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For atl kula founders Corey and Kiara Johnson, prioritizing wellness means getting outside and soaking up the transformative power of nature. They started their Atlanta-based wellness studio to help bridge the gap between the natural and modern world through promoting a natural lifestyle through movement, consuming healthy products, and keeping the spirit of community at the forefront.
Inspired by their own wellness experiences, their studio offers classes that have personally impacted their own lives and require minimal equipment—yoga, Pilates, barre, and Tai Chi. Their MO is to make sure that each person that steps foot through atl kula’s door leaves feeling better than ever before.
We recently chatted with Corey and Kiara to learn more about the mission behind atl kula and what wellness means to them.
Corey: Being born and raised in Atlanta, I've always loved being outside and noticed how I naturally recovered from many of the ailments I came down with as a kid by spending time in the sun, moving around, and playing until I tired myself out. While attending Georgia Tech and even when I started working after school, I’d make it a habit to get outside and reset and learned that taking care of myself had to be a priority in this life that often pulls us in a million directions.
Kiara: He took me to Sweetwater Creek Park one of the first times we ever hung out. I remember loving how peaceful and rejuvenating it was but also how distant it felt compared to how often we were outside as kids. Our outside adventures became little “getaways” for us. He showed me all around Atlanta’s parks and hidden gems and somewhere in-between the dreaming began. It started with understanding how wellness very much includes nature and the all-natural from the sun that shines on our skin to the food we eat, and it continued with planning how we could build something special using nature as inspiration to touch lives near and far for years to come. We are about living naturally and that started as a very personal walk for us.
We are big dreamers, and we knew we wanted to help define what it means to live naturally in a modern world—which inspired us to build atl kula and what motivates us every day. We turned what was once an empty storage space into a nature-inspired studio with a biophilic design, meant to make you feel well just from walking inside. You’ll also be greeted by our koi fish in our indoor pond on your way to class, relaxed by our warm colors and soft aesthetics, and yet energized with pops of plant life throughout the space. We were inspired to offer the practices of yoga, Pilates, barre, and Tai Chi—amazing practices that have transformed our own lives. These practices are ones that you don’t necessarily need a lot of equipment for, but that you could do more with…. naturally! And lastly, our lifestyle products, such as our soap and body butter, inspire us to work towards providing an all-natural self-care regimen for our community—products that are better for the environment, better for our bodies, and beautifully scented for our enjoyment.
While wellness includes good habits such as eating more naturally, exercising, being involved with your local community, and making progress towards your fullest potential—it is also deeper than that for us and atl kula. We don’t believe people necessarily choose to make poor decisions that negatively impact their lives, but instead, we often find that it’s the very infrastructure and systems around them that are designed for them to be unwell (take food deserts for example). That’s why it’s so important for spaces like ours to exist and to be everywhere—ultimately helping to change those very systems where wellness can truly start.
If you're in the Atlanta area, you should definitely check out atl kula’s in-person classes to help you advance your wellness routine. Not in Atlanta? Don’t sweat—you can book virtual classes at their studio or check out their online streaming options, too. Still looking for more atl kula? They also have their SoN2U Wellness Retreat coming up November 12-14—which focuses on meditation, movement, and mental health. You’ll experience a weekend of transformation, sowing into yourself—while growing with a community of individuals seeking to do the same.
February is Black History Month—a month to celebrate the achievements and contributions of African Americans in society. Inclusivity in wellness has been a topic for much discussion, especially as of late. We are taking this opportunity to continue to shine a light on the gap of inclusivity and diversity in our industry, and take action to promote, empower, and honor the Black community that shapes and grows wellness.
We celebrate the inspirational Black voices in the industry—and right here in our wellness community. “No matter how woke you think you are, we all have biases. So, it’s good to be aware of what our individual biases are, and what we can do about them,” says Sunil Rajasekar, President and CTO of Mindbody. “Driving change is hard, especially at a society-level. It’s going to take the best brains to solve this.”
In recent years, a wave of Black fitness entrepreneurs have stepped in to create a more inclusive landscape within the wellness industry. How can we all make sure we are all putting an effort in to make sure we promote diversity in this space? Well, for starters, we can support their businesses.
Whether you’re ready to try out a calorie-torching HIIT class or find your moment of Zen in a yoga class at the end of a long workday, odds are you’ll be able to find a Black-owned fitness studio that suits you.
We’ve put together a comprehensive list of Black-owned fitness studios that should be on your radar:
Align Brooklyn is a boutique wellness studio offering mindful practices including yoga, Pilates, barre, HIIT, chiropractic, and nutrition to increase your functional vitality. Align Brooklyn is owned by a chiropractor, who specializes in sports injury and performance—making them able to provide clients with the highest quality fitness and wellness science available.
Owned by celebrity trainer Kelvin Gary, this studio is focused on functional fitness—the kind that helps you live your life better, faster, stronger, and more efficiently. As functional trainers, they believe that every body is different and cultivate fun and dynamic workouts that emphasize teamwork and cooperation. Classes start at just $18.
By incorporating resistance training mixed with some cardio components, BURN has developed and designed a unique fitness concept unlike any other studio in the Dallas area. Their innovative approach promises to not only challenge your physical abilities but your mental capacity as well. Currently, online and in-person classes are available starting at just $20 for a drop-in.
Offering a unique mix of fat-blasting cycling classes, toning barre classes, and strengthening yoga sculpt classes, CYCLED! Studios located in Washington, DC and Maryland has something for everyone. They are currently offering socially distanced indoor classes (masks required), outdoor cycling rides in Takoma Park, and virtual classes all starting at $25 for a drop-in.
E.F.F.E.C.T. Fitness is a premier physical performing arts facility located in the heart of Atlanta. By balancing fitness and creativity, their techniques will inspire you to commit to your overall health and wellness goals. They offer numerous types of fitness classes including bootcamp, interval training, cycling, and personal training sessions. Classes start at $25 a pop.
If you’re looking to find your calm amongst all the chaos going on in the world, then consider HealHaus as your one-stop-shop for peace and serenity. Right now, they are offering virtual yoga classes in the styles of Vinyasa and Restorative for $10 per class.
At Harlem-based HIIT studio, JTW Fit, they know that if you are willing to put in the work, they can help you achieve your fitness goals. Their customized programs are designed to motivate and challenge you while expressing the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Are you ready to trust the process and put in the work? Good. Virtual classes start at $10 while outdoor classes are listed at $25 per session.
PIES Fitness and Yoga Studio is aware there is no one exercise program that is right for everyone, but they firmly believe there can be one fitness place that is right for “every body.” With a mix of different styles of yoga, Zumba, and belly dancing classes, their virtual schedule is jam-packed with fitness offerings that will keep you in-tune with mind, body, and soul. In-person and virtual classes start at $12.
When Teresa Ellis opened Pilates Barre and Jams, she was keen on creating a space that helped people become stronger in their bodies. Since 2008, her goal has been to make movement available and accessible to the people who have never felt comfortable walking into a status quo studio because of the fear they didn't fit the aesthetic. Her mission is to make sure her clients are always feeling good, feeling strong, and able to do functional movements pain-free. Virtual classes start at $97 for a 4-class pack.
Soho Yoga’s philosophy is that yogis of all levels should be able to experience everything that yoga has to offer. While their public heated and non-heated studio classes are currently on hold, they are currently offering a variety of classes indoors and outdoors (at the beach, specifically) that fit into any schedule. Outdoor and virtual classes start at $20.
Founded in 2016 by Shanel Anderson, Soul City Yoga is a unique community Yoga studio with locations in Lynn and Malden, MA. Whether you are just beginning your yoga journey or looking for a deeper connection, at Soul City they encourage practitioners of all levels to come flow with them in a safe practice space where diversity is celebrated and representation is valued. Drop-ins start at just $14—or if you're new, swoop up one of their 2-week intro offers.
Since 2008, Studio 34 has cultivated a community; it has offered affordable yoga classes, workshops, and art shows for those who seek healing, as well as space for wellness practitioners to provide various forms of therapy. This energetic space respects and honors all bodies–encouraging everyone to breathe and move in their healing-centric studio. Their online yoga and meditation classes are only $15.
The Fit In's mission is to make quality health and wellness accessible to underrepresented communities. They knew there was work to be done which why they set up shop in fitness deserts to provide quality fitness to underserved areas. At this studio, you can enjoy a bevy of interval training classes both indoors and outdoors. Classes start at just $25.
Whether you’re a total newbie to the fitness scene or simply just trying to take your workout routine to the next level, consider TrapFit in Raleigh your new home away from home. With a schedule full of bootcamp, boxing, circuit training, and dance classes, we’re certain you’ll find a class that suits your fitness needs. Classes start at just $20 per session.
At TRILLFIT, everyone belongs. They take pride in being Boston's original hip hop workout party and believe that fitness should be fun, inclusive, and set to the illest soundtrack. Ready to squad up and make it TRILL today? Classes start at $20—and they even have an intro offer available for new students!
Looking for more businesses to support? ClassPass has also created a list of Black-owned business to check out all year-round. While both of these lists are a great start to get you familiar with many of the Black-owned businesses either in your neighborhood or around the globe, we have only scratched the surface. We'd love to keep these lists growing. If you have any businesses you'd like to see on these lists, click here to submit a Black-owned business we should be highlighting as well!