Exercise-inspired yoga classes influence Bloomington students, studios

Emily Trinkle teaches Yoga Playlist at Vibe Yoga Studio. Vibe offers classes that are following the trend toward exercise inspired yoga.
Emily Trinkle teaches Yoga Playlist at Vibe Yoga Studio. Vibe offers classes that are following the trend toward exercise inspired yoga.

Facing a wall of mirrors, everyone in the light-yellow room stands on a spongey mat. Their arms rise above their heads, stretch and lower back down in a prayer position at their chests. The room is quiet. Exhales hum from each spandex-clad body as instructor Emily Trinkle makes her way toward the back of the room.

Approaching the iPod speakers, Trinkle, 24, with short, dark brown hair and a large lotus flower tattooed on her shoulder, turns the music on to begin the class.

“It’s close to midnight and something evil’s lurkng in the dark.”

As Michael Jackson blasts, Trinkle returns to her mat, instructing her students to inhale.

”You’re paralyzed.”

Trinkle has been a yoga instructor at Vibe Yoga Studio since 2011 and has watched yoga in Bloomington grow, in studios, students and classes. Following the movement away from traditional style yoga to more exercise-inspired practices, Bloomington has responded with the creation of studio-unique classes, such as Trinkle’s Yoga Playlist, which embodies customary poses formed around music.

“It [Yoga Playlist] is a creative sequence that changes from class to class depending on the teacher’s theme,” Trinkle said from the Vibe studio at 1705 N. College Ave. “But it is a little bit different in the sense that the playlist rotates, so there is a different kind of music theme for each class.”

The class is modeled after another Vibe Yoga class called Hot Hip Hop, a popular class that differed from a traditional yen yoga practice, which incorporates slow stretching and meditation. After a trial period last fall produced positive feedback from students, studio manager Erin Thomas and owner Laura Patterson, incorporated the class into the weekly schedule, promoting Trinkle to the main Yoga Playlist instructor.

“Thriller” by Jackson is just one of the themes the Tuesday/Thursday Yoga Playlist incorporates. Other themes have included cover songs and boy bands nights.

“It gets people out of their heads and into their bodies a little bit more,” Trinkle said. “We, here at Vibe, like variety and offer that wide spectrum of classes.”

Christine Eartheart describes the poses of laughter yoga. She teaches this form of yoga at multiple exercise fitness studios around Bloomington.

Christine Eartheart describes the poses of laughter yoga. She teaches this form of yoga at multiple exercise fitness studios around Bloomington.
Christine Eartheart describes the poses of laughter yoga. She teaches this form of yoga at multiple exercise fitness studios around Bloomington.

Thomas started teaching at the studio when it opened five years ago. Initially, five instructors taught 20 classes. Now, Vibe has grown into one of the most popular yoga and pilates studios in Bloomington, with 25 teachers, about 100 paid memberships and up to 70 classes taught throughout the year. Through community classes and walk-ins, Thomas said she sees over one thousand visitors in a month.

“We have about 13 different formats of classes,” she said. “We have the passive class restorative yen yoga and slow flow ­­- on the other end of the spectrum, hot power vinyasa, hot fusion, yoga playlist and hip hop vinyasa.”

Since the opening of Vibe Studio, Thomas said a new yoga studio has opened in Bloomington each year. Despite being competitive businesses, yoga is built on a non-competitive philosophy.

“Our philosophy has always been, ‘Do what we do, do what we do well and know that the people who need it will be here’” she said. “I think people in Bloomington are realizing there is a need in the community for yoga and in town you can find a variety of classes in each studio.”

Know Yoga Know Peace at 234 N. Morton St. and Yoga Mala at 116 S. College Ave. are just some of the yoga studios that provide alternative classes for the rising population of yoga enthusiasts.

Christine Eartheart is a 32 year-old life-coach and teacher of a form called laughter yoga, which again steps outside the conventional style. She works form her own studio connected to her house, in addition to teaching classes at the multiple studios in Bloomington, including Vibe. It is an improvised practice using free-form laughter expressed through exhaling, meditating and light stretching.

Though Eartheart agrees with the opinion of unique classes causing divergence away from traditional yoga, she says to just look at the classes’ attendance.

“I continuously see new people finding out about yoga and trying yoga,” she said. “Once upon a time people thought it was just meditating and getting into these weird positions and chanting. Now it is just really accessible.”

As the yoga community in Bloomington continues grows with each new studio and class, the needs of yoga students alter as well. According to Thomas, studios like Vibe are embracing the accessibility yoga provides people with the introduction of new classes.

As the music winds down, Trinkle guides the class into one last pose before the end of class. She paces the room, and stops to correct the downward dog poses of her students, whose gender and strength vary considerably.

“It (Bloomington) is a melting pot,” she said. “It is a huge variety and it is great because all the studios in town can meet people’s different needs.”

Running the running store

Photograph by Jessica Campbell
Ben Bartley, the owner of the Indiana Running Company store, assists a customer in finding a pair of running shoes. Bartley founded the store to fulfill the lack of running stores in Bloomington.

It was nearing 106 degrees, but Ben Bartley pushed the pace faster, flying over his first encounter of paved ground in a 7:15 mile. He wasn’t in the middle of a daily run on the B-Line Trail in Bloomington. It was mile 59 of the June 29, 2013, Western States 100-mile Endurance Race, and dark was approaching.

Bartley, age 29, is the owner of the Indiana Running Company with stores located at 121 N. College Ave., and East side store on 1567 S. Piazza Dr. The “father” of several running organizations in the area, Bartley’s store has helped establish Bloomington as a strong and diverse running community.

From Indianapolis, Bartley attended Pike High School and was a soccer player before altering his view on running from a conditioning tool to a sport he could participate in for years.

“I saw running as something people did their whole life,” he said. “I can go see 60-to 70-year-old guys running 5Ks or marathons, where I didn’t often see 60-to 70-year-old guys playing soccer.”

Bartley came to IU and walked on the track and field team as a freshman in 2002. After running as a middle-distance athlete, he was cut from the team, but he remained determined to keep running, he initiated the IU Run Club, a club team sponsored by the university.

“While I was coaching the run club, I was coaching my alma mater, Pike High School, all through the end of my senior year,” he said. “So, going into my junior year I had an incoming class of freshman that I had known through coaching. They wanted me to coach them to walk on the team, and that’s kind of how IU Run Club got started.”

As coaching became the path for Bartley’s future, he switched from majoring in the IU Kelley School of Business to an Education major. He then was offered to teach and coach at Pike after graduation.

“I taught and coached for a semester and figured out that it really wasn’t I wanted to do,” he said. “So I thought, ‘Okay, what could I do in Bloomington that I would really enjoy and wouldn’t hate going to work everyday?’”

In 2007, seeing an opportunity for a running store in the area, Bartley opened the downtown Indiana Running Company store and founded the Bloomington Area Runners Association (BARA), a group of about 40 to 50 committed local runners representing the city of Bloomington.

Sarah Foss, a graduate student at IU and employee at Bartley’s downtown store, said he is more than just a money-making business owner.

“Ben spends a significant amount of time developing groups like BARA, working for the National Intercollegiate Running Club Association, NIRCA, running with a wide range of local runners, helping out with track nights and IU meets, timing local races, etc.,” she said. “I think it’s really cool when people are able to give back to society doing something that they love, and Ben has seemed to master that pretty well.”

Over the last few years, Bartley began distancing himself from the coaching Run Club and BARA, to focus more on his own running. In 2012 he competed in his first 50-miler called Dances with Dirt in Nashville, Ind. After that race he was hooked, and returned in 2013 to win the race, setting a new course record.

“I had a blast, and it didn’t feel like it was mentally difficult to run for eight hours,” he said. “I was never in that pain of racing like you get in an 800. So, I was like, ‘I can endure things this long. The 50-mile wasn’t so bad. Maybe I can do two of them.’”

The sun was just setting at Western States and a twisted, swollen ankle forced Bartley to a power-hiking pace. It was the dead of night. His wife Stephanie was with him, and he still had 20 miles to go. He finished 164th out of 277 participants, crossing the finish line in 27 hours.

“It was a late night walk with my wife at Western States,” he said. “I wanted to finish. I wanted to take it in, and I wanted to do it again.”

Story and photos done by Jessica Campbell for IU Journalism 303 Class