SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. – In the space of about five weeks earlier this year, Melissa Colarusso went from starting a job as a yoga instructor at the Breathe Fitness Studio to being the owner. The change in her professional life was sudden but not unwelcome.
“This is what I love. This is what I wanted. It’s mine,” Colarusso said recently, sitting inside the studio after the students in a morning circuit-training class had departed.
Colarusso took over on March 1, but is having a grand opening/open house event on Saturday, May 19.
“We’re going to have classes running throughout the day,” she said. “People can watch them, they can take them – whatever they want to do – at no charge to them.”
Colarusso has a master’s degree in exercise science. She spent four years working as a yoga instructor at a gym in Moosic, but the long hours prompted her to resign her position and take a break from the fitness industry. For nearly two years, she worked the front counter for a spa and salon.
Colarusso’s husband Joey owns Colarusso’s Café in Clarks Summit. In January, one of the restaurant’s employees called Melissa and said they were looking for instructors at the Breathe Fitness Studio, just down the street from the eatery.
“I picked up a few classes, just for something to do,” she recalled.
By the middle of February, the studio’s owner wanted to know if Melissa Colarusso was interested in buying the place. His lease was up at the end of March.
Colarusso quickly decided to acquire the business. She also signed a two-year lease for the space at 919 Northern Blvd., which is sandwiched by a Monro Muffler Brake store and Nina’s Pizzeria. She and her spouse repainted the interior walls in soothing bluish colors, covering surfaces that previously had been orange or yellow.
“I’m committed to this,” Colarusso, 35, said. “I took my first yoga class my senior year in college. And this has been my dream literally since then.”
The outgoing owner had warned the newcomer that the business was losing between $800 and $1,000 a month. The losses were closer to $2,000, according to Colarusso. Determined to turn the red numbers into black on the studio’s ledger, or at least to make the sales closer to the expenses, the new owner devoted hours to social media. Colarusso carefully considered her messaging on the studio’s Facebook page and was surprised by the results.
“We were in the positive in one month,” Colarusso said, surprised by how many new customers she signed to memberships.
One way the new owner is trying to increase the customer base is by educating people about yoga. Inside 919 Northern Blvd., yoga is not a bunch of people sitting on a floor doing stretches and breathing exercises.
“In my classes, you’ll be sweating by the end of it,” Colarusso said. “It’s also a mental thing. I do a little meditation at the end. But the class itself is a physical class.”
Yoga is one of several classes offered in the studio, where Colarusso and seven employees serve as instructors. There are group-fitness classes and sessions involving “pound,” during which participants use drumsticks, along with weight and strength-training classes, “hit,” or high-intensity interval training, and personal training.
Breathe Fitness Studio is not a gym. People do not enter and work out on their own. Customers are members of classes, workshops or are there to receive one-on-one training.
Yearly memberships are $49 a month, which entitle users to attend all classes. “They could come three times a day if they wanted,” Colarusso said. On many days, the first class begins at 6 a.m. The final evening classes start at 7 p.m. Colarusso sometimes teaches both of them. The studio is open every day.
“The days, they’re flying by,” Colarusso said. “There’s so much to do. I finish one list and there’s a new list all ready for me.”
Once Colarusso finalizes the studio’s operating procedures, the marketing plan and the class scheduling, she said she will consider adding a second location. She believes the Breathe Studio Fitness concept could easily work at another spot in the area.
Nearly all the studio’s patrons are women, and most are between the ages of 25 and 70, according to Colarusso. She hopes to attract members of the opposite gender to her facility.
“I’d like to do a yoga workshop for golfers at some point,” Colarusso said. “They bring a golf club with them and they use it during class. I’m a big golfer, too, and I think yoga and golf go hand-in-hand perfectly, more than any other sport.”
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