3.2 for 32 run preparations

Blacksburg, Va., April 12 – Run to Remember: Signs and flyers for the 3.2 run can be found throughout Virginia Tech’s campus. The race starts outside of War Memorial Hall and ends at Burruss Hall. Photo: Haven Lewis

by Haven Lewis–

On the morning of April 15, Hokies and supporters laced up their running shoes and took to Virginia Tech’s campus for the 9th annual Run in Remembrance.

The run was designed as a memorial event for the victims of the mass shooting that took place on campus on April 16, 2007. The 3.2 miles represent the 32 students and faculty who lost their lives.

Alison Cross, the director of Recreational Sports at Virginia Tech, along with the department, created the event as a way to bring the community together in a positive setting.

According to Huffington Post, there are 13 mental health benefits of running which include alleviated depression and anxiety and increased happiness.

It’s not only current Virginia Tech students and Blacksburg residents that attend the run. Alumni travel from all over the country – California, Arizona and Florida.

Krista Gwilliam, Fitness Coordinator of Rec Sports, says that planning begins in November with the implementation team’s weekly meetings.

The event has a leadership team for each area – registration, route marshals, route set up, marketing.

The marketing staff includes 11 Virginia Tech students who design t-shirts, hang posters throughout campus, manage social media and do all they can to get the word out.

Additionally, five different fitness student staff members make up a leadership team that handle different aspects of the race on the day of the event.

From fashion truck to Main Street boutique

Blacksburg, Va., April 3 – Things Come Together: Ashleigh Garnes, owner of Sundee Best, poses in front of the store’s newly organized clothes racks. Photo: Haven Lewis

by Haven Lewis–

Sundee Best, a local retail business, is taking over the previous location of Clothes Rack on Main Street in Blacksburg, Va. The boutique is set to open its doors April 8.

The business began as an online store in April 2015. By the end of that following summer, Sundee Best launched their fashion truck.

According to Stacey Jischke-Steffe, co-founder and president of American Mobile Retail Association, the industry is growing significantly with nearly 1,000 fashion trucks nation wide.

“A lot of it’s been blood, sweat and tears,” says owner, Ashleigh Garnes. “We refurbished the truck ourselves. It took us all summer but it was paid with love and hugs and free dinner.”

Sundee Best’s fashion truck has traveled to numerous festivals and fairs within a two-hour radius. It’s made additional appearances on Virginia Tech’s Drillfield and Radford University’s campus.

Despite the opening of the boutique, the fashion truck will still be an integral part of the business.

Garnes says it was her goal to open a store within 3-5 years of her online launch, but she wasn’t looking for a spot at all when she heard about the Main Street location.

“It’s meant to be because of the way that it fell into place and all of the things that have happened to lead up to this point,” says Garnes.

The property’s “for rent” sign went up at the end of January. Garnes toured the site and thought it was the perfect size – not too big, not too small. Everything was finalized by February 1 and she was given the keys on the second week of March.

Garnes is enthusiastic about the future of her business. She says that she wants Sundee Best to be known not only for great clothes, but for great customer service.

An in-store celebration is planned for April 29 with new arrivals and surprises.

Blacksburg, Va., April 3 – Passion for People: Ashleigh Garnes says that she doesn’t necessarily have a passion for fashion, rather, she’s passionate about people, especially those in the Blacksburg community. Photo: Haven Lewis

Yoga: 5,000-year-old trend

Blacksburg, Va., Feb. 14 – High Lunge Pose: Nicole Boyle, owner of InBalance Yoga, practices a high lunge pose in a hot yoga class. Boyle says she practices yoga because it makes her happy.

by Haven Lewis–

It’s 4 p.m. on a Tuesday. Clients come in, one by one, with yoga mats, towels, and water bottles in hand, ready to enter the sauna that has consumed the studio at InBalance Yoga.

“My favorite is the hot yoga vinyasa classes,” says Keala Mason, manager and instructor at the studio.

Mason first became an instructor during her undergraduate years at James Madison University. She was later appointed as Coordinator of Sport Clubs and Youth Programs at the university’s recreation center. As the coordinator, Mason noticed a steady increase in the availability and popularity of yoga classes.

“I think one reason is because we’ve got celebrity endorsements and it’s become something that’s trendy to try, but then people stay with it because they see that it’s not just a trend,” Mason speculates. “It’s been around thousands of years so there’s gotta be something to it.”

According to David Gordon White’s “Yoga, Brief History of an Idea”, the earliest account of yoga is found in the Hindu Kathaka Upanisad, a scripture dating from about the third century B.C.

Yoga Alliance reports that the number of American practitioners has grown 50 percent in the past four years. Why are Americans now turning to this age-old practice as a form of exercise?

Nicole Boyle, owner of InBalance, has been practicing yoga for 11 years.

“I’m 38 now and it feels like I’m aging in reverse. I can do things now that I couldn’t do in my 20s,” Boyle says assuredly.

She believes that yoga has given her the confidence, and strength, to do triathlons, marathons, go on extended hiking and camping trips, and even try Crossfit.

“I think people are attracted to it because of some of the physical benefits, but then they see how well they feel mentally, emotionally, spiritually,” says Boyle. “Yoga can do more than just be a physical exercise.”

Boyle may be right. Yoga Alliance reveals that practitioners have a stronger sense of mental clarity, are more likely to give back to their communities, and have more agile bodies than non-practitioners and the public at large.

Boyle says that her clients typically range from ages 18 to 80. Her business offers chair yoga and community pool yoga for those who have trouble with mobility.

“There’s so many different types and so many different paces. As long as you can breathe, you can do yoga.”