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It's been been in the works for a while now, but the great yoga merger has finally come upon us. Green Monkey and Bala Vinyasa have joined forces, but is it all peace, love, and good vibes?
Michael Block, owner of Green Monkey, and Kiersten Mooney, owner of Bala Vinyasa Yoga, have teamed up with each other to make their two like-minded companies become one. Block and Mooney will maintain co-ownership in this relatively equal merger. Currently dubbed "Green Monkey powered by Bala Vinyasa," the merger will certainly enhance the offerings of this new yoga powerhouse, but not without its challenges and sacrifices.
"We have brought together two thriving yoga communities to form one amazing, powerful yoga community. We have taken the strengths of each company and merged those strengths into one stronger company," said Paula Walker, the corporate wellness and marketing manager and an instructor at Green Monkey.
Location, Location, Location
One of the best elements of the merger means more space to get your ohm on at Green Monkey's "Treehouses" in Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale, in addition to Bala Vinyasa's locations in Coral Gables, Naples, and South Naples.
Yet South Miami students have mourned the closing of Green Monkey's Sunset Drive Treehouse with heavy hearts, as they'll have to travel just a bit further north along U.S. 1 to Bala Vinyasa's existing Coral Gables location.
"This is an exciting merger since instructors from both Green Monkey & Bala Vinyasa are awesome and very talented, it's just a bummer that the beautiful Green Monkey South Miami will be closing," said Green Monkey yogi Mickey Witte.
But it's not all bad news. Many of the teachers have not left, but have instead relocated.
"We have combined management from the South Miami location to the Coral Gables location and some of the South Miami teachers have relocated to the Coral Gables studio as well," said Walker. "Many of the South Miami students have transferred their memberships to the Coral Gables location."
If you build it, they will come... maybe
Bala Vinyasa instructor Lizzett Chiappy said that the studio merger had been in the works for a few years, but really started taking shape over the summer. "This merger is truly exciting," said Chiappy. "Both companies have a lot to offer and are joining together to form one big collaborative company."
Yet combining two independent companies is not the easiest of tasks, even for harmonic yogis. "Not all instructors from Green Monkey will be continuing to teach at the Coral Gables location," said Chiappy.
Though this may come as tragic news to some, Chiappy explained that both studios have seasonal instructors and it is fairly common to see a periodic change in staff. Many students expressed excitement about the merger but are concerned in regards to teachers and class offerings.
Chiappy's students are positive and curious. "As long as the same teachers, class offerings and time of schedules stay the same, I'm okay with the merger," said Holly Bensur, a Bala Vinyasa faithful yogi.
"I would still take classes at Bala Vinyasa because the location is really convenient, but I would definitely miss Virginia [Ansaldi] and Megan [Eastman] if they didn't teach there any longer after the merger," Bensur said.
Getting in the flow
The ultimate goal of Green Monkey powered by Bala Vinyasa (eventually will be shortened to just Green Monkey) is to offer the complete wellness package. Bala Vinyasa's staff will work to incorporate Green Monkey's instructors and class offerings including varied yoga styles and Pilates.
In the past Bala Vinyasa has focused its teachings in the Baptiste Power Yoga style while also offering Slow Flow yoga at a more relaxed, meditative pace. This somewhat standard formatting comes as a bit of a turn off for free flowing yogis accustomed to the variety previously offered at Green Monkey.
There are big changes in regards to teacher trainings. Bala Vinyasa will run most teacher trainings in the Baptiste-based Bala Vinyasa style, but Paul Toliuszis will continue his style of teacher trainings at Green Monkey's Miami Beach location.
Too much of a good thing?
The most popular concern of Monkeys and Bala Vinyasa loyalists alike is the fear of overcrowding, as the two southernmost locations combine to become one.
"I am not so keen on the idea of having more packed classes in the same size space because they were already pretty packed before," said Bala Vinyasa yogi Michelle Lock. "With [the two studios] merging, I don't know if I would still go to the Bala location because I know it will be hard to get a spot in a class."
"Bala Vinyasa was already starting to get really crowded by the time school was starting back up again, but I don't mind the cozy atmosphere because I like how the teachers integrate a sense of community among their students," said Bensur. "It's like we were all moving and supporting each other throughout the class as we experienced yoga together."
Ultimately, the merger will mean more studios, more teachers and the combination of two wildly successful companies. There will always be loyalists to the original studios, but as time goes on, Florida yogis have faith that Green Monkey / Bala Vinyasa will find what yoga is really all about - the perfect balance.