreciated!  I started taking classes regularly at Healium from Oct-Dec., and found I thoroughly enjoyed the challengesthe varied teachers offered.  I loved, and was constantly enthralled with  Bikram especially.  My very 1st class was just me and you, Robyn...remember that?!  I was so fortunate!  

I'd been struggling with Trigger Finger on my left hand since Sept. '13.  When playing a fiddle, it's imperative to have great flexibility, agility and stamina in the fingering hand.  This injury had me rather depressed and I left no stone unturned seeking a cure; having tried OT, PT, chiropractic, acupuncture, even (finally) cortisone injections.  Doctors said surgery was the next step, which I feared greatly.  After doing yoga for a few months this past Autumn, the annoying popping, locking and swelling virtually ceased! One day I was, joyously, even able to snap my fingers on my left hand.  (I haven't lost my Pinky Tuscadero impression capability yet)!  Ha.  Ha.

Along with this newfound alleviation of pain and limitation, I've come to a place of calm...the ability to be in the NOW is such an incredible gift!  I've met and continue to meet wonderful people at the studio, I never feel judged or feel the need to compare my strengths or limitations to others, which is very enlightening!    The January Challenge was incredible, and I just set out for fun and the best bargain by taking any class I could.  Seriously, I just wanted a t-shirt (well, maybe some pie too), and NEVER thought I'd win.  

I'm incredibly happy and thankful, having discovered Healium, and am perpetually grateful to you, Robyn, to Jamie, Beckie and Jess (+ Tanya over on the massage side) for all you do for us and the community.  It's been such a joy-filled experience, and I'm glad to be a part of the energy in the Healium experience!