We had the good fortune of connecting with Jenni Giampietro and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jenni, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
This may sound strange, but when I read this question: I realized it was the first time I looked at Relevation Yoga as a business. When Covid-19 forced CorePower Yoga Greater Boston studios to shut down, I knew I had to find a way to teach; to keep myself sane, and stay connected to people that I knew would be missing the studio. There was no long-term goal of creating my own yoga brand – I just wanted to continue doing what makes me feel most alive. At that point, not only had I never taught a virtual yoga class…I had never even taken one myself. I exclusively taught at and practiced at a few different CPY studios around Boston. It was time to make a big pivot. I’m quite positive that this would be frowned upon, but before we all eventually got laid off, I went through the system and grabbed about 40 of my regulars’ email addresses and invited them to join my first Instagram Live class. And a few days later, some people showed up! What was even more rewarding than a handful of familiar Instagram handles joining my awkward virtual teaching debut were the responses I received back…many within an hour of my invitation to flow: “It’s so great to hear from you!” “Thank you so much for checking in.” “I’ve tried a few online videos so far but feel like it’s not quite the same as practicing with an instructor I already know.” To me, those quick and genuine responses said more about the importance of human connection than they did about people missing my classes specifically. It wasn’t Relevation then, but something was born in those moments. I became committed to creating a space where my friends could find positivity, movement and a little bit of normalcy during the stay-at-home order. I didn’t love talking to myself on Instagram Live, even though I could assume (or pretend) that if my students were watching, they were flowing with me. But it didn’t satisfy a need for community or a platform where I could offer personalized encouragement and feedback. Hence: we adapt and overcome. Within a week, I signed up for a Zoom account, found a decent spot in my dining room (literally the only spot where I could get my whole body in the video because I’m so tall), and sent out another email to my CPY crew, plus a few more family and friends, inviting them to my five Zoom classes that week. I’ve taught those five classes every week since March 31st. Shortly after that, I figured out how to make my own website, and voilà – Relevation Yoga was legit. My weekly schedule is very similar to what I taught in-studio, mostly 6:30am classes, because that’s how we roll. People were so happy to have motivation to get up early. I was honored to be that reason and knew that if I didn’t have this little community – I would have a hard time getting out of bed at all. When yoga became more than just a way to work out and lose weight, it became everything. I’ve said this several times, but when I fell in love with yoga in Los Angeles (shout out to Daniel Overberger of Black Market Yoga), I would leave the Hollywood Women’s Center revived with a fresh sense of peace and clarity. The sky was a deeper blue, the birds were chirping a little more loudly and joyfully. I temporarily forgot about the stresses of work and life. When I moved back to MA, CorePower further helped me quell my many anxieties about the future, and shifted my practice into a whole new frame. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to be flexible. I wanted to be confident. It wasn’t just about being thin and pretty anymore.

While I could write a lengthy essay about my love for yoga, that would be a question for another interview that probably won’t happen because I think this is funny that I’m even being interviewed in the first place. My virtual studio is named Relevation Yoga and combines my promise to “Relate to and Elevate with.” I strive to show up as someone my students can relate to, no matter what they look like or where they are from. Yoga is about the way you feel, not the way you look. I am not the yoga teacher with the perfect hair and body in a contorted pose on a tropical beach. I am not interested in being or perpetuating that kind of counterfeit perfection. Instead, my intention is this: after an hour of collective moving, breathing, and embracing who we are in that very moment – we may be able to recognize and rise above what may be holding us down as individuals. The mission of Relevation Yoga is to encourage strength, clarity and connection in a positive atmosphere where everyone feels seen, appreciated, and capable of achieving their own goals and transformation. The first few months of Relevation, I was handing off a percentage of every donation to groups of people that were far more affected by Covid-19 than I was. I made it through a round of layoffs at my full-time media sales job, and was happy to contribute to causes like Massachusetts healthcare, the restaurant industry, Black Lives Matter, and my friends who taught at CPY full time and were out of a job. A conversation about yoga and money tends to make me uneasy, because I’ve always seen it as a service and a passion…not a second job. (That’s also partly because CorePower pays their teachers close to minimum wage, so it wasn’t like I was reeling in the cash over the last two and half years.) I wake up at 5:30am most weekdays with hopes of fueling positive change in someone’s life. Maybe, just maybe, that change will spiral, catch fire, and pinball around, tagging and moving even MORE people! That is my very strategic business plan. I did not know the monetary value of these virtual yoga classes. I let my community decide. And I am overwhelmed with appreciation every time a donation comes through. It’s hard to express how grateful I am for the students that have chosen to roll through this mad time of life with me, and continue to show up on a weekly or even daily basis. I’m extremely humbled by the donations. I never asked. But they deliver. And full disclosure, I keep the donations now – because I need them. And I deserve them. I put my heart and soul into creating monthly sequences, weekly themes, groovy playlists, and providing a platform that’s super easy to use. Since I have more time at home now than I’ve ever had before, I’ve also invested hundreds of dollars into courses and training to elevate my teaching. I’m proud to say that today, Relevation Yoga has become a relevant, supplemental income to an unpredictable, commission-based full-time salary during Covid. While I can’t yet tell you the detailed future of Relevation Yoga, I can tell you that there is a future. I now take Relevation on the road Thursday mornings, and see my people face to face shortly after the sun rises in a park outside Boston. I’m also teaching at two different studios in Andover, MA. The virtual classes roll on. Online yoga isn’t ideal, but it will remain my deal for as long as my friends need it. Join us anytime at RelevationYoga.com.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Whoops – I posted this in the first question, but this is what I want people to know about my brand: It wasn’t Relevation then, but something was born in those moments. I became committed to creating a space where my friends could find positivity, movement and a little bit of normalcy during the stay-at-home order. I didn’t love talking to myself on Instagram Live, even though I could assume (or pretend) that if my students were watching, they were flowing with me. But it didn’t satisfy a need for community or a platform where I could offer personalized encouragement and feedback. Hence: we adapt and overcome. Within a week, I signed up for a Zoom account, found a decent spot in my dining room (literally the only spot where I could get my whole body in the video because I’m so tall), and sent out another email to my CPY crew, plus a few more family and friends, inviting them to my five Zoom classes that week. I’ve taught those five classes every week since March 31st. Shortly after that, I figured out how to make my own website, and voilà – Relevation Yoga was legit. My weekly schedule is very similar to what I taught in-studio, mostly 6:30am classes, because that’s how we roll. People were so happy to have motivation to get up early. I was honored to be that reason and knew that if I didn’t have this little community – I would have a hard time getting out of bed at all. When yoga became more than just a way to work out and lose weight, it became everything. I’ve said this several times, but when I fell in love with yoga in Los Angeles (shout out to Daniel Overberger of Black Market Yoga), I would leave the Hollywood Women’s Center revived with a fresh sense of peace and clarity. The sky was a deeper blue, the birds were chirping a little more loudly and joyfully. I temporarily forgot about the stresses of work and life. When I moved back to MA, CorePower further helped me quell my many anxieties about the future, and shifted my practice into a whole new frame. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to be flexible. I wanted to be confident. It wasn’t just about being thin and pretty anymore. While I could write a lengthy essay about my love for yoga, that would be a question for another interview that probably won’t happen because I think this is funny that I’m even being interviewed in the first place. My virtual studio is named Relevation Yoga and combines my promise to “Relate to and Elevate with.” I strive to show up as someone my students can relate to, no matter what they look like or where they are from. Yoga is about the way you feel, not the way you look. I am not the yoga teacher with the perfect hair and body in a contorted pose on a tropical beach. I am not interested in being or perpetuating that kind of counterfeit perfection. Instead, my intention is this: after an hour of collective moving, breathing, and embracing who we are in that very moment – we may be able to recognize and rise above what may be holding us down as individuals. The mission of Relevation Yoga is to encourage strength, clarity and connection in a positive atmosphere where everyone feels seen, appreciated, and capable of achieving their own goals and transformation. In terms of how I got to where I am professionally: I took my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training at CorePower Yoga in 2017. I taught Vinyasa, Yoga Sculpt and Hot Power Fusion at various CPY Boston studios for 2.5 years. I am also an ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor, and am constantly enrolling myself in anatomy, yoga philosophy, and sequencing courses to continue learning about the practice I am wildly passionate about.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I dedicate this shoutout to my incredible Relevation Yoga students. Seeing your faces is the best part of the day…tied only with the most handsome face of my husband, who reels me in and keeps me sane(ish.) What a life we have created. I have to give some cred to Olivia Lane, because I’m cooler and, I guess, still somewhat of an LA person just by being her friend. Thank you for dragging me up the Arizona mesas to take deeper breaths. Last one: sending hopeful and bright vibes to my CorePower Yoga Boston team. Let’s keep moving forward.

Website: https://www.relevationyoga.com/
Instagram: @jennistardust
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenni-dunn-70275165/

Image Credits
Keleigh Kremers

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