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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.
Things are weird. Times are changing. It seems like just when we’re starting to get a grip, there’s another surprise. When it comes to beauty, we've had to adapt on our own due to salon closures, keep an eye on preparations and protocol changes during those closures, try to know what we’re doing before booking an appointment once they reopened, and maybe even brave the journey back to the salon. Whether you live in a place where salons are open, you’ve experienced a second shutdown, or you straight up haven’t had a haircut since March, we can all probably agree that we’re expecting some differences in the salon and spa world thanks to COVID.
We wanted to gauge how everyone is thinking and feeling about all this, so we put out a poll on our Instagram, asking you all what you expect from beauty salons right now.
Here’s what you had to say...
53% of you have returned to the hair salon by now, while 47% of you have not. This makes sense, because every area of the country is different when it comes to cases, closures, and mandates, and every person is different when it comes to risk and safety.
While many hair salons have begun operating outdoors due to government regulations, 58% of you said you’re fine with getting your haircut indoors, while the other 42% are more comfortable keeping it outside.
58% of you said you’d rather go to your hair salon than have your stylist come to you. I get it, home is a safe space, probably shouldn’t let any outsiders in.
69% of you said you’re “totally!” going to tip more for services once you start receiving them again. During this time without our stylists and aestheticians, I think we all realized how much we need them and appreciate them, and many of us are willing to show them a little extra gratitude to make up for the time we spent apart.
But, most of you aren’t. 56% of you said you have not cut or colored your own or a friend’s hair, because it was too risky, while the other 44% just “had to!”
Only 29% of you have returned to nail salons, while the rest are sticking to at-home manicures. Maybe we’re all just getting really good at it? But probably, it’s because a lot of them are still closed down, or because it’s a little more difficult to get a pedicure outdoors (we need our massage chairs!).
Our last poll question asked about what differences you’ve all noticed when heading back to the salon, and you all had a lot to say...
It’s a beautiful thing to see how the salon and spa community has come together, taken precautions, and adjustments, all so they can continue to help us look and feel our best. If you haven’t spoken to your stylist lately (or even if you have), don’t forget to shoot them a thank you and let them know you appreciate them.