Small Biz Spotlight: ToLife! Yoga and Pilates

A good way to get yourself feeling better in the new year is to start an exercise regimen, and what better way to reinvigorate and realign yourself than a class at Buford’s ToLife! Yoga and Pilates? Established in 2017, the studio has two group classrooms, one room containing Pilates apparatus, and one small room used for private yoga sessions. We talked with co-owner and teacher Kari Dees about what ToLife! has to offer: 

So how did you and Marilyn come together to start ToLife? 

“We are a mother and daughter team! I was a dancer from three years old until I was 25, when I danced professionally with a company in Chicago. After years of pain, physical therapy and knee surgeries, I was forced to give up my dreams and take a desk job. Pilates was the first form of exercise that made me stronger without causing pain and irritation in my knees. I decided I wanted to learn more and share this gift with others, so I got certified and began teaching nights and weekends. My mother always loved Yoga and used to practice in our living room before work. After taking a sedentary corporate job, she started doing yoga again and it brought her body back into alignment, relieved mental stress and helped her focus. We both began to dream of sharing our gifts by opening our own studio; we just had to find a space. When we found Tannery Row, we knew it was perfect and it was time: we quit our jobs, opened the studio and never looked back!” 

Photo Credit: ToLife! Yoga and Pilates, Kari Dees

What about ToLife! do you feel sets it apart from other yoga and Pilates studios? What should someone expect from attending a class with you? 

“We want to inspire our clients and give them the tools to live their best lives. Our passionate, knowledgeable teachers aspire to guide our students on a journey of self-discovery, healing and transformation, resulting in a greater overall well-being. One thing that makes our studio different are the many classes we offer. We have Yoga for every age group and level: one hour and one-and-one-half hour Adult Yoga classes, Aerial Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, Mommy/Baby Yoga, Kids Yoga, Gentle Yoga, and Therapeutic Yoga. We also offer Private and Semi-private Pilates Apparatus sessions, group Pilates Mat classes, Kettlebells and Cardio classes, and Stretch Therapy classes. We keep our groups smaller than other studios, so we can give personalized cues and corrections. Utmost importance is placed on technique and form, we give modifications and advancements to individuals that need them. This keeps everyone safe while giving each student a class that is appropriate for their fitness level.” 

How do you believe one can improve themselves by doing yoga or Pilates? What classes would you suggest for someone who’s just starting? 

“Yoga relieves stress, depression, and anxiety, while improving mental clarity and focus. Pilates concentrates on maintaining pelvic stability while strengthening the deep core muscles, therefore supporting the spine, and keeping it mobile. Both methods improve your mobility, flexibility, posture, strength, balance and control, which can relieve pain and prevent future injury. For Yoga, we suggest starting with our Intro to Yoga class. You’ll learn the basics needed to move into an All-Level Yoga class with confidence. For Pilates, we recommend you start with private sessions. In this 55-minute session, your teacher will introduce and guide you through exercises on multiple apparatuses—Reformer, Cadillac, Tower, Chairs—which will help you to feel and understand the technique, while giving you a challenging workout tailored to your needs.” 

Photo Credit: ToLife! Yoga and Pilates, Kari Dees

Give me a “status update” on ToLife! as a business: how do you feel things are going? 

“COVID-19 has presented new challenges for our studio. To adhere to social distancing guidelines, we have cut our class sizes in half. We no longer allow walk-ins, and have extra cleaning protocols, etc. However, we have managed to keep our doors open, which is something to be proud of this year. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have offered virtual sessions and classes via Zoom, and many clients take advantage of this option. Since the class is a live Zoom call, the teachers can still see each participant and give individualized cues. It is the next best thing to being in the studio!” 

I gotta know: what’s your top health tip? 

“Keep moving your body! Joseph Pilates said, ‘you are only as young as your spine is flexible.’ Find a type of exercise that you enjoy and make sure you do it on a regular basis. If you don’t know where to start, give us a call and we’d be happy to help you!”