Puyallup: News

Hot yoga studio gives back to community with donation-based classes

Amanda Looker, left, and Chelsy Looker-Carli stand for a portrait in the expanded Prana Hot Yoga and Body Sculpt in Puyallup. The recent expansion created a larger lobby and dedicated cycling room.
Amanda Looker, left, and Chelsy Looker-Carli stand for a portrait in the expanded Prana Hot Yoga and Body Sculpt in Puyallup. The recent expansion created a larger lobby and dedicated cycling room. jbessex@gateline.com

After finishing up a tough exercise class, it’s common for students at Prana Hot Yoga & Body Sculpt in Puyallup to spend some time in the front lobby chatting with their classmates.

For owners and sisters-in-law Chelsy Carli and and Amanda Looker, their studio feels like a community in itself.

“It’s very much a community here,” said Carli, who instructs some of Prana’s classes.

Now, Carli and Looker are taking their sense of community one step further by offering donation-based classes, where instructors work for free and students pay $5 to get in, rather than the usual $20 a class for non-members. The money collected from the classes funnels back into the community, where it will support local organizations or families in need.

“It’s a way for people to get into the studio and take classes at a much lower rate,” Carli said.

Recipients of the donations will change on occasion, but Carli said she is looking to support local food banks this month for the start of the holiday season.

“There are lots of opportunities to donate,” Carli said. “The donation goes full circle — from instructor to students to back into the community.”

The classes will be from 5 to 6 p.m. every Friday at the studio on 615 E Pioneer Suite #107.

The class will also be a chance to draw in some more students in high school and college who might be looking for healthy curricular activities, with discounts for those with a school ASB card at 30 percent off on class card purchases.

“We see lots of high school kids come in,” Carli said. “If they do (school) sports, (hot yoga) is a great compliment to that.”

But for students who don’t play sports and are looking for a way to de-stress, hot yoga could make for a good exercise, Carli added.

A Puyallup native, Carli grew up attending local schools in the area and started doing hot yoga ten years ago. When Looker married into the family and moved to Puyallup in 2008, the two women began going to hot yoga classes together.

“She was doing group exercises and she said, ‘Come join me,’” said Looker, who started attending hot yoga classes after having her second child. “It was a way to do something for myself again.”

They talked about opening a studio together, and in May 2014, they did — right in their own city.

“As a whole, it’s been a really rewarding experience,” Carli said.

As their business grew and the suites around them were open for the taking, the pair decided to expand.

“We had small lobby, and we outgrew it,” Carli said.

A year ago, they knocked out some walls and opened up their front lobby, doing most of the work themselves. Now, the same customers who take a moment after class to chat have more room to do so. As business owners, Looker says they work well together.

“(Carli) mostly deals with instructors and how classes are formatted,” she said. “I do the scheduling, update computers — anything to do with technology.”

Prana Hot Yoga and Body Sculpt offers classes on hot yoga, barre, cardio kickboxing, bicycling and more. New students will also get the chance to try out different classes for 15 consecutive days for $15 as part of an introductory special. For more information, visit pranapuyallup.com.

The estimated 4,000-square-foot space is complete with three studios: a cycling room, a “hot room” for hot yoga classes and a “cold room” for Barre and Body Strong classes. There’s also a childcare room, where kids can be looked after while parents are in a class.

For Looker and Carli, the donation classes are about giving back to the city they’ve lived in for years.

“The community is really important to me because this is where I was raised and this is where I’m raising my children,” Carli said. “It’s a way to give back.”

Allison Needles: 253-256-7043, @herald_allison