Sherrie Giusto’s Open Door Yoga fights the wellness stigma

The sun may be blazing at 11 a.m. in Coconut Grove, but it’s pitch black inside Open Door Yoga on Florida Avenue. Sherrie Giusto walks into the cozy-but-airy studio that’s illuminated only by about 30 candles. It’s a calm place in the chaos. 

“Our tagline is open heart, open mind, open door,” said Giusto, who started the business a year ago. “We unlock the door to awareness in your yoga home.” 

Giusto attended the University of Virginia back in the 1980s with a tennis scholarship and was ranked fifth in the nation among amateurs. But then, after several injuries, she shifted her intense focus to teaching yoga. In the years that followed, she did Pilates, taught fitness and became consumed by her passion for wellness. Over the last year, she has built Open Door Yoga into a booming business. Seventeen instructors guide several hundred clients in up to five classes a day. 

Giusto grew up in Key Biscayne and devoted her life to tennis. Soon after moving to Virginia for school, she met her husband and the father of their three children, Richard Giusto. Then she underwent two ankle reconstruction surgeries that forced her to part ways with the sport she knew best. 

As a young woman, Giusto enjoyed running and fitness. In her 20s, she began teaching — then took a break to focus on raising her kids in Broward. In the years since then, she has taught many forms of fitness, from aerobics to kickboxing to Pilates. She even owned a fitness studio for a year. 

In 2021, Giusto decided to move back to the Grove as her kids had “left the nest.” After looking for a job teaching yoga in an existing studio, Giusto became discouraged – none of the spaces aligned with her vision. This inspired her to open her own business.

“All the studios down here were about the body and Instagram – lots of hot yoga and fitness-driven practices.” Giusto explains. “That’s not what yoga is really about.” 

Open Door Yoga self care shelf (Photo by Nayeli Membreno)

For two years, she tirelessly scoured the area for the perfect space, fully aware of the financial hurdles that accompany running a yoga studio. She searched high and low for places in the Grove. When she finally found the spot of Florida Avenue, she navigated the complexities of renovation as well as the inevitable delays in getting permits and dealing with bureaucracy. 

Open Door Yoga has now been operating for a year. It’s become a safe space for people of all ages looking to improve their yoga abilities. 

Giusto, who is in her 60s, has struggled a bit with technology. Mastering student management software, payroll and social media platforms have become her daily tasks. Managing a diverse team of more than 20 instructors has proven to be both rewarding and demanding – requiring finesse and diplomacy. 

Among Giusto’s studio instructors is Rebecca Arroya, who vividly remembers her first class at Open Door last September. “I was as nervous as I was excited,” she recalls. Arroya holds a certification in trauma-informed yoga and works as a mental health counselor.

“I teach a Tuesday night class called ‘Active Restore’ and a Friday night class known as ‘Candlelight Yin’,” she says. The latter, her favorite, is a blend of medication, breathwork and sound healing – perfect for unwinding at the end of the week. 

Giusto’s openness to innovation plays a significant role in the studio’s ambiance. “She encourages us to bring our true selves to our teaching, embracing our unique styles without judgment,” says Arroya. 

Regular events like Mystic Sundays and sound healing sessions complement the daily classes, creating opportunities for healing and enjoyment. Giusto’s innovative approach even extends to incorporating live music with yoga, enhancing the sensory experience. 

Open Door Yoga sound healing shelf (Photo by Nayeli Membreno)

“I sampled several other Miami yoga studios, looking for a place where I could commit to my goal of finally developing a consistent yoga practice,” said Alexandra Stoerger, who has attended Open Door Yoga since fall 2023. “Open Door Yoga just resonated with me in a way no other studio had.” 

Giusto’s mission has always been to provide a home away from home. People are encouraged to challenge themselves mentally as well as physically and spiritually. “I was finally able to get into a headstand on my own because the instructor guided me in a way that made me feel totally secure and built my confidence,” said Stoerger. 

Giusto hopes to foster a Grove community that is eager to improve well-being. “In a world where fitness can often feel like just another task, we want our members to leave feeling better, lighter, and more connected- not just with themselves but with each other,” says Giusto. 

FIU students Andrea Rivera and Nayeli Membreno wrote this story as part of a cooperative agreement between FIU’s Lee Caplin School of Journalism & Media and the Spotlight. Click here to read the original article published in the Spotlight.

Andrea Rivera is a junior majoring in Digital Communication and Media with a Digital Journalism focus. After her studies, she wishes to pursue a career in the entertainment field.

Nayeli Membreno is a journalism and communication major with a minor in English. Born and raised in Miami, Florida, but with Argentinian roots, she brings a multicultural perspective to work. She is passionate about storytelling and enjoys keeping people informed through her writing. Her goal is to share stories, uncover the truth, and give a voice to those who need to be heard.