Yin & yang
Latoya Grindley, Gleaner Writer
They call themselves the yin and the yang, and it is for this reason the two, Shani McGraham-Shirley and Zoe Arscott have managed to bring their opposite energies to create a well-balanced and attractive package at their newly opened wellness and fitness studio.
Upon entering the calm atmosphere which makes for an inviting welcome, and can either be an indication as to what is to come through perhaps the yoga or massage sessions or could simply be interpreted as the calm before the storm, the storm being the vigorous yet rewarding workout sessions.
Chai Studios, according to the owners, offers a variety of classes which creates a fun environment while promoting a healthy lifestyle change.
Categorised as a boutique fitness studio, McGraham-Shirley noted that the atmosphere reflects their main objective. And this was to create an intimate and comfortable environment where persons can come as they are and feel at home while working towards a goal. "We are very particular about size and so we try not to exceed 20 persons per class."
Dedicated to fitness
A certified preschool teacher, McGraham-Shirley left the classroom to dedicate her time to fitness by being an instructor. She became intrigued after her first experience with Zumba. "I have three children and I became much heavier and just couldn't lose the weight, and then I tried zumba. From that I lost 50 pounds."
Those pounds were lost during the sessions she took with her instructor as well as when she decided to hold her own classes after her trainer had ended the summer sessions she had initially joined.
So convinced by the results of Zumba, she then went away for certification, and since returning to Jamaica she has worked with some major gyms holding zumba classes.
"I wasn't the first to bring it here, but nobody else brought it to the gyms like I did, I helped to spread it."
With her high cardio and energetic background, McGraham-Shirley says her work is further complemented by co-owner Arscott. Her background lies with yoga. "When I was away I did yoga-ballet fusion, which I enjoyed. When I returned to Jamaica I got my certification in spinning and then studied and got certified in yoga. I have been doing yoga for three years now."
Predominantly flocked by women, the duo believes that once workout sessions are enjoyed, then the results will just keep on coming. "What you enjoy is what you get the most results from. We have persons from as young as 15 and as old as late 60s coming in and just getting down in the classes."
Not just simply a dance- and yoga-oriented studio, it goes way beyond that. The schedule includes weight training, kickboxing, pilates, capoeira (Brazilian martial arts), and suspension training. There are also plans to introduce pole dancing.
Since its January opening, the business partners are more than overwhelmed by the reception received so far. "It is amazing, once they enter they feel a strong energy and they love it, especially because they realise that it is a non-judgemental area."
Coupled with the good atmosphere is the selection of instructors. Outside of the two, there are additional certified instructors who are rostered to lead classes. "The client-instructor interaction is excellent," says Arscott.
As for who is welcome to join, McGraham-Shirley says there is no prejudice. "All abilities and sizes, everyone will find a niche."
More flexible approach
Recognising that there could be a more flexible approach taken to attracting clients through its packages, Chai Studio also offers the option of voucher booklets. This is separate from membership rates. "These vouchers are transferable and can even be given to other persons other than the person who bought them."
There are also special discounts offered to persons in certain brackets and professions. "We cater to everyone and not just those in upper St Andrew," says McGraham-Shirley.
Endorsing the studio as an overall wellness centre, its doors are open every day except Sunday. Outside of the exercise sessions, clients can also be privy to massages, which no doubt complement the entire experience.
Carmela Richards, a client of Chai since its opening, was ecstatic to share her experience with the Flair team. "It is a good vibe here, a feeling of women coming together with a goal of being healthy. It is a feeling of unity where women can come as they are without feeling embarrassed. It is embracing 'womanness'.
Chai Studios is located at the Barbican Business Centre, Unit 19 located at 88 Barbican Road. Telephone:946-9595 or 946-9696.