Inspired by man's best friend, yogi opens Down Dog Hot Yoga on Sherman Avenue
Ciara McCarthy, Reporter
September 26, 2012 •
A studio full of hot, sweaty yogis and a beagle-black lab mutt generally do not have much in common.
Nevertheless, newly opened Down Dog Hot Yoga, 1508 Sherman Ave., is a yoga studio largely inspired by the owner’s love for his dogs. It opened Aug. 25.
Neil Rosenbloom, owner and founder of Down Dog, named the studio after the famous beginner yoga pose. Rosenbloom said he and his business partners Steve and Ruth Ott all share a passion for man’s best friend. Once the studio begins to turn a profit, they plan to donate 10 percent of earnings to animal shelters, Rosenbloom said.
All of Rosenbloom’s dogs have been rescues, including one that he found sitting on the median of Lakeshore Drive. Although Rosenbloom said he had been thinking about starting a yoga studio for nearly five years, it was the death of Tyrone, his beagle-black lab, mix that motivated him to make his dream a reality.
“I wanted to do something in his memory and for all other animals,” Rosenbloom said.
Rosenbloom began practicing yoga more than a decade ago. He said he loved both the physical workout of hot yoga and the way it made him feel. Although Rosenbloom has previously worked in construction and still owns a construction company, he ultimately chose to add the yoga business to his repertoire.
He said he wanted to create a studio for Vinyasa — a more dynamic style of hot yoga — that he said was lacking in Evanston. Although Down Dog isn’t the only hot yoga studio in Evanston, Rosenbloom said he thinks that Down Dog’s style fills a unique role.
“There really aren’t too many other places for Vinyasa flow in a warm setting,” said Natasha Jones, a Down Dog instructor.
Down Dog also brands itself as a student-friendly experience.
“One of the basic premises of this studio is to build it around the students,” Rosenbloom said. He added that he encourages student feedback about class times, workout intensity and other factors to make the studio one that revolves around its students.
Lizzie Leopold, a theater and drama graduate student at Northwestern, said she appreciates Down Dog for the same reason.
“I really like the atmosphere,” she said. “It feels very neighborhood-y. They know my name when I walk in. It’s small and friendly.”
Although the atmosphere is friendly, the workout is still rigorous. Down Dog's style Vinyasa flow is also a type of power yoga. The studio is heated to 95 degrees with 40 percent humidity. Rosenbloom describes Vinyasa as a hot yoga that incorporates the meditative benefits of yoga with a more intense workout.
“It’s not yoga for your grandmother,” he explained.
In its first month, Rosenbloom said he has been very pleased with business, although class attendance has been limited. To attract new students, Down Dog offers the first week of classes free and a 10 percent discount to NU students, who comprise a significant portion of Down Dog's clientele.
Jones said that yoga can provide a balance that is sometimes missing in a student’s life.
“This is a nice little oasis away from all of the craziness of being a student and having to worry about exams and finals and papers and all the rest of it,” she said.