For the past two and a half years, Courtney Shearer has been the manager at both locations of Charlotte Yoga, the oldest power yoga studio in Charlotte.
The city’s yoga scene likely wouldn’t be what it is today without Charlotte Yoga. This studio has thrived through 20 years of Charlotte growth and has served as the foundation for many of Charlotte’s yoga teachers, who would go on to start other studios. In the family tree of local power yoga studios, Charlotte Yoga is the roots.
It was where Shearer herself took her first yoga class, 16 years ago. “It has felt like a very full-circle moment to come back to a place to where I started,” she said.
On July 1, Shearer purchased the original location on 1730 Woodlawn Road. She has rebranded the legacy studio and has a grand opening planned for September 7. Its sister studio in South End got a new owner as well and opened earlier this month as Sweat Method.
The studio and Shearer fit together like a yogi fits with her mat. She floated gently around the space earlier this week as she showed CharlotteFive everything from big changes — new floor, new paint, new light fixtures — to details as small as the new CY insignia with the familiar crown, adorned on the side of a sports bra for sale.
Local artists’ touch
Local interior designer and artist Audrey Hood helped Shearer with the studio’s new look. Painting the blue benches black allowed for a neutral color scheme. A mosaic of Andrew Jackson by local artist Edwin Gil—created from the ruins of a torn-down uptown building—stands out more than ever. “The Gil piece has been here for a couple of years, but people are just now noticing it,” Shearer said. Surrounding the colorful art: brightly colored B Yoga and Mandukas for sale.
The lobby is decorated with watercolors from local artist Melissa Herriott, offering pops of pastels in three panels. Love the art? Take it home with you — it is for sale. A mural by Meredith Riggins promoting love and yoga offers pops of pink along the hallway toward the studio.
The studio itself is where returning students will see the biggest transformation. New floors, paint, light fixtures and additional mirrors encompass the space. “Before, we had a big graffiti wall in the back, and for me it never really landed,” Shearer said. “I wanted to create a more peaceful, inviting space.”
Moving on from the past
Shearer has distanced herself from the previous ownership, saying she is ready to move on from last year’s EEOC complaints filed by former Charlotte Yoga employees against former owner Kyle Conti. When CharlotteFive asked her if she wanted to say anything about last year’s allegations, she said, “I don’t think so. I think we’re all just kind of ready to move forward. I wish him the best of luck, honestly, but he just needed to move on.”
Ashley Masters, one of the former employees who filed a complaint against Conti in 2018, told CharlotteFive that the new space is gorgeous and she’s looking forward to practicing in it. “I’m grateful to see that the studio is creating a positive and loving environment. Yogis shouldn’t have to worry about how safe their yoga studio is, and it’s a beautiful thing when studio owners make their students’ wellbeing, safety and spiritual growth a priority.”
An attempt to reach Conti for comment on the sale of the studios was not immediately returned.
Ultimately, Shearer is focused on creating the perfect space for those who have supported the studio through thick and thin. “The people that are here are some of the most loyal and steadfast group of yogis that are committed to seeing Charlotte Yoga succeed. We all feel that Charlotte Yoga is bigger than any one person. The people that are here and have remained here really want to be here. It feels good to be part of that community. It feels safe and connected and happy.”
New class offerings, new member perks
The refreshed look and new ownership isn’t the only change at the studio.
Other new features will include free mat storage and one monthly deep mat cleaning for regular members. Mats will be steamed with tea tree oil, which is known for antimicrobial qualities. Drop your mat off and it will be deep cleaned, dried and placed into your mat storage cubby. Non-members can purchase deep mat cleaning as an a la carte service for $8.
Shearer said she is excited to announce new class offerings as well. “We’ve been a one-trick pony for the past several years with power vinyasa flow,” she said. “The trend in fitness and even in yoga is hard and fast and fit it in, and we’re moving in another direction. It’s ok to slow down and make the space for yourself.” For that reason, the studio has added some 75-minute classes in addition to its traditional 60-minute flow. It will also offer more stretch and balance classes.
“We are heading in a direction of slowing things down, creating a pause,” Shearer said.