Shack Yoga + Fitness has come a long way from the roots of its name. The yoga and fitness studio opened a second location this month in Waterside Place.
“The original location, it was in a car port. We could only fit 30 people max,” co-owner Courtenay Smith said. “We enclosed it, but it was in this shack.”
Partner and co-owner Nikka Colorado jumped in to say, “It was an illegal building. I’m glad we got away with it for as long as we did,” and both women had a good laugh over their humble beginnings in downtown Sarasota's Rosemary District.
The pair finish each other’s sentences and bring out the best in one another like a happily married couple who have weathered more than one storm together. When the lease for Waterside was signed, they thought the space would be ready in one year. It took four.
They rented a studio in the Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park to fill the gap, but closed it when their lease expired during the COVID pandemic. Both agree that the delay wasn’t ideal, but it gave them time to pause and focus on the original studio, which is not fully back to pre-COVID numbers, but close.
“We’re like each other’s yin to the yang,” Smith said.
Smith is the “grounded” one who keeps things steady, while Colorado is the “fire” that pushes them to expand. While they describe themselves as opposites, they say they’ve lived parallel lives.
Both are about the same age. Smith is 38, and Colorado is 39. Both are working mothers of young children who met their husbands 18 years ago. And both of their husbands led them from the east coast of Florida to Sarasota. Colorado’s husband received a job offer, and Smith’s husband has family in the area.
The women met while working at Lululemon together about eight years ago. Smith was the manager. She’d been holding classes at the Shack for two years at that point and was ready to go full-time. Colorado took the leap with her.
The yogis moved out of the carport but stayed on Central Avenue. A membership includes classes at both studios. At the downtown location, the building qualifies as historic. At the Waterside location, the building is anything but.
Being in the newly built hub, the walls are freshly painted, and the floors are without a scuff.
Stepping out onto the second floor balcony greets guests with a different kind of charm. Kingfisher Lake peeks behind the shops and buildings across the street, while lush plants and cushioned loungers invite students to linger after class.
“When you’re done sweating in there, this actually feels cold,” Colorado said.
The temperature was about 82 degrees outside. Shack is a heated yoga studio. While classes are “not Bikram hot,” which is up to 105 degrees, the temperatures reach between 90 and 95 degrees.
Classes accommodate up to 45 students, and there are a lot more strength and fitness classes to choose from at the Waterside location.
“We think fitness is going to do better here because there’s a lot of working people. Downtown, you get a lot of tourist traffic,” Smith said. “This is going to probably be more families and people working that 9-5 job. They need to get their yoga and their fitness all in one hour.”
Smith also says yoga shouldn't be intimidating. Shack classes are a challenge, but anyone can get through them using the modifications offered by instructors. Clients range in age from 20 to 80, and a lot more men attend classes than people might expect.
The studio is open now, but April was a soft opening. A full schedule of classes starts May 1.
“At the end of the day, we put our relationship before the business. Businesses can come and go, and if this one burnt to the ground, we could start a new one. But nothing’s going to trump our respect and our relationship that we have for each other,” Colorado said, “I think that, in turn, makes the business successful.”
Lesley Dwyer is a staff writer for East County and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.