by Kirby Lindsay, posted 4 July 2014
For one thing, these two young businesses, now located in Fremont, chose flexible, creative approaches to two established, fitness industries. And like many small, independent businesses, their progressive models may be overlooked by the very clients that would most benefit from their services. So, please, take a minute to meet, and consider…
On June 2nd, Samantha Danielle opened Levitas, an unusual variation on a yoga studio. “The idea of the studio is to appeal to people who can’t commit to a studio,” Danielle explained. She’s heard it all – about having trouble sustaining yoga practice because it’s too slow, too repetitive or even too boring. Levitas offers a unique option for people, “to find a practice that works for them,” she said, “that they can commit to, and get the benefits out of. The benefits of yoga are in the long-term practice of it.”
Levitas offers classes with non-traditional music – a special benefit class on July 14th at 7p for City of Hope will use Reggae music – and to meet specific needs, like ‘Yoga For Men’ classes coming this fall. “Our studio is about fun,” Danielle observed. Levitas offers restorative yoga classes, done on the mat, and Throwback Thursdays, with yoga done to hip hop music from the 1980s/90s. Still, it is the Anti-Gravity Yoga that sets Levitas apart.
“The guy that created it came off of Broadway,” Danielle explained, “he found dancers would hang upside down to decompress, to relax, and to take pressure off their joints.” Danielle has an affiliate agreement with Anti-Gravity Fitness. She is an Anti-Gravity certified instructor and uses their equipment for her classes in aerial yoga. “It’s really good for spinal decompression,” she observed, “and it releases a happy hormone.”
Danielle found personal benefits in Anti-Gravity Yoga – she has some scoliosis – and she has clients who welcome this alternative, particularly among those who find mat yoga too difficult. “I’m finding the people who appreciate it the most are the ones who are less inclined to do yoga,” she observed. Many returning clients are in their 40s and 50s, although she gets all ages – and all experience levels – “I get a lot of people who just want to try it,” she acknowledged, “who want to get their picture taken.”
Anti-Gravity yoga combines aerial practices with yoga, as well as dance, pilates and gymnastics. Using a supportive silk hammock, adjustable to each individual student, the classes involve a series of poses and postures that give a mind-body workout. Also, for those who grimace at chanting and the forced meditation in some traditional yoga classes, give Levitas a try. “Laying in the hammock can be a very calming thing,” Danielle offered, “It’s good for those people who can’t lay still.”
Jogs For Dogs
For those who must get moving, and have considered taking a neighbor’s dog for a jog – or if your dog needs a jog, but the idea makes you shudder – it’s time to visit Jogs For Dogs. Brendan Fahey founded this company, with Marin Van Schaik and Mike Holt, based on the simple fact that, for some, walking just won’t do. “Basically, in a nutshell,” Fahey explained, “we connect dog runners with dog owners. I think of Jogs for Dogs as a win-win. The buyers – the owners – are happy, and the sellers – the runners – are happy,” and the dogs get to do what dogs are born to do!
Jogs For Dogs has been around since 2007, but it’s founders have evolved their business model as technology makes connecting, and sharing information, easier and easier. For the last year and a half, Jogs For Dogs has rented office space in Fremont, where they train their runners and modify the website and app. “Before we had a website, and employed runners,” Fahey explained. Now they connect freelance, JFD certified runners with clients who can access information on each run using a unique, JFD tracking app.
The Jogs For Dogs site manages scheduling, billing, and immediate notification to the owner about when Fido gets picked up, mapping of the route the dog and runner took, how far they went, how fast, and verification on the time Fido returned home. Oh, and the site also registers and records each time Fido, um, well, does his business. And yes, Fahey and Van Schaik assured me, owners do want that information. “A lot of our dog owners are working all day,” Fahey explained, “They like knowing what their dog did.”
The benefits of a good healthy run could be seen in the Jogs for Dogs office. During our interview, Scout, Fahey’s Labrador, lay resting, “so chill, happy, content,” as Fahey observed, stretched out on the couch after a long, physically active outing the day before. Jogs For Dogs’ clients hire a runner for five days a week, or just one. It depends on the dog, and the client. “Every run is tailored to every dog,” Fahey explained, “It’s running, but it is personalized.”
On the other side, “we get so many calls and e-mails from people who want to run the dogs,” Fahey acknowledged. Students, people who can’t own their own dog, and part-timers have shown an eagerness to ‘work’ (they do get paid,) outside, for about an hour a day, with a companion anxious to get moving. “That’s really why I started doing it,” Fahey explained. He started as a runner, and a student, who sought owners that needed their dog to go out for a run.
Jogs For Dogs runners can be serious marathoners, looking for an alternative opportunity to train, to those who want to ‘run’ with a miniature poodle. Van Schaik explained, “We give runners materials on how to talk to the owners about their dogs.” Every new runner/owner has a meet-and-greet, to make sure the dog and jogger are well matched. “It’s all about finding the right chemistry,” Fahey said.
Finding A Place In Fremont
Jogs For Dogs hung banners outside their office in early June, not to spark foot traffic but to stir interest in their website – which contains nearly all the info owners and runners could need. In fact, so much of their business is on-line that they could be anywhere – and do have users around the world. They’ve recently begun to train Jogs For Dogs certified runners in Portland.
For Levitas, location is more essential – and proved difficult to obtain. Danielle has taken a small space located down the stairs between Kwanjai Thai and Qazis Indian. When asked about choosing the slightly recessed space, Danielle answered simply, “I can afford it. As a new business, I had trouble finding a place that wouldn’t charge me a ridiculous security deposit.” She looked at spaces all over Seattle – where she currently is the only Anti-Gravity Yoga affiliate – and settled in Fremont.
Stop by Levitas Studio, and see what a drop-in Anti-Gravity Yoga class – or restorative or hip hop yoga – can do for you. Also, visit the Jogs For Dogs website, and see where a run with Rover might lead (and for those unable/unwilling to use an App, JforD does offer concierge service…)
One things is certain, Fremont continues to provide a home to creative and cutting edge companies. Our small businesses do take a moment longer to learn – and love – than the average corporate model. It is hoped that we, as shoppers, have the savviness to reward these progressive, alternative approaches!
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