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Welcome to San Diego—America's Finest City and home to some of the most amazing and unique wellness experiences in the world. And we wouldn't be doing a very good job of being your partner in wellness if we didn't clue you in on some of the best this coastal paradise has to offer.
In this installment of Wellness Defined, we sit down with Ana Hutz, owner of Namaste Fitness, to walk through exactly what her inclusive and welcoming space offers and what wellness means to her.
Namaste Fitness is a wellness studio that offers yoga and fitness classes in the Chula Vista community of Otay Ranch. We offer different yoga styles such as heated, non-heated, gentle, restorative, and hatha, as well as different fitness modalities such as Barre, Pilates, TRX HIIT, and Yoga Sculpt. We also offer Tai Chi three times a week. We are family-friendly, offering Kids Yoga classes as well as Child Care for most of our classes, seven days a week.
When we were working on the idea of a yoga and fitness studio, we came up with the name Namaste Fitness because we felt it captured the essence of what we wanted to offer—Namaste as the greeting traditionally used in Yoga practice, and Fitness to remind our students that working out and exercising can be fun, easy, and mindful. Just like our name describes, we are a fusion of different mind and body-integrating formats. Every class begins with a calm meditation or quiet introduction and intention-setting moment to set the tone for class. We remind our students, whom we call family, that they are in a safe space and to listen to what their bodies and souls are craving at that moment. Whether it’s a barre class or Vinyasa, it will always end in Savasana, a resting pose to seal the practice, set a closing intention or message, and leave the room in a state of harmony and peace. We call this balance of working out and staying mindful the “Namaste Fitness Effect”.
We knew that there were many yoga and fitness studios out there that pay special attention to the workout itself, focusing on the body to create physical results and encourage their students to achieve a certain fitness level through their services, but we wanted to offer something more than that.
We take extra special care of each student that comes through our doors from greeting, to taking a tour, introducing them to staff and other students, and talking about how we can serve them. We remind them that they can show up no matter what their reason, all we want is for them to find what suits them, to make them feel happy and whole.
We also have a lounge area, which played a big part in the design of the space. It’s an area with couches, lots of pillows, books, magazines, and tons of natural light, where anyone can come and hang out, have a conversation, and stay before or after class. That is where many new friendships have begun, and we love it.
Our wellness philosophy is very simple, to nurture all aspects of life: our bodies, our minds, and what lies in our souls. Through physical practices combined with mindfulness, we can build one loving, strong, healthy, and empowered human being.
The experience at Namaste Fitness begins as soon as someone walks through the door. We carefully chose colors and decor that bring out a sense of peace and relaxation—the smell of fresh flowers and calming essential oils, and always a friendly face to greet students as soon as they walk through the door. We understand how intimidating it can be to step into a studio for the first time, so we make sure we listen to our guests’ needs as they ask for information. We don’t tell them what we do; we first listen to what they have to say.
We also offer complimentary water and tea along with mints or other treats like fresh fruit in our lobby, and we’re always playing calm music in the background. We take students on a tour of the space and talk about the different formats and intensity levels of our classes, and we offer suggestions and recommendations based on what they tell us. We never have the “selling” approach; we offer our services to fit the needs of each person individually—there’s no pressure; it’s a conversation. We offer our intro trials to see if they like it before deciding if they want to sign up or not.
• Arrive 10 to 15 minutes before class so you can take care of any first-time paperwork,
set up your space, and have time to use the lockers, restrooms, meet the teacher, etc
• Bring a mat, if needed for class, or rent one for $2 as you come in. Also, don’t
forget water, a towel, or anything else you might need during class.
• Depending on the format of each class, we’ll give you a description of
the sequence, so you know what to expect.
• We give 3 minutes after class time to arrive. If you come after that, unfortunately, you will
not be able to take the class, since we want to make sure everyone has a great
experience in the room.
• There will always be someone to show you the logistics of the space—where to check in,
where the classrooms are, childcare area, lockers, etc.
To recover from both yoga and fitness classes, we remind our students to drink water before, during, and after class. We offer plant-based protein drinks in case students need them, as well as healthy energy bars, kombucha, and coconut water in our boutique.
We always encourage rest and balance. If a student takes lots of fitness classes, we suggest taking more calm, meditative, and restoring/relaxing classes as well to allow their body to build strength in a compassionate way.
We believe that a healthy balanced diet is key to feeling great and having a healthy body and mind, listening to the body and doing what feels right for each individual. For example, we have some students who use meal-prep services, and some students have food allergies, so they have a more specialized diet. We do not focus on one type of diet or another, as long as the body is nourished with real food and lots of water.
Even though some days might be harder than others to practice wellness for myself, I try to lead by example. I try to find time to take classes when I am not teaching, and I make sure I still have time to balance my personal and family life as well as my work life. One of the hardest things for me is to sleep enough hours; running a business seems to be a 24/7 job or a baby that is always in the newborn stage. So, finding time to sleep extra hours after a sea salt bath is like heaven.
Ever since we opened our doors and even the months leading up to that day, we have invested ourselves fully into Namaste Fitness. We try to give as much of ourselves as we can, so when we are able to, we like to take short vacations with our children and soak in every minute of them because now they mean even more to us since our time together seems to be more limited.
One of our priorities is the happiness of our staff. All our permanent staff has a free membership for them and a guest, and they are encouraged to take classes and enjoy time in the studio doing their practice. Throughout the year, we have constant acknowledgment of our staff’s great work, fun events, and more.
We love partnering up with other like-minded individuals in the community and other local businesses, and we cross-promote each other and offer each other our services to keep promoting wellness in the community.
It’s a bit hard to pinpoint one single class as our most popular because most of our classes are always busy and have a full room, but our top 3 would be Yoga Sculpt, Heated Vinyasas, and Yin Yoga. A little bit of everything.
We offer Yoga Walls classes, which is an Iyengar Yoga-inspired method where you use straps on the wall on hooks to move through different poses. The straps on the walls help you stretch, decompress the spine and find proper alignment, as well as provide relief if suffering from pain or discomfort. We are the only studio in the South Bay (South of San Diego) that offers this method, so to many students, it’s something new and different.
We also offer Barralates, which is a fusion of barre, Pilates, dance, and cardio, created in Mexico, and we are the only studio in the US to offer it now. It is very popular because it’s fun, the music is upbeat, and the sweating is intense. Once they try it, they’re hooked, but at first, it’s something they’ve never tried, and we pronounce it with a very Hispanic accent, so it gets people’s attention.
The goal is to leave happier and feeling better than when they came in. If we can improve their day by something they did, heard, or saw in our space, we consider it a success.
When they arrive, we hope they will feel at ease, relaxed, included, and supported. During their workout, they should also feel included, encouraged, empowered, free, and happy. And as they leave, they should feel happy, satisfied, and loved.
We see a lot of new trends like the use of technology-inspired props, or very complicated props and apparatuses to work out or to do something as simple as yoga. Our goal is to stay true to the formats we offer, evolving at a pace that is still available and accessible to all but keeping up with any new ideas that may be out there.
Above all, safety and accessibility are our main concerns, so whenever we are faced with ideas of incorporating new things, we take our time and do our due diligence to make sure that what we offer in our space is in line with our values and our mission.
For now, we will continue to offer excellent service to everyone who walks through our doors. We will continue to go above and beyond to make sure our community of students gets an amazing experience when they take our classes or come to our events.
There are always questions about when we will open studio number 2 and if we would go to other cities or even states. It would be amazing to be able to do that in a few years, but our standards are high, and we will not take that step until we know we can deliver only the best in every aspect of the business. We hope we can do that at some point, and only time will tell. Our hearts and minds are always open to new adventures, so we shall see.
We want everyone to know that our goal and our intention behind Namaste Fitness has always been to give back to the community through wellness practices. We have witnessed how lives can be altered by disease, physical and emotional pain, and the effects of stress in this fast-paced life. All we want to do through our services is contribute to making others feel and live better, once class at a time.
Our plan was not to open a studio from the ground up, we were presented with the opportunity, and we took a huge leap of faith with all our might and with all our heart. We didn’t know exactly how we would do it; we only had our ideas and our hopes to make a positive change in the world. We had people who believed in us and some people who didn’t, and to those that believed in us and helped us achieve our dream, we will be forever grateful, especially to our family who helped us emotionally, physically, and financially.
To everyone who comes through our doors, we believe we have a responsibility and a duty to serve you to the best of our abilities, and the only way we know how is to spread compassion, love, kindness, and care. Every human being deserves to be happy and feel whole as they walk through life, and we work every day to make that happen. We feel like the world needs more of the good stuff, so from our very own little studio, we will make sure we give as much as we can.
Owning a business is never easy, and a growing business that began with 16 employees and has grown to over 40 in only 15 months, we have our hands full. But at the end of the day when we recap and think back on what we did—the stories of self-love, the words of gratitude, and the smiles we help create—as silly or cheesy as it may sound, these make up the best parts of our days, and they truly make everything worthwhile.
Since 1992, April has been recognized as Stress Awareness Month. It was established to help shed light on the issues behind stress, teach us how to fight it, and create methods to overcome it. While this initiative has existed just shy of three decades, this year it seems particularly important.
With a year under our belts in pandemic mode—a lot of us had to get creative when it came to keeping our cool. On top of that, everyday stresses didn’t just magically disappear during this time either. Just think about it—have you ever been in a situation that was overwhelming? Maybe you’ve had a looming deadline or a to-do list that seems, well...totally un-doable? If you’ve ever felt you were in over your head, please know you’re not alone—you never are. At one time or another, we’ve all been affected by stress—although each person may manifest it differently. Me? I'm definitely a frequent rider on the "hot mess stress express."
There are many ways to help combat stress—some of us seek out support from friends and family, while others find solace in taking up meditation or unwinding with a relaxing yoga class. Whatever helps you find peace, just keep doing you. But also know we have some resources to help you overcome stress whenever the need arises.
Here are some blog posts that are always available to you when you feel a little stressed out:
When in doubt, breathwork expert and sound healer, Shanila Sattar, always has tips to help ground yourself—especially in times of need. In this blog post, she gives you the recipe for incorporating self-love into your daily routine by encouraging us to ask ourselves these questions: How do we treat ourselves? How do we talk to ourselves? What foods are we putting into our bodies? How are we thinking about our overall well-being when practicing self-love? As we all know, self-love defines and redefines itself for everyone over the years, here are a few foundational tips to think about when easing into your self-love journey.
Yoga Nidra, or “yogic sleep,” is a practice that has been around for thousands of years and it aims to restore the mind, body, and soul through deep, guided meditation. The way it works is like the way a power nap helps one feel refreshed during a particularly exhausting day, except you aren’t technically sleeping. I describe it as a long-form of savasana—anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour. (Real talk: savasana is one of the best parts of practicing yoga, am I right?)
TLDR: I learned that I could conquer stress in a matter of minutes with Yoga Nidra.
Are we safe in saying this last year brought up a ton of emotions the likes of which we did not plan for? The good, the bad, the “unprecedented”—our hearts and minds have been taken on a wild rollercoaster ride, and for many of us, our mental health is suffering. With our minds running in thousands of directions, it’s hard to notice our own needs. Yes, our attention to the goings-on of last year is vital but caring for ourselves is as important as ever. Here are some tips from our favorite yoga instructor, Dani Schenone.
Have you been feeling it? The big emotion floating around the last year is the Big Anxiety. Coupled with the stress of what the COVID-19 pandemic has bought for millions of people, disturbed wellness routines, and worry, we have a recipe to create massive damage to ourselves. Adjusting to the new normal, with social distancing practices in place and adapting to precautions and routines, may be the root of even more anxiousness for many as we’re navigating uncharted territories.
If you've got those familiar feelings of stress and anxiety coursing through your body right now, you're definitely not alone. We get it. Times are uncertain, our mental health is taxed, we're doing what we can to reduce stress and anxiety in general, and relaxation has taken a back seat. It’s no secret that stress is proven to weaken our immunity, so now more than ever, it's important to relax, deal with what's happening, and find the coping mechanisms to help you reclaim your mental health and reduce your involvement in stressed moments. Let's deal with stress and anxiety together and see what we can do to reduce them.
Meditation will change your life if you let it. The pace of our modern life is at least ten times what it was just 10 years ago. Technology improved our lives but also created a more frenetic and stressful pace. If we decided to stop, breathe, and become more mindful, we would reduce stress and experience much more enjoyment in each moment of our everyday lives.
There’s always something to worry about. Whether it’s our career, relationships, dating, or trauma, we go through moments that bombard us with negative thoughts that can make us feel anxious and stressed. Our worries may often define our choices, our view of the world, or ourselves. This doesn’t mean they are faults, flaws, or downfalls—we just need to practice managing them in a healthy way, placing deserved value on self-care. Yoga is only one connection. Check out these seven yoga poses that can help your mind and body when you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, or overall stress.
We’re all guilty of our routines and habits running our lives at one point or another. We’re all guilty of being attached to our schedules and our to-do list. We’re all guilty of running on a loop every now and then. As the energies of 2021 continue to shift, we get to ask ourselves the intentions of why and how we are participating in the places we are participating in, the thoughts we are thinking, the habits we are cultivating, and the communities that we are a part of. This intention and mindfulness process can not only shift our own experiences but of those around us as well.
If you have found meditation to be useful in trying times, right now is an incredible time to also try virtual sound baths to receive the deep sound healing benefits. As many of us are processing a variety of emotions as a collective—stress, worry, fear, anxiety, uncertainty—we can start to cause long-term damage to our bodies, especially to our immune and nervous systems. Giving ourselves self-care in a way that is easy, non-intrusive, and simple, can be the perfect way to help your body restore.
These resources aren’t the only thing we have to help you deal with stress—they’re just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, there are tons of classes available to you on the Mindbody app and through Mindbody Flex to help you reignite your calm whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed. And always remember, at the end of the day, your best is always good enough.