A central Alberta woman is allowing clients back into her traditional and aerial yoga studio despite current government restrictions because she fears the business may have to shut down otherwise.
“This is not me making a stand against the government,” said Heather Buelow, owner of Aerial Edge Studio in Blackfalds.
“I’m at the point now where I either open my doors and run my classes or I shut the doors forever. I’ve spent all of my savings keeping the studio going during the shutdowns and there’s just nothing left to give.”
The provincial government recently returned to Step 1 of its four-step economic recovery plan, which increases the restrictions placed on health and wellness facilities.
Buelow, who also owns Dancer’s Edge Studio in Blackfalds and Lacombe, said her yoga and aerial studio will instead continue to answer to Step 2’s restrictions while hosting classes.
“We’re still having everyone wear masks, we’re still social distancing, we’re sanitizing, we’re doing temperature checks. We’re going above and beyond … to ensure the safety of our clients,” she said, adding only eight people will be allowed in each class.
“We feel being open is more what our clients need for their health – their mental health, their physical health, their emotional health. We’re hearing horrible, sad stories from our clients about how they’re spiralling down and they need the yoga and they need the fitness.”
Buelow said she understands she could face repercussions for going against Step 1 restrictions.
“I feel that I have a strong fight if I get a $2,000 fine and need to go to court and hire a lawyer,” she said.
“But I believe that I can prove my studio – my business – should be open, just like the nail salon next door to me and that we do not pose a health risk at all and that we are being wrongfully closed.”
Aerial Edge Studio has been mandated closed for 10 of the past 13 months, Buelow said. Operating online classes for yoga would be difficult because there are so many options available, including free classes, and operating online aerial classes would not be possible due to people not having equipment available in their homes, she said.
“For the last 13 months it’s been pivot after pivot,” she said, adding the business has only been open for 18 months.
“I can’t have curbside pickup or online classes. Basically when my doors are shut, they’re shut and there’s no income coming in. I’m doing everything that I can to keep the studio alive.”