Yoga by Sarah is a welcoming community of yoga and Pilates practitioners located in the Niagara Region. Our studio is located in the Grantham Plaza at the corner of Scott St. and Vine St. in St. Catharines. We have over 2,000 students who call Yoga by Sarah home, with more than 700 visits per week on average. It’s a busy studio with 4 beautiful practice rooms, over 25 instructors and 60+ weekly classes. All are welcome, from those who are new to yoga and can’t touch their toes, to others who are lifelong practitioners and can stand on their head. We are unpretentious, down-to-earth, and easy-going. We hope you make Yoga by Sarah your home too!
Our vision at Yoga By Sarah is twofold. First and foremost, we want to dispel the myths of yoga in order to make the practice accessible to everyone, regardless of age, ability and personal ideology. Second, we want to cross the bounds of traditional yoga and use yoga as a tool to help support the mental and emotional health of Niagara residents.
Yoga by Sarah is owned by April and Bill Janzen. April is the Creative Director and oversees the vision and strategic direction for the studio, as well as the day-to-day operations. She holds a Masters of Social Work degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and is passionate about trauma-sensitive yoga practice and social justice. Bill owns Future Access, a Niagara-based web development and digital marketing agency, and at Yoga by Sarah he manages marketing and finances.
The “Sarah” in Yoga by Sarah comes from our founder’s name, Sarah Giovannone. Sarah discovered yoga in the mid 1990’s when she found a yoga VHS tape on the shelf of a local video store in St. Catharines while browsing for fitness workout videos. This video led to her friends regularly coming to her house at 6am, moving furniture out of the living room and popping the video in the VCR for an early morning workout. She founded the studio in 1999, and over the years she grew Yoga by Sarah from a one-woman show to the thriving community it is today. After getting engaged, she sold the studio to April and Bill in the Fall of 2017 in order to move to Collingwood to be with the man of her dreams.
As I write this in my office on Grote St, it’s early in the morning, earlier than I would normally be here and a few hours before we open the doors for the day. I think of all the early mornings I’ve had at this desk the past 19 years, and the even more late nights. For years, the late nights were my favourite. I could get more work done in a couple of hours after midnight than I could during the hustle and bustle of a busy business day with phones ringing and eager yoga students coming and going to classes.
I’ve always felt like I was one of the lucky ones. I was lucky that I got to stay in St. Catharines-Niagara to make a living and career in my hometown while so many others I grew up with had to leave for bigger cities. And, I was even luckier that I got to do it on my own terms. It was late 1998, I was barely 22 years old, and being in business felt like a “man’s world.” I wouldn’t stand any of that. I knew that I could run a business that made a difference in people’s lives and that I could make the flyers pink if I wanted to. Maybe that’s the beauty of being young, invincible and naïve. I had a fire in my belly and my mission was to bring yoga to Niagara. And that I did. For years, I taught many classes a day, all the while doing bookkeeping, marketing and returning clients calls. As the business grew, my staff increased as did the yoga teacher talent, and I was able to take my burned-out self off of the teaching schedule. Many of you saw me burn out, that’s how it goes – you can’t set the world on fire forever.
In the past several years, my role at Yoga by Sarah has stabilized into manager/director/creative head/bookkeeper – something like that anyway! The daily operations are run by my talented staff and instructors. This was another lucky break: I’m pretty sure my team is the best on the planet. It’s allowed me to keep manageable work hours and enjoy more life outside the doors of YBS.
Which brings me to the reason I’m writing this today. A couple of years ago, on a summer holiday in Prince Edward Island, I met a wonderful man named Colin. We are engaged to be married next summer, and all I can say is that I am so glad I waited for him. Life is funny like that – I met Colin at exactly the time I came to peace with being single. Here’s the thing: he lives and has a business in Collingwood. I’ll be moving to Collingwood to be with him. Love makes us do crazy things like that, eh? If you knew me when I was in my twenties, you’ll remember a girl who swore she was never leaving Niagara. Oh, Life. The tricks you play on us!
Let me cut to the chase and say it: I’ve sold Yoga by Sarah. That’s a strange thing to say. Yoga by Sarah has been the focus of my life the past two decades and the only thing I’ve known as an adult. In my most truthful moments, I might confess that I’ve been thinking about selling for quite some time – long before I met Colin. Everything has its time.
As of September 30, Yoga by Sarah is now owned by April and Bill Janzen. They are a Niagara supercouple. April has been a long-time client at YBS and is a social worker by trade. Their three children are now all in school and the timing is perfect for her to take on a business she is passionate about. April has an infectious enthusiasm and a lot of energy! During the last three months of late night phone calls, negotiations, and secret meetings with her, I’ve seen and admired the many sides and layers to her. She is smart, creative, compassionate and fierce, all qualities that will make her a good leader and owner of Yoga by Sarah.
April and Bill Bill owns a business in St. Catharines called Future Access, which he started 22 years ago as a teenager. Future Access is a website development and digital marketing company. What makes this transition even more special is that Future Access will be doing a lot of the backend stuff for YBS– they’ll be doing all the marketing, bookkeeping, and other admin work. This will allow April to stay focused on Yoga by Sarah as the leader, creative director, and vision-setter. Bill is a great businessman and super likeable. Bill and I really relate to each other as business owners. He is a true partner to April on so many levels, being 110% on board with April’s dream of owning a yoga studio. To top it off, he is great with numbers and spreadsheets. What’s not to love about him?
You’ll be seeing April and I around the studio a lot. We want to ensure a smooth transition and to let you know that it’s business as usual! As part of the ownership transition, I will still be working at Yoga by Sarah until the end of December. In fact, you’ll probably see more of me now that I won’t be locked in my office all the time. I’ll even be teaching a weekly yoga class on the Drop-In Schedule. I really look forward to connecting and reconnecting with many of you.
For those of you registered in this year’s Yoga Teacher Training Program, nothing will change with the program. I will be running the program with my usual team of amazing instructors right up until program completion in the month of April. However, this will be the last Teacher Training Program that I personally run before I retire from Yogaland – hint, hint! We have just a couple spaces left in the program starting on October 21. If you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to do teacher training, I hope you can join us. Contact me at email@example.com or my cell 905 401-9929. I still love running the YTT program, and I can’t wait to get started! (If this is not your year, not to worry. YBS will still be running the YTT program in future years, just not with me at the helm! That said, April and I have spoken about me assisting and consulting in portions of future YTT programs).
Now, here’s Part 2 of this message: Are you ready? The owner of the building on Grote St. recently sold the building, and Yoga by Sarah will be moving to a beautiful, big, new space in the Grantham Plaza at the corner of Scott St and Vine St. It’s just a couple of minutes up the road from our current location. Let me be clear – April and Bill are the real deal entrepreneurs. Not only are they purchasing Yoga by Sarah from me, they are also building a whole new space to move the business to. The new location will still have the three studio spaces that we’re accustomed to. In fact, each studio will be bigger than what we currently have at Grote St. There will still be hot yoga, child minding, retail and a couple of other goodies that they’ll tell you about in the near future. They have some cool drawings of the new studio they’ve done up professionally that they’ll be sharing with you soon. Yoga by Sarah is scheduled to open up in the new space at the beginning of January. In the meantime, we stay on Grote St and run our usually scheduled classes with our usually scheduled instructors!
April, Bill and I felt like we wanted to have an offer to incentivize you to renew your membership or come back to classes. We’re offering a Super Special Sale – it’s a cheesy name I know, but it’s a super special time, so it felt appropriate! We’re offering a 10 Class Pass special. It’s 10 classes for $72.50 – that’s 50% off! It’s only available for the next two weeks to purchase, and the 10 classes must be used up by December 31. Click here to find out more and to buy online! I hope you’re able to hang out with us for our last few months on Grote St and my last few months at Yoga by Sarah.
Sigh. I know this is a lot to digest at once. I get it! I really do feel like this is exciting for the YBS community. Yoga by Sarah gets to move forward and grow. I get to start a new chapter of my life. I hope that you’ll keep joining us on this crazy ride. So, I’ll see you in the studio soon, and I’ll introduce you to April, who I think you’re going to love!
“Working with Sarah these past few months has been a real blessing and honour. I’m humbled and privileged that she has chosen Bill and I to carry on the leadership of YBS. I look forward to building on the strong foundation of community and authenticity that Sarah began 19 years ago. And most of all, I am excited to meet you all!”
April and Bill have had the privilege of growing up in the Niagara Region. They live in St. Catharines with their three children and have been married for 15 years. April and Bill are always looking for adventure, so they are excited to be embarking on a new journey as the owners of YBS!
April has been a long-term member at YBS, starting as a client in prenatal yoga 9 years ago. With the busy responsibilities of being a working mom, April took a break from her yoga practice and picked up again 4 years ago after the birth of their third child. Since then, it was love at first sun salutation!
Being a social worker in the field for almost 15 years, April started to see a need for body based trauma treatment. She began to see the value in merging the benefits of yoga with traditional treatment for trauma, anxiety and depression. This ignited her desire to pursue her training as a yoga teacher. Wanting to incorporate her Christian faith into her yoga practice, April sought out training with Holy Yoga, a large non-profit Yoga Teacher Training Program based in Arizona. She has completed 500 hours of training with Holy Yoga and recently completed a 20 hour training in Trauma Sensitive Yoga through the Trauma Centre in Boston. She has been accepted into the 300 hour Trauma Sensitive Yoga certification with the Trauma Centre in Boston under the leadership of Bessel Van der Kolk and David Emerson next year. Most of April’s free time outside of yoga is spent being a mom and a friend. However, she is passionate about international community development and has been involved with numerous organizations in the past in this regard.
Bill is a passionate entrepreneur who loves new challenges and finding creative solutions to move businesses forward. Bill is the owner of Future Access, a web development and digital marketing firm based in St. Catharines. He started Future Access over 22 years ago as a high school project, and their dedicated team of over 20 people now actively serves hundreds of clients across Niagara and beyond. While he’s still learning about the yoga world, Bill is looking forward to the new adventure of partnering with April in the ownership of YBS.
As someone who loves all things techy, spreadsheets and the challenge of entrepreneurism, Bill will be the person behind the scenes making sure the website works and the bills are paid. Bill is actively involved in the community, serving on the boards of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce and Bethesda Community Services, and he is also a member of the Wise Guys Charity committee. In his spare time Bill loves to swim, play hockey, and take long bike rides on the trails of the Niagara Region.
Both Bill and April love spending time with their children, their extended family and friends. They enjoy being actively involved in their church, Bethany Community Church. Both are passionate about traveling and experiencing new cultures and meeting new people. So far they have had the opportunity to explore parts of Europe, Africa and South America and they look forward to where might be next!