Gwen Reynis
Graduate Interview

GWEN REYNIS, 45, ICELAND

In 2011, I had a job in banking. I worked long hours, I was very stressed, and I had no time to exercise—the usual story. One day, my friend dragged me to a hot yoga class. After that, there was no going back. I was immediately hooked. I started practicing five to six times a week, and two years later I enrolled in a teacher training program to become a certified yoga instructor. Today, I hold down a day job while teaching hot yoga at a local fitness center three times a week and my own Yoga Trapeze classes four to six times a week. The plan is to be able to teach different styles of yoga full-time within the next five years.

In my hot yoga classes, I strive to balance strength and flexibility. I always explain the modifications to poses so everyone can participate, whether they are beginners or advanced students, whether they have an injury or simply aren’t ready to do the hardest version of a pose. In my Yoga Trapeze classes, the aim is spinal traction and increased strength. I have started offering four-week courses (eight classes total) and at the moment, they are sold out for the rest of 2018. In the first class of the course, my students time how long they can hang from their hands and how long they can hold Plank with their feet in the handle fabric of the trapeze. In the last class, we repeat the same tests to see hard-core results. Yoga Trapeze classes are fun, but people still want to see improvements and challenge themselves.

I am a completely different person since becoming a yoga teacher. I am much more relaxed and easygoing—people and life don’t irritate me as much as before. I often joke that before I became a yoga teacher I was Monica Geller from Friends, but now I’m Rachel (or even Phoebe!). I’ve also become more confident. For example, now I have no problem speaking in front of a group of people.

What I love most about teaching is seeing the same people come to class again and again and again. I get to witness their transformations and help them feel better, body and soul.

What I find most challenging is when people don’t listen or follow instructions. In my hot yoga classes, I have a lot of students who don’t understand Icelandic, so I have to pay special attention to them and make mostly physical adjustments. In Yoga Trapeze classes, the biggest challenge by far is helping extraordinarily stiff people double cross their feet around the trapeze fabric when they invert. I always thought the challenge would be big people, but it’s the stiff ones that are the ‘problem.’

My best piece of advice is to teach the class that you would want to participate in yourself. If you love it, your students will too. Also, I find it helpful to build my classes from the same basic outline:

  • Warm-up
  • Pull-ups and hanging
  • Legs
  • Arms
  • Traction
  • Stretches
  • Pull-ups
  • Core work on the floor
  • Inversions on the floor
  • Stretches
  • Relaxation

The outline is always the same, but the exercises in each section vary from class to class. This way it is very easy for me to learn and remember my classes, making me feel more comfortable and confident in front of the group, and my students know what’s coming next more or less, allowing them to relax into the practice.

I enrolled in the Yoga Trapeze Teacher Training course to spice up my personal practice and be able to offer my students something new and exciting. In the end, my Yoga Trapeze certification also allowed me to become more independent. I am stronger because of it and I have a lot more students.

Currently, I am only using Facebook to promote my classes and attract new students. I also have a webpage: www.yogatrapezeiceland.com. On my Facebook page, I regularly post about yoga practice and give advice. I also advertise my courses and upload cool photos from practice. Any photos I take of my students, I send to them, as well. A lot of them upload the images to their own social media sites, which is, of course, free advertising for me! I occasionally pay for Facebook ads, but honestly, word of mouth works just as well, if not better. On average, I offer one open class per month, where anyone can come and try it out. (The fee is about $35). In my experience, those who come to an open class almost always sign up for a course. I want to pursue new ways of growing my business so that one day I will be able to quit my day job and open my own studio, teaching morning and lunchtime classes.

If you’re interested in joining a Yoga Trapeze Teacher Training, check our training schedule to find the one closest to you.