Shay Kostabi was a dancer and choreographer who found fitness. Her boyfriend, Jesse DeYoung, was a trainer who became a photographer. And an idea was born. Why not meld fitness and art?
They founded the Local Skill, an "artistic fitness collective" that enables them to tap their creative roots and collaborate with friends to produce events that are a bit like exercise raves, a bit like happenings. These events are not for those who want to go to the gym precisely so they don't have to interact with anyone. They were designed to promote the idea that "creating a healthy body, mind and lifestyle is, in fact, an art, and art is the inspiration for a life of wholesome wellness."
One recent Saturday morning, Sydney Benner taught a yoga-dance-calisthenics class she calls Flight in the high-ceilinged Exchange nightclub downtown to 50 or so people, most of them young but not all of them proficient at yoga. There was music, samples of nonalcoholic drinks like Runa and Kavita, a dance-fashion show and lots of hanging out in a cool space. The class was $25; for $43, lunch, the yoga mat and other swag were included.
"The physical challenge has this amazing ability to unlock your creativity, confidence, who you are, your true potential," Kostabi, 33, says. "It's not about six-pack abs and green juice."
Benner's style is high-energy, and she taught with DJ Badash playing electric dance music — not your usual yoga vibe. Wearing pink spangly leggings, she taught from the stage, with a lively light show on six screens and a huge disco ball in the ceiling.
Her mantra? "The way you work out is often the way you are going to feel when you walk out. You should feel free. It's not about what it looks like, it's about what it feels like." She described the workout as one "you can bring to music festivals."
For the fashion show, which showcased the SukiShufu workout line from London, the models did more than walk across the dance floor. The clothes were sparkly and the models performed dance or yoga routines.
So far, the Local Skill offerings have been a mix of events like that at the Exchange and smaller neighborhood events organized around street art or "adventure hikes." Down the road, Kostabi plans monthly events that include a watercolor mantra artist, live percussion, capoeira, acro-yoga and other activities. For more information go to www.thelocalskill.com