VERO BEACH – With 14 percent unemployment and a surrounding city population declining by seven percent, one might want to take a deep breath before starting a business in Vero Beach.
That’s just what Shelley Adelle did before opening Yoga Pagoda. Barely a month later, she’s already looking relaxed.
Despite dire conditions and dismal forecasts, the new studio in the Modern One complex is turning out to be a sunny development within the local business community.
An enthusiastic entrepreneur with a solid game plan, she is filling a niche market in Vero Beach’s economy and seeing steady growth.
Yoga Pagoda offers 22 classes a week. It opened in February in an increasingly energetic area: the junction of Miracle Mile and Indian River Boulevard.
Adelle, 32, is a farm girl from Texas who managed a yoga studio for almost 10 years in the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York City.
“There should be a yoga studio in Miracle Mile,” said Adelle. “It’s the heartbeat of Vero.”
Adelle did her homework, thoroughly researching the market and actively seeking input from area business people and yoga students.
She had commitment and support from a solid group of mentors.
“I call them the goddesses,” says Adelle. They include local businesswomen Janie Hoover of Comcast Spotlight and Kris Gault of Treasure and Space Coast Radio, both yoga practitioners, as well as other “founders” listed on the studio’s website.
With that help, she says, she is operating in the black and seeing growth.
Twenty people showed up for Adelle’s first class at 6 a.m. on opening day.
That was Feb. 28. Since then she estimates her student roster counts 1,000 residents and visitors; that is the number of signed waivers of liability and releases Yoga Pagoda has on file.
When the studio finally gets a sign on Indian River Boulevard, Adelle is optimistic business will get even better.
“Yoga is mainstream now,” she said.
“Their muscles are tight,” Gault said of the runners and cyclists who attend the yoga classes.
Gault has been practicing yoga since 2000, when her chiropractor recommended back surgery. She attributes her well-being to yoga, both for its physical exercise value, and as a way of releasing stress and raising consciousness.
“I have male friends – big guys – who do yoga so they can stretch their muscles to lift more weights and get even bigger,” Gault said, offering an example of yoga’s expanding demographic.
And, said Adelle, there are more and more elderly people practicing yoga as baby boomers transition into the senior sector.
Her hot vinyasa class, which consists of a series of yoga poses performed in rapid succession, similar to dance exercises, warm the muscles and lubricate the joints in part because the studio temperature is set at 80 degrees.
“I had clients that were going to Melbourne for hot yoga classes,” said Adelle. “I needed to hook into the needs of this community.”
Adelle sees a yoga studio as a place for people in the community who share a common interest to interact.
She will continue to hold events such as Modern Monday, a women’s networking affair, in partnership with Vickie Grabe of Elite Physiques, a personal training service and an upstairs neighbor of Yoga Pagoda.
In the first of these events, women received a training session, followed by a yoga session.
Afterward, they enjoyed wine and tapas at Cork, also located in the Modern One building.
Though she offers other programs, the most cherished are her “karma classes,” which are offered three times a week on a donation basis.
The “karma classes” are provided free of charge as a service to the community.
“Karma” refers to the law of reciprocation, in which good will is generated by giving freely without fear of compensation.
The money donated by class participants is distributed by Yoga Pagoda to charitable organizations in the community.
This year’s recipients are Habitat for Humanity of Indian River County, The Humane Society of Vero Beach, TLC Newborn and Hibiscus Children’s Center.