An uplifting love that began with acro-yoga
Some people believe in love at first sight. For Lindsey Fong, it was love at first flight. The environmental scientist’s life turned upside-down, literally and figuratively, the day she met Robert Oden. Walking home from a yoga class in August 2013, she stumbled upon a group of people forming gravity-defying shapes and structures in Washington’s Meridian Hill Park.
Impressed and intrigued, she asked the group what it was. The participants explained they were practicing “acro-yoga” (a partner-based, acrobatic form of yoga) and offered to show her some moves.
Within minutes, she was being lifted into the air, like Baby in “Dirty Dancing,” by her future husband.
Right away, she was hooked — on acro-yoga, that is. “It became my passion,” she said.
She began attending the group’s biweekly practices religiously and bonded with Rob over their mutual interests. A friendship began to blossom, and, by early fall, they were each other’s primary partners, later performing under the name AcroClimactic.
Despite their increasing intimacy, for months each wrongly assumed the other was involved with someone else. It wasn’t until December, when Lindsey alluded to the fact that she was single on Facebook, that Rob realized her relationship status.
Interested to learn more, he went to her page. But his excitement quickly turned into embarrassment after he accidentally “liked” a years-old picture of her while scrolling through her feed.
Instead of ignoring or denying his blunder, he decided to make his intentions known by asking her out on a date. She accepted hesitantly, as she was worried a romance would possibly hurt their progress as partners.
Dinner went smoothly, but when Rob inquired about a second date, Lindsey politely declined. “We worked so well together and I didn’t want to lose that,” she says.
Although stung by the rejection, Rob took it in stride. “I had to acknowledge that we were not destined to go down that path and accept it,” says the cybersecurity consultant.
Their shared commitment to acro-yoga helped them push past the initial awkwardness and focus on their friendship. Still wanting to be involved with Lindsey’s life outside of yoga, Rob asked to join her teams for the charitable Cupid’s Undie Run on Capitol Hill and the D.C. Dragon Boat Festival.
As their connection grew, in and out of acro-yoga, Lindsey noticed her feelings start to change. In March 2014, during an acro-yoga performance to Over the Rhine’s song “Trouble,” audience members commented on the pair’s noticeable connection — and palpable chemistry.
They were right. A few weeks later, at a Great Gatsby-themed bash, they shared their first kiss.
From there, things progressed steadily. Wary of another rejection, in June 2014 Rob asked Lindsey to be exclusive. She surprised him by blurting out “I love you.”
Five months later, they embarked on a 10-day trip to Chile and Argentina. The trip cemented their relationship and brought them even closer together. “People assumed we were married and called me ‘Mrs. Oden,’ ” says Lindsey. “It didn’t sound strange. It actually felt natural.”
Three months after they returned home, Lindsey learned she was pregnant. The pregnancy was unplanned, but they were committed to each other and to raising a family together.
Rob moved in with Lindsey, and they began building a home together. They selectively began telling friends and family members the good news.
“It was, ‘This is all happening right now. Can we do it?’ and we said, ‘Yes, yes we can!’ ” Lindsey says.
However, three months later, Lindsey miscarried. “It was incredibly hard and very painful,” says Lindsey. But it “solidified our commitment to each other.”
The pair took it as a sign that they should plan adventures and embrace life. They traveled to Africa (visiting Kenya, Zanzibar, Tanzania and South Africa) and enrolled in acro-yoga teacher training in Hawaii, where Rob secretly planned to propose.
In December 2015, Lindsey became pregnant again. Flights to Hawaii were canceled and Rob began plotting a new proposal closer to home. Six months later, during an acro-yoga conference in Philadelphia, he surprised her with a theatrical proposal to “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Donning a black tux, he dropped to a knee and asked her to be his wife in front of 200 of their acro-yoga friends and family.
“Our love is not conditional,” Lindsey says. “There’s no ‘I love you but’ or ‘I love you except.’ ”
“I’d rather be in a situation when I am mad with her than happy with somebody else,” says Rob. “Even at our most mad, we are still madly in love with each other.”
Their daughter, Kaia, was born in August 2016. “Seeing her with Rob is exactly what I envisioned and how I hoped it would be,” Lindsey says.
The wedding plans were expedited in November when Rob’s father’s health took a turn for the worse. His father was diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer. The couple decided to have a small, intimate courthouse ceremony in New Orleans. Four months later, his father died.
“Life goes its own direction and you embrace the challenges,” Rob said. “It didn’t follow the trajectory we thought it would — the proposal, marriage and babies — but sometimes the best things in life are the things you don’t plan for.”
“And I wouldn’t change any life event,” he added, “because they all led me to her.”
On July 8, 2017, Lindsey, 34, and Rob, 31, were all smiles as they exchanged heartfelt, handwritten vows at the D.C. War Memorial on the Mall. While the lead-up to the festivities was a comedy of errors — members of the wedding party were missing, favors were forgotten, dresses were accidentally stained and more — everything came together once the ceremony began. “It’s our nature,” Lindsey quipped.
Rob’s 13-year-old daughter from his first marriage, Kayla, was a bridesmaid. Kaia, now 11 months old, cruised down the wedding aisle in a bright red, remote-controlled convertible and parked next to the bridal party.
At the close of their vows, the officiant, Robert Roy, a friend and fellow acro-yoga performer, surprised guests with a personalized take on the vows.
Rather than “You may now kiss the bride,” Roy announced, “you may now lift the bride,” and Rob raised his new bride effortlessly above his head. Their 125 guests erupted in excited cheers and applause, providing the perfect segue to their reception at Dance Loft, which featured belly dancing, hula hooping, hula and, of course, acro-yoga.
“Our love is not conditional. There’s no ‘I love you but’ or ‘I love you except.’ ” — Lindsey Fong
On July 8, Lindsey Fong, 34, and Robert Oden, 31, exchanged vows in front of the D.C. War Memorial and celebrated with a reception at Dance Loft. They met in 2013 during an open acro-yoga practice in Meridian Hill Park.