By Cara Van Dijk

Nearly 11 months after the government first announced stay-at-home orders and regulations forced gyms and fitness businesses to close, these establishments are finding innovative ways to continue operating and providing what many people believe is essential.

“People should not stay cooped up in their homes without exercise and without exposure to natural elements,” said Annmarie Lynn, owner of Hot Yoga Plus, which is now offering in-person distanced yoga and Pilates classes at the amphitheater at The River at Rancho Mirage. “We live in a beautiful place, and now is such a nice time to get outside and enjoy it.”

Annmarie was planning to announce exclusive ownership of her Palm Springs yoga studio, which came with a name change – Hot Yoga Plus – when the initial shutdown of March 2020 hit everyone. Annmarie immediately offered free yoga, Pilates and meditation classes on Facebook, Instagram and Zoom to help her clients stay active and mindful. She and many of the studio’s instructors are still offering online options as well as teaching classes six days a week at The River.

“We saw an opportunity to get people out of their houses safely, and we loved Annmarie’s caring approach to maintaining healthy lifestyles, so we were very excited to partner with her to offer yoga and Pilates classes at The River,” said Anne Marie Campbell, director of events and marketing at The River at Rancho Mirage.

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Annmarie Lynn is a former gymnast who found life-changing pain relief after practicing Bikram Yoga for less than three months. Since then, she has dedicated her life to helping others find the same healing through the practice of yoga. She is a certified Bikram Yoga instructor and also one of only a few instructors teaching Inferno Hot Pilates in the valley, which is a unique approach to traditional Pilates that incorporates heat to burn calories and build muscle faster.

The CDC’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination each week.

“At The River people can get exercise in a very spacious, socially distanced setting, plus get fresh air and sunshine all at once. It’s all good for the body and the mind,” said Annmarie.

“Sunshine and fresh air are like nature’s supplements,” said Regina Basterrechea, a local certified nutritional consultant. “When skin is safely exposed to sunlight, it makes vitamin D from cholesterol, which is an immune system-strengthening nutrient. Spending time outdoors has been linked to lowering cortisol levels, the body’s stress hormone.”

With healthcare professionals facing some of the most intense stress these days, Annmarie offers them complimentary classes. In August and again in November, she offered free 3-month mind and body makeovers to anyone who had gotten complacent during “lock down” but who was ready to commit to making a change. Several people have benefitted from this program, and Annmarie says she’s willing to take on even more people ready to move out of a senditary pandemic lifestyle.

“I have lost people to depression during this difficult and isolating time,” said Annmarie. “But sharing yoga and other healthy practices is something I can do to help people, our community and our world.”

Continuing to demonstrate her giving heart, Annmarie is donating all fees from her Friday and Saturday classes at The River during the month of February to the American Heart Association (AHA). Donations will support the AHA’s Go Red for Women Campaign. February is also Heart Month – a time when the nation spotlights heart disease, which is still the number one killer of Americans. In addition, this month, Annmarie is kicking off her participation in AHA’s Women of Impact Challenge, where she will create awareness and direct impact opportunities to bring attention to heart disease, especially in women. In April, the area’s Women of Impact will be celebrated by the AHA.

And if all of that isn’t enough, Annmarie is getting creative with how to use her Palm Springs studio space, which has been closed for regular exercise classes since March. Recently, she started promoting private yoga parties, which have become popular bachelorette options. A dance pole was recently installed at the studio, which is also setup for trapeze yoga. Both of these unique experiences are getting a lot of interest from people looking for ways to safely  bring small groups together for celebrations.

For day-to-day classes, Annmarie and other certified instructors are currently teaching virtually on Zoom and in-person at The River. Marsha White, Ricky J, Leslie Gerber, Robyn Paulette, Chelsea Carter, Giselle Meagher, Rhonda Ramirez and Brian Blake all share the Hot Yoga Plus class schedule with their various expertise and specialties.

Classes at The River are available Monday-Saturday: Sunshine Yoga at 10 a.m. and Inferno Hot Pilates at 11:30 a.m. Through February, the $12 drop-in price from all Friday and Saturday classes at The River will be donated to the American Heart Association. Zoom classes are offered every day of the week at a $10 drop-in rate. During February, a 30-day unlimited package is available for only $49. For a complete list of classes and other pricing, visit www.hotyogapluspalmsprings.com or call 760-832-8655.