SERENITY & THE CITY
Pure Yoga’s Jen Zweibel brings soulful know-how to the business side o f New York’s most exclusive yoga studios.
BY ANDREW C. STONE
Too often, tranquility feels like a luxury rather than a birthright. The ancient practice of yoga and its body-toning and mind-quieting properties—goes a long way to counteract the stress of modern life. New York City’s Pure Yoga—with its renowned instructors, transporting environs, and 100-plus classes per week—offers yogis a full body recharge, and year-round escape. New outposts are on the horizon for more US metropolises. Here, Pure Yoga’s Area Manager Jen Zweibel explains the company’s polished take on this peaceful practice.
NEW YOU: Jen, what is your personal relationship to the practice of yoga?
JEN ZWEIBEL: I began my practice eight years ago with Jivamukti. While I was out west earning my MBA, I fell in love with hot power yoga. After school, I moved back to New York and began working at Pure Yoga. In addition to being the area manager for both of our studios [on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Upper West Side], I completed the 200-hour yoga teacher training that we offer.
NY: Why was the teacher training important for you to complete?
JZ: My training—along with the business degree— helps me understand our product. I love to have in-depth conversations with members and prospective members. A lot of people are afraid of yoga, or have stereotypes like “yoga is for hippies” and “it’s all about meditation and chanting.” My training allows me to feel qualified in helping people understand the full scope of yoga.
NY: There are many yoga studios, large and small, out there. How has Pure Yoga offered something new to the yoga community?
JZ: Most studios offer only one style of yoga, and we have at least 15 different styles. If a member wants a good sweat one day, there’s hot power yoga. It they’re not feeling so energetic
the next day, there are more restorative options to choose from.
NY: How are you able to guide members to the right class?
JZ: When a prospective member comes in, they meet with a yoga advisor, who does an analysis of their goals and background. Then, they’ll try some classes. After someone becomes a member, we have a membership concierge on staff—someone who’s been in the community for years and gone through many teacher trainings. It’s this person’s job to guide people to the right class. If someone says, “I hurt my knee,” the concierge offers a better understanding of how to proceed and will be guided towards the best class option.
NY: How are Pure Yoga’s instructors vetted?
JZ: We have a program manager and a managing teacher overseeing the program. They are constantly out in the community, interviewing instructors and taking classes. The yoga community is pretty small and tight-knit, so it’s clear which yogis are attracting a lot of buzz.
NY: What are the principles at the heart of Pure Yoga’s operations, helping to keep it evolving?
JZ: We’re constantly innovating by offering new programs and participating with the community as often as we can. The staff is always taking classes with our members, staying aware of what classes and teachers are most popular with our students, and keeping a close tab on what people are looking for in the New York yoga scene.
NY: What can an instructor-in-training expect from Pure’s training program?
JZ: We have a really robust, 200-hour Vinyasa yoga teacher training, headed up by Kay Kay Clivio and Yogi Charu, who are the most knowledgeable and well-trained instructors in the business. We also offer other 100-hour yoga and meditation trainings. They all tend to sell out.
NY: Pure is a very chic operation. How do you balance the highend, luxury element of the business with the ethereal—daresay “earthy”—connotation of yoga?
JZ: Yoga doesn’t have to be dingy. We’re priced very competitively and offer everything a member could want—showers, towels, steam rooms. All anyone needs to bring is a lock.
NY: In a city such as New York or Los Angeles or Miami—where stresses are high and the mind often spins a mile a minute—how valuable is it to have a sanctuary along the lines of Pure Yoga?
JZ: Having a place like Pure is invaluable to urban dwellers. In any high-stress city, there’s nothing more key to one’s well-being than coming into a quiet atmosphere, unwinding for a minute, and reconnecting the body with the spirit.