These personal challenges—these “50 Feats of Fitness”—ranged from developing a handstand and holding a plank to setting a goal of completing 50 Iron Hour classes at Sterling Hot Yoga Lexington.
“The reason I started is I just wanted to celebrate what I can do,” Rowena said. “At some point, I’m not going to be able to do all these things.”
A regular practitioner of hot yoga—for at least 10 years, she said—Rowena was already looking for something to develop upper body and core strength before the studio started offering Iron Hour classes about a year ago.
“The Iron Hour classes are perfect for that,” she said. “I can definitely see improvement in upper body and core strength.”
Beyond that noticeable difference, Rowena said she can see improvements in much smaller ways in her hot yoga practice.
“My grips are more secure,” she said. “Iron Hour has helped me make tiny adjustments to take my hot yoga practice further. Especially the extension in half moon, I’m trying to use my upper body.”
Rowena credits her strong practice with more than just the time she’s spent on her mat and more than the added strength that Iron Hour has helped develop.
In her decade of practicing hot yoga, Rowena has practiced in other studios, but she said there is just something different about SHY Lexington.
“The main difference is the community spirit. People know each other, and they are all supportive,” she said. “There is a huge difference in the quality of instruction. All of the teachers are on the same page in terms of philosophy and mindset.”
She feels like this gives her a strong foundation, and instructors at other studios have noticed, complimenting her practice, even down to the minutiae of the postures, she said.
Finishing her “50 Feats of Fitness” in a year’s time was challenging enough, but Rowena encountered other difficulties as she powered through—and completed—each one.
For example, the handstand challenge was difficult because she had to work through fear caused by her wrist injury. Still, at the end of 30 days, she was able to do a handstand. “It was against a wall, but at least I did it,” she said.
When Rowena reached her Iron Hour goal, she said she felt a real sense of accomplishment because not only did she complete the classes, but also she had to make the commitment a priority, working the studio’s class schedule into her own.
“The Iron Hour challenge was difficult just because of the length of time,” she said. “It was difficult in terms of needing to plan.”
Rowena’s dedication to her showcases of strength did not go unnoticed. “Rowena is an inspirational person because she is always challenging herself, and that in turn inspires those around her,” said SHY Lexington owner Jodi. “We are honored to have supported her through one of her 50 challenges, and we are so proud of her.”
On and off her mat, Rowena is known as someone who doesn’t back down in the face of a challenge. “In the bigger Lexington community, she is always raising funds, supporting different agencies or forming groups to inspire people,” Jodi said.
Just a few of the organizations she’s involved with include: the Community Action Council (board member and Program Development Committee chair), Lexington-Fayette Urban County (LFUC) Human Rights Commission (commissioner), CASA of Lexington (court-appointed special advocate) and the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center (volunteer crisis counselor and former board member).
Rowena’s commitment and drive on her mat have led to physical differences and all-around changes off of it. “I became more conscious about my eating habits. As I progressed, I made changes in life to find better health,” she said. “I feel like I have a heightened awareness of my health. I realized I could practice yoga throughout my entire life. It’s something I could carry through to the end.”
Are you ready for a challenge? You don’t have to do 50 Iron Hour classes like Rowena did to get stronger! Sign up for the $30 for 30 day introductory special at SHY Lexington, and get fit today!