Electric guitar mixed with an eerie operatic voice streams out of a workout studio at Colchester Health and Fitness. The heavy metal music seems to beg for movement: dancing, running, head-banging, anything. Bring me to life... the voice coos as another grittier voice begins screaming.
According to Stacey Mercure—a yoga instructor, professional bodybuilder and self-proclaimed rock n’ roll kind of girl—the music fits perfectly with her newest fitness class: Heavy Metal Yoga.
Mercure knows that the name of her new yoga class is somewhat of an oxymoron. “It’s a play on words as well,” she said, explaining that the class combines stretching with light weight training. With the music, she hopes to open up the door to people who might not usually attend a yoga class, including people of different genders and ages.
“Walking into a gym can be intimidating. Walking into a yoga class is the same thing,” said Mercure, who feels that yoga can feel competitive and alienating for beginners and veterans alike. But stretching remains extremely important for all ages and bodies. To sidestep barriers like these, Mercure wanted to create a yoga class welcome to every body in an environment that breaks down intimidation and re-emphasizes the fun of fitness.
“Men might be more likely to stretch and feel comfortable if it’s a different environment,” she suggested, or if they’re listening to music they’re more familiar with.
But isn’t yoga supposed to be relaxing? “Some people relax with heavy metal, everyone’s different,” she said smiling.
The class includes light to medium weight training in the beginning combined with yoga postures. The first class is free for interested folks, as Mercure noted, she wants people to feel comfortable and feel like they’re not being judged in the space.
The idea behind the combo of yoga and weight-lifting began with shared heat. “When you lift weights, your muscles heat up,” explained Mercure. Stretching in yoga is the same idea. “That’s why yoga studios are heated, why massage therapists work your muscles; to heat them up.” Once the blood is pumping, you’re ready to work the muscles. “Heat in the body is key to warming up muscles,” she explained.
“We’re not reinventing anything,” she said. “Yoga is 5,000 years old, it’s gone through a lot of evolutions. This is a new spin.”
Heavy Metal Yoga is on Tuesdays at Colchester Health and Fitness from 5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. After the first free class, passes for purchase are available. For more info, check out the Colchester Health and Fitness facebook page or go to their website for a full schedule, www.chfit.net.