Local News

Entrepreneur finds balance in work, health, fitness and family

06 staff poseWhile many small businesses in the area faced challenges during the pandemic year, some entrepreneurs saw opportunities to adapt, survive and even thrive. Such is the case for Angie Toman, owner of Living Balance Studios, a local wellness and fitness boutique.

Living Balance opened its store front as a private-instruction only studio in Fayetteville in 2013, but Toman had been offering lessons since 2001. When the pandemic hit, Toman was able to host online classes.

Due to her ingenuity and dedication to serving her clients, Toman not only adapted her business to survive COVID-19 restrictions, but is now able to expand her business.
On May 15, Living Balance Studios will host a grand re-opening of sorts, with additional space to meet customer needs. The public is invited to the free event scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at 201 S McPherson Church Road, to enjoy a sampling of classes offered at the studio. There will be raffle prizes, nutrition and wellness consultations, and more.

Hobby to Career

Toman is a former trial lawyer turned health and wellness teacher who began her journey in yoga and Pilates back in the early 90’s to help with her migraines, a result of her stressful work life.

“At the time, no one in town was teaching yoga in my part of Florida, so I basically started watching videos and training myself, and it wasn’t too hard given that I had a dance background,” Toman said. “It was fun, a hobby on the side.”

After moving to Fayetteville in August of 2000, she became a stay-at-home mom.

“I wasn’t good at just staying home and I started getting very antsy,” she recalls. “I was looking for something to do and a local gym started offering yoga classes, so a friend of mine recommended me to teach yoga and Pilates.”

After teaching for a while, her students requested private lessons, which led her to offering lessons out of her home or client’s homes.

“I started doing that and from then it was kind of word of mouth,” Toman said.

“A student told a friend, and a friend told a friend and in a year or two I was basically this travelling yoga show.”

Toman moved to D.C. and continued her business there before returning to Fayetteville in 2010. After divorce, she had to figure out if she was going to make this hobby her career. Her family and friends thought she was crazy not to go back to practicing law where she could make a lot more money, she said.

“I liked being a lawyer, being a trial attorney, I liked the energy of that, I enjoyed the adrenaline rush, but I knew it wasn't the type of job for me if I wanted to be present with my kids and create my own schedule,” Toman said.

“So, I decided I was going to give it a shot. I told my family I was going to give it five years, and if I can’t support my family then I’ll go back to being a lawyer.”

Thriving during a pandemic

Living Balance began in 2013 with five to seven instructors who taught private lessons. Class space increased from one studio to two within two years after opening, but it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that Toman really considered expanding the business.

During the pandemic, most of their clients continued lessons online when the studio was closed, so the business survived the financial pinch many small businesses in the area felt.

“About 75 percent of our clientele stayed with us,” Toman said. “Some bought two to three packages ahead of time to help us keep the cash flow, so I was able to pay rent, pay my instructors.”

Hosting online classes during the last year also allowed her to continue classes with clients who were out of town or on vacation,
she said.

Toman decided to open a bigger space and offer group classes. With some local yoga studios permanently closing their doors during the pandemic year, she had the opportunity to ask those owners for their top yoga instructors.

“Because there were so many instructors who were suddenly out of work, I was able to really pick the best ones for my team,” she said.

Toman looked for instructors with more in-depth training than basic yoga certification, those working therapeutically with clients who had injuries, health concerns and those who didn’t feel comfortable for any reason mentally or physically.

“I was specific about who I hired, how they were trained, and spent time observing private classes to understand the attention to detail that comes with a private class,” Toman said.

With expansion, Toman was worried that she wouldn’t have time to teach and would become more of an administrator, which led her to making her two lead instructors managers.

Jessica Laird runs social media and marketing, while Vicky Greene runs all the administrative day-to-day things that come up, allowing Toman time to lead some classes.

“I know what my passion is, it’s teaching and watching people grow in their practice, and watching it change their life, whether it's physically, mental or spiritually,” Toman said.

Health Benefits

“Pilates is all about core strength, your abdominal strength, your back strength,” Toman said. “So many people have back issues - as opposed to taking a pill for the pain, Pilates is a great place to strengthen all those muscles, it gives you support,” she said.

Most clients who do Pilates find that it’s a strong workout, it’s a hard workout, but they feel good afterwards and it’s low impact, she mentioned.

A yogi of 27 years, Toman likes to run, life weights and do aerobics as well, but yoga is the main thing that keeps her body moving and
in shape.

“It’s so good for your joints, your muscles, it allows you to keep moving,” she said.

Toman emphasized the benefits of yoga and centering yourself in the stressful environment of the pandemic.

“I find myself in the morning just doing five or 10 minutes of yoga, it gets me mentally ready for the day, it’s such a stress reliever,”
she said.

Dream Come True

“A year ago in March, this was not even on my radar,” she said. “It's been a whirlwind of a year, it's been wonderful, people ask me if I am stressed but I am not stressed, I am busy.”

The pandemic and lockdown worked in favor of the studio, giving them the chance to focus and get construction done and conduct a soft open on March 22.

“Everything has fallen into place, like I am doing what I was supposed to be doing,” she said.

“My kids say ‘you’re so lucky to love what you’re doing every day,’ but I say the idea behind this started in 2001 and we are in 2021 — it’s been a 20-year process, it didn’t happen overnight,” Toman said.

The mission behind the launch of Living Balance Studios was to have the place become a sanctuary for everyone that entered, she said. “I want this place to be where people can let go of their world and be taken care of,” she said.

Grand Opening and Beyond

Living Balance Studios will be expanding in the same building but will now see larger studio spaces, going from 1500 to 4,300 square feet in the building, which was formerly Morgan’s Chop House. They will now have 26 coaches on their team.

The Grand Opening will offer free classes in four studios. Classes are expected to fill up quickly, so get there early to sign up for slots. For a detailed schedule of classes, visit www.livingbalancestudiosnc.com/grand-opening 

“We will be offering lectures and discussions on health, wellness and all our services, where people can be educated about them,” Toman said. Hayat from Hayat Yoga Shala (one of the yoga businesses that closed last year) will be a keynote instructor.

Raffle tickets will be available for purchase to bid on different items like a 25-class-pass, an Apple Crate Basket, massage therapy gift certificates, wellness coaching gift certificates and more. Classes will be free, but donations will be accepted to benefit The Better Health Organization of Cumberland County and The Children’s Advocacy Center.

The Grand Opening will highlight a sampling of what Living Balance Studios will offer: yoga, Pilates, life and wellness, nutrition, counselling, yoga assist massage, reiki and more.

“The nutrition coach will help guide your grocery shopping, go through your pantry, the life and wellness training focuses on lifestyle and living healthier, yoga assist massage, a form of Thai massage, where the client lies on the floor and I passively put them in different yoga poses. While they are in that pose, I am doing pressure points and massage on their body. We have got reiki services which are energy healing,” Toman said.

The studio will be offering workshops this summer on meditation workshops, chakra, hula hoop. Information will be listed on their website.

Living Balance also offers free Karma Yoga workshops every Thursday for the community at 6 p.m.

“One thing we are known for is being very detail oriented, we have a great reputation, trying to take care of the clients,” Toman said. “Even though we have a lot more people now I want it to be that experience.”

Pictured Above: Living Balance Studios was able to expand their space in the last year and hire additional instructors (above). Their grand opening on May 15 will hilight available classes to include restorative yoga & riki, hot yoga, pilates, as well as forums such as healthy eating and Chakras 101. 

Fort Bragg veterinarians partner with Cumberland County Animal Services

05 mil vet kittenCumberland County Animal Services is collaborating with Fort Bragg veterinarians to perform vital surgical procedures on shelter animals. Working alongside Animal Services employees military veterinarians are volunteering their time to spay and neuter shelter dogs and cats to get them ready for adoption. Veterinarians also perform the same service for some of the feral cats that are part of the department’s Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Release program. The program is the most effective and humane option for reducing community cat populations around the county.

“Not having our own clinic and getting access to surgery and just hands-on practice for our technicians and doctors can be challenging,” said Maj. Renee Krebs, DVM, Clinical Specialist with the 248th Medical Detachment Veterinary Service Support. “It’s so beneficial for us and we really enjoy helping out the shelter.” Once the animals are taken in for surgery, they are placed under anesthesia by trained staff, who also monitor the animals during their surgery and throughout their recovery.

“We appreciate all the help we get from the Fort Bragg Veterinary Services,” said Animal Services Director Elaine Smith. “They greatly expand our capacity to provide quality care for these animals. They also help us get animals ready for adoption much more quickly, so they don’t have to spend extra days here at the shelter. It’s also great to see the extra experience these veterinarians get so they can keep their surgical skills at the highest level.”

To learn more about the services Animal Services provides, visit their website at co.cumberland.nc.us/animal-services, call 910-321-6852 or visit www.facebook.com/CumberlandCountyAnimalShelter.

Pictured Above: Maj. Eileen Jenkins, a veterinarian with the 248th Medical Detachment Veterinary Service Support comforts a kitten in this ile photo. (U.S. Army Photo by Dustin D. Biven)

Chamber of Commerce names new president

04 new chmaber pres copyThe Greater Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce announced that Sharon Fiveash was selected as the new President and CEO. The Chamber’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve Fiveash for the position following a nationwide search. “We had many strong candidates from throughout the country. Sharon Fiveash was the ideal choice,” said Brian Pearce, Chair of the Chamber’s Board. Fiveash has served numerous chambers including those in Lexington, Kentucky., Branson and Chillicothe, Missouri, and South Windsor, Connecticut. Pearce said Fiveash brings more than 30 years of diverse business experience combined with experience in marketing, sales, fundraising, economic development and lobbying to Fayetteville.

Pictured Above: Sharon Fiveash 

Fayetteville fencers sweep gold medals in multi-club tournament

12 Max Greene faces Greensboros Emery AlexanderFencers from the All-American Fencing Academy took gold medals in all events in an April 24 tournament with Greensboro Fencing Academy. It was the first multi-club tournament since last April when the pandemic forced closures and restrictions.

After nearly a year with a mixture of virtual classes and in-house tournaments, the All-American Fencing Academy’s fencers got their first challenge and an opportunity to gauge their progress against a tough fencing club. Three events were contested during the weekend tournament: youth mixed foil, men’s foil and women’s foil.

In the youth foil, Fayetteville fencer Atticus Conlin went undefeated in the pool rounds while teammate Max Greene placed 2nd after the pools. Emery Alexander from Greensboro was close behind seeding 3rd after the pools.

Greene was able to defeat Alexander in the semi-final round which pitted him against Conlin in the gold medal round. During their last tournament, Conlin was undefeated in the pools and elimination rounds, eventually defeating Greene. However, during this tournament, Greene jumped to an early lead in the finals and was able to maintain it and defeat Conlin 10-6 earning Greene his first gold medal.

In the women’s foil, All-American Fencing Academy fielded 4 fencers against Greensboro’s 5 fencers. Fayetteville fencer Isabelle Guevarra went undefeated against 8 other fencers, only giving up 12 touches in the pool round. Mackie Hinds from Greensboro took second coming out of the pool round.
Fayetteville fencer Gianna Megill competed in her first tournament since she began fencing three months ago. She had an astounding performance in the pool, winning 3 out of 8 bouts.

In the elimination rounds, 1st and 2nd seeds Guevarra and Hinds continued their march to the gold medal round where Guevarra defeated Hinds 15-6. All-American Fencing Academy team member Elinor Morkos tied for 3rd during the tournament.

“Elinor has been very consistent, and you see her utilizing many of the tactics and drills we work on in class and it has been successful for her,” said All-American Fencing Academy head coach Gerhard Guevarra. “She has been working hard and persistent on training well.”

“This is Isabelle’s first year in the senior events having graduated from the youth USA Fencing category,” Coach Guevarra said. “She was looking forward to earning her first national rating before the pandemic halted all national events at the beginning of the fall 2020 competitive season.”

In the men’s foil event, All-American Fencing Academy fielded 6 fencers, once again overshadowed by Greensboro’s 9 fencers. The men’s foil competition was divided into 3 pools of five fencers where All-American Fencing Academy teammates Gabriel Guevarra and Bruce McRae placed 1st and undefeated in their respective pools while Greensboro’s Arlo Leake took 1st in the 3rd pool.

New All-American Fencing Academy fencer Weston Black earned 2 wins in his pool in his first tournament after starting fencing only two
months ago.

In the elimination rounds, 5th seed Leo Hinds from Greensboro upset Fayetteville fencer Daniel Johnson, who was 4th seed. There was another upset in the first round where Greensboro teammates Matthew Clark in 14th seed defeated 3rd seed Arlo Clark, giving 6th seed All-American Fencer Colton Culliton a window of opportunity to continue to the semi-final round. Culliton defeated Clark 15-11 to face teammate Gabriel Guevarra in the final four.

1st and 2nd seed McRae and Gabriel Guevarra went unimpeded in the elimination rounds and faced each other in the gold medal round where Guevarra took the win 15-9.

Seniors headed to college

All-American Fencing Academy seniors Sabrina Krupenko, Bruce McRae and Holden McNeil have all been accepted to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the fall and will all be trying out for the Division 1 NCAA Varsity Fencing Team. Seniors Gabriel Guevarra and Kaitlyn Gerow have been accepted to East Carolina University and intend to continue fencing at the university club.

Beginner Fencing Camp

The All-American Fencing Academy will be hosting its annual Beginner Summer Fencing Camp for students between the ages of 7-12 and teens. The Camp will be from June 18-20 at the Academy in downtown Fayetteville. For more information about the Camp visit www.allamericanfencing.com.

A growing sport and a growing club

The sport of fencing is growing world-wide. In an historically European dominated sport, U.S. teams have consistently been present on the world stage. In the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, fencing will have a full medal count for the first time with 6 individual medals and 6 team medals.

For those interested in trying their hand at the sport, the All-American Fencing Academy hosts a walk-in class for beginners during Fourth Friday events downtown. The Academy is located at 207 B Donaldson St. The Academy instructs and trains recreational and competitive fencers starting at age 7, teens, adults and veterans ages 40+. Its fencers compete regionally and nationally. Coaches include former World Cup and NCAA fencers.

For more information about the All-American Fencing Academy and its classes, please call 910-644-0137, e-mail info@allamericanfencing.com or visit www.allamericanfencing.com.

Pictured Above: Fayettevile fencer Max Greene (left) faces Greensboro's Emery Alexander in the youth foil competition. Greene advanced to the finals and won his first golden metal. (Photo courtesy All-American Fencing Academy). 

FTCC offers new Mobile Application Developer degree program

10 N2103P23006CFayetteville Technical Community College offers the Mobile Application Developer associate degree as a concentration under the Information Technology major. This curriculum prepares learners to design and develop mobile applications for the web, Android and iOS mobile devices.

Graduates will be proficient in HTML, JavaScript, Java, Swift and UI/UX. Upon completion of the program, students will be well equipped to enter the growing field of application software development.

The Computer Programming and Development Department started offering the Mobile Application Developer degree in the Fall Semester of 2020. This program introduces students to Java, JavaScript, HTML/CSS, Swift and HTML5 App development. New to the program is Swift language training — the primary mobile application development language for Apple mobile devices. Students will learn the necessary skills to create basic applications for the iPhone and the iPad. Students will also be introduced to app development using HTML5 which can be used on many different devices.

To further benefit students, the department has added a Mac lab furnished with iMacs, MacBook Pros and iPads for students to test their design and programming skills.

FTCC offers a broad range of programs of study leading to the award of associate degrees, certificates and diplomas. Many educational choices are available in the field of computer and information technology, where graduates can seek employment as designers, developers, testers, support technicians, system administrators, and programmers. Specialty areas include business intelligence, database services, healthcare informatics, security
and more.

Specific program areas to explore include Mobile Application Development, Computer Programming & Development, Database Management, Digital Media Technology, Game & Interactive Programming, Intelligence Studies, Network Management, Network Administration, PC Support & Services, Systems Security & Analysis, Simulation & Game Development, Cloud Management, and User Interface and Experience Design, along with Advertising and Graphic Design. Within each of these program areas are additional specialty programs of study, which allow students broad choices for expansion in becoming well equipped for a career in the computer technology field. The Computer Information Technology area offers 30+ certificates to go along with the degrees listed.

For students interested in pursuing an exciting career in a high-demand field, FTCC is a wise choice for education in Computer Information Technology. Summer classes begin May 24 and Fall classes begin August 16. Visit www.faytechcc.edu to apply now and begin the enrollment process. To reach out with questions about pursuing the Mobile Applications Developer program at FTCC, call 910-678-8571 or email camerona@faytechcc.edu.

With affordable tuition, a broad range of classes and programs to choose from offered in person, online and virtual, FTCC is your smart choice for education. Admissions counselors are standing by to help yo find your way forward at FTCC.


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