Yoga studio owner opens doors to Bannerman location

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By: Amy Robinson | WCTV Eyewitness News
November 7, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The owner of Hot Yoga Tallahassee says doors have opened to the business' Bannerman Crossings location, but the location off of Thomasville Road where a deadly shooting occurred last week will remain closed for the time being.

61-year-old Nancy Van Vessem and 21-year-old Maura Binkley lost their lives in the attack and five others were injured.

After the shooting, studio owner Brittani Whittington posted an emotional message to Facebook on Monday, writing in part, "I feel shattered and horrified that this happened under my roof. If I had never opened 8 years ago, Nancy and Maura would be here."

On Tuesday, Whittington announced on the studio's Facebook page that doors would open at noon on Wednesday at the studio's second location to allow guests an open space to come sit, hug, cry and meditate.

"I don't really know what we will do. I have no plans. I just know I NEED to see you," Whittington said. "I need to see and feel the good in the world again and I know you will bring that. I need a neutral space. I think some of you might need to just sit in a yoga room first before actually practicing, too. We all process grief and trauma differently so please honor your path."

Whittington says that the Betton location on Thomasville Road will remain closed until further notice.

"I’m not ready. Very far from being ready. But, we will re-open eventually. The families of the victims have expressed to me that this is what they would want. I needed their blessing for it to feel even remotely OK to move forward. Our gracious landlords are helping us to repair the studio. The support from all over the world will allow us to re-open when the time feels right. My husband and I have never felt so supported in our lives. Thank you, World," Whittington said.

Whittington added, "We will also be working to make the studio and our complex a safer place. So we need a little more time. But the energy is in motion and it’s because of your sincere voices expressing your love to HYT. Thank you."

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