STATEN ISLAND, NY — Renee Kroeker’s yoga journey began more than 25 years ago when she stumbled upon an advertisement for classes at a local community center.
“I felt a sense of immediate gratification in the afterglow of my first class that got me hooked right away,” recalled the Castleton Corners resident.
Kroeker, 50, worked in social work for many years, and taught movement and wellness to children and teens for about a decade at Lavelle Prep Charter School in Bloomfield.
“I’ve been blessed to live a life in which I have been able to weave together and integrate a variety of personal and professional experiences that serve me well in my current work,” she said.
It was during her time as a teacher that she had the opportunity to get her yoga instructor certification through Breathe For Change, a program designed specifically for teachers working in the school system to “become empowered champions of wellness in their classrooms and beyond.”
“I stayed in the classroom for about a year after my certification and then decided to embrace the ‘beyond.’ In 2019, I took a leap of faith and left behind the stability of my job in the school and became a ‘yogipreneur.’ ‘Renee Kroeker Private Yoga was launched, which is both a business and a calling,’ she said.
And her goal when she upstarted her yoga business was to provide one-on-one yoga practices for clients.
“I knew I wanted it to be focused on the private yoga experience, which is very, very different than a group class. Private yoga is individualized, so if the person I’m working with has special needs, I can work with their special needs,” said Kroeker.
Once Kroeker launched the business, she realized many of her clients were uncomfortable in class settings, and opted for one-on-one instruction.
“Sometimes it’s a physical thing. Sometimes it’s an emotional thing. Sometimes it’s a matter of convenience. So I love the idea of being able to go to people’s homes to make a one-on-one connection with them and really create an intimate, ongoing long-term relationship,” said Kroeker.
She had just built up a strong client base when the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit. As a result, she lost all her clients. However, a relaunch once vaccination became widespread, allowed Kroeker to build back her clientele — some of whom she trains via Zoom and others in the comfort of their own homes.
“My second launch did occur when gyms and studios were closed. Sadly, many yoga studios went out of business at that time. That was when I started working with clients virtually. I found that with the right tech equipment so that the client and I can hear and see each other well, these sessions work quite smoothly,” she said.
And she still offers a hybrid of in-person and virtual sessions, depending upon what the client prefers.
“Even though most gyms and some studios are open again, some of my in-person clients simply feel a lot more comfortable in a private setting, rather than in a group,” said Kroeker.
“I also work with some clients who have very specific needs, such as stroke survivors and persons with multiple sclerosis. For these clients, we make a lot of adjustments and modifications with props, such as a chair, blocks, bolsters and straps,” said Kroeker.
TYPES OF YOGA
A long-time yogi, Kroeker said she has trained in many styles and offers her clients a fusion of modalities.
“I refer to the style of yoga that I teach as a fusion of different modalities, a combination of Vinyasa, Hatha, Kundalini and Restorative. I tailor the sessions to the specific needs of the individual I am working with. Most of my clients are interested in the therapeutic effects of yoga and prefer a gentler approach, such as a Hatha or Restorative practice, but for those who want a slightly more active practice, a Vinyasa flow works well,” she noted.
BENEFITS OF ONE ON ONE SESSIONS
Kroeker said many of her clients love private yoga sessions simply because it offers convenience.
“We meet regularly, anywhere from one to three times a week. You really don’t need a whole lot of space in your home to make it work. I love the warm feeling of being invited into someone’s home every week and really getting to know my clients. Often, the pets in the home enjoy the yoga sessions, too. It seems to have a very calming effect on them,” she said.
She also conducts family and small group sessions in clients’ homes.
“Most of the time I am working with one or two people at a time. Sometimes, I work with couples or two friends who want to do yoga together. I once worked with a woman who was going through a very painful divorce and needed to find ways to calm her nervous system. Her friend joined in the sessions because she wanted to be supportive,” said Kroeker.
“Sometimes I work with families and children. These sessions are very playful and a lot of fun. It’s a great way to bring a family closer together and introduce young people to yoga. Occasionally, I work with small groups for special events. Once, I was hired to teach a yoga session to a group of Greek Orthodox priests for Father’s Day. It was a really interesting and rewarding experience,” she added.
The best part of the job, she says, is watching her clients grow in their yoga practice.
“They begin to get stronger, more grounded and more flexible, both on and off their mat, as they take what they learn and apply it to their everyday lives. This is the most joyful, fulfilling and rewarding job I’ve ever had, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else,” said Kroeker.
RENEE KROEKER PRIVATE YOGA AT A GLANCE
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New Businesses in Focus is a weekly column that relates the stories of new Staten Island businesses owners.
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