Posted by: Michele Cohen
Several years ago, Tina Fetten ’95 had a health scare that put her on the path of taking care of her body through fitness and healthy eating habits.
Fetten, a 3D Fine Arts alumna, began practicing yoga to compliment her other interest, stand up paddle boarding. Today, she is a yoga instructor and owner of Southern Tier Stand Up Paddle Corp.
Southern Tier SUP teaches paddle boarding to students of all ages and ability levels, including those with physical and cognitive disabilities. Yoga is popular among paddle boarders so Fetten is able to take her practice to the water.
“Yoga helped me during a time when I couldn’t be very physical due to an injury and I was worried I couldn’t stay healthy,” she said. “I realized how it helped me so I wanted to help others.”
After graduating from Moore in 1995 and working at a small jewelry company, Fetten relocated with her family to Binghamton, New York. Then, she completed a Master’s degree in Early Childhood and Special Education from Marywood University in Scranton, PA.
Fetten became interested in paddle boarding while teaching in the early child care program at Binghamton University. She began teaching paddle boarding classes as part of a required two-credit health and wellness course for students. Soon, she will add a paddle boarding yoga class for veterans.
When she’s not in the water, Fetten is owner of a yoga studio that offers free classes for retired or active-duty veterans, as well as traditional yoga classes.
The studio, Binghamton Zen Den, opened in February and the veteran program is supported by the Baptiste Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps bring yoga and educational programs to communities nationwide.
Binghamton has a large veteran population. More than 75 area veterans and their families and caretakers have taken classes since the program began, Fetten said. She also supports a separate program that offers free yoga classes through the Wounded Warrior Project.
“After doing all my research on veterans, I was dumbfounded,” she said. “I came home fired up to help one veteran at a time.”
Some of the veterans who attend yoga class suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or addiction. The class involves deep breathing and exercises to help them relax and clear their minds, Fetten said.
“Many veterans come home from experiences and want to numb the pain,” she said. “Through deep breathing we are teaching them to work through their pain instead of running away from it.”
Certain environmental factors can sometimes trigger PTSD symptoms in veterans, so Fetten specifically designs the classes to fit their needs.
“Sometimes I have to lock the door or close the windows or certain music can’t be played,” she said. “You don’t know what you’ll get at any class. But we’ve been trained to handle it.”
Fetten first learned about Moore from her high school art teacher on Long Island. “She was an alumna and would always share her experiences at Moore,” Fetten said. “When it was time to look at colleges, I visited Moore and fell in love with it. I wanted a small college. I wanted to be an ‘individual’ and create relationships. Once I started meeting people in the jewelry department and woodshop, I knew that I had found my new home.”
Fetten said her experiences at Moore taught her to be confident and to stop doubting herself.
“I had a lot of stumbles along the way, but having to stand in front of a room of my peers for a critique taught me how to open my mouth and express what I wanted to say,” she said. “I gained a voice.”