What do you get when you cross a couple of motivated Glenbard West juniors, a favorite math teacher, a certified yoga instructor and an early morning time slot in the school gym?
The G-Dub Yoga Club!
Glenbard West juniors Jacqui Faber and Lauren Crowe proposed the G-Dub Yoga Club to administrators this school year, and the girls recently got the green light to start holding yoga sessions. The first meeting was Sept. 25.
"The first meeting was at 6:30 a.m., and 47 students showed up," said Julie Mackey, who teaches the yoga class.
Mackey is a registered yoga teacher who specializes in athletes of all ages, and in 2010 she started Prairie Yoga Teacher Training. She also teaches at Shine in Batavia, Crossfit Alpha Dog in Naperville, Sunshine Dance Project in Glen Ellyn and in her home studio.
She's an all-around fitness fan, according to her Facebook page:
"When I'm not practicing or teaching yoga, you can find me staying healthy working out with the gals from The Dailey Method in Naperville and Wheaton, smashing a Workout of the Day at Crossfit Alpha Dog and cheering on my four children in their activities ..."
Mackey said three of her children go to Glenbard West (one already has graduated) and she has gotten to know many of the students.
"They said it was natural that I come in to teach them yoga when their club was approved," she said.
The math teacher, Patrick McClusky, is the club's moderator, a yoga student and a Peace Corp volunteer. He's part of the reason the kids show up—they love him—but even so, getting 47 high school students to show up anywhere at 6:30 a.m. is no small task.
"These bright-eyed students came to the early morning class and were also treated to smoothies from Jamba Juice (and had) some socializing time before classes started," she said. "It was a huge hit."
Yoga can be its own reward. It's a great de-stressor, Mackey said.
"During the class, I focus on teaching breathing and relaxation techniques to help them cope with the stress in their day, and how to apply those techniques off the mat to their desks, sports or other activities," Mackey said.
She said kids are generally more stressed out these days than they used to be—especially those tackling honors classes.
"Social workers have commented that the student that visited them several years ago was the minority or high-risk student," she said. "But now, there's been a shift in student demographics that more often includes AP honor students. I'm hoping to use yoga to help these kids as they enter college."
The next class meets Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 6:30 a.m., and students are welcome and encouraged to come check it out. There's always room for more.
"I'm hoping the turnout is so large we have to use the football field soon," Mackey said.