A Class of its Own
Who says you can only do one workout at a time? Not Kimberly Fowler. She wanted to combine her two favorites workouts into one and when she couldn’t find a gym that did so, opened her own.
“I was frustrated with why I couldn’t find both cycling and yoga under one roof,” said Fowler. “Most indoor cycling was in a gym so I would [cycle] at a gym and then run across town and find a good yoga class.”
From this frustration, YAS (Yoga and Spinning) was born. In 2001, Fowler left her job in the corporate world and opened her first YAS studio. “I was a lawyer and then a COO of a large vitamin company, so when I started YAS it was a total 180 from my prior experience,” she explained. “I was in my 40s and everyone thought I was a little crazy for getting into the fitness industry and starting something new.”
Her risk paid off. Many have praised YAS as an innovative trend. “A few months ago the Yoga Journal said that the combination of yoga and [cycling] is the new trend, but with the studio model it really is,” she added.
According to Fowler, people not only want specialized classes, but they also want a class that gives you everything you need. A typical YAS class incorporates cardio, strength and flexibility. “With the cycling you get your cardio,” said Fowler. “Then with yoga you have your strength and your flexibility, so that is basically all you need in your workout.”
A signature YAS class consists of 30 minutes of cycling followed by a 30-minute yoga session. If participants care to just take a yoga or a cycling class, rather than the hybrid, they can do either at the studio as well.
By offering a variety of yoga and cycling class combinations, everyone can find a class that fits their level of experience. “It is fun to have classes where you can have all levels in there,” said Fowler. “I am proud of that because it was something I wanted when I first opened.”
Fowler might have been ahead of the trend, opening her first studio 14 years ago, but now more and more studios are opening up offering hybrid classes. As the trend expands, so will Fowler. She recently opened her first studio outside of California in Portland, Oregon.
“It is a big step,” said Fowler. “Then I am also in the process of finding a space in Seattle. We are definitely expanding.”
What gym owners and instructors can learn from Fowler’s story is you don’t need to wait around for a concept you’d like to offer to be created. With the right experience and knowledge, anyone can create a unique program that meets an unmet need — you just need to have the guts to do so.