Jen Coluzzi never expected to open her own yoga studio eleven years ago. She is now the proud owner of Diamond Hot Yoga—a studio that offers Bikram style hot yoga classes on the corner of 10th and Diamond streets.
“I found this yoga by accident,” Coluzzi said. “A friend of a friend was a yoga teacher so I wanted to go to a class with somebody I knew. I walked into this hot, hot room having no idea what I was walking into. It was so long ago I don’t really remember why I came back, but I just kept going and going and going.”
The hot, hot room that Coluzzi refers to is a yoga studio with a room temperature of 105 degrees. This is the ideal environment for Bikram styled hot yoga to take place, Coluzzi said. This style of yoga consists of 26 hatha yoga poses, which were developed by Indian yogi, Bikram Choudhury in the late 20th century.
Coluzzi said that hatha yoga is the style that one would most likely practice in a beginner class.
“I became a yoga instructor three years ago,” Coluzzi said. “I had been wanting to before that, but the Bikram training for the yoga is nine weeks, and it’s expensive. I finally did it in San Diego and I put it all on my credit card because I finally decided that it was time to do it.”
Coluzzi has been teaching and managing yoga studios in the Philadelphia and southern New Jersey area ever since she completed her Bikram certification. In May, she opened Diamond Hot Yoga in the surrounding area of Temple, believing that it would attract its student population.
During the summer, however, Coluzzi had a rough start.
“I started at the beginning of the summer on a college campus when no one was here, and nobody knew that I was here,” Coluzzi said. “I’ve been relying a lot on the word of mouth, and handing flyers to people. I did run a Groupon because they do have a big mailing list, but it’s better now that students are back.”
Coluzzi’s promotions were able to reach fifth year music theory major Ello Schertzer, who happened to pick up a flyer one day on campus.
“I first went to yoga in high school when my sister on the West Coast was visiting us,” Schertzer said. “She brought me and my other sister to a Bikram class and I had no idea what it was.”
Schertzer went to yoga classes consistently for a year, but then stopped in college.
“I didn’t really do it anymore because I was living in North Philly and kind of poor,” Schertzer said. “I saw flyers for this studio about a month or two ago so I decided to start it up again.”
Schertzer said that Diamond Hot Yoga provides a much more personal and meditative experience compared to other yoga classes she has taken in Philadelphia.
“I’ve been to a yoga class in Center City on the main line and it was very large—so you would have to get there ten minutes before hand,” Schertzer said. “The instructors are great but they don’t give everyone the personal attention that they need, and they can’t fix their postures or anything like that because the class is so big.”
Schertzer also said that Bikram styled hot yoga is a great stress reliever, especially because she is a college student.
“It helps me to practice being in the moment by not letting my mind wander so I can focus more on concentration—this helps if I am stressed or busy with school work,” Schertzer said. “Bikram has also helped me to respect my body more because when you’re doing yoga, you do all these postures and become more flexible. Then you’re like ‘Wow, I can really do this and it’s really cool.’”
Shaneena Carter, a 28-year-old Philadelphia native from West Oak Lane, shares the same view as Schertzer. She is a social worker and regularly attends yoga class on Wednesday.
“The Bikram yoga definitely helps me relieve stress,” Carter said. “I’m a social worker so for me this yoga class is definitely a time for me to focus on myself and get the exercise components that I would maybe get during a 40 minute workout.”
Carter said that Bikram yoga helped her when she had an injury from running. Since she started going to classes, she was eventually able to run the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon this past May in California.
“Before my marathon, I thought that I wasn’t going to be able to run it because I didn’t know that this type of yoga would help a lot with injuries,” Carter said. “After taking some classes, my injury was healed in about a month and I was able to run my marathon. I think that Jen is an awesome instructor. She tries to make it personal and I love it.”
Though Coluzzi realizes her yoga studio is distinct, she acknowledges that she has competition with Temple’s Independence Blue Cross Recreation Center since the facility offers free yoga classes to students.
“What do I have that’s better than free—I have student rates that’s great I have a hot room that’s great, but I really give everyone one on one attention,” Coluzzi said. “It’s not like you’re just coming in scanning a card and no one talks to you. All of my students introduce themselves to everyone here on their own—so if anyone wants to stay after class and talk to each other they can do it because we’re community here.”
Coluzzi said this is the first time that she feels like she has a job where she is really helping people.
“It’s really important to make this a safe space for people,” Coluzzi said. “You can come in no matter what your state of mind is. If you want to cry through your whole class if something is going on and you need to be there, were sweating and no one will know that you’re crying. It’s great that you can make this part of your life and there’s a huge, huge benefit from it.”