Hot Pilates Instructor
Enjoying physically demanding workouts is nothing new for Nancy Graney; she's competed in marathons, triathalons, and Ironwoman challenges for more than three decades. Adding Bikram Yoga classes to her workout regimen was a no-brainer.
"When I hit my 50s, I started getting a little stiff, and everyone kept saying you need to stretch," Nancy says. "I had heard about Bikram Yoga and decided to give it a try."
Her first class was invigorating, and she signed up for the newcomer's special. "I went home and told my husband, 'That's the first time I've sweated up my nose,'" she recalls. "I looked around and saw that everyone in the class was enjoying it, and I thought, 'There must be some reason they like it. I'm not there yet, but I'm going to stick it out and see what I can get from this.'"
By the end of the month, she had discovered what so many others already knew--Bikram Yoga offers a wide range of benefits, both physical and mental. Because she was already in great shape, Nancy enjoyed the mental and emotional benefits the most.
"I may never turn into Gumby, but the stretching definitely helped," she says. "And learning how to breathe correctly has definitely helped me with my long-distance running and biking. But what I love most about Bikram is the peace I feel and the opportunity to look within. You're not competing with anyone else, you're not even competing with yourself by trying to make a certain time or set a certain record. Every session is different, with a different challenge; you never 'master' yoga. Bikram Yoga is different from all these other sports because it's about being within yourself."
Nancy works part-time at Bikram Yoga at Brick Canvas and enjoys the opportunity to interact with other staff members as well as students. She is able to use her experience as a lifelong athlete to help newbies make the adjustment to a different kind of workout and a different kind of thinking. "Nancy is remarkable," says Joanne. "She's dedicated to fitness and a healthy lifestyle, and her commitment to keep the body moving and help others be fit is a perfect addition to our Bikram Yoga family."
A perfect example of this commitment is the International Ironwoman Invitational, a competition that Nancy organized and directed herself. "Marathons and triathalons are expensive, and I wanted to make it more affordable," explains Nancy. In the past four years, the invitation-only event has involved teams from several different states, as well as Germany ("that's why we call it international," says Nancy, laughing), who run, bike, and swim on local courses and then share their experiences through social media.
"I love running--I always have," Nancy says. "If I have my way, I'll be running, or maybe doing a fast walk--plus doing yoga--when I'm 80. I might be a little slower, but I'll still be doing it."