Rebecca Kirschner and Paula Dong want to flip traditional yoga on its head.
The two, who met 14 years ago in a fitness class, opened their first yoga studio in Evergreen last weekend. But you won’t find any downward-facing dogs here. The studio, called AIReal Yoga, practices a discipline where students perform yoga poses while suspended in the air from a cloth hammock.
“Some people just can’t do traditional yoga because it hurts their joints or maybe they feel uncomfortable in a traditional yoga studio,” Kirschner said. “This is much easier on joints and seasoned yogis can get a deeper stretch than they can with traditional yoga poses. Plus, it looks cool.”
The style was invented by Carmen Curtis, a Cirque de Soleil gymnast and aerialist. Kirschner met Curtis at a yoga festival in Telluride last year and operates the studio under a licensing agreement with Curtis’ company.
Kirschner and Dong run their AIReal Yoga branch in a 1,200-square-foot studio at 32135 Castle Court in Evergreen. It’s the same building where Kirschner runs Inspired Fitness, the weight training and barre studio she’s owned for 10 years.
That situation is temporary. They hope to move AIReal Yoga into a home of its own, but haven’t set a deadline.
They had to put about $6,000 worth of upgrades into the Inspired Fitness gym before they could begin hanging hammocks, Kirschner said. Add in certifications, training and other costs, and their total investment is closer to $13,000, Kirschner said.
The project involved attaching nine rock-climbing carabiners capable of holding 1,000 pounds each to the ceiling to hold up the hammocks.
Dong’s husband installed the hooks to keep down costs.
Kirschner and Dong are building their client base. They’ve drawn interest from Kirschner’s students at Inspired Fitness, she said. Their customers are predominantly female, but Dong said she hopes that soon will change.
“We’re trying to get a ‘broga’ men’s class together,” she said. “Right now we have a couple men who have come in, but it’s usually with their wives or girlfriends.”
Monthly unlimited memberships to AIReal Yoga cost $120, Kirschner said. The studio also offers 10-classes-per-month passes, as well as personal training options.
Kirschner said they hope to open a Denver studio.
“We’d like to bring it to Denver eventually,” Kirschner said. “But that’s pretty far down the line. Right now, there’s plenty to focus on up here.”