Prioritizing good fitness and health is often a top New Year’s resolution on people’s lists. Local fitness studio ShakRa Yoga & Fitness has approached this new year hoping to make newcomers’ fitness journeys a welcoming and accommodating experience in the southwest metro region.

ShakRa has provided classes out of its studio in downtown Shakopee since June 2019, including yoga, barre, HIIT and cycling sessions.

While the studio takes in guests at any time of year, owner Riana Hansen said she realizes the start of the new year is a popular time for many people to consider trying something new regarding fitness.

“We want people who are coming in — maybe it’s their first time experiencing ShakRa — to sort of know what to expect and then gain this comfort level as they do keep coming back,” Hansen said.

Hansen, who also teaches classes at the studio, has recognized a new year’s trend over the years in Shakopee with changing participation numbers and new visitors.

Typically, the studio has anywhere between five and 15 people participating in an in-person class. People sometimes also participate as virtual members, where they can join and work out from home.

Hansen said she tends to see increased attendance toward the start of the year through spring break. She attributes much of this to people trying out a new experience, whether it be a new class or a different time slot.

To accommodate this, ShakRa has set up different membership opportunities that allow people to get their foot in the door and have a welcoming and less intimidating entry into group yoga and fitness classes.

This includes allowing new students to attend unlimited classes for free during their first week. A $25 two-week unlimited package is also set up, giving people a bit more time to explore ShakRa’s options in an affordable way.

The studio invites people to bring along friends interested in trying something new via ShakRa’s “Bring-A-Friend” special. A class is free for anyone who brings a new student to the class.

Instructors are also expected to provide a welcoming experience for ShakRa newcomers or those new to fitness classes in general. Someone brand new to the studio fills out a waiver, which Hansen said gives the instructor a better of the person’s fitness level.

“If it’s somebody who’s brand new to yoga, we’ll usually sit down and spend five to 10 minutes just getting to know them and getting to understand what they’re looking to accomplish,” Hansen said.

This can include helping people overcome injuries or just welcoming newcomers beginning their fitness journey.

“I want to create a space where somebody can find something that fits with what they’re looking for … that freedom of expression and creativity both amongst our practitioners and staff helps to keep people coming back and is what is helping us retain some of those students who are coming for the first time,” she added.

While it’s still early in the year, Hansen said ShakRa has already seen really strong participation and growth in strength-based classes and yoga classes. The studio has also added a “sampler class,” combining 10-minute samples of different workouts all in one class.

“I’m trying to really create a community where people just can be themselves,” she said. “They don’t have to wear a certain brand of clothing to practice at ShakRa. They don’t have to look a certain way or a certain mold or shape. We just really want people to be their authentic selves when they come in.”