Hi Theresa, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
This was back in 2001 when only cities like New York and LA had yoga studios. They were owned and operated by masterful world-renowned meditators and teachers who had demonstrated great success in yoga beyond the postures. Here we come, young, well-practiced students of yoga. We have a fluent understanding of the body in motion. We wanted all the athletes and tense business professionals to realize how to practice yoga that outstripped the binding and limiting path of only having flexible muscles. To learn about an approach where one could truly become calm and peaceful while training, working, and living in a busy and somewhat chaotic city. Our yoga studio was an instinctive dream that came to fruition. It wasn’t the typical process of writing it down on a bar napkin like a New Year’s resolution. It was something that had been percolating in Calvin’s mind for quite some time. And one weekend in Miami, we set a real-life action toward making it happen. College Park Yoga was born on a drive home from Miami, Florida. My husband, Calvin’s work territory, was in the Miami area. That is what brought us there on a sunshiny three-day summer weekend. We went out to eat at a fabulous little Indian restaurant set in my absolute favorite area of Miami, Coconut Grove. I loved it for its name and the vibe. It was such a romantic little corner of the city, almost quiet and calm. Except, of course, it was Miami. We thought it would be the perfect place to set up our home, yoga studio, and future. Across the street from where we sat were a beautiful 1960’s mixed-used building and a tiny “For Sale By Owner” sign in the window. Calvin whispered to me. We have an appointment to look at it on Monday morning. We knew when the man said the place was $400,000, that price was way out of our league. He gave us that look adults gave dreaming kids, the one that says – you’re too young. And we were only in our mid 20’s. We are youthful people, and we probably looked more like teenagers playing grown-ups. We left Miami and that particular dream behind. One thing about Calvin and me when we feel like we have lost something is we see that another opportunity has sprung.
So, instead of driving home deflated, we dreamt and discussed our future together. One day after about two weeks from our trip to Miami, I get a call from Calvin. I can hear the excitement in his voice as he told me, “I think I found it! The yoga studio,”! That he did. Its location was in a quaint Main Street district of Orlando called College Park. I had worked on the drive as a teenager at one of the cafes and went to the local high school Edgewater High. So I was stoked to be back “home.” The rest is history. Twenty years later, we still are located in College Park. College Park has served as our place of living, working, and dreaming for half of my life. I believe our success comes from the fact that everyone who walks into our space is family. It’s energy. A vibe. A real honest in-your-heart feeling of not once being judged on looks, character, or shape. I think people can really feel that in our hearts and souls, we want to help people learn the deep practice of yoga. And no matter how stressed-out or injured they are, we will do everything in our power to help them achieve the goals they have in their life for improved mental health and physical well-being.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
LOL! Funny you should ask, absolutely not ever! This is truly a labor of love and dedication. We never really know if our studio will survive year after year. Many variables keep the studio vibrant and thriving. The attitude we have towards the business and clients, the constant education and training we give ourselves, and the students that recognize our dedication and reciprocate by becoming dedicated themselves. Then, there are the unknowns that require perseverance, the landlords that threaten to kick us out. The current murky water of navigating what is considered an essential business versus non-essential and making plans for future shut-downs. Having only ten cents in the bank account because students were told to cut yoga from the budget. These are a few things that a business can’t ever plan for but must adjust an attitude for—keeping yourself at peace even while the business shifts, ebbs, and flows is vital to success. Running a studio that relies on dedicated and consistent clients is one of the most challenging businesses to operate. We don’t have the beauty of a single product that sells millions to line our accounts. We rely on people. And that reliance makes what we do very unstable. People move, have babies, have surgery, get new jobs, laid off, married, divorced. People will always make an excuse to not take care of themselves. But, we continue to be there for them. We know they will eventually return. Their doctor reminds them they need yoga to keep their back or heart-healthy. Or their therapist suggests yoga for stress relief. We know students will eventually find their way to us. We work on complete faith. Nothing about our business is solid or guaranteed, except our faith in it.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Our studio specializes in yoga therapy for the student: their injuries, their limitations, their stresses. We support them and adjust them. We move them based on where they are and not where a book or video or other yoga teacher says a student should be. We don’t drive the experience from our own set of rules. We give space for the students to develop and grow their practice in an organic manner. We are there to create a support system for them. This support system extends to the wellness programs we have. We have a book, “BURN Kitchen Vegetarian Cuisine.” It includes over 300 plant-based recipes that are exciting and new for people who think healthy is boring. We are chefs that offer private cooking classes and ingredient replacements. Students know they can always communicate with us virtually to help them through any life situation. They also have access to online videos and courses to help them when they can’t make it to classes. Twenty-four hours a day, we have something there for students to practice and use in one way or another. We motivate people to try new things and invite them to attend yoga retreats to exotic places. Our Liquid Fire Yoga retreats are focused on the result of people feeling refreshed, vibrant, and relaxed from their seven days in paradise and education through experience. Students chop, blend and stir scrumptious dinners and then learn to breathe, twist, and shape the body in relaxing ways. We help people step out of what they think is a comfort zone and realize new comfort levels in life. That’s what we do… we help expand people’s minds while we work their bodies. What makes us unique is what we teach and what we do is inspired by life and yoga practice. We aren’t Instagram teachers. We are inspired by what we learn from our practice instead of off the internet. We do what works for us and what we see will benefit the students we see each day. As for achievements, our yoga studio has been awarded over 20 best-of awards. Everyone always says one thing about our studio, “It’s an amazing place”: When asked why they usually can’t put it into words because it’s about the experience. It has nothing to do with what Calvin and I say or how fantastic our postures may be… it’s the feeling they get when they are in class. A sense of belonging, feeling calm, and genuinely appreciate being alive. Our studio gives people purpose but also gives them the strength and flexibility of both body and mind.
Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
The best networking for our studio has been through direct word of mouth. Not social media, either. I mean the old fashioned kind – our students telling their friends and family. And then their friends and family share our studio with others. This is the most challenging kind of networking because it has to be earned. You don’t pay for it. First, you have to be it. You have got to actually make a difference in a person’s life. Then they will share that joy naturally with others. Our students don’t sound like cheerleaders and never make one feel peer pressured to come to class. They spread the joy we give to them, and anyone who wants to share in that joy, they will find us. It doesn’t hurt to have a website that reflects your business in a good way too. 🙂
- Liquid Fire Yoga OnDemand Channel: $15/mo
- College Park Yoga In-studio Classes – $30 Two class Intro-pass
- Address: 1837 Edgewater Drive Orlando, FL 32804 407-999-7871
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: https://collegeparkyoga.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/collegeparkyoga/
- Facebook: https://facebook.com/iluvcollegeparkyoga
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/collegeparkyoga
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/collegeparkyogaorlando
- Other: https://yoga-and-meditation-videos.liquidfireyoga.com