Meet Summit Health and Wellness Instructor Alex McDowell

Group fitness instructor Alex McDowell prides herself on creating a welcoming and affirming space for everyone who attends her fitness and yoga classes—whether beginner or a seasoned yoga practitioner.

When Summit Orthopedics opened its Health and Wellness Center, Alex McDowell seized the opportunity to share her contagious enthusiasm for fitness with the Woodbury community. “I want to create a class experience for every student to be successful,” she says. “When new students try one of my classes, I find out about their capabilities before we begin. I want every student to think, ‘All right! I’ve got this. Let’s do it!’”

Alex has been teaching yoga for three years and leading group fitness classes as a certified yoga instructor at Summit’s Health and Wellness Center since the opening of the center in August 2016, but her enthusiasm for fitness goes back to her high school years. She began taking yoga classes with her mom while playing tennis, lacrosse, and traveling soccer. When she started college at the University of Minnesota, she continued her yoga practice at CorePower on campus, and came to appreciate both the physical and mental benefits of her time “on the mat.”

“Our classes allow you to take 45 minutes for yourself to focus on being in the present moment without outside distractions, while building a stronger body,” she explains. “The foundation of all yoga postures is engagement of our core, the lower back and abdominal muscles. I find yoga calming as well as a way to get stronger, and I want my students to have that same experience.”

Alex was certified as a yoga sculpt teacher in 2013, and brings 200 hours of teacher instruction in power yoga to her classes. Her yoga training is also informed by her work as a patient coordinator for Summit’s sports medicine team. “While I was on Dr. Skendzel’s team, he did a detailed job of educating me, and I’ve been able to apply that knowledge during my classes,” she explains. “I’ve developed yoga class sequences that are sport specific for soccer and lacrosse teams. My experience being in the clinical side is invaluable when a student in my class has an injury. I can offer modifications to tailor the class to the student’s ability.

“I always want my students to feel comfortable—never pushed or pressured into a position that causes pain or discomfort,” she says. “How one person feels in a pose could be completely different from the person standing next to them. It’s my job to help people into yoga postures safely, with the modifications they need.

“If you’ve never taken yoga before, I’ll take the time to break down the postures carefully for you to understand and not be overwhelmed,” explains Alex. “If you’ve had a total knee replacement or an injury preventing you from certain poses, I’ll offer props and tailor the class to what you are able to do. If you are feeling uncertain, I want you to know that I’m going to give you personal attention and options that you will feel comfortable doing.”

For Alex, fitness classes are all about connection. “I like to do a theme for my yoga class,” she says. “Sometimes there’s a mantra, or I might ask my students to reflect about someone who is important in their life. I want my students to leave with a bit of inspiration that lifts them up and brightens their day. That’s what’s important to me.”

Alex teaches on Mondays and Fridays. For a list of her class schedule and fees, go to https://www.summitortho.com/services/wellness/fitness/

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