Black-owned yoga studio promotes health and wellness
The benefits of yoga are priceless to Gabrielle Roberts, the owner of 612 Jungle yoga studio located in Uptown Minneapolis. “The ability to create space between you and the things that happened to you and to focus on just being present is something that I don’t think you can put a dollar tag on,” she said.
Roberts grew up in South Minneapolis and attended South High School. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2013. “When I was in college, I started teaching Zumba, I think my sophomore year, so that would be 2019, and I didn’t get into yoga until 2016.” At that time, she decided to sign up for teacher training.
This business has an interesting backstory: “There’s a woman named on Instagram, her name is Sanaa Jaman [ladydork], that was the first person of color that I actually connected with that I saw doing yoga, so she sparked my interest for signing up for teacher training,” Roberts recalled.
The yoga teacher training enlightened her. “Once I went through teacher training, I loved it. I noticed so many changes mentally and physically in myself and I just thought my life would’ve been so much different if I had access to yoga growing up,” Roberts said. As a result, she was motivated to launch a yoga studio.
She added, “I wanted something that was accessible, affordable, and relatable to people in my community that they could experience, just because it was so life-changing for me.” There’s an accessibility issue in BIPOC communities, she said.
Two years later, Roberts decided to live her dream and became a yoga entrepreneur. “I started my business in August 2018,” she said. The yoga studio is located in Uptown Minneapolis, on 29th and Garfield.
The studio is a very welcoming place that Roberts worked hard to create. “I just did it honestly,” she explained. “I was renting space and I wanted a space that I could utilize when I wanted to utilize it and that encompassed the feeling that I get when I do yoga.”
Building a successful business isn’t easy, Roberts noted. “I took my savings and found a spot that wasn’t too much, but it was bare grounds that I could work and build from.” The investment has yielded exemplary results, she said.
When customers come to 612 Jungle, they can expect a variety of yoga classes. Roberts said, “I have 13 different staff; I’m the only owner—I think about 10 of them have gone through my yoga teacher training program.” The staff members reflect a diverse demographic.
“It’s been about a year and a half. So far we’ve trained over 100 yogis, and I’m so grateful that 75% of them are women of color, which is something you don’t see anywhere,” she said.
Yoga teacher training can be expensive, but Roberts is focused on making the program accessible. “I’m very flexible with payment plans, and I also put 10% of my students through training for free. It’s not like scholarships from donations, it’s just me donating my time,” she said.
“The issue, in general, is that people are unable to afford the education. I don’t know many people that can just throw up $3,500 or $4,000 and want to better themselves. Wellness shouldn’t be a luxury.”
Roberts is passionate about yoga and its benefits. “I think it’s something that we need. Again, as a Black woman, I wish that I had access to yoga when I was 10 years old or when I was in high school,” she said.
Yoga has the potential to help with our mental health. “I hope to continue to spread yoga to BIPOC communities. I hope to make it accessible, and I also plan to franchise and open in different states. My main thing is to spread yoga and empower people that look like me,” Roberts said.
When customers stop by, they can expect to be embraced. “If you read reviews from my studio, the first thing that people point out is that they’ve never been to a place where they didn’t feel judged and that they felt so welcomed and invited,” Roberts said.
“You’ll be able to practice and experience a practice like yoga, meditation, that you can relate to,” Roberts said. 612 Jungle offers six different classes that people can enjoy. Individuals can drop in or attend classes online.
Roberts added, “We also have virtual classes, so if you’re not comfortable coming into the studio you can still get the same exact experiences at home, and if you’re unable to attend classes at a specific time we have a class library with over 200 classes.”
The most popular class is “Trappin Hard,” which is a dynamic hot Vinyasa class that lasts 60 minutes.
“My advice for the future is to invest in yourself, and when I say invest in yourself, I don’t mean monetarily,” Roberts said. “I mean invest in your well-being and mental space. Once you have you set, nothing can stop you.”
For more information visit www.612jungle.com or call 612-615-8614.
Ashley Lauren is a contributing writer at the MN Spokesman-Recorder.