New Love City is opening up as a yoga studio with a Soul Cycle personality—lots of energy, loud music, electric feeling—as well as a co-working office space opening on July 26th, in Greenpoint, at 68 Greenpoint Avenue, 4th floor.
YogaCity NYC‘s Megan Mook sat down with founder Jen Jones to talk about finding dynamic yoga teachers for her new studio, why loud is good, and New Love City’s creative solutions to running a studio that won’t ever turn into the "same old thing."
MM: Let’s start with the yoga side of New Love City. You’ve described it as the "SoulCycle of yoga." Tell us more.
JJ: Honestly, I’ve gone back and forth about the SoulCycle concept of really loud music coupled with energetic, inspired teaching. What I haven’t found in NYC is a yoga studio where all the teachers—without exception—bring a high level of exuberance to their classes. That will be the focus of New Love City. I don’t expect all the teachers to teach to loud music like I do, but music will certainly be an integral part.
MM: Why do you think exuberance is lacking here in New York?
JJ: It has a lot to do with how studios treat their teachers. Teachers are burned out. They’re running around teaching 20+ classes a week just to pay rent. They don’t have time to plan out their classes, so the classes often lack creativity and thought. And because the teachers are teaching so much, their energy is low. It’s not inspiring.
Also, it’s easy to get a yoga teaching certification, and it’s so easy to pick up classes, especially subbing. Consequently, there’s a lot of teachers out there who don’t have “it.” There’s definitely an “it.” Some people are natural teachers, and some people just seem annoyed that you’re there taking class. There will aways be teachers who you connect with, and those that you don’t. The teachers I end up connecting with are teachers who have big personalities. They’re extremely personable.
MM: Tell us more about what’s important to you in the yoga teacher/student relationship, and how that will play out at New Love City.
JJ: As a student, I want to get a feel for the teacher’s personality. Originally, there was a guru who to help you with your practice. And maybe that’s a bit lofty for the average New Yorker, but I feel like there’s something special that happens when you actually know the teacher. I don’t need to know who they’re dating, but I want to feel held by the teacher, and that they really care about me as a student. We all have different chemistries with different teachers, but I’ve never felt “held” by a teacher who came across as detached. The teachers at New Love City have “it.” They’re energetic and personable.
MM: How does loud music factor into it for you?
JJ: For me, it’s less about loud music specifically (although I personally like it loud), and more about the strategic use of music to create an experience that enhances the flow of the yoga practice. Fun, exhilarating music during the warm up, steady beats when you’re holding poses, and a slower tempo as the class closes.
In a typical NYC class, everyone’s brain is so cluttered. I think of music as a prop people can push against and use to anchor their mind. It’s a way for haggard New Yorkers to experience—in a fun, energetic, and accessible way—that moving their bodies can be an effective tool to ease their stresses.
MM: Traditionally yoga asana was practiced in silence, to foster both heightened concentration and incredibly subtle states of awareness. I can see how loud music might make it easier for some people to block out internal chatter. But how do you think it affects people’s abilitie to be aware and in touch with their bodies and minds?
JJ:You know when you have an incredible practice, where you’re totally present, alternately crying and feeling incredibly joyous? I’ve never once had that without music involved. I'm so used to the constant input and chatter that having something like music as a thread is necessary for me. Also, many people just want to have fun.
I do think there’s a difference between people who want to work out and those who want to take a serious yoga class, and I don’t think those who want to work out should be excluded just because they don’t want to take a serious class yet. Maybe they’ll eventually chose to progress into a more traditional practice model. At New Love City, all the teachings and foundations will be there, they just won’t be on the surface. If we can entice people to start on this path, then, to me, that’s worthy.
MM: How does yoga and a co-working space fit together?
JJ: I was looking for a lucrative way to use the space during the daytime, when classes are usually small. Mostly I wanted a business model that would support paying teachers more, so they could teach less and thus better, and the co-working space seemed like a perfect fit, especially in this neighborhood. Additionally, when I was working in a co-working space, I craved a space that was more "yoga-like," with good light, and an integrative sense of wellness. New Love City will be that.
Thinking of yoga as a path that yokes the mind and the body, it’s interesting to me to have the brain and body playing together in the same space. And if you are co-working at New Love City, then you have free yoga for a month. I’m eager to see how people change as they fuse work and life together. It’s the next step after a standing desk—it’s straight up yoga at work!
MM: To me, New Love City has the ring of a revolution. Where did the name come from?
JJ:The name came from a graffiti group called the New York Romantics. They make graffiti of all of these hearts overlapping. One of their tags is #NewLoveCity.
The idea is interesting to me because there are so many different ways to work with the name. For example, a way to love yourself within the concept of the City, which is why, for me, louder music fits with the concept behind the name. The name is also important in that it’s not super dogmatic. There’s no sanskrit; it’s accessible, interesting, and exciting without it being too overly pushy in a yoga sort of way.