Another business will soon open on the 100 block of Gay Street. Barre Belle Yoga and Fitness will assume the spot vacated most recently by Lululemon at 129 S. Gay. Originally hoping to open at the beginning of July, the studio will open any time now – as soon as the HVAC system is installed and operational. It’s not a small detail: Hot yoga classes are among the offerings.
The business is owned by Jessica Cumbee and managed by Carrie Bull, who will also teach some of the classes. Jessica is from Charleston, SC, but moved to Knoxville six years ago to attend the UT School of Law. After graduating, she began work for Miller Energy Resources as an associate general council. She and her husband opened Armada in the Old City last January.
Always active – she ran track in college – physical issues limited her exercise choices and she began Barre Yoga. The idea of opening her own studio came with the realization of how difficult it is to find classes available outside a long work day. She often works until 6:00 PM and had trouble finding classes starting later than that.
Carrie is originally from Knoxville, but lived in Atlanta before returning and graduating from Bearden. She attended UT before going to work for Starbucks, thinking she might want want a career in retail management. Always having been active, as well, she began practicing yoga in 2005, but began focusing on Buti Yoga about three years ago and that’s what she’ll teach. She also noted that “it’s important to have supportive relationships with other businesses and studios.” She doesn’t feel studios compete as much as complement each other.
Once Jessica hit on the idea of having a studio, she never really considered other locations outside downtown. She noticed that the closest Barre studio is in Bearden and felt that downtown residents and workers, as well as UT students might support a closer location. So, she posted an ad for instructors and Carrie stood out with her combination of yoga and management experience. Already certified by the Yoga Alliance as a Registered Yoga Teacher, she was perfect. She had only been looking for a part-time teaching job, but when the management/teaching position was offered, she jumped at the chance.
The time since then has been a whirlwind. Having only met in May, the studio is on the verge of opening. Fourteen instructors have been enlisted and, in addition to Barre, they’ll offer Bikram, Candlelight, Yin and Hot Yoga. They’ll also have something they are calling BB Box, which is a mixture of kickboxing, pilate training and circuit training. They hope to start with about five classes a day and have the day packed with the first classes at 6:00 AM and the final class starting at 7:30, so they should be able to fit any schedule.
In addition to classes, the studio will also feature a shop with yoga apparel and related items by companies such as Alo, Onzie, Shakti, Chill by Will, Hydro Flask and Affirmats. It’s a high-end collection of everything yoga. Of course, patrons may bring their own gear or may use the mats, weights and other items provided in the studio.
They hope the studio becomes a point of connection for like-minded people. Jessica said she hopes to, “foster a fitness lifestyle inside and outside the studio. In an effort to spread the love, Karma Classes will donate to Artistic Spectrum, a local group dedicated to providing creative and recreational activities for people with autism spectrum disorders. Jessica and Carrie would love to have a class specifically for people with autism. One of the teachers who will offer classes at the studio has a degree in recreational therapy with a focus on autism.
The new hoped-for opening date is the beginning of August. In the mean time, they are working on a website, which is under construction, but is well along in the process. Of course, you can find them on Facebook where you’ll see nearly 300 people have “liked” them, so far. It would make them feel welcome to blow past 500 in the next couple of days. Isn’t that possible? You can also find them on Instagram and Mindbody.com. Additionally, they will have an app for both iphones and Android.
They hope to have an open house very soon so you can meet them in person and they have an artist lined up for their first First Friday event which (hopefully – they already have an artist lined up) will be in August. Drop by, let them know you read about it here and are excited to have them on the 100 block.