May 2017

 Sherrie & Jo showing off their challenge shirts.

Sherrie & Jo showing off their challenge shirts.

Does it seem like we're always celebrating something at Bikram Yoga at Brick Canvas? Well, we are! And this month is no exception. Hot Pilates is one! What a year it’s been. You’ve embraced our classes completely. In fact, we can hardly keep up with the growth. If that’s not worth celebrating, I don’t know what is. So we have a weeklong birthday bash planned. Starting tomorrow, May 1, all Hot Pilates classes will be just $5. Guess what?! This party comes complete with a birthday present for you, our guests of honor. It’s something you can play with and enjoy. We can’t wait to unwrap it on May 1, as we get our party started! Wanting to also go out with a bang, the fun will wrap with a birthday party and Stretch Yourself Challenge celebration on Saturday, May 6. The dress code: your colorful challenge shirts.


We’re thrilled to have a talented videographer on our party’s guest list. He’s excited to record your stories, experience, victories… basically, he’s excited to join us in celebrating YOU! We love being a studio filled with REAL people. Having this opportunity to preserve your unique stories is a gift we’ll forever treasure. If you feel inclined to share, we’d love to hear from you.


Speaking of hearing from you, thank you for sharing your thoughts as we’ve managed growth with new class times. Your response has been overwhelmingly positive, but we also realize a few more minutes between classes are needed. Thus, in a continued effort to make your Bikram Yoga and Hot Pilates experience a positive one, we’re adjusting ourTuesday/Thursday night schedule slightly. Starting in May (this Tuesday), we’ll begin our evening Hot Pilates class at 5:30 PM (concluding at 6:15 PM). Our 75-minute Bikram Yoga class will then go from 6:45 to 8 PM, and we’ll conclude with a final Hot Pilates class at 8:30-9:15 PM. As always, please don’t be shy if you have any questions regarding this adjustment.


As a true testament of your character, our Stretch Yourself Challenge has been one of our most well received. This should come as no surprise. You’re an incredibly driven and dedicated group. My heart swells as I witness your desire to push yourselves. Because the challenge has been so popular, we’re delighted to bring it back this summer. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, we’ll continue building that momentum, as we push to progress. In true form, this fun will conclude with another party—our traditional Friday Night Fiesta (the Friday following Labor Day)! After all, at Bikram Yoga we’re always celebrating something.




Ellen Kepas

 Ellen &  Alissa

Ellen &  Alissa

Student spotlight

“At least once a week, one of the teachers would say to me, ‘Ellen, that was really good!’”

Isn’t it amazing what five little words can do? For Ellen Kepas, this one sentence was fuel. It helped propel her from Back Row Joe, where she hid in the corner, to one who now takes a place at the front of each Bikram Yoga class she attends.

You see, like so many, Ellen struggled in the confidence department. For more than a decade, she basically hid from life, rarely leaving her home any more than was absolutely necessary. She was overweight and simply didn’t feel secure in her own skin. More than that, she didn’t feel well. The weight weighed on her, mind, body, and spirit.

“For the past 10-15 years, I just really didn’t go a lot of places or do a lot of things,” Ellen said. “I never felt well. I was always tired. I just kind of felt sick all the time—not well enough to really do anything. That held me back.”

Then, 2 1/2 years ago, life as Ellen knew it changed. Alas, not for the better. Her son became a paraplegic in an attempt to take his own life. Such devastation and turmoil would be enough to make any mama feel at a loss in life. In response, Ellen turned to food. Her weight continued to climb.


Enter Ellen’s daughter, Alissa—a dedicated yogi who takes her practice seriously. Seeing her sweet mom’s struggle, she encouraged her to join her for a Bikram Yoga session. For years, Ellen declined the invitation.

It wasn’t until Ellen took matters into her own hands and started a weight loss program that she finally found the courage needed to accept Alissa’s invitation. At 30 pounds lost, she had the slight confidence boost she needed. It was enough to get her in the door… barely. Ellen established a place for herself in the back corner.

“I’m shy by nature until people get to know me. I tend to hang back in everything I do when I first begin. When I first started going to yoga, I was always on the back row in the back corner. I didn’t want to be noticed.”

The insecurity Ellen felt was so powerful she wouldn’t even attend class if Alissa wasn’t by her side, until…

“One day, Alissa had something come up and couldn’t go to yoga, and I remember being devastated. It was at that moment I thought, ‘'You can do this. You’re losing this weight. You can go alone!’ I realized I was confident enough to do this on my own. It was a turning point.”

Ellen credits much of that confidence to her progress, but also to the incredibly supportive Bikram Yoga community and instructors.

“All of the teachers are so kind and accepting. They make you feel like you're one of the group, no matter who you are, what you look like, or how much experience you have. I wasn't very flexible, but the teachers always encouraged me. At least once a week, one of the teachers would say, 'Ellen, that was really good!' This made a huge impact! Especially where I'm not big in the confidence department."

Just as the Stretch Yourself Challenge was kicking off, Ellen noticed a slowing in her progress. She felt internal distractions were to blame.

“As I practiced, I noticed different poses that were hard for me, or my mind would wander… Ultimately, I was distracted and still felt uncomfortable in a lot of ways.”

As Ellen came to this realization, she shared her concerns with Charese. Charese responded by suggesting Ellen move to the front of the room, where she could see herself more clearly in the mirror and focus more closely on her form. Inspired by Charese’s words and the messaging behind the Stretch Yourself Challenge, Ellen knew it was time to come out of her newfound back-row comfort zone and take a spot at the front.

“Being up front helps me stay focused. It stretches me to be brave where I’m not naturally a brave person. So I will stay where I am. I already see how it’s helping me. I have become more flexible. There were poses I was having the hardest time with. The camel pose… every time I’d try it, I’d psych myself out. Since moving to the front, I'm finally able to do it and other challenging poses I had been holding back on before. I still have a long way to go, but I’m improving.”

Joanne and the other instructors whole heartedly agree that Ellen is making tremendous strides.

“Ellen started her Bikram Yoga journey quietly in the back row,” Joanne said. “Watching her grow with such determination has been incredible. She’s now on the front row and has such light in her eyes. She’s an inspiration to many!”

An inspiration, indeed. As is Alissa, for being such a source of encouragement and strength for her mom. She saw Ellen’s potential long before Ellen saw it for herself. There’s something magical about the mother/child bond, and as we approach Mother’s Day, we’re sure thankful for this inspiring mother/daughter story!

Since starting Bikram Yoga in October, Ellen has lost 70 pounds (and 102 total pounds since setting out on her journey to reclaim her life!). What a remarkable transformation! It brings with it a new sense of calm and confidence. This doesn’t mean every day is easy or that Ellen doesn’t still encounter self doubt, but she does feel better equipped to cope. Perhaps the most noteworthy part of this amazing evolution is Ellen’s newfound approach to life. She went from hiding away, letting the days and years pass her by, to fully living. With that, her initial intimidation has blossomed into a deep appreciation for Bikram Yoga and those who make up its community.

“I can’t imagine not having yoga. We’re going on vacation in the summer and I’m kind of freaking out. Bikram Yoga is such a part of my life that I don’t want to miss it. The people here, even those I don’t know but see regularly… I feel like I’m coming home to family now. That’s how yoga is for me.”

Hot Pilates is one

This milestone comes with much to celebrate! From initial idea to training to launch, things moved at a rapid pace! As Sherrie (Hot Pilates Director) says, “We hit the ground running!”

"You embraced our new hot room addition completely and immediately from the beginning. To see the growth we continue to experience is tremendous! In celebration of this special occasion, our Hot Pilates instructors are here with a few words to share:

"The energy and love I feel when I pause to take it all in and watch the group working together… their strength, their determination, their focus, even their unique personalities… is both overwhelming and humbling. They amaze me every day." —Sherrie Pacheco, Hot Pilates Director and Instructor


“I love both the variety and the consistency in our classes—the variety of people and their consistently positive energy! Whether it's been a long day, a rough day, or a good day, I see people committed to coming to class all the same. This doesn't always mean physical energy, but rather an integrity to themselves and where they're at. It's inspiring and uplifting.”—Audra Williamson


“I love that Hot Pilates is such a fun, fast paced, full body workout in under an hour! The staff, students, and friends who inspire me with their dedication, goals, hard work smiles, and hollers make it more than just a fitness class. It's bringing out beautiful strength inside and out. I love my Hot Pilates family!”—Heidi Perdue


"It's not about me, it's about the environment I have the privilege of creating--a place where anyone can walk through those doors and be exactly who they are. It's a space to laugh, destress, bond, get stronger and healthier... They feel free to be whomever they want to be."—Rena Doman


"For the last year I have loved seeing the students grow stronger and the enthusiasm to 'sweat' and 'work' never falter. I'm proud to be the older instructor in the group and show that growing older is not too bad."—Nancy Graney


"Hot Pilates has helped me find myself again, and I love seeing my students get their mojo back too. It is so rewarding to see my students (and myself) get stronger and stronger every single day.”—Courtney Nielsen


"I love cheering on my Pilates friends and seeing how much they’ve grown. It's also exciting getting to welcome new friends to their first Pilates class and then seeing them come back for more!”—Amy Sanford


“There is something special about our studio and I love that I get to be apart of it. I am inspired by each of our students as I watch them strive for more and become better versions of themselves.”—Robyn Lenker


"I love connecting with those I teach and helping them become healthier happier people! Empowering others is very rewarding."—Kara Kaufman

As we raise a glass to Hot Pilates, we also toast Sherrie and her tireless dedication to this program. Her passion is contagious. Her strength is impressive. Her heart is huge. The success of our first year has much to do with her and all she brings to everyone she comes in contact with. From our hearts, the studio thanks you, Sherrie!


This month, as you come in contact with Sherrie and the rest of our talented Hot Pilates instructors, take a minute to give them a birthday hug or high-five. We’re so lucky to have them leading the way and can’t wait to see where they take Hot Pilates next! In return, consider this our high-five to you. Hot Pilates would be nothing without you, showing up day after day, week after week, determined to grow. Such determination is why we, too, continue to grow.


Happy birthday Hot Pilates!


In order to better serve our students, staff and facility we have adjusted our evening schedule on Tuesdays and Thursdays to allow for more time between classes.


Saturday, May 6

The dress code: your colorful challenge shirts.

We’re thrilled to have a talented student & videographer on our party’s guest list.

Ruston will be filming a few short minutes during the 9:15 AM Bikram Yoga class and 11 AM Hot Pilates class. From 9 AM - 1 PM, he’s excited to record your stories, experience, victories… basically, he’s excited to join us in celebrating YOU!

We love being a studio filled with REAL people. Having this opportunity to preserve your unique stories is a gift we’ll forever treasure. If you feel inclined to share, we’d love to hear from you.