How a thriving yoga scene emerged from joining of Gardens studios

Yogis Karen Burnett and Jill Romano first rubbed elbows when they were teaching yoga poses in the streets of Midtown, the restaurant, shopping and residential community on PGA Boulevard.

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They were there for Midtown’s “Peace, Love and Wellness” festival, and Burnett wondered who the other woman was who was so passionate about yoga that she would do it until her feet turned black. It was Romano.

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The meeting was serendipitous. The subsequent merger of their studios was strategic.

Romano’s Thrive Power Yoga and Burnett’s Yoga Palm Beach combined forces under one long name — Thrive Power Yoga Palm Beach — at the end of July. Their studio is in a converted warehouse on Ironwood Road, near the Comcast Service Center.

“We just felt we could better serve the community by combining than remaining separate,” Romano said.

They brought their most senior instructors under one roof and now offer more than 35 classes each week, starting as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 7 p.m.

About a dozen women appeared relaxed as they moved from pose to pose in the 95- to 100-degree heat of Burnett’s 75-plus minute hot vinyasa class Wednesday morning. They faced a sky-blue wall opposite a long mirror.

The studio is heated with infrared light, which helps your cells detoxify, said Burnett, who was a trainer to professional athletes and Reebok Master Trainer.

The heating is a selling point for Tracie Christiansen, who’s been to both studios, but started out with Thrive.

“We absolutely love the studio. We’re excited about the merge. It’s truly a family,” she said. “They have heat in the room. It’s a challenging vinyasa flow for all levels. The teachers are professionals, and there’s great music.”

The music is one way Burnett and Romano are accomplishing their goal of creating a modern studio with broad appeal that still respects tradition. After all, yoga is an ancient spiritual discipline focused on bringing harmony between the mind and body. The word “yoga” comes from a Sanskrit root that means “to join, yoke or unite.”

How apropos.

Burnett built her studio in 2011 and opened the following January. Romano’s Thrive Power Yoga had been in the Promenade Plaza on Alternate A1A for five and a half years. When it was time for Romano to renew her lease, she looked at retail space from North Palm Beach to Jupiter.

It was difficult to find and expensive. With the following they’ve each built, they realized their joint studio could be a destination of its own, so Romano moved to Burnett’s studio.

“Most people aren’t coming to a yoga studio because they have walked by it and decided to try it out. It’s coming from a more organic place,” Romano said.

A lot of people view yoga as a luxury rather than a necessity, Burnett said. That’s something she and Romano want to change.

“It’s our job to make it less stressful and accessible to them. We really do believe people need yoga in their lives.”

Yoga is not just for women and the wealthy. Men make up about 20 percent of the studio’s membership and about 15 percent of class attendance, Burnett said.

The studio offers different levels of membership, depending on how often yogis come and whether or not they need child care. Recently-trained teachers will offer classes based on a pay-what-you-can donation, rather than a set fee.

People need yoga now more than ever, when most can do almost everything they need to on electronic devices without ever moving from a recliner, Burnett said. The human body is made to move.

Raja yin yoga will stretch connective tissues and strengthen joint capsules that tend to languish with age, Burnett said. She admits it will probably seem boring to most people, but the benefit may be worth the cost.

“People realize they’ll be able to do what they love doing for as long as they want to,” she said.

In the spirit of unity, Romano and Burnett will lead a hot vinyasa class Saturday morning, followed by sips and light bites. It’s waitlist-only.

“Everything happened in a greater design than either one of us could have created or imagined ourselves,” Burnett said.

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