I have a vision in my mind, but I’m super flexible to molding to what the need is and what gets people the most stoked.
As the owner of Alive Mindbody, Kristen is no stranger to the world of yoga and fitness. She’s been teaching for 9 years and has worked in a variety of different fitness environments from HR to managing retail. “I fell in love with the experience of a group fitness class – and the social aspect” she says. However, when she moved to Victoria she struggled to find a studio that really resonated with her. What she had in mind, “There wasn’t really that kind of space in Victoria” she says. So, she decided to create it. The result is a yoga, barre and pilates studio that is simply put “it is gorgeous”. Tucked away above Logan’s pub on Cook Street her Studio is a large, airy space with a modern and chic feel. The bright turquoise accent walls give the studio a fun and fresh vibe, while the refinished vintage furniture and local art provides cozy charm. Visitors are welcomed by a large chalkboard wall at the entrance of the studio that playfully displays the week’s classes.
When you met Kristen in person, it’s easy to see that her Studio is an extension of her personality, which is almost effervescent in it’s bubbliness. Like the brews served after her weekly “yoga and beers” classes (which, is exactly what it sounds like), Kristen’s positive energy just seems to spill over the edge. You can’t help but feel at home when you’re in the presence of her contagious smile and hearty laugh.
She’s also resourceful. When we stopped to comment on the decor, Kristen says she actually refinished the furniture pieces herself. “When you’re starting a business on a budget, you need to find creative ways to still look pretty” she says. From the offering of flavoured water that clients can sip out of adorable mason jars to the cheerful west-coast inspired art, it’s obvious that Kristen has paid attention to the details when creating this space. “It’s those little touches” she says.
As she explains over the expertly brewed mint tea she’s prepared for us, “To me it’s about the whole experience. That means I want people to have a bit of a jaw drop when they come in the door. They’ve got to feel good in the class, meet a friend – it’s all of that in one package.”
When it came to making her dream of opening a yoga studio happen, Kristen was in a unique position where she was able to start from the ground-up. The place was demo-ed before she moved in, which gave her a chance to design the ideal layout. The Studio is deceptively large and includes two spaces where classes take place. Despite having only been open for 7 months, they now run over 35 classes a week that focus on yoga, barre, pilates and stand-up paddle boarding. Jaw drop, indeed.
When it comes to her class offerings, Kristen thrives on innovation. This means having fun, listening to good music and creating unforgettable experiences for her clients. As she puts it, when it comes to her classes, “Everyone leaves with a smile on the face. Who cares if you did two crunches or zero crunches? If you leave happy, life is good.”
“In the summer we do stand-up paddle yoga” she says. There’s also a surf yoga flow class that focuses on surfing movements. But, Kristen really starts to beam when she tells us about the Friday night All Girls Barre Parties, which have a different theme each week. “It’s always something sassy – like we did Beyonce, Gangster girl, Rihanna….The girls love it! We put on our red lips and we get a bit sweaty – but everyone leaves with a bit of sass.”
And because we had to ask – what’s the deal with Yoga and Beers? As Kristen explains, “yoga and beers isn’t really about yoga and beers. It’s about opening up, So people feel comfortable coming and to have a social connection.” Having a beer after is just an excuse to mingle and get to know people.
At the end of the day, Kristen is committed to doing whatever it takes to help people have a healthy body, “because that translates into your whole life” she says. “If that means putting a paddle board on the water or having a beer with yoga. Let’s do it!”
What drives Kristen – both in life and business as an entrepreneur – is the joy she gets from connecting with other people and creating community. “I like things to be organized but I would drop my to-do list to chat with someone who came in or to mingle. Which is important because I think that’s been the roots of this business – the social atmosphere, the accessibility, the welcomeness. Just the fact that everyone is invited.”
When we asked her what she cherishes most in life, Kristen says, “Empowering others to be empowered. Giving them the tools and being the behind the scenes person” to make it happen. What this looks like: “you’re in the background motivating them, organizing things so that everything falls into place so that they can leave the room, or leave the interaction feeling like a million bucks.” Essentially, this is the “why” behind her business.
“It’s kind of sneaky, isn’t it?” Kristen laughs. But, it’s what gets her up in the morning to be an entrepreneur. “It’s not an easy gig. But it’s easy when it’s for a service that’s greater than yourself” she says.
As far as the future of the studio goes, her vision is clear: “Continuous impact. More impact in the community. Being a place to serve where we need to serve and expanding.” As Kristen explains, “I definitely see it growing, whether it’s in size or in people or connections within the city or opening another location – whatever that looks like.” If there’s a need in the community, she hopes to fill it by creating a healthy and social space.
Overall, she’s excited to see it grow organically. There’s also the question of the roof. “This rooftop is amazing. Hopefully by next summer we can start getting it prepared for outdoor yoga.”
(Um, sign us up please.)
As Kristen tells us, she’s never been afraid to push the envelope. Kristen’s goal when she opened Alive Mindbody was to create a “break the rules” kind of studio.
As she says of the experience, “It’s fun and it’s scary to bring the innovation here. But I felt like that was kind of missing.”
We think she’s nailed it.