Get a 1 month trial of UNLIMITED classes for just $24.99! GET STARTED

carla valencia
I Wasn’t Expecting This

When my first cousin (one of my favorite people) told me, he was an investor in a new wellness studio I was of course going to try it out. He could have said, “Hey Carla, we’re starting these studios with treadmills under water for a full body workout” – I still would have tried it out. My cousin and I both really got into Bikram (Hot Yoga) when it was first starting and were game to take double classes to get that hot high. He lived in Dallas and I in Houston, but when work or family brought either of us to each other’s city - we always took a class together. He and I are so very different, but have so many things in common, one our aforementioned love of yoga, our love of food, cooking and travel. He is a finance guy and I am a creative in all senses of the word. He dominates a spreadsheet and I dominate a thread and needle. We both have two kids- a boy and a girl, the same age and they are besties - hence the traveling together.

When he started talking about one of the primary offerings being yoga classes I knew I was going to have opinions. I’ve been practicing yoga for over 20 years. Yoga has been a key way I stay strong, flexible, and healthy (both physically and mentally). The mental health is key for me. Yoga helps me calm my nervous system and get out of my body. It helps me turn down the daily noise, and especially the impact of looking at the phone, computer, or even TV – screens!

So, when he started to talk about a wellness studio, with life-size screens offering instruction, in a room with their own created, perfect heat and humidity system, with classes running every 30 minutes, in my mind I was like – you want me to drive up from Houston to do yoga class in a room with screens – SCREENS! Needless to say, I already knew this was NOT going to be my thing. In addition to the “screen issue” there was no way the instruction could match what a live yoga instructor has to offer.

As I drove into the Northeast corner of Park Lane and Preston Road in Plano, Texas I find myself in a large– typical of Texas – commercial strip center jammed with fast food spots, shoe stores, huge gyms, Trader Joes- basically sensory over load – I am thinking “This is not helping my skepticism”. Nevertheless, I set my sights on my destination. ALIVE, a fitness studio unlike any other available in the wellness market.

I walk into a perfectly soothing lit space with a curved reception area, and a curved waiting area with a moss-covered wall with white letters reading “feel ALIVE” nestled in the middle. “This is getting better,” I think. I walk through a hallway that is paced to light as I pass through leading me to the studios into the one where my yoga class will take place. There is floor to ceiling screens with alternating life-size images of faraway places. “Here are those screens I am trying to escape”, I think, while simultaneously becoming transfixed on these alternating images as I stretch and wait for class to start. The warmth in the room is cozy and not at all too much, rather I’m able to slowly acclimate to the familiar warmth. A series of prompts come on the speakers from our digital instructor who although is not physically in the room, is still leading us in this practice. The images of faraway places fade as instructors appear on the screens to show us the poses. I am judging. I am thinking “I don’t like this….”

What happened next was not what I was expecting. After the first class I was intrigued, I was far from a convert, but I came back for a second; something was happening. I was listening to my inner yogi and giving my body and soul what it truly needed in that moment. Then, on the third class, it happened. Few things (like childbirth) allow you to truly be present fully, in a moment. To dull out the noise and merge spiritually and physically. The lack of a physical instructor, whom I’m subconsciously trying to impress, forced me to be my own instructor. To listen to my body and inherently know where to push and where to give myself grace. And somehow, the instruction-led class via those screens, knows just when to give those prompts. Just when mentally I need a push and when I don’t. The combination of the lighting and the heat centered me into the most intimate form of practice I have ever experienced. The dark rooms with the life-size, floor-to-ceiling screens create a cozy, embracing space where it’s easy to shut everything else off. Even my very sweaty, over 6’ tall, larger than life cousin practicing right next to me.

My experience with ALIVE has taught me so much. Not to be so married to my ideas of things, for one. My cousin’s vision for ALIVE is epic. It’s unlike anything else and is so very necessary. That commercial heavy strip center in Plano, I quickly judged, is exactly the place ALIVE is needed to bring its members that wellness high. There is just no other concept available where members can get a wide variety of classes covering yoga, Pilates, barre, and fitness. And the fact that classes start every 30 minutes is a game changer for busy lifestyles.

I love my Houstonian community back in Houston with its instructors and classes, but I’ve learned ALIVE is a welcome addition. I can’t wait for my next visit to Dallas to try another class at ALIVE, ummm, I mean to see my cousin.

By Carla Valencia

Return to News & Articles >