Amid unclear business future, Local Yoga Joint closes in Turners Falls

  • Jocelyn O’Shea, owner of the Local Yoga Joint in Turners Falls, seen when the business opened in March 2019. Largely due to the pandemic, the business has closed permanently. Contributed photo/Jonathan Perlstein

  • Local Yoga Joint at 42 Canal St. in Turners Falls has closed permanently, largely due to the pandemic. Pictured is a class shortly after the studio opened in March 2019. Contributed photo/Jonathan Perlstein

  • The Local Yoga Joint, a studio that opened last spring at 42 Canal St., has closed permanently, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/20/2020 12:26:49 PM
Modified: 8/20/2020 12:26:37 PM

TURNERS FALLS — The Local Yoga Joint, a studio that opened last spring in the Canal District, has closed permanently, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Owner Jocelyn O’Shea said she hopes to eventually reopen in a different location, but added that she was unsure when a yoga studio could be viable as a business again.

Although yoga studios have been allowed to operate since early July in Massachusetts’ four-phase reopening plan, they can only operate at reduced capacity, like most other businesses. O’Shea said her business likely wouldn’t be feasible while working consistently at reduced capacity.

“I can’t operate at 50 percent capacity. I can’t operate at 75 percent capacity. There’s no way to pay the rent and have half as many people coming in,” she said.

O’Shea opened her business in March 2019 at 42 Canal St., which had formerly been the site of the Franklin County Regional Housing & Redevelopment Authority.

The Local Yoga Joint was unique in its use of CBD, a non-psychoactive chemical in marijuana that O’Shea compared to a natural ibuprofen. CBD products like salves or tinctures were used in some of her classes to relax certain muscles. When the Local Yoga Joint opened, O’Shea said it was the first yoga studio in the state to use CBD.

She closed this March, a few days before the state government ordered non-essential businesses to close, then terminated her lease in May.

O’Shea said she wants to reopen at some point, but that the timing will depend on the progress of the pandemic.

In the long term, it is possible that the pandemic will make people hesitant to attend yoga classes, which could make the business more difficult, she said.

“Are people ever going to be comfortable breathing and sweating in the same room?” she said. “No one in the yoga industry really knows what it’s going to look like.”

Before moving to Massachusetts in 2015, O’Shea had taught yoga in New York City for 10 years. There, people were generally more comfortable in small spaces, she said. When she came to rural Western Massachusetts, she noticed that her students expected much more space between one another.

The future of the business will depend as much on the pandemic as on students’ level of comfort with the idea of being in a yoga studio, O’Shea said.

“We just have to wait and see what the world looks like,” she said. “And that’s hard, to wait and see.”

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-930-4231.




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