New fitness studio mixes yoga, cardio, weights to grasp total Zen

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What started out as a backyard yoga session soon morphed into a local fitness studio.

ZenFit Studio, which infuses yoga, cardio and weights, came about by accident, but its success has been more than co-owners Erin Williams and Mandy Olin could have expected.

Williams grew up in the Fort Worth area, attended the University of Oklahoma and owned a ballet store in Denver, she said, before returning to Fort Worth last year to support her mother-in-law who was battling cancer.

"I did not plan on opening any sort of studio," she said. "But this is what I love, helping people see how strong they are from the inside out."

Williams began teaching yoga in her backyard six months ago at the request of her best friend.

"At first it just started out as the two of us,” she said. "Then my brother came. And then more people wanted in.Soon there wasn't enough space in my backyard to hold us, so I had to rent a studio for a couple hours a week."

Williams rented CSU Studio, located at 2408 Forest Park Blvd., for two hours a week to teach people interested in her class.

"As it started to grow, I was blessed to meet Mandy, who is now one of my closest friends and an amazing business partner," Williams said about Olin. "Together we have created this to give to all."

Williams, who has more than 20 years of yoga experience, said she left her first yoga class thinking, "Well that was boring."

"With ZenFit I wanted to accomplish more than what you see in the mirror," she said. “We wanted a place you could go and get a holistic workout."

Williams said Zen is basically where everything starts to comes together and mind and body become cohesive.

Lea Thomas, a nurse who has been taking classes at ZenFit for eight months, said ZenFit was the first yoga experience where she genuinely enjoyed the workout.

"I've taken a couple classes over the past 10 years, but nothing sparked my interest," Thomas said." I have had severe back pain and have been to every medical professional. I have never felt better."

Attendee Dabney Poorter, a certified nutritionist, said ZenFit instructors aren't just interested in teaching, and the emphasis on nutrition challenges people mentally as well as physically.

"They want to be involved in your everyday life and overall well-being," Poorter said. "It doesn't feel like you're going to yoga class; it's much deeper, more involved.”

Williams said the ZenFit Fall Bootcamp Challenge is a four-to-eight-week journey done in groups of four that provides innovative classes to strengthen, tone and stretch the body while bringing awareness to food and its benefits. Classes are available for women and men in all stages of health and fitness.

"It started out with just me, but now we have eight instructors, teaching eight different classes," Williams said.

Anyone wanting information about classes or costs can visit http://zenfitstudio.com/ .

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