Is Leeds-based running yoga start-up the new Zumba?

A Roga workshop at Yoga Hero, Leeds Dock.

A Roga workshop at Yoga Hero, Leeds Dock.

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On the face of it relaxing mindfulness and heart-pumping distance running don’t exactly go hand-in-hand.

They are, in many ways, at two ends of the health and wellbeing spectrum but the cofounders of a new exercise movement called Roga feel that they meet in the middle.

Founded in Leeds by food and fitness blogger and business consultant Jayne Rodgers and yoga entrepreneur Holly McFee, Roga is a new form of exercise designed to get the whole mind and body fit.

It is designed to both make injury-prone, inflexible runners supple and boost the cardio fitness and stamina of yoga enthusiasts while working on breathing and thought through mindfulness.

It is hoped that the trademarked Roga programme will grow, with plans to train licensed instructors and eventually spread the model nationwide and potentially further like Latin-inspired fitness craze Zumba.

Jayne, who writes the Veggie Runners blog with her daughter, explained that the Roga idea came from noticing a lack of truly integrated ‘yoga for runners’ classes.

A Roga workshop at Leeds Dock.

A Roga workshop at Leeds Dock.

“Roga is a structured and integrated approach to fitness. Each week you have a theme to make you a better and stronger runner and prevent injury while the cardio also helps to strengthen you for yoga,” she said.

“It’s a whole body fitness programme and it’s also got a lot of mindfulness – that really helps people who are running longer distances when they need to focus on positives and not get caught up in negatives about having to run 26 miles.”

The one hour and 15 minute classes start with yoga and mindfulness before focussing on a particular attribute like agility, the core or balance through drills and exercises.

Following sold-out sessions at Sweaty Betty, in the Victoria Quarter, The Tetley, in Hunslet, and at Holly’s Yoga Hero studio, the programme has been refined ahead of the first full eight-week programme which launches on January 10. The sessions will take place weekly at Yoga Hero at Leeds Dock.

A Roga workshop at Leeds Dock.

A Roga workshop at Leeds Dock.

“We’ve spend a lot of time planning it and it’s been really popular. All of our workshops have sold out,” Jayne added.

“What’s been really enlightening has been seeing people, who have felt they didn’t enjoy one or the other of the disciplines, grow to love it because they see how it works with the other one.”

It is hoped that Roga will expand rapidly once the first new instructors are trained in spring 2016, as it follows in the footsteps of Zumba.

The fitness classes, enjoyed regularly by more than 10million people worldwide as of 2010, originated in a Latin-inspired dance class that saw aerobics and Latin fuse in Colombia more than a decade earlier.

First training blocks set for Leeds

Agility, strength, the core, balance and coordination are all focuses of some of the eight introductory Roga sessions.

People of all ages are being invited to the first eight-week course running at Yoga Hero, at Leeds Dock, every Sunday from January 10 at 4.30pm.

The full course of eight sessions, each lasting one hour and 15 minutes, and a takeaway information toolkit costs £70.

For details visit introduction-to-roga-course-january.eventbrite.co.uk or search for RogaRunYoga on Twitter or Facebook.