Manayunk’s new Bikram Yoga studio aims for Aug. 1 opening

Owners of the new Bikram Yoga in Manayunk studio just off Main Street say they are nearing completion of construction and renovations and hope to hold their first classes by Aug. 1.

You could say yoga is the family business for Schuyler and Ammie Ferguson. The couple met at a Bikram Yoga teacher training seminar in California in 2010, later married and had a baby, and will now work and teach together at the new studio, located in part of what used to be the Propper Bros. furniture store at 115 Levering St.

Bikram Yoga is a specialized sequence of yoga developed in the 1970s by Bikram Choudhury, which includes 26 yoga postures done in a 90-minute class practiced in a room heated to about 105 degrees and about 40 percent humidity — “a healthy sweat,” as Schuyler Ferguson said.

“At every studio, we all teach the same Bikram Yoga class,” Ferguson said, making it a familiar and welcoming environment for anyone who’s ever practiced the technique. There are many Bikram-certified teachers in the area, and several “hot yoga” studios, but theirs will be the only official Bikram-licensed studio in Manayunk.

It’s now a worldwide franchise with thousands of official  Bikram Yoga studios, with would-be teachers undergoing a rigorous, 10-week immersion training program. To be certified as an official Bikram studio, facilities must offer at least 3,000 square feet of total space, with at least a 1,500 square-foot yoga room, separate locker rooms and an approved business plan. 

The Manayunk location will have a 1,500 square-foot yoga practice room, 9-foot-high mirrors on the walls, lockers and showers for men and women, and antibacterial and antimicrobial FLOTEX carpets throughout. Air temperature will be controlled by a 200,000 BTU “monster” of an air circulation system, which the Fergusons were learning how to use last week.

Schuyler Ferguson said they were drawn to Manayunk, in part, by the building itself.

“That building is very old and has all these wonderful old surfaces, the very high ceilings and those old blonde hardwood floors,” he said. “The Manayunk scene itself just seemed very vibrant, and really ready for what we have to offer.”

Neither of the Fergusons are from Philadelphia, but are making themselves at home in the Manayunk area — the Facebook page for Bikram Yoga in Manayunk features pictures of Ammie striking yoga poses in places like nearby Pretzel Park. All yoga classes will be free the first week.

The 40,000 square-foot, four-level building at 115 Levering St. was home to the Propper Bros. furniture showroom for 122 years before closing in 2011. Since then, owner Sam Kroungold has leased much of the street level, with the Palm Tree Market opening on the Cresson Street side earlier this year and the Bikram Yoga studio going in on the Levering Street side.

For the rest of the building, Kroungold has city zoning approvals to lease a third tenant space on the first floor, and to create up to 18 rental apartments on the second and third floors.

NewsWorks has partnered with independent news gatherer PlanPhilly to provide regular, in-depth, timely coverage of planning, zoning and development news. Contact Amy Z. Quinn at azquinn@planphilly.com.

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