By Dionne Baker
Meet Jess and Nate Rogers, yoga studio owners who left the city and created a more balanced life.
Tell us a little about yourselves – where are you from originally and what do you do?
Jess – I was born in Scarborough but spent most of my childhood in Ajax. I spent a lot of my early adult years living in Guelph and working at a large insurance company’s head office. It was a very different lifestyle than what we’re enjoying now.
Nate – I’m from Ennotville (just north of Guelph). I grew up in a rural area, very similar to Stirling, and always saw myself one day settling down in a similar environment.
We love to travel and we’ve been very fortunate to experience the entire coast of Australia – from working on farms to visiting all of the major tourist destinations, we had some amazing experiences there. We’ve also spent a significant amount of time travelling in New Zealand, Southeast Asia, India (where we completed our Yoga Teacher Training), Europe, and Nicaragua before we found our home and studio here in Stirling, Ontario. Together we own and operate Creekside Yoga.
Your travels sound like amazing adventures, so I’ve got to ask – what drew you to Hastings County when you decided to come back to Canada?
When we first came back from Nicaragua to complete an AcroYoga Teacher Training in Montreal, we were looking at properties all over Canada. We wanted a space where we could build a studio and have a home in the same building.
We actually had made an offer on a different property in Belleville that fell through. Due to this, we decided to explore the area further and fell in love with Hastings County, discovering Stirling and our current location that backs onto Rawdon Creek. It was in need of renovation in order to work for what we were envisioning, but the sound of the waterfall and the space for a vegetable garden, we knew with a little imagination and hard work we could see ourselves making both the studio space and apartment above it what we had always dreamed. The day we had a viewing of the property just happened to coincide with a local business event at the Stirling Theatre, and it was at this event that we really got excited about running the business in Stirling.
So how have you found the experience of operating your business from here?
It has been great! We are one of the lucky couples who are able to work and live together really harmoniously. That has truly opened up so many wonderful experiences for us over the years. When we first bought the building and began our renovations, there were mixed opinions about whether having a yoga studio here would thrive but we knew with hard work and honest intentions that we could make it work. We were so excited in Stirling that everything we needed is a short walk away. Our insurance broker, our bank, our accountant and of course restaurants and grocery – especially during our kitchen renovation. It was our intention to shop as locally as we could and it was many of these people we met in our first few days in town who came to our first classes, spread the news about our studio, and still support us to this day. Some of them were new to yoga and others were already practicing but having to drive a distance to do classes so they we’re thrilled to have a space just down the road from their workplace and/or home. It has been amazing to be able to build this dream and live life in a more balanced way.
That’s actually a great segue to my next question! How are you finding the work/life balance? Is it different than what you’ve experienced before?
It really is. When we lived in Guelph, Jess in a corporate office, Nate working labour, life could often feel a lot more pressured and there was definitely a lot less time spent together. We’re laid back people by nature, and during that time we found we were able to really prioritize and save toward our travel aspirations. The trouble was we liked the freedom and new experiences that travel brought into our lives so much that we knew traditional jobs wouldn’t allow us to continue having those experiences.
That said, before we decided to open a studio in Stirling, we had dreamed about a variety of other business ideas we could combine with the lifestyles we loved experiencing. For instance, we got really into diving while we lived in Southeast Asia, so we talked about opening a dive shop at one point. When we were in India for Yoga Teacher Training, we thought about staying on a more full-time basis and coming home in the Summers to see family. We were successfully able to pivot when those ideas didn’t pan out. In essence, we just leaned into the flow of where life was taking us, and it brought us to this pretty amazing place.
Here in Stirling we’ve able to live life more simply. Where we had some free time in our day between classes, we decided to look into volunteering. It was important for us to find a volunteer organization that aligned with our values, had need in our direct community, and would connect us to the people here in Stirling, so we decided to drive for the local Meals on Wheels program through Community Care for Central Hastings.
That’s awesome! What else do you get up to during your free time? Have you been able to get out and explore the area much? If so, where have you ventured and has any place you’ve visited become a new favourite?
Yes. We absolutely love King’s Mill Cider. Whenever our family and friends come to visit, we always take them there. The property at King’s Mill Cider is beautiful! They really have a great view and an amazing local product that is made right there on their property. Besides that, as we’ve gotten to know the owners, we’ve grown to appreciate and admire them. They are such amazing people! It has become a go-to spot that is only 10 minutes up the road. The Hidden Goldmine Bakery is another huge favourite. We’ll often go up there and buy treats to bring back to our parents, family, and friends. There’s many great nature trails and waterways we have enjoyed. The list could go on and on!
Are your parents local then?
Jess’ mom is now. She retired a couple of years ago, and she’d always had this dream of living somewhere near the water. A couple of years after we moved out here, she decided to put her place in Durham Region up for sale and see if she could realize that dream. At first she thought she’d downsize to a smaller property, but what she ended up with was actually larger and right on the water. The value of the property really couldn’t be beat. In other places the house prices seem to be skyrocketing every year. Out here you don’t have to spend a small fortune to find a beautiful home with all of the needed amenities nearby.
If you were talking to someone who is thinking about relocating to Hastings County, what would you want them to know?
That it’s beautiful here. There’s a lot of nature to explore. The community is supportive. The housing market is highly affordable – much more so than in the larger hubs like Toronto, Durham Region, or Montreal – and the work / life balance is much more attainable in these communities. Since moving to Hastings County we’ve been able to spend more time giving back to the community than we would’ve been able to otherwise. There’s a student volunteer eco-initiative at the Stirling Public school that we’ve been able to support through donations we raised at karma classes over the Summer. We’ve been able to sponsor a local youth Soccer team. Over the Winter we’ve been able to use donations raised through our karma classes to support the local food bank and toy drive here in Stirling, and it has been such a great initiative that we’ve been able to expand the number of karma classes we host every year.
We’ve truly been able to build an amazing life here.
You too can find your place in Hastings. County staff can help! Get in touch by completing the form below and you will receive a reply right away.