Encinitas, CA-based yoga teacher Zoë Welch’s talent stretches past students: She also leads other instructors during their training as they learn the value, beauty and nuances of yoga.
Originally from Cambridge, MA, the sunny, soulful surfer grew up in Columbia, MO. As the daughter of a yogi father and a mother who had lived on a farm, she appreciated her wellness role models: Whether it was going on surf adventures with her dad, dancing in the living room with her mom, or seeing their daily fitness habits, Welch counts herself lucky to have grown up in a healthy, movement-focused home.
She went to San Francisco State University for dance, but when a serious foot injury waylaid her with surgery, she shifted to communications. During her recovery and physical therapy, she dove into her own yoga practice, and eventually she made her way from teaching dance to teaching yoga a few years later. Below, she shares how that journey affected her, as well as the details of her yoga path, through the pandemic and beyond.
SBS: How did you start working in fitness?
Zoë Welch: I took a part-time job teaching kids ballet when I first moved to LA, and then I started picking up additional barre classes at the studio where I was working. I went through a barre/sculpt teacher training at YogaWorks, and after teaching those modalities for a year or so, my manager offered the chance to attend a yoga teacher training on a scholarship. Now teaching yoga is my main gig, and I lead yoga trainings across the country.
SBS: What are your current offerings?
ZW: I currently teach Power Yoga, vinyasa and barre. I teach a handful of weekly classes at Equinox La Costa, and I lead teacher trainings for YTX Austin (formerly Wanderlust Austin) in Austin, TX, as well as Soul Yoga in Greenville, SC. My library of on-demand classes can be found on my website at saltyzozo.com.
I love teaching barre because it infuses some of my favorite elements of being in the ballet studio with fitness and high-energy music. Power Yoga is my ultimate jam due to the choreography-style of sequencing that’s involved, and the athletic approach to moving the body.
SBS: How did you become a yoga teacher trainer? What was that process like?
ZW: My journey started when I led a mentorship program for new teachers at a studio I was managing. Then I was lucky enough to assist one of my mentors and helped out with a few Power Yoga trainings.
When our studio shifted online during the pandemic I had the opportunity to help lead a training virtually, and when that did well, my mentor asked me to be a guest facilitator for a series of 300-hour trainings she was leading.
I love teaching teachers and answering the questions they have. (I lead trainings through YTX Austin and Soul Yoga.) I always end up learning something in the process, and I just love sharing all the things that light me up about sharing the practice with others. Each training is different, but it's always special to see the curiosity and passion the trainees have.
SBS: What's your style and approach as a teacher?
ZW: Movement should be fun, so I approach my classes with a level of curiosity and play that I always hope will leave students feeling uplifted, joyful and strong.
SBS: What are your tips for clients new to fitness/dance?
ZW: Try out everything! See what feels good for your body, what motivates you, and which classes and teachers leave you wanting more. If you leave the room with a smile on your face, you've found the perfect fitness or dance class.
SBS: What are your tips for new teachers?
ZW: Just be you. Show up in the room as authentically as you can, and always be a student first. There is always so much to learn, and I think that's the exciting thing about being a teacher.
SBS: How has your life changed, professionally and personally, during COVID?
ZW: I rarely teach in person anymore, except for teacher trainings. And I get t0 really be picky about the job offerings I do accept.
SBS: What's your own wellness routine? How has it changed?
ZW: It changes so much week to week because I thrive with variety! During the summer I love to surf regularly with my fiancé, and I try to enjoy multiple beach walks each week with our pups. I'm obsessed with Lagree Pilates, and I always enjoy taking other instructors’ dance and yoga classes. I get my body moving at least once a day, and I prioritize movement and play outdoors.
SBS: What has become illuminated about your own wellness routine through the pandemic?
ZW: I definitely realized the importance of community and moving together in person. Virtual training and online classes were super convenient at first. But after over a year of being online, I found myself really missing the energy of a yoga studio, or of dancing in unison with others in-person. I'm so grateful that things are starting to come back in real life!
The best, zaniest part of being Zoe: My life is a salty, sweaty fiesta. The best days are spent drenched in sweat or salt water!
Zoe’s SBS Mantra: Be Bright. I think it's so important to show up in the world with your own unique light and try to share that light with others every day.
Zoe’s California Faves:
Beaches: Cardiff Beach, Moonlight State Beach, and La Jolla Shores
Healthy Restaurant: True Food Kitchen
Splurge Restaurant: Waverly in Cardiff
Fun Activity: Surfing!
Calming Activity: Meditation
Fitness Studio: Any Lagree studio
Athleticwear: Free People Movement and Spiritual Gangster
Athletic Shoes: I'm usually barefoot!
Books: Light on Yoga by B.K.S Iyengar and The Story of B by Daniel Quinn