Grand opening of yoga and barre studio in Brownstown set for Saturday


Leave your worries, troubles and other distractions at the door.

At Studio SPF in Brownstown, the focus is on making people feel welcomed and loved regardless of fitness level, uplifted and encouraged and stronger mentally and physically as they participate in a yoga or barre class.

Owner Heather Boknecht said she believes truly thriving means more than just a healthy weight and body, and a healthy body, mind, spirit and soul is rooted in Jesus Christ and his Word.

She also believes a workout facility should be more than just a facility but a community that comes together, prays together, loves one another and cheers each other on.

“I wanted it to feel welcoming to give people that feeling that as soon as they walk in, they feel like they’ve come home and they are in a place where they can be loved and accepted and comfortable and have that moment for themselves,” she said.

Boknecht taught a yoga class at the church she attends for 10 months and then offered the class for a while at The Peoples Bank conference center and Tammy’s Dance Studio.

In March 2019, Boknecht and her husband, Matt, decided to buy a lot behind Tammy’s and put in a 40-by-120-foot Amish-built metal building.

A year later, the building is ready to open. The studio occupies 2,600 square feet, and the other 2,200 square feet is available for rent.

A grand opening is set for 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the studio, 214 S. Sugar St., Brownstown. Boknecht will lead a sample yoga class at 9:30 a.m., and Becky Schepman will lead a sample barre class at 10:30 a.m.

Schepman also will be on-site with the Radio 96.3 Cool Bus, people can fill out liability forms for classes and child care before starting classes the following week and there will be door prizes.

Heather completed her nine-month yoga certification in July 2017. She went to Zen Fitness in Columbus one weekend a month for certification classes and also went to two group classes a week. She also had to read books and study guides.

Once certified, she started teaching yoga at the church.

“When I went through my yoga teacher training, I just always imagined that’s where I would be, doing this so I could have this class at church and invite people in to have a wonderful thing that our church offered. I never saw this,” she said, smiling, referring to having her own building.

When her classes were at Tammy’s, they were one night a week, word of mouth and for five to 10 people.

Now, she has her own building that once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted can have up to 40 people in a yoga class and 16 in a barre class. She will be the only yoga instructor for now but has two women going through the certification process, while her niece, Nichole Pelts, and Schepman will teach barre.

SPF stands for stretch, pray, fit. The name came from a brainstorming session of clients involved in Heather’s yoga class.

At the start of her yoga class, Heather will have a Christian song playing and read a short devotion before yoga starts. At the end, there will be a brief pause of time for people to pray.

“We do feel God-driven through this whole process,” Heather said.

At the start, yoga classes will be three days a week, and barre will be four days. More classes will be offered as teachers are added.

With the pandemic restrictions, the studio will be around half capacity for classes with social distancing.

Yoga classes will last an hour, and there also will be a kids yoga class offered in another room at the same time so parents and their children can be at the studio at the same time.

Barre classes go for 45 minutes. Heather also is certified in barre and will be on the schedule as a substitute teacher.

Equipment for classes is stored in a storage closet. Cubbies can be rented for clients to store their mats, and mats also are available for rent. The lobby has benches with baskets for clients to place other belongings.

Another room at the studio can be flipped, either offering child care for parents while they are in a class or serving as space for a massage therapist. One wall features a vinyl mural with a mountain scene that was placed by Jerry Brown with Celery Signs. That’s a tribute to Heather’s home state, New Hampshire.

“I wanted the room to just kind of have a natural, calming feel,” she said. “I just wanted it to be soothing for either the massage therapist or even for the kids. I didn’t want to give this room a feeling of a day care. I believe that kids today are too stimulated as they are, so for an hour while Mom is in (a class), they can have a time that they are not being overly stimulated. They can just come in and play with toys and be kids.”

Heather’s teenage daughters and their friends agreed to volunteer to help with child care. Parents will pay $2 per child, and the money collected will go to a youth-oriented cause chosen by the volunteers.

“It kind of gives them a feeling of being responsible for that and themselves giving back for the time that they gave,” Heather said. “They are kids watching kids, and they want to help kids. They are super excited. We have some pretty awesome youth in this town.”

One of the two Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant bathrooms at the studio includes an infrared sauna and a shower. People can schedule a sauna session for 30 to 45 minutes depending on the use of it, including detox, anti-aging, weight loss and pain management.

The sauna features three wavelengths that will give the user different benefits, and the heat temperature ranges from 130 to 140 degrees.

“But it doesn’t feel like that because it’s more like a dry heat versus old steam saunas,” Heather said. “I tell people it’s kind of like the difference between Indiana and Arizona, the humid heat versus the dry heat. I’ve been in it before and honestly not even broken a sweat. Sometimes, I do, and other times, not even a little bit.”

Heather said if the sauna goes over well, there’s space in an empty room to add a second one.

In the lobby, there are snacks and bottled water for a freewill donation. Money collected in the box will be given back to the community. Through July 31, the proceeds will be given to a local food pantry. From there, the cause will rotate between organizations, individuals or families in need.

“I see this entire project as a community service,” Heather said. “I’ve never looked at this space like a business, and I hope that it never really runs like a business. I don’t want it to ever get to the point of feeling like it’s all about the money.”

She and her team are more focused on embracing the motto of loving and accepting everybody.

“I hope we can be authentic in that,” Heather said. “I hope they see that through our hearts and our personalities that we can be open and welcoming and loving to everybody. When I think about it actually opening and people in here, I think of the friendships that will be made. When you’re in a like-minded space like this, there is always those connections.”

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What: Grand opening of Studio SPF, a new yoga and barre studio

When: 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday

Where: Studio SPF, 214 S. Sugar St., Brownstown

Who: Open to the public

Details: Studio tours, sample yoga class at 9:30 a.m., sample barre class at 10:30 a.m., meet instructors and sign up for door prizes

Information: or