Hot Yoga studio Tallahassee is beginning the new year with healing.
After the November shooting that claimed the lives of two women and injured five at the Betton Place studio, it reopened for the first time on Saturday. Instructors opened the renovated studio with the 180-sun greeting practice. Owner Brittani Whittington led a music session in the evening.
In a newsletter sent out by Whittington, she wrote, “I'm going to show up for the practice that I love with my whole heart because I won't live in fear. I'll never stop seeking spiritual understanding and acceptance, trying to do good in this world and trusting that I am making all of the right decisions. I hope you too will arrive at this place over time.”
Whittington debated closing the studio, she wrote. But new security implemented at the studio have brought her “needed peace.”
Kristen Semple, a Florida State University graduate with a master's in criminology, was present for Saturday’s reopening.
“I have been attending Hot Yoga Tallahassee for seven years. The event that occurred here on Nov. 2 was devastating. But this community has rallied behind such a beautiful woman, Brittani is such a phenomenal human. She is keeping this studio open despite the tragedy. She is doing her best even when it is hard for her, she knows that it is good for the community.”
Surveillance cameras have been installed, alongside a window behind the front work area, so instructors can see into the lobby while inside the yoga room.
A maintenance technicians at the property, Jacob Stewart, expressed his thoughts on the tragic event.
“The owner of Hot Yoga studio is the sweetest lady that I have ever met, it is a shame that guns had to be brought in a place of peace; yoga is supposed to be happy and carefree. I don’t really know who in their right mind would think to do something like this.”
He added,“Gun violence is a serious issue nowadays, so many innocent people are getting killed.”
According to the Gun Violence Archive, which classifies a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people are shot or killed not including the shooter, 340 mass shootings took place in the U.S. in 2018. More than 12,000 people died from gun-related violence in 2018, and more than 24,000 others have been injured.
Businesses in the Betton Place shopping plaza are welcoming the studio back. Marsha Shalley, the owner of AR Workshop, located on the first level of Betton Place, said the reopening is a way to start moving forward.
"It's part of the healing process. To know that we can get back to our lives. Life goes on. We don't have to be afraid and we can keep moving forward,” said Shalley. "To surround the yoga studio with our support and our love and say, 'We're going to go on. We're going to move on. We're going to support this business. It's a part of the healing process."