If you’ve walked or driven past the row of Colorado Boulevard storefronts on the block east of Swork lately you might have noticed a new yoga studio. Called Core Club LA, it opened in June and is remarkable in at least three ways:
• The words “Core Club” are a refreshing departure from the New Age names that many yoga studios tend to adopt. (A 2010 Huffington Post story titled “Who Has the Best Yoga Classes in Los Angeles?” for example, turned up such exotic names as Liberation Yoga, Earth’s Power Yoga, and Maha Yoga.)
• The studio, located on 2150 Colorado Blvd., is a welcome alternative to PC Bang, a frequently noisy Internet café that previously occupied the space.
• It’s high time Eagle Rock had a full-fledged yoga studio so that residents don’t have to go to Silver Lake, Pasadena, Glendale or South Pasadena in pursuit of yogic perfection.
Oxy Graduate's Dream
Core Club is the brainchild of Gabrielle Benoit, an alumna of who likes to tell people that she graduated from Oxy (with a degree in theater and psychology) in 2006—but that she never left.
Instead of kick-starting her career with some sort of postgraduate adventure, Benoit found her center in Eagle Rock, where she has been living for the past 10 years. For the longest time, she says, she wondered why such a tony, if tiny, neighborhood didn’t have even one decent yoga studio.
“A yoga studio in Eagle Rock makes so much sense, and I always thought I’d love to teach there,” Benoit said. “And then eventually I decided I was going to be the one to open it.”
Opening Core Club LA wasn’t easy—and the studio’s genesis was somewhat serendipitous. It all began with Benoit’s love for children: After graduating from Oxy, she worked as a nanny and a substitute teacher in private and charter schools in and around Eagle Rock.
Then in 2008, Benoit found herself teaching Pilates—and her work with kids took a backseat. “The fitness world became a passion of mine,” she recalled. “I stopped working with kids and started working with adults instead—and I really missed what I did.”
As fate would have it, Benoit began studying yoga. In the process, she took a teachers’ training course in kids yoga, and ended up teaching yoga at several elementary schools around Eagle Rock, including Mt. Washington Elementary, as well as yoga studios.
The ‘Big Disconnect’
Benoit greatly enjoyed teaching kids yoga, except for one problem: “There always was a big disconnect between the adult classes and kids’ classes,” she said, explaining that because the classes were held separately, many parents had no choice but to find a babysitter or childcare facility to come to class.
Alternatively, “When the kids’ classes were going on, the parents would just sit—have a coffee or hang out—there was never anything that combined the two,” said Benoit.
At Core Club LA, classes are held simultaneously for adults and kids, who are separated only by a soundproof, wooden moving wall. The idea is to allow parents to do yoga while their children are similarly engaged instead of watching TV at home or being with a babysitter.
“That was a big goal of mine and it was really tough because I needed to have a space big enough to have two classes going on at the same time separately,” said Benoit. “And in Eagle Rock there just aren’t a lot of commercial spaces that allow you to do that.”
Looking for the Ideal Space
Benoit looked at several vacant spaces in the neighborhood before settling on the one vacated by PC Bang—but they were too small for her needs. She even looked at some industrial spaces on the Glassell Park stretch of Eagle Rock Boulevard.
“But I really wanted to be around here,” she says, referring to Colorado Boulevard. “I knew it was going to be important for me to be part of this community—and as soon as you go off a little bit from the main strip you’re just not part of it.”
For a while, Benoit reckoned she would have to settle for a space where she wouldn’t be able to hold simultaneous classes for adults and kids. “And then, this space opened up,” she says, referring to Core Club LA’s location.
“I had no idea they had this much space,” she recalls from a visit to the storefront in April. “I went in expecting it to not work out—and it turned out to be exactly the right amount of space.”
In fact, because the previous business, PC Bang, didn’t use the front door—only the back door was in use—it had what Benoit calls “this long, funky hallway,” stretching dozens of feet from the sidewalk.
“For us, that was perfect because we’re a little bit set back from the street,” says Benoit, referring to the actual yoga studio. “So we still have a storefront and are connected to everything, yet we’re not on display. I described it to someone as an urban retreat or oasis.”
Most of Benoit’s clients are Occidental College students. The studio offers a variety of classes and “I’ve pulled in a lot of different teachers who really appeal to young people,” said Benoit. “We also offer a really good student membership deal—and I’m hoping to get more parents and kids, although we haven’t been getting them as much as we’d like.”
Core Club Schedule
A lot of the classes currently have just two or three people in them, partly because the studio is new. “That’s lucky for them because they get a lot of individual attention,” said Benoit, adding that some classes attract as many as 15 people and that "the community has been wonderfully welcoming of us."
The earliest class currently starts at 7 a.m.—and the first class at any time of the day is free for everyone. Benoit is thinking of an adding a class even earlier to encourage people to come to the studio before heading off to work.
Among the local entrepreneurs who do yoga at Core Club LA are owner Patricia Neale Vuagniaux, Dave Evans, owner of , Traci Green, owner of , and Development Director Renée Dominique.
Core Club LA offers a range of innovative yoga sessions. To mention just a few, there’s "Power Yoga", which entails intense movement and flow, similar to the popular Ashtanga style of the discipline. There’s "Yoga-Lates," an intense curriculum that's a combination of yoga and Pilates. And there’s "Yoga Booty Ballet," a cardio dance involving ballet and yoga.
Benoit also offers a boot-camp version of yoga that usually lasts an hour. She recently added a 45-minute class, without any rest, so that people's heart rate remains elevated.
Finally, there’s "Yoga Flex," which primarily stresses flexibility. “When people are very new to yoga or are not in the best physical condition, that’s where I steer them,” said Benoit. “But it’s also a class for everybody. I take it every day—it opens your hips.”