‘Its a whole new world,’ Wilmington yoga studio fights to stay in business

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‘Its a whole new world,’ Wilmington yoga studio fights to stay in business

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Rebel Yoga and Pilates is back open for business after having to close the doors of the studio for six months due to the pandemic.

Under Governor Roy Cooper’s phase 2.5, gyms and indoor exercise facilities were able to open at 30 percent capacity, effective September 4.

“Earlier in the year we were voted number one yoga and Pilates studio in town. In January and February, we were selling out 60 person classes…then the pandemic happened,” explains owner Billy Batten.

The studio pivoted to classes on Zoom in March, and pushed the studio’s reopening each week until they officially reopened in September.

As grateful as Batten is to be open, he admits that operating at reduced capacity has been difficult. Margins are low in the yoga industry and Rebel Yoga and Pilates is a small business without the safety net many corporations have to fall back on in hard times. Batten says he needs to have 15 students enrolled in class to cover his costs. Right now though, he has a 14 person cap for people practicing inside the studio.

While the doors are open, the business continues to give their members the option to join classes virtually.

“I see on social media every day a lot of my peers around the world ‘I’m closing,’ ‘I’m closing’ its just sad and it goes past just yoga studios or gyms... there’s a little bread shop or a little tattoo place down the street,” said Batten.

Just two weeks ago, the owner started a Go Fund Me page in an effort to make sure the doors stayed open.

“It was an act of desperation. It’s a scary time and I don’t want to close shop. A lot of people rely on coming to this space for health and wellness. Its an amazing community. We didn’t become #1 in town because we have epic Pilates postures that blow everyone’s minds, it’s the community of people put together with the lights and if there were people in here right now, they’d be cheering each other on,” said Batten.

The inspiration actually lives on the walls of Rebel Yoga and Pilates: aspirations and positive sayings are written on a panel in colored markers in the rear of the studio. In fact, the entire back wall has a layer of these “love notes” underneath the fresh white paint.

Batten says his father always told him it wasn’t the strongest that survived, its the one that’s most willing to change and adapt that always came out on top.

“We’re not going anywhere we’re gonna fight through and make it. No doubt about it. Whether we can be at max capacity again and sell out, I don’t know. It’s a whole new world and we’re gonna adapt to the new world as best we can.”

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