VITAL general manager Kaili Koo watches renovations for VITAL’s new yoga studio. Koo said she’s excited to have a space where climbing chalk isn’t involved. // Photo by Isabel Lay
By Isabel Lay
VITAL Climbing Gym is expanding and creating a yoga studio next door to its gym. The expansion will take place where Texture Clothing used to be, at 1425 N. State St.
Due to the increased demand for its yoga classes, which are currently only offered Monday through Friday at 7 a.m., the yoga program is expanding into an all-day practice which will be offered at no extra charge to members of the gym.
The project had been in the works for a year but VITAL was only able to buy the space after Texture Clothing recently moved out, said Kaili Koo, general manager at VITAL. The project started on April 2.
VITAL, which opened in 2013, wasn’t intended to have yoga when it was originally built and the practice is confined to a room at the back of the gym, getting little light and a lot of climbing chalk.
“I’m really excited to have a space that doesn’t have climbing chalk involved,” Koo said.
The project started with a suggestion from Textured Clothing, the store that VITAL took over to build their open studio space.
“It actually started with Teresa from Textured Clothing,” Koo said. “At the time it was, ‘We’ll move some of our clothing racks for yoga.’”
The future of the project is community-driven Koo said, adding that she wants to create an open studio that members can utilize in any way.
“I hope that it isn’t necessarily cornered to yoga, if Pilates is a thing that’s needed or a spin class,” Koo said. “I hope we can use this space for that.”
VITAL announced the class last week and, as members have learned about the expansion, the reaction has been mostly positive, employee Chris Charles said.
“Now that word is getting around and now that we put official announcement pictures up, people are stoked,” Charles said.
VITAL’s expansion was inspired by their sister gym in Oceanside, California, which has an extensive yoga practice. The Oceanside location has a separate yoga room that acted as a catalyst for VITAL’s yoga studio.
“Just based off what we know about the Oceanside gym, they have a ton of members who are just there for yoga,” Charles said.
Celina Meza, the program director at VITAL, is excited to offer more to dedicated members who continuously show up for yoga classes.
“I just think it’ll be a really great community space where climbers can round out their climbing practice with strength training and injury prevention,” Meza said.
She added that VITAL provides a unique atmosphere for a yoga practice, saying most yoga studios in Bellingham don’t encourage talking and making connections with community members, but VITAL Yoga will.
“We’re stoked to see what the space draws in,” Meza said.
As for attracting new members, both Meza and Koo said they hope the space will draw people who aren’t climbers and are just there to practice yoga.
“Since it is going to be a stand-alone space, we’re really predicting that people will come just for the yoga,” Meza said. “It’s going to be a space that is accessible to not just climbers.”
The space will be open in the beginning of May, Koo said.