By Rachael Thatcher Newport Daily News, R.I.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Sisters Brooke and Audrey Finocchiaro along with Lexi Geschke first launched their Yoga business with various "pop-ups" across Newport. Now the trio has a permanent spot to call home where they hope to sculpt the bodies and minds of those who pass through their doors.
Sculpt, Power Vinyasa and Mindful Movement. These are the three classes offered at the new Mend studio, located at 4 Equality Park, above Firehouse Theater.
Sisters Brooke and Audrey Finocchiaro along with Lexi Geschke, opened Mend to fill the gaps they saw in the yoga world, catering to a wider audience and creating a new kind of environment.
"We took the traditional yoga studio model and slimmed it down," Audrey said.
Mend's signature class, Sculpt, was created by Brooke -- the most practiced yogi of the group.
It's not your average yoga class. Instead, it's a 60-minute heated class with loud, upbeat music, a fast pace, weights and flow.
They also offer Power Vinyasa, which is more aligned with a traditional yoga class, and mindful movement, which is "gentle yoga poses in the beginning, and then that's followed by 10 minutes silent meditation and savasana," Brooke said.
While the Mend studio opened in Newport this weekend, Rhode Islanders have been "sculpting" since the spring through pop ups in various spaces.
Geschke and the Finnochiaros came up with the idea of Mend in March and quickly hopped on Instagram to get the handle (@mend_yoga) secured.
They used it to do a call out on social media to host their first pop-up sculpt class, which was held at PVDonuts in Providence, selling out in 24 hours.
They continued having pop-ups, including in Equality Park, across from their now-home and The Nitro Bar, which Audrey is also co-founder of.
Brooke recently finished her 200-hour yoga teacher training at Thames Street Yoga, which was most recently located where Mend now is. Patti Doyle, the studio director, saw what she was doing with Mend and approached her about the space opening up when they decided to merge studios with Middletown's Inner Light.
"It was a no-brainer," Brooke said.
When Thames Street Yoga moved out, Mend did a two week build-out and opened on Thursday, Nov. 7.
Over the course of opening weekend, more than 300 people came through the door.
"It beat all of our expectations. It was amazing. It was packed," Audrey said. "Everyone left blissed out, with that euphoric feeling. Everyone was signing up for memberships, booking another class and bringing friends."
So what is it that the founders say makes Mend different from other studios?
"We were looking for a place with a clean, bright atmosphere and challenging workout, and realized that there was a gap in the market and decided that as a marketer, an entrepreneur and a yoga teacher, we were the best people to bring it to the community," said Geschke, who most recently worked as the director of marketing and eCommerce at Brahmin.
One of those gaps they sought to fill was consistency.
"Our teachers are trained to give a similar sequence each class. That's one thing I found in other studios is you'd only want to book with certain teachers. With us, you get the same experience every time you come," Audrey said. "It's so hard to get yourself up and going to exercise in general, the worst thing is to show up and you don't sweat as much as you wanted, or you know the music wasn't great, or something wasn't right and then you're just more annoyed and discouraged for the next time you go to workout."
The minimalist aesthetic and cleanliness were other key points, as was the emphasis on self-care.
There is constant diffusion of essential oils in each class, and the heated classes, Vinyasa and Sculpt, feature cold, lavender towels as the class wraps up.
When asked who Mend is targeted to, the response was "Everyone," but especially, "People that are either struggling with mental health or self care, this is a good place for them just to find an awesome release," Audrey said.She went on to explain the focus is much more about feeling good and taking care of your well-being than working out to look a certain way.
In addition, they set out to make Mend classes inclusive. Where they found some workout classes have language that might make people uncomfortable, or out of place, they use simple, gender-neutral language in teaching, Geschke said. So you won't hear anyone yelling "Tone that booty, ladies!" at Mend.
"We don't really consider ourselves just fitness or just yoga, we consider ourselves the full package of self care. Commit to coming here for an hour and we'll take care of you. We'll give you that amazing workout you spent time on and worked hard to pay money for, and you'll leave with the lavender essential oil smell on you feeling like a million dollars," Geschke said.
Moving forward, they plan to continue taking feedback from the Mend community as far as the classes and schedule, adding more trained teachers and eventually opening additional locations.
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