We pulled off I- 94 towards Tomah and headed for Alley Cat Yoga to meet the owner, Dave Frenz. We drove through a few miles of corn fields and then right into downtown Tomah, small town USA at it's finest. It reminded me of Northern MN, except I've never found a yoga studio like Alley Cat Yoga in Northern MN. Let me tell you this studio is a gem, for more reasons than just good yoga. Dave Frenz, owner of Alley Cat lives what he teaches and thats what makes him incredibly special to this small town of Tomah.
I expected a studio that was a cross between a meeting room and a church basement, boy was I wrong! Walking into Alley Cat I felt like I was in a studio in an urban area. His boutique is filled with name brand merchandise from Spiritual Gangster to Urban Halo headbands. I'm proud to say that Sweathouse Hot Yoga towels and Get the Funk Out will be a part of the retail space as he was a backer of the Kickstarter project. Dave has retail to accent the yoga experience not to draw in customers. Retail can help a fledgling studio while working to build clients providing another source of income ... but adding clients through popular classes, times, and a variety of teachers is our main focus.
The studio, is gorgeous. When I walked in my senses heightened, it had an amazing energy, it was warm, smelled like essential oils and the lights were slightly dimmed. Large mirrors cover the front of the room, padded diamond portraits in primary colors hang on the walls. The wood floor is made of Asian Walnut Tree planks and are the most gorgeous floors that I've ever seen in a studio. The studio can be heated and cooled quickly because of the complex air exchange, students that prefer no heat can take a flow class in a room that feels comfortable to practice in.
Dave explained how he lives the life of yoga and showed me part of his daily morning practice, how he opens up his heart, body, mind and spirt first thing everyday with a 20 minute routine of sun salutations and stretches. He feels every muscle and surrenders, he's aware of his breathing, always breathing into each posture. For a couple of years he's been doing this routine, afterwards he meditates for 15-20 minutes, without music, it has been life changing.
These are the 4 pillars of Dave's practice:
1st pillar is strength, frees you up and gives you confidence.
2nd pillar is Integrity, honest to yourself and honest to others.
3rd pillar is being a strong and authentic person.
4th pillar is compassion, you must achieve all 3 pillars to be compassionate.
This really resonated with me because I'm always searching for how to become the best version of myself.
How does Dave market in a town of 9,093? Most of them have never ever been to a yoga class? How does he not feel limited just by the sheer population? One would think that he would try to be all things to all residents, but its actually the opposite and Dave's response makes perfect sense, listen up with you own a studio yourself!!. "We are unabashedly going after our target market and not trying to be everything to everyone. Our target market are people much like yourself, Patty, they want a strong class but also one that has meaning. 90% of our classes target this group and if others find us we embrace them but we are sticking to marketing to our target group. The one biggest awareness push we had was offering kids classes as many of our clients are moms and would like to at introduce their kids to our place. So we try to focus on their lives, schedule, types of classes, retail items that compliment their experience, vibe, you name it."
The Universe brought Dave and I together for a reason. I learned more from Dave in the 45 minutes of meeting him than I ever expected. There is choice, everything happens for a reason. Dave, thank you for your business and thank you for sharing your practices with me.