By Nancy Saunders

The Bodymind Centre is celebrating a significant milestone this year, but owner Erin May doesn’t consider the last 20 years work. “It’s been a joyful experience and so rewarding,” she says. At her busiest, May was teaching 23 classes per week. Today, she credits a great team of 30 for helping an average of 200 people each day, in a 6500-square foot former warehouse where May moved the studio in 2003. “I chose this spot in part for the energy: you can see the lake and the Sleeping Giant from the windows,” she says.

Raeghan Rocco is a new instructor at BMC who started doing yoga and Pilates for relaxation and injury prevention. “The Bodymind Centre is full of love and positivity,” she says. “This place that Erin has built is an extension of home for me.” Rocco credits May for being a tremendous mentor, guide, and now a close friend. Kimberly Veneziale also teaches yoga at BMC. “It’s a very supportive environment; there is a real sense of community,” she adds. “No matter what is going on in my day, I always leave there feeling a little bit lighter.”

In addition to over 100 yoga, Pilates, and other classes, BMC offers clinical hypnotherapy, massage therapy, BodyTalk, Reiki, and other services. Its retail space carries yoga and running apparel, tea, chocolate, jewelry, and more. May looks forward to carrying more local products, and is currently seeking local artists. BMC also hosts regularly scheduled Gong meditations by donation. It supports numerous local charities and organizations by donating passes and memberships, and offers a free weekly community yoga class through which food bank donations are collected.

Rene St. Jacques is a self-described “redneck contractor” who embarked on one of BMC’s 30-day yoga challenges at his daughter’s invitation. He chuckles as he describes his drive home after his first hot yoga class, truck windows and sunroof wide open in the frigid January weather. “I didn’t know anything about yoga,” he says. “I was strong, but not flexible.” After the challenge, St. Jacques was 20 pounds lighter with lower blood pressure. “I gained core strength and balance, and I have a new understanding of my own body.”

May is pleased but not surprised by St. Jacques’ experience. “We feel like we’re giving people the chance to have a different life, to find themselves, to heal. Every day, people tell me positive stories about their experiences here.”

Like its members and its staff, BMC itself is constantly evolving. Look for a kids yoga class this fall, as well as an updated website. This spring will be the third Mayan retreat, where participants practice yoga and meditation at a luxurious all-inclusive sanctuary, work with local shamans and visit archeological sites. Look for details soon on how to enter to win a coveted spot. And check out BMC for yourself and see why this pioneer of Thunder Bay’s wellness scene is still thriving after 20 years.

The Bodymind Centre is located at 105 Villa Street #8; contact them at 344-1628.