Against popular belief, blogging is NOT my profession. It's my fun weekend hobby that gets me out in the community and meeting lots of amazing new people. In reality, much of my career has been focused on motivating people to get off their butts, away from their desks and getting physically active. Yup ... I am a fitness nerd and full blown exercise advocate!
In my career I have seen all sides of the fitness industry (I've worked the front desk, sold memberships, taught thousands of classes, trained hundreds of clients, taught education courses for fitness instructors and personal trainers, managed facilities, owned equipment companies, developed education programs, spoken at industry events, and now consult fitness companies around the world). So ... the fact that I'm writing about a fitness facility is kind of a BIG deal. Well, when I was introduced to Soul Hot Yoga (in the summer of 2014) I knew I had to keep an eye on this special place!
The Martriarchs of Soul - Jamie Davis and Cathy Sinclair-Smith
When I first met Jamie Davis and Cathy Sinclair-Smith I had assumed they were veterans in the business. Their beautifully designed facilities, exceptional staff and the quality of our business-focused conversations had me believing they were involved in owning studios for many years. Little did I know these two successful women started off as stay-at-home moms and these were their first yoga and spin studios!!
Both dedicated to their families and raising their children, hot yoga became a welcome addition to their regular routine. Although they loved how their hot yoga practice brought balance to their lives, the commute from the southeast to the closest studio was quite the chore (especially after driving kids to and from school and dealing with rush hour traffic). It wasn't until their kids were in their teens (and much more independent) that they began toying with the idea of opening up their own yoga studio.
They spent the next two years researching the yoga market in Calgary and outlining what the studio would become. They wanted the studio to be:
- Easily accessible for residents of Calgary's southeast neighbourhood
- A welcoming environment for everyone (inclusive NOT exclusive)
- A place where yoga wasn't intimidating (offering a wide variety of temperatures and yoga experiences)
- A community gathering place
- A place for fostering friendships
- A second home (for them, their families, and their members)
In December of 2011 they opened their doors (just east of the Deerfoot Trail at 130th Avenue SE) ... and the rest is history.
Listening to Members & Empowering Instructors
These two friends, turned business partners, never expected to expand their business beyond a yoga studio. Quickly building the loyal community of members and instructors at Soul Hot Yoga ... they were inspired by the ideas and requests to offer even more. With only one yoga studio and a packed schedule there was limited time and space for additional offerings, including the workshops and specialty programs people were asking for. With increasing demand, and Jamie and Cathy's curiosity for something new, they expanded their facilities to include a spinning studio and two additional non-heated studios in the spring of 2014.
- Non-Heated, Warm, and Hot Yoga
- Aerial Yoga
- Yoga Workshops (i.e., prenatal, yoga for backs,
- Little Hippies (kids yoga)
- Circuit/Bootcamp Classes
- TRX Classes and Workshops
- Yoga and Spin Teacher Training Courses
- Corporate Discounts
- Private/Group Room Rentals
The evolution of Soul Hot Yoga was not planned ... and continues to evolve organically. Their success comes from their ability to listen to their members and staff, because they appreciate them for giving them the opportunity to live out their dream ... establishing a community of people who support one another's journey through fitness and health. Jamie and Cathy are the matriarchs of Soul Hot Yoga ... dedicated to building their home away from home.
Introducing TRX to Soul Hot Yoga
When I first walked into the studio to introduce myself I, too, was on a mission. I was looking for a space to train a team of athletes that I coach at a nearby volleyball facility. From the very first meeting, I felt incredibly comfortable and respected by both Jamie and Cathy. Although they both have extremely busy schedules, balancing their time between family and two studios, they always make the effort to meet face-to-face with me and touch base on a regular basis. They listen to my ideas and are open to letting me try new things ... including introducing the TRX Suspension Trainer to the members.
Over the past year I've gotten to know the membership by teaching several "Intro to the TRX Suspension Training" workshops. In every one there was a common theme ... the members know one another, they are accepting of each other, and know how to have fun! Because of the popularity of the workshops, weekly TRX classes are now available on the Soul Spin Studio schedule!
Although I had been training athletes and teaching workshops the last year, it wasn't until just recently that I got a chance to experience Soul Hot Yoga as a practicing member.
My "Unexpected" Experience as a Member
Because I have been in the fitness industry for over two decades, I tend to notice EVERYTHING when I walk into any facility or studio ... and am even more careful when it's a facility I work with. In one word, Soul Hot Yoga is all about "R-E-S-P-E-C-T". For example:
- Respect for Visitors: Regardless of whether someone is new to the facility or a long time member, the staff and instructors are incredibly attentive to everyone's needs. They take the time to listen to visitors, answer phones, and do what they can to help make everyone's experience a positive and memorable one.
- Respect for Members: Membership fees are obviously re-invested into making Soul Hot Yoga and Soul Spin Studio even better every day. This is evident in the small details that show how much the business cares about the members (i.e., exceptionally clean bathrooms, a beautifully maintained studio and equipment, essential oils and aromatherapy throughout the studio, and a pot of freshly made hot tea in the front area for anyone to enjoy).
- Respect for Cleanliness: This is an area where most fitness facilities and studios fail. But ... every time I've come for class the shoes in the front area are neatly arranged, the pot of hot tea is full, the retail area is neatly organized, the laundry baskets are empty, the change rooms are swept, mopped and camera-ready, the studio is well ventilated, clean and fresh with aromatherapy, and the showers are immaculate.
- Respect for Instructors: Many of the instructors that are with Soul Hot Yoga today have been there since the beginning. That shows how much Jamie and Cathy respect the needs and expectations of their staff and the effort they put into their relationships. The staff love working at Soul Hot Yoga ... it's obvious.
In addition, the class experience is unlike most yoga studios I've been to. It's not that the class instruction is particularly unique (although the instructors are exceptional and teach with patience and great communication skills) ... but the members are a wide range of ages, bodies and abilities. Typically, most yoga studios are quite intimidating with very fit and flexible bodies throughout the room. This studio was not intimidating at all and included a very accepting group of participants. This clearly speaks to the focus of what Jamie and Cathy set out to create in their yoga community ... a place where everyone is welcome and the belief that yoga is for EVERY BODY!
Family Always Comes First
What's most remarkable about Jamie Davis and Cathy Sinclair-Smith is not how they got to where they are today ... it's how they maintain an exceptional level of quality yet still find balance in their everyday lives. From the beginning they wanted to create a business to provide something great for their southeast Calgary community ... but not at the sacrifice of their family life or their friendship. They find a balance that allows them to be at the studio where they truly enjoy being with their business family (growing, learning, laughing and bonding) yet they make it home for dinner every night to be with their families ... their WORLD!
I appreciate everything that these two ladies have done for me (providing a space for my athletes, a sounding board for my ideas, and a safe haven for my therapeutic yoga practice) and I look forward to seeing Soul Hot Yoga and Soul Spin Studio continue to grow and evolve. I am glad to say I have found my second home and my sanctuary. Thank you from the bottom of my six foot Canasian heart!
(This post was originally published on www.sixfootcanasian.com on October 4, 2015)