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FMB Yoga Project kicks off with new classes

October 31, 2018
By MEGHAN BRADBURY ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

A Fort Myers Beach resident, who is passionate about yoga, and providing opportunities for her community to have access to good quality physical fitness, launched a new project last month.

Renee Jeffreys Heil has been doing yoga for 20 years, 15 of which have been as a yoga instructor.

"I have been living on the beach for five years. There is not enough yoga on the beach." she said, adding that rather than complaining about it, "I need to shut up, or do something about it."

Article Photos

Yoga Instructor Renee Heil.


Over the summer conversations began with people who do fitness on the island, which ignited the Fort Myers Beach Yoga Project. There are currently two instructors involved with the project, Heil and Kristen Strain.

"Right now there are two of us and three that are going to come on board when we figure out what class fits into their schedule," Heil said. "The website lists four other classes that I am currently aware of that are being taught on the beach - across the island at various locations."

Another nice thing about the FMB Yoga Project is if a instructor decides to go out of town, or cannot make it because they are sick, or life happens, another instructor can step in to keep the classes momentum going. Heil said having a group of instructors they all know, as well as their qualifications, will make it easier to step in to make sure a class is not cancelled.

The project provides a common calendar of all the yoga offerings on the beach, so that visitors, seasonal residents and full-time residents have a place to visit to see all the classes and obtain more information.

"I had a bunch of conversations over the summer, but I didn't start until September," Heil said. "We are launching four new classes this week alone. It's growing hugely, filling a need we have here on the island where people want to have access to these classes."

Next week, FMB Yoga Project is launching an industry class for all the workers on the beach, free of charge. The class will be held at Pier View Hotel's top patio, which is shaded.

"We are trying to identify the right time between when shift workers are moving on and off before the dinner rush and after the morning rush, so they will have the ability to take advantage of it," Heil said. "It's a 100 percent free class to anyone that can show a business card, or name card on the island."

The philosophy of yoga is "you always want to give back to the community - karma classes." Heil said they want to provide healthy opportunities for industry workers that have to fight traffic to get to work, or deal with nasty customers.

"They will then enjoy classes and share it with visitors that come into town," she said.

The beauty of yoga is it is accessibly to everybody, Heil said. For yoga, the posture and sequence is easy to modify for all kinds of different people.

"Right now all of our classes are taught at all levels," Heil said, with the idea of moving into offering beginner and more advanced classes.

She said they will send instructors - qualified, insured yoga instructors - to go into hotels and condo complexes to teach any type of yoga class they prefer.

"You don't have to do anything, but provide the space for us," Heil said.

The FMB Yoga Project is also partnering with Island Fit, the physical therapy business on the south end of the island. She said they are offering workshops for runners and golfers, which include a posture assessment. A class is also offered at Island Fit.

"I'm not 100 percent sure where it is going to end up. I know that some of our classes will be seasonable, like the one's outside," Heil explained. "The goal is to keep them (classes) going. Yoga instructors that come down and teach a class for four months and then turn around and go back . . . it doesn't serve residents here year round."

She expects that during off season there are a lot of people that would come to the beach and partake in a yoga class if they are easy to access.

"I am very passionate about it. I live here year round and want to make sure our community has access to good quality physical fitness," Heil said.

Classes for the FMB Yoga Project are $15 for drop-in, or $10 to $20 per class depending on the amount of classes desired when a punch card is purchased. The classes can be viewed at

"We want to give back to the community. The idea if you put positive out into the world, positive would come back. Instructors can come partner with us as a collaborative. If they want to do the one or two classes that they have done, we will list those classes on the website as well," Heil said. "I don't think it helps anybody if people don't know about the classes that are there."



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