Elise Jones sits on a park bench lit by a camera flash. She is dressed in sporty, vintage clothing. Photo: Jovvany Villalobos

SLUG Style: Elise Jones

Art and Fashion

Elise Jones is a yoga therapist and roller skater from Salt Lake City. Her active lifestyles blend a colorful palette with heavy emphasis on fitness and vintage clothing.

Every month, SLUG Style features a distinct member of the community and asks them why they do what they do. Exploring more than just clothing, SLUG Style is an attempt to feature the people who give Salt Lake City flavor through personality and panache.

What are your stylistic influences? This could be a band, decade, fictional character—anything.

I’m a pop culture and nostalgia geek. I love incorporating anything from my childhood of the ’70s–’80s into my style because it’s fun, and I like to feel fun!

As for music, it’s my love language. I enjoy every genre. Even my phone case is a mix tape.  I listen to anything from Led Zeppelin (my all-time favorite) to Beastie Boys to reggae, favoring more obscure ‘80s and British punk, though there’s always a time for Doris Day or some good Motown. I could go on and on… 

You’re an avid roller skater! What attracts you to skating and how does it fit into your life? 

I loved skating as a kid and disco nights in high school and college, but getting into it more seriously later in life brought back that nostalgic feeling, creating instant happiness that is so good for my emotional health, specifically with chronic illness, not to mention the physical and mental exercise benefits. 

It’s impossible to feel sad in rollerskates. That’s what attracts me to it, as well as the skating community. People who skate are typically fun people. I have yet to meet an overly serious or unkind person who rollerskates. My husband and adult daughters also skate, which has been a fun individual and family activity to the point where we got rid of the rugs in our house years ago, creating a daily skate floor.

A few years ago, I certified in Roller Fitness as the only certified instructor in Utah, incorporating yoga movements and breathwork into the fitness class, nicknaming it “NamaSkate” just for fun. Teaching weekly in Heber and specialty classes at Classic Skating & Fun Center in Orem, it’s a non-intimidating, all-abilities fitness class, half of which is on the floor on mats (using the skates as leg weights) then learning basic skate skills, steps, drills and free skate. I love sharing the joy of skating and getting people back on wheels! (Instagram is @Wasatch.Skate.Club)

Tell us about your relationship to yoga and your work in yoga therapy. 

Yoga is a multifaceted practice that I have been utilizing since 2001. After several trainings in different yoga genres, teaching and providing Yoga Alliance YTT (teacher trainings), I went to yoga therapy school and finally found my niche, where my heart lies and where I was supposed to be. Yoga therapy is a very personal approach to overall wellness, catering specific breath work, movement and even healthier eating strategies to the individual based on their needs, specifically [around] trauma, anxiety, PTSD, etc. I share it with others because I practice it myself.

As an advocate for emotional health and resilience, we all need calming skills, and there is so much power in a gentle approach and positive mindset to our wellbeing.

My goal as a yoga therapist is to eventually never be needed, as the purpose is to share the self-soothing tools for others to learn and implement themselves.

Motivated to provide yoga therapy for my community, I opened a studio and wellness center in Midway, (sharing the name of my website, Utah Yoga & Wellness) creating a community space for classes, yoga therapy, teacher trainings, retreats and other therapeutic modalities, also giving other instructors and therapists a place to teach and practice. 

Having closed at COVID-19, I still teach public classes but now run my business (yoga therapy, retreats and shop) solely through my website and social media, plus cool UY&W brand merch!  (Yoga, meditation, skate, heart and hygge—Danish word for contentment/wellness.) 

As far as my brand goes, I wanted to create something meaningful that still held true to a fun, retro vibe. My logo is a minimalist style phoenix, representing positive transformation while the retro-colored stripes represent [the] earth elements earth, fire, air and water, which look super cool on my tanks, tees, tube socks and adorning the sides of my ‘78 VW Bus/mascot.

 What are your interests or hobbies outside of yoga and roller skating? What is the hobby or interest that you have that no one would realize to ask you about?

I was a fine arts major at the University of Utah, having done commission oil paintings for years before getting heavily involved with teaching yoga and fitness classes. I love to paint and am excited to be getting back into it. I also love to craft, sew and wool felt. Creating with my hands is therapeutic.

I’m also a “retired” river guide. My husband and I met as river guides. Now our daughters guide during their college summers, so river trips and nature/outdoor adventures are a big part of who I am and the simplicity of life that makes me happy.

Are you always “on” or would someone see you at the grocery store, for example, with less elements of your style?

Typically I’m casual to a fault. At home, when I’m not in a onesie, I live in tees, stretch velour and bell bottoms, so it’s not like I’m ever “on.” It’s literally just what I wear. Although, it’s common for my everyday clothes to be someone else’s costume. I have lots of fun, crazy pants, and I refuse to own anything beige. When going out, I’ll pull out fun “pieces” like a brightly colored vintage sweater or a favorite thrifted suede fringe jacket, paired with one of my many bells, always with vintage turquoise or funky earrings. I prefer fun, nostalgic clothing that tells a story. Jelly bracelets? Yes please.

What has your experience been as someone living with heart failure? What perspective has it given you? 

Being diagnosed with congestive heart failure (CHF)/heart failure, after previous open-heart and recent lung surgeries, changed the way I think, behave and react. I call it “taking my meditation,” as my therapeutic breathing techniques come in handy often, [and I] now share [those] with other heart/lung patients.

I feel I’m actually more calm and relaxed about things I would normally overthink because there are more important things in life that may actually warrant concern and precious energy. Knowing my life has a timeline, that technically we all have, I no longer sweat the small stuff. I can finally let go of things or people that no longer serve me well, don’t love me back or cause stress in my life; [I’m] no longer trying so hard [and am not] feeling bad about it. It forces me to fill my own cup first so I have something to share from it without pouring out until I’m depleted. I have a mantra of “Share Your Heart.” Something as simple as a smile can change someone else’s mindset, which can change their choices, and that’s important. 

My life perspective changed by learning that joy is a choice. I can wake up every day and be mad, or I can wake up every day and rollerskate. That’s why I do what I do. That’s why I share what I share. Joy is a choice that’s not always easy. It’s important to feel the feels or feel to heal. I allow myself a periodic “dark day” to be angry, sad and irrational, but I don’t allow myself to stay there. I release it all so it doesn’t fester, then it’s easier make the choice to feel happy.

I have an amazing life with an amazing support system that helps when depression can creep in. It’s important to be a support to someone. You never know what’s in their head. 

I am blessed that two things I love to do, yoga and skating, are two things that keep my heart healthy without working too hard. Having a strict, daily regimen can be difficult with some activities, but I focus on what I CAN do rather than what I “can’t.” 

In fact, my bell bottom collection is not just for fashion but first for function. With consistent leg swelling and diuretics as part of my medicinal regimen, you won’t find me in tight pants…

We all have our hard. As I say all the time, I know from personal experience that an emotionally broken heart takes much longer to heal than a physically broken heart. 

You don’t know if someone is battling a broken heart or chronic illness. I recognize I’m not someone you’d look at and assume I have heart failure. It’s important to treat everyone as if they’re going through something hard because they are, including yourself at some point.

Let’s just be kind and “share our hearts” with each other. “Take your meditation.” It’ll be OK.

How does skating intersect with your fashion sense?

With anything from sports to seasonal activities, it can be more fun if you’re dressed appropriately for it. With skating you don’t need a theme to feel justified in wearing something random and fun. Many times I’ll see something and say, “Ooohh, that would be great with skates!” Even my husband has a collection of funky “skate shirts.” It just makes the experience more fun to have something flowy, colorful or super funky that also helps you “get down to the sound” of a great playlist. The best part? You’re never alone in your funky. You’ll always see another skater in a cool “skate outfit.” It’s a thing.

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would those be? 

Energetic, creative, quirky.

How has your personal style evolved over time?

I remember in fourth grade I had an asymmetrical bob haircut, and once I rolled my bangs into three distinct tubes with a curling iron and sprayed it that way. At school, boys teased me by looking through my bangs like binoculars, while girls would say, “Do you want to use my brush?” I held out strong and let it ride. I dug it, and I owned it until I really didn’t care what anyone else thought. 

Over the years I’ve remembered that day as I’d wear something I loved that I know people questioned, which was/is never something that would draw attention, just different.

An example I previously mentioned, my bell bottoms, actually serve a purpose as “functional over fashion,” so why not have fun with it and find the funkiest pairs I can find, so for me they’re functional AND fashion? Even yoga clothes don’t have to be boring—you just have to seek out the funky. There doesn’t have to be a generation gap with clothing or what a certain age “should or shouldn’t” wear. Personal style helps us to express ourselves or our personalities without saying a word, so I dress how I feel. I don’t like to feel plain and bored. Life’s literally too short to not make it fun.

Read more SLUG Style features: 
SLUG Style: Jazmin Mendoza
SLUG Style: Adrienne Wild