"Yoga is for everyone," says Jen Wittlinger, owner of Vida Yoga.
Inc. Magazine recently ranked yoga as one of the top 10 best industries for starting a business, with Americans now pumping $5.7 billion a year into yoga products and services.
It was that optimistic growth and entrepreneurial passion that drove Jen Wittlinger to recently open Vida Yoga studio in Grandville. The word Vida means "life," which is fitting since it began a new life for her as an entrepreneur after 13 years of managing a busy household of three school-aged children as a stay-at-home mom.
"Yoga is non-competive. In competitive sports while growing up and as an adult, I was always worried about letting other people down. Yoga, on the other hand, is all about lifting other people up. By incorporating yoga into my daily routine for the last seven years, I'm now in the best shape of my life -- both physically and mentally," Wittlinger says.
The 1,200-square-foot studio, which opened just after Labor Day of 2012, features a trendy mix of cork floors, handmade and reclaimed fixtures and furniture (much of which was decorated by Wittlinger), warm lighting, and clever touches by local designer Rock Kauffman.
Wittlinger felt that the southwest side of the Greater Grand Rapids area was underserved, with only one other yoga studio at the time she first dreamed up her idea. She had also become very good friends with yoga studio owners in the Forest Hills and Cascade areas, and didn't want to potentially take clients away from them. She has a lot of connections in the area, both as a Jenison High School and Michigan State University graduate (she, of course, happily accepts graduates of all school colors), so she thinks her studio is in the right niche area.
Even though the studio has been open for less than two months, Wittlinger says they have had hundreds of interested patrons come through their doors (including the Grandville cheerleading squad and the Hudsonville tennis team), and now have six instructors on staff. Wittlinger and the other instructors teach classes seven days a week, at various times throughout the days and evenings. Classes include a course called Never Ever for yoga beginners, yoga for the more experienced, and a new series called Groove.
As if pumping a lot of energy into a new business were not enough, she still finds time to raise those three children while still maintaining a positive and contagious attitude. "The best advice I can give to other would-be entrepreneurs," Wittlinger says, "is to surround yourself with friends who will be honest with you, as well as people who will cheer you on no matter what."
You can check out Vida Yoga at their website
, as well as find up-to-date listings of class schedules and new happenings on their Facebook page
Source: Jen Wittlinger, Vida Yoga
Writer: Jeff Hill
Photos by Jeff Hill.