‘Bend and Brew’ yoga classes at Wicked Wort take the edge off of exercising

Ambient lighting and barrels in the basement of Wicked Wort Brewing Company in Robbinsdale help set the tone for Bend and Brew classes, where attendees are pictured in a position called child’s pose as instructor Bayli Vandelanotte guides them through the sequence. (Sun Post staff photos by Laci Gagliano)
Ambient lighting and barrels in the basement of Wicked Wort Brewing Company in Robbinsdale help set the tone for Bend and Brew classes, where attendees are pictured in a position called child’s pose as instructor Bayli Vandelanotte guides them through the sequence. (Sun Post staff photos by Laci Gagliano)

Two weekly classes inside the brewery inspire both fitness and fun

By Laci Gagliano
Sun Post Newspapers

For people prone to feeling self-conscious about exercising in front of other people, attending a yoga class can feel like a daunting prospect. For those facing that fear, there’s plenty to confront in a typical yoga session: the mirrors surrounding many studio walls, the feeling of pressure from more advanced participants, the worry of falling from a challenging pose. And of course, there’s the judgment factor.

Some might question why it’s worth the worry, but health experts say the benefits of yoga for both mind and body are numerous.

Perhaps the solution for the fear is as simple as adding a beer into the class.

Bayli Vandelanotte said she has seen firsthand how her “Bend and Brew” yoga classes at Wicked Wort brewery in Robbinsdale have helped curb the worry for participants. Each week she watches people of all skill levels come together in the unique space, and then opt to stick around for a discounted pint, instead of packing up and heading out as soon as the yoga class is over.

“Not having mirrors like you have in a typical studio lowers that threshold of looking at yourself, judging yourself. It’s a judgment-free space, for sure,” said Vandelanotte.

Vandelanotte has been teaching yoga for the past four years, mostly in fitness center settings. She and her boyfriend are going on their third year of living in Robbinsdale, and she wanted to seek different options beyond the typical setting. That’s why she reached out to Wicked Wort as a possible space last August.

(Pictured from left to right) Amanda Carlyle, general manager of Wicked Wort, Marcy Knott, a St. Louis Park resident who has participated in classes since the early inception, and Bend and Brew founder and teacher Bayli Vandelanotte.
(Pictured from left to right) Amanda Carlyle, general manager of Wicked Wort, Marcy Knott, a St. Louis Park resident who has participated in classes since the early inception, and Bend and Brew founder and teacher Bayli Vandelanotte.

“We’d been to the brewery a couple of times, and one day it just dawned on me, ‘they’re relatively new, maybe I’ll reach out.’ I know a lot of breweries are doing different special events to attract a different crowd,” Vandelanotte said.

General manager Amanda Carlyle said she was in immediate agreement with the proposal.

“I get a lot of emails every day about people wanting to use the space, and this felt right,” Carlyle said. “We met shortly afterward, and everything fell into line really well.” Carlyle herself attends every class.

The first Bend and Brew classes were last September over Labor Day weekend, and so far turnout has been fairly steady every week, with 20 to 30 people in attendance at any given session. The floor space in Wicked Wort is quite generous, allowing attendees to comfortably spread out.

Monday evenings were the original class days, although recently the classes have expanded to Saturday mornings. St. Louis Park resident Marcy Knott, who has attended Vandelanotte’s classes since they began, said she looks forward to the class every week.

“I’ve done (yoga) for 30 years. What Bayli said is so true – studios are more serious, with mirrors, and you feel like you have to do it right. Here, we can have fun, and we can laugh,” Knott said. “You also don’t usually talk to people afterwards; you usually do it and leave. Here, you’re encouraged to earn the reward of the beer and have conversation. It’s really fun.”

Vandelanotte said the classes are also more diverse, including higher numbers of men participating.

“We get a lot of the male population as well, probably because it’s in a brewery. I think it’s a little less intimidating, because in the past it does tend to be a little more of a female dominated type of workout,” she said.

She teaches Vinyasa yoga, a flowing style of yoga that is among the most popular varieties of the practice.

“I make it available for all skill levels. We know that of the people coming, some have done yoga before, but we have plenty of new people who have never done it before, so it’s really cool to be able to get all the different levels together in one place, and people are able to learn from each other.”

Bend and Brew participants reach toward the brewing equipment in the basement of Wicked Wort in eager anticipation of the post-workout reward. (Sun Post staff photo by Laci Gagliano)
Bend and Brew participants reach toward the brewing equipment in the basement of Wicked Wort in eager anticipation of the post-workout reward. (Sun Post staff photo by Laci Gagliano)

On Monday evenings, Bend and Brew sessions on the main floor. The brewery is closed on Mondays, so staff leaves chairs and tables pushed aside on Sunday evenings at closing time. Saturday sessions meet in the brewery’s basement, where all of the brewing takes place, which also has ample space and requires no tables to be pushed back. Plus, being surrounded by large tanks and kettles brewing Wicked Wort beer makes for a unique yoga setting.

Vandelanotte said people use the classes both for exercise and for socializing.

“It’s definitely an outing event for friends. I know we also have a husband, wife, and their son who come sometimes. Being able to chat with people afterwards, you’re not only there with your friends but you also start to develop those friendships with other people. That’s what I’ve noticed the most now: people that didn’t know each other in the beginning are chatting with each other afterward or even getting together outside of the space. It’s fun to develop that community even further here,” she said.

Bend and Brew yoga is 7-8 p.m. Mondays and 10-11 a.m. Saturdays. Classes are open to ages 21 and older, and drop-ins are welcome. Each class is $10, paid in cash or using the mobile payment app Venmo, and drinks afterward are discounted at $5 per pint or $10 per flight. Wicked Wort Brewing Co. is at 4165 W. Broadway Ave. in Robbinsdale.

Contact Laci Gagliano at [email protected]