A rip current is a fast-moving, narrow channel of water that can move either along or away from a shoreline, threatening any swimmer in its path. Most swimmers caught up in a rip current panic and exert as much energy as possible in their attempt to swim back to shore. 

But rip currents are strong, and professionals advise to ride it out until it curves and you can swim parallel to shore, ultimately allowing you to turn back. In fact, lifeguards tell beach-goers the worst thing they can do is fight a rip current, because it’s unlikely you are strong enough to beat it. 

Sometimes, the same can be said for business owners. A dream of how their vision should work out in particular ways is something they will fight tooth and nail for. But if they would just allow the current to take them where it is headed, there may be a simpler solution to a problem — without having to force it. 

This is the idea at the core of Meraki Yoga in Fort Collins, Colorado — a studio founded by close friends Adrienne Hoxmeier and Rachael Butts. The duo met during teacher training, where they quickly became a shoulder for the other to rely on throughout the process. 

After the training, the friendship continued to grow over happy hours, where frequent conversations of entrepreneurship and far-off dreams were had. Eventually, the divide between dreaming of and actually living in that realm became blurred. The pair decided to open their own studio.

“We made a sort of pact in that moment that if this is going to happen, it’s not that we don’t want to work hard, but we want things to happen naturally,” recalled Hoxmeier. “I didn’t want to be fighting upstream. From there, it was like everything came as it should. All these threads started to weave together in a nice and easy way.”

Building the Business

After finding their location and the build up of the business was in the works, Hoxmeier and Butts spent the following six months teaching free pop-up classes at local businesses in the community. They used this as a time to introduce the brand and the women behind the business. The first class they offered had 13 people in attendance; by the end of the series, before the studio even opened its doors, the pair had over 75 students in attendance. 

“We wanted to bring the same quality of experience, as best as we could, to what we were hoping to bring in our studio,” said Butts. “It wasn’t just like ‘here we are, we are going to teach this class.’ It was that we really tried to curate the experience to be a taste of what they would experience at Meraki.”

And that experience starts in a welcoming, luxurious space. The student experience is a priority at Meraki Yoga from the moment someone steps in the door. 

Butts explained when someone walks into Meraki, they are immediately greeted and welcomed to the space. Then, the staff gets to know each student, from how they have exercised in the past to where they hope to take their practice in the future. 

Following that, the student is given a tour by a staff member who will answer any questions they may have about the studio or what they need for class. The goal is to have each student feel as if their entire experience is falling into place and they aren’t swimming upstream at Meraki.

“We never want any of our students to have to ask for anything,” said Hoxmeier. “We try to catch their questions before they ask them, so they feel they are well taken care of. Oftentimes, people are fine and don’t need anything, but then sometimes someone will be like, ‘Oh yeah, I need a sweat towel. I completely forgot.’ We will be waiting with sweat towels before they go in, so they don’t have to want for anything. That’s part of being a luxury studio — taking those extra steps to make sure our students have everything they need at all points of their experience.”

Photos by Kelli Kroneberger.

Many studios specialize in one style of yoga, focusing in on classes just of that methodology. However, at Meraki there is a wide variety of offerings so students can experience both solar and lunar styles of classes. The intention behind this is to prevent people from getting stuck on one class style. Plus, Hoxmeier and Butts hope to build a more sustainable practice to last a lifetime. 

“We are still working on finding the perfect mix of classes,” said Butts. “We just added a class that we call ‘Release and Restore’ — it’s waitlisted every week. I think creating our class offerings will continue to be puzzle pieces in figuring out what our students want and need, but be in that balance of offering diversity. As we hope to have a business that unfolds organically, we have to expect the same from our class list, so we very much listen to the wants and needs of our student population.”

Class Size at Meraki

On top of offering a variety of classes, another unique aspect to the Meraki experience is the class sizes. Hoxmeier explained in the Fort Collins community, yoga classes can range anywhere from 35 to 75 students in attendance. However, at Meraki, the goal is to have much smaller class sizes to create a more personal and individualized practice. The smaller studio space can house nine students and the larger room holds 18. 

“The reason for that is because I think as teachers we have lost some of the importance of seeing your students and sharing an experience or offering that relates directly to the people in your room,” said Hoxmeier. “You can’t do that with 75 students; there’s just no way. Having a smaller space lends itself well to creating an environment where people feel they are well taken care of and are getting an experience that is unique to them individually.”

Butts also iterated the class size was set up intentionally with the idea of creating a tighter knit community. With 18 or less students in the classroom, the hope for each yogi is to know and see the others in class with them. 

“If a studio has 50 people filtering in and out, you may connect with four or five, but the community here has become so tight knit because of this space,” said Butts. “I think that really sets us apart from the crowd.”

The Future is Bright

As Hoxmeier and Butts continue to create a healthy business, the future seems limitless. One addition coming to Meraki in the next quarter is its first teacher training program. After seeing a need in the community for elevated teachers, the duo felt compelled to step in and offer a strong teacher training to the Fort Collins area.

“We had no plans of doing teacher trainings at Meraki,” said Butts. “We wanted to stay true to our practice and just offer classes, but everything changed after we did our own advanced training — it shifted the way we teach and how we see yoga as a whole. We are really excited to bring that to town.”

Outside of the coming teacher training, Hoxmeier and Butts explained their main goal is to hone in on their current offerings and build a strong studio. To do this, the pair has yearly reviews of each instructor on staff at Meraki. Hoxmeier explained at the end of the day their goal is to impact lives through yoga, and it is important they have the best people for each job. 

“When someone first opens a studio and has teachers, it’s so easy to forget about reviews and things like that as you work to grow your business,” said Hoxmeier. “It’s easy to become stagnant as a business owner, but you can’t learn and grow if you remain in the same place. You have to constantly push yourself and your team day in and day out, to follow your paths and never fight upstream to get where you need to be.”