Rock chick yogi teaches students to do the downward dog to the sound of heavy metal classics like Breaking the Law

·5-min read

A self-professed “rock chick” is combining her love of heavy metal music with teaching yoga by showing students how to perform a downward dog to the sound of head-banging classics.

While Judas Priest’s Breaking the Law is more commonly played at heavy metal discos than spiritual fitness classes, yoga teacher and personal trainer Stephanie Newkirk, 34, says the two combine perfectly to help people find serenity.

Stephanie, who lives with her housing maintenance supervisor partner Kevin Reece, 42, and their three cats in Portland, Oregon, USA, and holds her yoga sessions in a bar, says the unusual exercise programme has seen her lose 7st, as well as helping her to find inner calm after a series of debilitating health problems.

Stephanie has combined her love of heavy metal music with teaching yoga (Collect/PA Real Life).
Stephanie has combined her love of heavy metal music with teaching yoga (Collect/PA Real Life).

She said: “I went to my first yoga class after my mum, Janette, died with heart problems at just 59 in 2010.

“Friends had suggested it, but I was resistant to the idea, as I imagined it would be full of hippies.

“But I suppose there was a little voice at the back of my head saying it might do me some good. So, I went along and within a few months I was going to yoga five days a week.”

Stephanie, pictured centre, yoga training in 2012 (Collect/PA Real Life).
Stephanie, pictured centre, yoga training in 2012 (Collect/PA Real Life).

She added: “I found that the yoga gave me a sense of hope and also helped me to rediscover myself.”

A heavy metal fan since childhood, when her favourite bands were Bad Religion and Avenged Sevenfold, soon not only was Stephanie training to teach yoga, but she was also finding ways to give the practice that originated in India around 5,000 years ago a very personal twist.

The antithesis to the typical image of white-clad yogis burning incense to the soft sound of chanting, at her classes people can be found striking a tree pose to the thumping beat of metal classic Living After Midnight.

Stephanie teaches metal yoga (PA Real Life/Buried Arts).
Stephanie teaches metal yoga (PA Real Life/Buried Arts).

Stephanie said: “I had quite a challenging childhood. My parents had divorced when I was seven and I then moved away from Oregon and lived with my dad in St Louis, so I only really got to know my mum as an adult when I moved back here.

“I’d discovered heavy metal music as a child by myself and found the roughness of it helped me to express some of those feelings I had buried inside me.

“Nobody else in my family was into metal, but happily my partner Kevin loves it too and he actually plays in a couple of bands.”

Stephanie with her dad, Richard, in 2019 (Collect/PA Real Life).
Stephanie with her dad, Richard, in 2019 (Collect/PA Real Life).

She added: “So, for me, doing yoga to the sound of bands like Judas Priest, seems natural.”

It has certainly worked wonders for Stephanie, who was diagnosed with a cocktail of health complaints in 2018, when she was worn out working 12 hour days in a store supplying medical cannabis, legally sold for health reasons.

She said: “I knew I wasn’t myself and that I could feel better, so I wasn’t surprised when my doctor diagnosed hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar, an underactive thyroid and anaemia, or a lack of iron.”

Stephanie was diagnosed with a cocktail of health complaints in 2018, when she was worn out working 12 hour days (Collect/PA Real Life).
Stephanie was diagnosed with a cocktail of health complaints in 2018, when she was worn out working 12 hour days (Collect/PA Real Life).

Stephanie, who is 5ft tall, was also obese – weighing 11st and with a body mass index (BMI) used to gauge a healthy weight of 30.2, compared to the NHS recommended range of 18.5 to 24.9.

But, between 2019 and 2021, by combining her prescription medication for her health problems with vitamins, yoga and fitness training, she slimmed down to 7st 7lb, giving her a healthy BMI of 20.6.

Now 8st 4lb, as she is building muscle, and with a BMI of 22.7, she said: “Fully trained as a fitness instructor and yoga teacher, I do this full-time now.”

Stephanie now weighs 8st 4lbs (Collect/PA Real Life).
Stephanie now weighs 8st 4lbs (Collect/PA Real Life).

She added: “I do Metal Fitness courses online and teach Metal Yoga in a bar downtown.

“I’ve come a long way since my friend persuaded me to go to a yoga class with her, to cheer me up!

“And while I qualified as a teacher in 2012, no one expected me to combine my new love of yoga with my love of heavy metal.”

Stephanie teaching metal yoga (Collect/PA Real Life).
Stephanie teaching metal yoga (Collect/PA Real Life).

She added: “There is a lot of attitude in my classes.

“One of the things I find rewarding about teaching Metal Yoga is that is allows people to find their own voice and express it … loudly!

“My real passion now is helping people to be the best they can be.”

Stephanie with mother Janette in 2017. (Collect/PA Real Life).
Stephanie with mother Janette in 2017. (Collect/PA Real Life).

She added: “We all know how to lose weight, so the real question is what stops us? And in Metal Fitness that’s what we focus on.

“We all know we need to eat more vegetables and fibre and protein and to stop eating junk food and starchy carbohydrates, so the issue for most people really is about those hidden blocks.”

Offering clients who sign up for her online fitness classes a workout plan tailored to their needs and a bi-weekly coaching call with her to help remove any psychological blocks hindering their weight loss, Stephanie charges a minimum sign-up fee of £206 for three months. Prices drop if clients make a six month commitment to £192 for three months and to £170 if they commit to nine months.

Stephanie with friends at the California Death Festival in 2019 (Collect/PA Real Life).
Stephanie with friends at the California Death Festival in 2019 (Collect/PA Real Life).

While she cites hits by Legion of the Damned or Judas Priest as perfect workout and yoga music, she is happy for her clients to help select the playlist – as long as they stick to heavy metal tracks.

She said: “Yoga and fitness are not for the faint hearted and I like to say things with a bang!”

* For more information about Metal Yoga and Metal Fitness, go to: https://linktr.ee/metal_fitness_steph

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting