Spartanburg businesswoman expanding yoga concept Zen Studios

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    A popular yoga studio on Spartanburg’s east side will expand to meet growing customer demand.

    Lisa Muehlenbein, owner of Zen Studios, has signed a six-year lease on a 2,700-square-foot space beside her current 2,200-square-foot location at 1040 Fernwood-Glendale Road at Hillcrest shopping center.

    The space is undergoing a renovation to provide more space for amenities and programming, including a loose-leaf tea bar and lounge, a studio for its AntiGravity classes, a private studio, and two additional massage rooms.

    Construction is expected to be complete in April. The project will increase the footprint of Muehlenbein’s business to nearly 5,000 square feet.

    “With all of the growth that is happening in Spartanburg, I think the community is ready for something new and different,” Muehlenbein said. “I am excited to be a part of it. Like Gandhi said, ‘Be the change.’”

    Muehlenbein is originally from Bradford, Pa. She and her family moved to Spartanburg from Youngstown, Ohio, in 2007.

    Her husband, Stephen Muehlenbein, is a radiologist at Mary Black Hospital. The couple has four children ranging from ages 9 to 23.

    Muehlenbein began teaching yoga in 2001. She has earned her E-RYT 500 teacher training credential from the Yoga Alliance and has taught about 5,500 hours of yoga.

    The owner said her staff includes 16 teachers, two massage therapists, and two office associates. The studio offers both 200-hour and 500-hour teacher trainings recognized by the Yoga Alliance.

    “I worked for another teacher training organization and saw many things that I liked, as well as things I didn’t like,” Muehlenbein said. “When I moved to Spartanburg, I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I decided to take everything I had seen in my travels teaching yoga around the world and bring it here.”

    The owner said her business has continued to grow steadily.

    Zen Studios currently offers 23 group classes per week. It features a “yoga wall” that incorporates a series of straps placed on different parts of the body to create traction and space.

    A few years ago, Muehlenbein began offering AntiGravity Aerial Fitness classes, a style of yoga that employs a hammock-like apparatus. She said those classes have really “taken off.”

    The business has one room for Swedish, deep tissue and prenatal massage therapy, as well as a small retail shop near its main entrance.

    “We’ve just outgrown the space,” Muehlenbein said.

    She said the expansion will increase capacity to nearly 50 classes per week. She anticipates her staff numbers growing to about 20 yoga teachers, nine massage therapists and three to four employees at the tea bar.

    The tea bar concept, she said, will be similar to a Teavana. Muehlenbein said she worked with an herbalist in Texas to create a Zen Blend Chai, a signature tea blend that is reminiscent of the owner’s travels to India.

    Customers will be able to choose from a range of other blends and purchase cups of tea to sip while sitting in the lounge or on the go. There will also be supplies for home tea brewing available in the boutique.

    “Nothing else like this that I know of exists in Spartanburg,” Muehlenbein said.

    In June, Zen Studios was announced as one of four initial tenants headed to the Drayton Mills Marketplace, a commercial complex under construction in the former warehouses and company store of the 114-year-old Drayton Mill.

    The other tenants included Greenville-based restaurateur Rick Erwin’s new dining concept The Standard: A Refined Kitchen, industrial developer Agracel, and Melotte Enterprises and its new coffee business, Mozza Roasters.

    While leases for the other three businesses were finalized, Muehlenbein said Zen Studios was unable to secure her contract.

    “I love Drayton and am still a huge believer in what they are doing there,” she said. “It didn’t work out for us, unfortunately, but I still think it’s something that is going to be great for Spartanburg.”

    As part of the expansion, Muehlenbein said Zen Studios will begin hosting a special Karma Community Class at 10 a.m. on the last Saturday of each month.

    The class will be taught for free by her instructors. Customers will not be charged for the class, but will have the option to make a donation that will be given to a local charity. The first session will be held Feb. 25.

    Zen Studios will also be collecting non-perishable pantry items during the month of February for Piedmont Care.

    For more information, visit www.zen-studios.com.

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