Published Twice Monthly • Vol. 12, Issue 8, April 20, 2005 • Central Oregon's Source for Business News
Bikram Yoga Bend: Aspiring (& Perspiring) Toward Success
by ABBY METZGER CBN Feature Writer April 20, 2005
When asked why they wanted to open a Bikram Yoga studio in Bend, Michael Harris and Kimberly Canino both replied with their own question: Why not? Between the skiing, beautiful weather and lack of such a yoga studio in the area, Bend turned out to be the perfect location for this new business.
Open since January of 2004, Bikram Yoga Bend teaches 26 postures in extreme heat to increase circulation, flexibility and overall muscle function, among other benefits. Doing yoga in 103 degree heat may intimidate or cause skepticism, but it’s the heat and profuse sweating that help cure ailments and provide mental focus.
Harris and Canino were certified through Bikram’s Yoga College of India and officially brainstormed a studio in Bend when Canino attended one of Bikram’s seminars that Harris was hosting in Portland. Meanwhile Harris realized the high desert, while hot enough, was still ready for a heat-inducing experience. “We had students that lived in Bend who would come to my studio in Portland,” he said.
With only a two-line announcement of their opening, Bikram Yoga Bend still had 42 students attend the first class to satisfy their craving. “It was busier than we thought it would be,” said Canino. And ever since that first day, business has been thriving. From professional athletes to seniors and doctors, Bikram Yoga Bend has attracted all types from each corner of Central Oregon. They’ve even had breast cancer survivors and a patient with IV fluids still pumping into his arm come to experience the 90-minute session.
Much of their growth has been through word of mouth. Combine that with an excellent location in the Old Mill Building A, and Bikram Yoga Bend has exacted the formula for success. Already they receive 250 hits per week on their web site and teach twice as many students than anticipated. “We’re very pleased with the reception of the business,” said Canino, “The Old Mill has a lot going on.” But, like Bend’s unstoppable growth, Bikram Yoga Bend is also growing and working to keep up with demand.
They are still negotiating with Smith Properties, but hope to have an announcement date for a new expansion. When approved, Canino and Harris will increase their studio space by 50 percent. “We’re building to be one of the best studios in the country and one of the largest,” stated Harris, who also cites their steady flow of inquiries around the country on how to open a Bikram Yoga studio. There will be changing rooms with four showers each, a new instructor and ideally new classes. “And we’ll still have windows that overlook the river,” explained Harris.
Bikram Yoga Bend’s expansion reflects a national trend toward this thermally dependent exercise. When Harris opened his studio in Portland six years ago, he was the 20th such business in the nation. Now there are around 300.
“It’s probably been the most challenging yet wonderful experience,” said Canino. Harris adds, “We have more athletic students here, at the same time we’re attracting more physically challenged individuals, and to me that is rewarding.”
Aside from the physical and mental benefits, Bikram Yoga Bend offers students watermelon in the summertime and a nice cool dip in the Deschutes River after the class. If that isn’t incentive enough, then Canino and Harris argue they offer the cheapest form of health insurance and encourage interested beginners or pros to come sweat with them at Bikram Yoga Bend.