Kirk Slobody and Janine Tiede revolutionized yoga in Seattle, Wash., and now they’re poised to do likewise in Palm Beach County.
With the opening this week of SloBody — an intimate, well-lit studio in which the couple will offer its patented and trademarked SloBody “conditioning-infused” yoga — downtown Delray Beach will welcome its latest addition to an ever-growing roster of unique options for the health- and fitness-minded.
The couple, both 43, met and became college sweethearts while scholarship athletes at George Washington University (he as a swimmer; she as a gymnast).
“We’ve both been athletic and interested in various forms of training for our entire lives,” explains Slobody, who grew up in Boca Raton.
After graduating with degrees in sociology and psychology, respectively, Slobody and Tiede each followed their passions: “Janine moved to New York City because she was, as we jokingly say, ‘cursed by a love for dance,’” Slobody recalls. “I moved to Southern California, where I worked behind the scenes in movie and TV production, and became nationally certified in a variety of personal-training methods (as had Janine) — including yoga.”
Throughout the 1990s, each taught, coached and/or personally trained a wide array of clients.
“We both learned what worked and, more importantly, what needs weren’t being met for the general public,” explains Tiede.
The most glaring deficiency, they felt, was in the traditional practice of yoga — a pursuit they both dearly enjoyed.
“So, after moving together to Seattle, Wash. in 1998,” says Slobody, “we created our own style.”
Yoga for everyone
The first things Slobody did: eliminate the vibe of a traditional yoga master, and make the atmosphere welcoming and non-intimidating to people of all ability levels — including middle-aged and senior citizens who had never taken a yoga class in their lives.
“Any kind of chanting … meditating … incense … philosophic dogma — those things didn’t jive with my personality. They were distractions,” Slobody says.
Instead, the couple’s clients concentrate on breath awareness and maintaining the proper form throughout every yoga pose they strike.
(The maintenance of pose integrity turns the first three letters of the SloBody method into an acronym standing for “strengthen”, “lengthen” and “open.”)
The regimen is then seamlessly melded into what Slobody calls “a more athletic conditioning structure,” replete with sets, repetitions and a natural progression from one pose or movement to the next.
Another vital aspect to Slobody and Tiede’s approach: It’s all wholly adaptable to the specific client’s physical abilities, limitations, injuries and goals. “Every pose and movement can be modified,” Tiede explains.
Then there’s the personal attention.
Before taking a class, all new clients are briefly yet thoroughly interviewed so the couple know exactly what each person is trying to accomplish with his or her training: “One client might want to improve his golf game while another just wants to be able to lift up her granddaughter,” Slobody says.
The couple says they’ve been able to accommodate everyone from highly competitive recreational athletes to stroke victims and joint-replacement recipients.
Seattle resident Allen Kollar, a retired high school teacher who was 70 and a hip-transplant recipient when he took his first SloBody class, describes Slobody as “constantly moving around the room adjusting people here and there — but in a humorous and encouraging way. He remembers everybody’s name after their first visit and is an A-plus teacher.”
In addition to the studio classes, clients can also benefit from the online component of SloBody (slobody.com), which helps them maintain their training if they can’t make it to a class. The SloBody method has also been taught to a diverse group of corporate clients, ranging from Starbucks, Bank of America and Nike to the Seattle Police Department’s SWAT team.
And now this one-of-a-kind approach to yoga is stretching all the way to South Florida.
IF YOU WANT TO GO
What: In advance of its June 11 grand opening, SloBody is offering free versions of its proprietary, conditioning-infused yoga classes
When: Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.; Friday, 6:30 a.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.
Where: 209 N.E. 5 Terrace, Delray Beach
For more information: Call (561) 400-0608 or visit slobody.com