Larchmont resident Lauren Porat (in the center, above) spent the last year preparing to open a start-up business in Mamaroneck, Yoga Spark. We wanted to know more about her decision to bring a yoga studio here, and now.
Lauren, you launched a business in Mamaroneck and on Day 1, you had 70 people show up for yoga. What’s your secret?
I think there was a huge pent-up need for this type of fitness offering – hot power yoga – in the area. When I started to get the word out about the opening, you can’t imagine how excited people were to hear about it. A lot of people have experienced hot power yoga either from living in the city, or perhaps they’ve tried a more traditional form of hot yoga but have been dissatisfied with it, or perhaps they’ve tried yoga in a non-heated room but their bodies are craving something with a little more oomph. YogaSpark is serving all of those people’s needs.
Did you find the build up phase a challenge? If so, how? Were local vendors available? Was the licensing process easy? Is this an hospitable place for small business incubation?
Challenge? Dear lord, yes. But it was also – and continues to be – a ton of fun. I did try to use local vendors where and when I could. For example, a friend introduced me to the graphic designer Caroline De Lasa, who does a lot of the design work for Soul Cycle – and she also loves yoga. So she brought an incredible expertise and insight to the project. And she lives around the corner from me. The Village of Mamaroneck has been great to work with. They are definitely excited to see that YogaSpark is bringing a super high-end, modern fitness experience to the Mamaroneck commerce area.
Why did you feel this was the place for your concept?
Overall, Mamaroneck is an ideal location because of the true need I described before. Specifically regarding my location at One Depot Plaza next to the train station, this spot called out to me when I first saw it. I wanted to make sure commuters could get their hot yoga easily, so proximity to the train was key. YogaSpark is also easy to get to from really any point in lower Westchester, given how close it is to Boston Post Road, Mamaroneck Avenue, Old White Plains Road, I-95 and the Hutch. I also felt that in order to be successful, my first studio has to be close to home. Since I live in Larchmont, Mamaroneck is perfect for me. I have a dream commute!
Why has yoga become such a buzzword in the last few years in terms of fitness and health?
Because it’s awesome! Seriously…I can’t speak for the industry as a whole, but I’ll tell you why I think hot yoga is so amazing. Nowhere else have I been able to find such an efficient and effective workout. You build strength, you build stamina, you burn calories, you sweat, you get centered, and you completely stretch out all within 60 minutes. It’s great for joint and back pain. In yoga, you’re not just hammering your body with weights or pounding your feet into the ground. You’re using your breath to move your body through space.
There’s a lot of debate about whether weight loss is really a direct result of yoga. I can’t tell you how many calories you’ll burn in a hot yoga class, and I believe that weight loss is just as much about caloric regulation and smart (ie, organic, local, high-quality) food choices as it is about caloric burn. However, when you practice yoga consistently you will absolutely find that you simply feel better during your practice if you are eating a good, clean diet versus not. So in that way I think yoga promotes a healthier lifestyle.
What’s in store for YogaSpark?
We will very soon be rolling out the capability to book private sessions with our amazing teachers. We are also working on some awesome workshops (think breaking down the warriors, sun salutations, standing balancing) as well as kids’ classes. Ultimately, the goal is to open up other locations. There are many more areas that could use a YogaSpark!