Inner Strength Studios: The Three-Alarm Fire and Our Future

Thursday is typically “Inner Strength day.”  Not because it requires more gumption than usual but because I teach two of my biggest, most energetic and, therefore, energizing classes at Inner Strength studio in Watertown, MA on Thursday nights.  Except I wasn’t teaching there yesterday.  Or last week.  Or the week before that, as I boarded a flight for Hong Kong and scrolled my newsfeed to learn of a three-alarm fire in the sturdy brick building that houses the studio, along with a liquor store, nail salon, and barber shop.

Instagram from Boston’s February 2013 blizzard. Students flocked, trekked, & shoveled their way to yoga despite 2 feet of snow.

I sat on the tarmac at Logan worried but fairly certain the studio would be salvaged and soon restored.  Heck, if you know the owner Roman Szpond who happens to be a former Marine, you can half picture him standing on the fire truck helping douse the flames, himself, then rebuilding the place while teaching yoga.  Inhale, reach your arms overhead…. [secures a new beam in place]…. Exhale, bow forward…. [hammers something till it cries for mercy, like our legs in one of his absurdly long Warrior II holds].

Thankfully, the studio was salvaged, with the damage limited to water and smoke, as opposed to fire. However, the damage was thorough, and restoration will take time.

The studio expects to reopen the first week of April.  (Please stay tuned). 

Photo by: OG superstar intern alum Laura Max Nelson

Photo by: OG intern alum Laura Max Nelson.

The inside scoop from studio manager and sprinkler of operational pixie dust, Felicia Lorelli, is that the fire started from an electrical source (e.g. power strip) in nearby Lony’s Nail Salon and spread from there.  A tow truck driver, who knows the building and its owners well, saw smoke and called the fire department. In the days and weeks since, Inner Strength has worked feverishly to renovate and reopen its doors, all while feeling buoyed by the love and support of its community.

Hearts open at Inner Strength (Photo: Laura Max Nelson).

Hearts open at Inner Strength (Photo: Laura Max Nelson).

“The outpouring of support from the community has been huge!  I cried for various reasons after the fire, but one of them being the amazing, kind emails from the students who frequent Inner Strength.  They were just as devastated as we were and have been by our side the whole way,” Lorelli shared via email this week.

It feels odd not to be in the studio on my Inner Strength days.  It’s one of the most fun, forthright, authentic, and, yes, strengthening places I’ve ever worked.  There’s zero pretense, which is all too rare in the yoga industry, and I miss my students who always come ready to work hard, focus intently, and laugh easily.  Despite being busy with the rest of my teaching schedule, working on my book, and recovering from Asia jet lag (which is no joke, by the way), I’m hesitant to schedule anything when I would typically be in that light-filled room with the bamboo mural on one wall.  It’s as if my calendar, brain, or heart know where they belong and that yoga is not something relegated to a brick building or easily put out– not even by fire, smoke, or the need to rebuild.

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