I've been going to this amazing yoga, pilates, zumba and dance studio for 20 months now. The owner is incredible and holds events for charity, regularly donates money from one class a week to community causes, holds toy, coat and food drives as well as running a beautiful studio with a great slate of classes taught by first-rate instructors. While I haven't met the weight-loss goals that initially attracted me to the studio, I've learned a lot and realized I am actually good at pilates and somewhat better than mediocre at some of the other offerings. The studio is only two and half blocks from my house so it's a ten minute walk tops from our front door to their front desk.
The owner had already confided in me that the landlord was shifty--and that she had recently discovered that he did not have the correct occupancy permits for the premises. Even though the space had previously been a dance studio (and another dance studio before that), it was actually certified as office space. While she had the correct insurance, ran the business openly and in accordance with all the laws, it turns out that this paperwork threatened to put her out of business. The fault was the landlord's--and yet he didn't want to pay the tens of thousands of dollars to change the permits lest he wanted, at some point, to rent the premises as offices. The space was already laid out as a yoga studio when she moved in but she had spent a great deal of money on renovations, permits and the like, but all for nothing. Last night, I received an email announcing the studio's closure on December 30.
I'm sad and angry at the injustice. She set up a business that employed people locally, forged community, helped all of us improve our health, and donated to charity. She struggled for at least one bad year (many times in the summer of 2010 I enjoyed private lessons as nobody else turned up for classes) and finally reached a point where classes were full and new members kept joining the studio. The number and variety of classes expanded--today, for example, I'm heading off to Bollywood and pilates, and maybe restorative yoga--exposing clients to new things. I'm also upset because I was looking forward to taking more classes after this semester and getting back on track with my fitness, something that I couldn't do over the last few months because I was teaching so many nights. My membership expires late April and the fact that the studio is so close means I'd have braved snow and ice to get to classes, but now it will be a lot more of an effort as there really is very little else in the neighborhood--other options involve subways and a far longer walk, which makes a one hour class nearer three hours which, in turn, makes it less doable when I'm crunched for time. As for evening classes, I'm teaching nights and afternoons next semester and nothing will be open after I finish work. I've looked for alternatives but there really isn't much out there in reasonable distance (nothing at all that's walkable) and all of them just pale in comparison to the studio I'm about to lose.
So today will be a sad day--my last Sunday at the studio and likely my last weekend classes ever. I'll miss the space, the people, the instructors and I am so angry that a vital business is having to close because of another rule-dismissing, self-seeking, slimebag NYC landlord. I know people mocked the "the rent's too high" guy's platform, but really, it is. High rents and the corruption that's rife among powerful landlords that the authorities ignore hurts so many--and several people now will be out of work this Christmas and another small business shuttered, at great cost to its owner and its willing and ever-expanding slate of clients. And the one person not hurt by this is the one at fault--the landlord. I hope karma catches up with him but I'm pretty convinced that that will not be the case.
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