Thrive Yoga lives up to its promise

I got up early today and dropped into Thrive Yoga for my first class. The photos on the web site do not do the studio justice. The place is dropped dead gorgeous. Kim Groark and Susan Bowen have gone all out to make an attractive and welcoming environment for practicing yoga in Rockville. What flattered me is that they had visited this blog and they immediately said, “Oh, you’re Michael! So glad you could finally make it.”

What’s the most striking feature? Space, space and space. I am used to taking yoga classes in DC where most studios are converted narrow townhouses. The owners are in a quandary — giving studios the priority for space means that clothes changing, waiting and customer service areas are tight, even claustrophobic. The transition between classes in the busy evening time lots can seem like a Chinese fire drill. At TranquilSpace, the mats are separated by 9 inches, at most. At Flow Yoga, it’s better but the non-studio space is congested. When a yoga center is successful, it means it gets more crowded and frustrating.

At Thrive Yoga, the two practice rooms are huge, with high ceilings and natural light. There are spacious dressing rooms for men and women, and the hallway is wide, airy and adequate for holding crowds during class transition. There’s lots of space at the entrance, where students sign in and pay, and also a commercial area.

I took a Vinyasa class from Susan, 90 minutes. There were about 15 people in the session, and we have plenty of space to maneuver. She kept us moving through the poses at a good pace. I worked up a sweat. She did a nice job of managing the disparate skills levels among the participants, showing modifications and adjustments. I went into the class feeling tired and aching because of my home practice and gym work yesterday. I came out feeling energized.

Kim and Susan started up Thrive Yoga because they could not find a good place to practice in this neck of Montgomery County. They will have a challenge of ramping up business to be able to pay for the space and let’s hope that success does not spoil the great environment.

When I finished by yoga sessions, I went by Bally Fitness where there’s a free yoga session on Sunday morning. I usually took it with my wife. The practice floor was the fullest I have ever seen it, shoulder to shoulder, and there were even people spilling out onto the weight lifting area. I said to myself, “After Thrive, how am I going to go back to this.”