February 2017: Small Business Startup

STEPHEN SWOFFORD / NNY Business
Erika Turck, owner of Vigilante Yoga, demonstrates an aerial yoga technique in her new studio in the Lincoln building on Public Square.

Vigilante Yoga

WHERE: The Lincoln Building, 99 Public Square, Watertown    
OPENED: 2016         WEB: www.vigilanteyoga.com

THE INITIAL IDEA Connecting the mind, body and human spirit is an integral part of young entrepreneur Erica Turck’s daily life. Through this connection with herself she began envisioning how she could influence others in her community to find that connection with oneself. This goal and path in life led to her studying over 700 hours in the practice of yoga.

                “Yoga is about a connection with yourself,” Ms. Turck said. “I began by learning circuit training in Orlando, Florida, and loved it, that mind-body connection, but I felt like something was missing.”

                Soon after, she went to her first yoga class and by the end of the first class she knew that yoga was her path.

                “It was like a spark, and I decided that I was going to start a yoga health and wellness center,” she said. 

                After living in Florida for two years, Ms. Turck returned home to Watertown and after a short period of time traveled to Bali to complete 200 hours of training required to become a yoga instructor. From there she realized her vision was a possibility and began looking into studio spaces in Watertown, but found herself back on the path of learning.

                “I took time to refocus and began training again,” Ms. Turck said. “I traveled to Cambodia for another 500 hours of training. It all worked out perfect, me finishing that training, I felt more well-rounded and especially with my meditation practice.”

                While she had not found the perfect location during her initial search before traveling abroad, upon her return to Watertown, she soon located a space that she says ‘felt right’ and has opened her own studio, Vigilante Yoga, in the Lincoln Building in downtown Watertown.

                “When I saw the Lincoln Building it had character, the tin ceilings up front and the big windows in the back room. All the minor details, it was exactly what I had envisioned for a studio,” she said.

                From floor to ceiling, Ms. Turck worked with Purcell Consturction to choose exactly what she envisioned; they brought in bamboo flooring in the yoga studio as well as high support beams to sustain the weight of the aerial yoga practice, and maintained the tin ceilings in the juice bar that is currently under development in the front of business space.

                “I wanted to create a space where people feel safe, relaxed and don’t want to leave,” Ms. Turck said. And from the support she has received from her clients and the downtown community, she has done just that. 

TARGET CLIENTELE For Ms. Turck it’s about educating area residents about the mind, body and spiritual connection that can be found within oneself.

                “I am trying to offer classes that open yoga to everyone. From adult to kids classes, gentle classes for older residents or people with injuries. We have the more active body bar classes for people who like more aerobic dance style classes, but still want a mind-body connection,” she said.

                Maintaining focus on the original practice of yoga, Ms. Turck is focused on allowing her clientele to find the perfect fit for their wellness needs. Specifically, a new style of yoga that she offers is aerial yoga.

                “Our aerial classes have really opened up people of all ages. Really, just proving that yoga really is for everyone and not just reserved for a certain group or demographic of people,” she said.

                She was hesitant at first to introduce the north country to the aerial style of yoga as she didn’t want to turn the practice into what she called a ‘circus act.’ But quickly, as she opened her doors to the public it was clear that the style of yoga maintained the philosophy and traditions she had learned abroad.

                “Aerial yoga added a light-hearted aspect to it and you see it with people. It really brightens their day and you experience postures you can’t on a mat because they are much more challenging. You’re upside down for the class. People who have a certain idea of yoga already in their mind are coming in to try the aerial because they’re excited, so it’s opening up so many more people to yoga because then they start coming to the traditional mat classes and they want to get deeper and understand yoga more,” Ms. Turck said.

IN FIVE YEARS Vigilante Yoga already is seeing high numbers of interested clientele. In fact, she has hired three other instructors and, when the juice bar opens later this year, she has already hired two more people to maintain that element of the business.

                “It (aerial yoga) really helped me get the business off the ground. If I hadn’t had aerial yoga we wouldn’t be where we are now. It has been the best decision I could have made,” she said.

In five years Ms. Turck wants to expand into a full wellness and fitness center, where people can connect with their health through meditations, exercise and healthy food options.

                “In five years, with the juice bar opening, I hope to have a greenhouse established so I can supply the juice bar. I want to be self-sustaining there. And I’m looking to expanding to a rowing room and I would like a small personal one-on-one area to work individually with clients,” Ms. Turck said.

~Holly C. Boname