It was more than a little bit of good luck for year-round residents of Longboat Key and the surrounding area when the former Debby Debile married Michael McClung in 2014 and moved here
It was more than a little bit of good luck for year-round residents of Longboat Key and the surrounding area when the former Debby Debile married Michael McClung in 2014 and moved here, because Debby McClung is a Yoga Alliance E-RYT 200 certified yoga teacher who will teach at the town’s Bayfront Park Recreation Center this summer. I have been teaching yoga there for pushing 20 years but never in the summer, when I want to be free to travel and many, if not most, of my students retreat northward. So this is a genuine fitness first for the Key.
McClung may be new to Longboat, but she has a long history in fitness and education. Her exercise roots go back to the 1980s and what she calls “my pink leotard and leg warmer days.” She studied and sweated with Jane Fonda in San Francisco, then taught high-impact aerobics and other classes in 10 karate studios that she managed for her then-boyfriend in Jacksonville. Next came 20 years of management and teaching at Sports Plex in Neptune Beach. Along the way, she started her own personal training business called “Girls Just Wanna Workout.” She saw clients in the homes of hardworking businesswomen (only) after she finished her day job of managing other fitness instructors and teaching her own classes. And she traveled as a choreography presenter for other aerobic instructors.
“Sixteen cities in 16 days — big fun!” she says.
Her son was born in 1990, and when he was in second grade, she had an epiphany that she was meant to work with young kids. That sent her back to college, where she completed her degree and became an elementary school teacher for kindergarten through second grade.
McClung was teaching yoga part-time the entire time. And she was studying, as evidenced by her E-RYT credential. RYT is an abbreviation for Registered Yoga Teacher established by the Yoga Alliance, the largest nonprofit association representing the yoga community. The 200 represents the number of class hours and the “E” indicates significant teaching experience — in McClung’s case, 13 years.
McClung has done not one but two 200-hour RYT courses. The first was in 2011 in Jacksonville Beach with Joyce Savitz, who has been teaching for 35 years and is also a licensed massage therapist. That program took a year to complete. McClung’s second 200-hour program was a one-month intensive in Nicaragua with teacher-trainer Kimberly Waugh.
“We lived and breathed yoga for 30 days; I loved it,” McClung says.
Both her teachers practiced Anusara yoga, a gentle, modern, anatomically up-to-date method created in the 1990s.
McClung has evolved and branded her own method as “Feel Good Yoga.” She describes it as a gentle, softer approach that encourages her students to reach a calm, relaxing space and experience their kinder, gentler aspects. Her classes have a classic flow. They typically start seated with two to three minutes of getting quiet and centered, eyes closed, ears softened to “listen not just to the outside sounds but what’s going on inside the head,” McClung says. A joint warmup follows, in which participants move their wrists, elbows, shoulders and lower body joints. The body of the class includes forward bends, the warrior series and other postures to help students find space and freedom of movement. She finishes with 10 to 15 minutes of savasana, or final relaxation.
McClung’s Bayfront Park Rec Center classes will be at 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning May 19. Cost is $10 for Recreation Center members; $15 for nonmembers. No reservations are required. You can get a good idea of her style at
debbymcclung.com, as well as info on her other area classes.
The essence of McClung’s teaching is in her brand name, “Feel Good Yoga.” She stresses that yoga is not just for gymnasts, professionals dancers and their ilk who do the extraordinary poses featured in yoga magazines.
“Anybody can do yoga and enjoy its benefits,” she says.
And now for the first time, that includes Longboat Key residents and neighbors in the summer.
Molly Schechter is an ACE-certified personal trainer with a specialty in older-adult fitness plus YogaFit Instructor Training, SCF Yoga Fundamentals I and II and Power Pilates™ Mat Certifications. She teaches classes at the Bayfront Park Recreation Center. E-mail her at [email protected].
Join the Neighborhood! Our 100% local content helps strengthen our communities by delivering news and information that is relevant to our readers. Support independent local journalism by joining the Observer's new membership program — The Newsies — a group of like-minded community citizens, like you. Be a Newsie.