Hot yoga studio offers class for fully vaccinated; Attorney explains legality of requiring proof of vaccination

MADISON, Wis. — The owners of Dragonfly Hot Yoga studio, Megan and Carlos Tucker, said ever since they announced that they would offer one class per week for those fully vaccinated, they’ve received dozens of threats and hateful messages online.

Megan Tucker told News 3 Now’s Jamie Perez that the messages threaten them with lawsuits, saying what they’re offering is illegal, discriminatory and violate HIPAA laws.

“This, actually, I feel is the opposite of discrimination,” Megan Tucker said. “This one class allows those people, the people who continue to keep us in business and the ones that are currently coming, an opportunity to be a part of our community again.”

She said between the four studios she and her husband own, 70 classes are offered each week. They decided to ease in the “mask optional” classes by offering one class per week every Saturday to those who are fully vaccinated.

“It’s difficult to do hot yoga in a mask. I get it. I’m one of those people,” Megan Tucker said.

A survey was sent out to their clients asking their level of comfort returning back to class. Megan Tucker said 85% said they don’t feel comfortable returning until they can do so without wearing a mask in class. She said by offering this one class per week, it gives those people a chance to come back safely. Since announcing the first class would take place this Saturday, Megan Tucker said the demand for more classes to be offered is through the roof.

“It was full with a wait list in less than 24 hours,” she said.

The class for fully-vaccinated people is mask-optional and people will be asked to wear a mask until they get to their mat. Masks are required to be worn in every other class. Proof of vaccination is only required in the class for fully vaccinated individuals.

Attorney Kyle Hanson said the messages the Tuckers have been receiving have no legal ground to stand on.

“Businesses are allowed to freely associate with anything they want to. Sometimes people ask about things like HIPAA  and that is purely just a misunderstanding. HIPAA says if I tell you my private information, then you can’t disclose that to other people.”

Megan Tucker said she is trying to meet people where they are at and provide everyone with a class option at the level they are comfortable with. She said those who do not wish to prove they’ve been vaccinated have 69 other classes to choose from.

“It’s astounding to me what great lengths people will go to to bully. We have four daughters. It’s really hard to look at them right now and go, ‘You know what? This doesn’t end in middle school.'”

She said most clients who haven’t been back in a year are grateful to return in a space they feel safe.

“We are all about being for every size, every shape, every body,” Carlos Tucker said. “That includes both vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals and that’s why we are providing things for both.”

For now, they’re focused on trying to bring business back safely after a year of not being able to.

“That’s really all we are trying to do is just trying to do the right thing,” Megan Tucker said.

The owner of Inner Fire Yoga studio Marit Sathrum said she has been experiencing something similar since deciding Wednesday that she would start offering classes for fully-vaccinated people too.

“At this point we are giving people a choice,” Sathrum said. “As a business owner I’m going in the direction that meets the needs of my community.”

Sathrum said most of her clients are happy to have the option for both vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals.

“Mostly it’s been positive,” Sathrum said. “We’ve had a couple of comments that have come to me. All it does for me is it makes me aware that there are people out there that are unhappy with the way I’m choosing to run my business. I’m in my 19th year of owning Inner Fire and from day one I’ve known I can’t please people all the time. As a business owner, I need to reach the most people I can and do it as well as I can. This is driven by demand and the demand is largely in favor of that in terms of my community and my employees. Please let us offer yoga as best as we know how. We’ve been kicked while we’ve been down for over a year. Our intention is to try to help people and that’s it.”

Inner Fire Yoga’s first class for fully vaccinated individuals will be May 1.