Fitness studios in New York are a dime a dozen, but with so many spaces boasting an intense “cult-like” following, it can be very intimidating. For those of you who are looking for a safe, body-positive place to exercise both body and mind, consider FinerStudio in The Bronx. Owner Geydi Moreno Nuñez has created a community unlike any other: one that combines fitness, painting, and social events for overall physical health and mental wellness. We interviewed the former teacher and mother of two to get the scoop.
Please tell us a little about yourself:
I’m originally from Dominican Republic and now live in the Bronx, NY. I’m a proud mother of two beautiful daughters. I grew up seeing my two grandmothers always helping the community and people in need- especially in the area of health and wellness- so I always felt the responsibility to continue their hard work. I started my carrier as a school teacher, and in 2014, I made my dream come true and opened FinerStudio to offer yoga classes in the Bronx in the Bronx. Now, we offer 20 fitness classes (yoga and Zumba) and three “Paint & Sip” classes in a week.
What makes FinerStudio unique?
We are not the “cult-like” traditional yoga studio with a religious approach to Yoga. We are more like a Social Club Yoga and Fitness Studio; our laid-back vibe will keep health and wellness in first place of people’s minds. But we believe that being in shape and having a social life are both important elements of happy, well-adjusted people. We want to encourage keep that balance.
Do you strictly offer classes or can you workout by yourself?
We offer private lessons, but our main focus is group classes. We believe the motivation of group brings faster and better results; at a fitness social club you enjoy getting together, comparing techniques, receiving inspirational backup, and encouraging each other to shed pounds. Whether it’s a Yoga or a Zumba Session, it makes you keep up with others, develop relationships, self-confidence, and self-esteem. You get the help of friends, and in return you commit to bettering yourself. Your mistakes are fine, because you’re with friends: they won’t judge you when you don’t perform at your best.
Combining arts and exercise is very unique. How did you come up with the concept for FinerStudio?
Creativity and Fitness are two of my passions, so I thought about how the combination of my interests can add value to other people’s lives. It’s also how you can make your work fulfilling.
I think inspiring people to be healthy and to be creative are great ways to add value. You can help people, inspire people, heal people, educate people, or entertain people. It’s all about making people’s lives a little easier or more exciting. I love to see people being proud of themselves, I find it’s really cool when they created a masterpiece or they progressed in their Fitness Journey, and that makes them proud of their own achievements.
Tell us about the “Paint & Sip” programs. How did you come up with that idea and what can one expect from attending a class.
I produced art events back in 2005/2006 in Dominican Republic; I worked as a School teacher and sometimes the principals at Look At Me School in Santo Domingo would let me produce extracurricular art events in which we would bring snacks and sodas, and students would show off their masterpieces. When The Paint and Sip trend started to take over the night out scene in America, I was hired to design and manage a program in Midtown, Manhattan called Painting Hangout. I was then already starting the project of FinerStudio in Bronx, NY as a Yoga and Fitness Social Club, that’s how we decided to host art events here as well.
At a Paint Night at FinerStudio people put down their phones, they pick up a paintbrush, and do something different. Painting over drinks with friends or making new ones. You’ll spend two hours creating your own masterpiece as a local professional artist guides you step by step. It’s okay if you are a beginner, because fun is the only requirement. We provide the supplies; music and instruction. This is not the typical night out, it’s more like a mix of creativity and conversation; the loud music of the disco club wouldn’t let you enjoy a great chat; so people are preferring now the laid back creative atmosphere of a Paint and Sip event.
Who are your customers and what kind of community can one expect to find at FinerStudio?
We are a Family-Friendly community and you can find regular classes and private events for kids as well as for adults. Our target is people who are not interested in bars and clubbing after work. We have urban boutique fitness lovers which emerged from gyms and hated the treadmill and machines, or the cult-like type of Yoga; but instead they like to mingle with like-minded people with good vibes. We are bringing together a diverse crowd of people from all different ethnicities and body types for yoga and social arts events.
Describe the connection between arts and movement in relation to health and wellness.
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi said: “When we are involved in creativity, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of our lives.” Creativity is being recognized everyday more as a real mind and body healer as well as an affordable intervention to address a variety of life challenges. There has been research since the beginning of history that proves creative expression is good for us in one way or another. There are already formalized approaches art and movement. For example, The Creative Arts Therapy and Expressive Arts Therapy, which integrates the arts within health care settings as well as a variety of arts activities for personal wellness. “Finer mind and body” through arts and movement is our vision and I believe pretty soon we are going to see a lot of studios combining Yoga and Art activities.
What is your most popular class at FinerStudio? Why do you think that is?
Paint and Sip is the bomb! You have to see the smiles in their faces when they are done with their projects. I have a second popular class which is Gentle Yoga, the instructor is Racheal Weathers, we call her Yoga Racheal, and many of the attendees are beginners but have been envisioning practicing Yoga for a long time but were afraid to start. Now, they found a class that inspired them to actually start their practice.
Which class is your personal favorite and why?
Paint and Sip is my thing! If you’ve ever experienced a hangover, you know that heavy drinking is not good for the body, but in moderation, alcohol isn’t always bad. Studies have proved that small amounts of red wine can be beneficial to cardiovascular health. Moreover, people who do drink tend to exercise more than those who don’t. Speaking of hangovers, people don’t actually get drunk at our Paint and Sip event, but they might get tipsy! They are enjoying the painting process so much, and they usually bring bottles of wine, which is proven to be healthier than heavy liquor. They have fun, but they drink less and spend less than if they were to go to a Happy Hour or nightclub. That’s what I like about this class.
Talk to me about your instructors. What makes them stand out compared to other fitness instructors. What kind of training or interviewing process do you put them through before adding them to your team?
Due to the Westernization of the practice, certain groups of people (Minorities and “plus-sized” women, for example, who would definitely benefit from the practice) have been excluded from Yoga. In 2015, only 2% of Black women were doing Yoga in US, so I like to hire instructors who are Community Advocates. They step out and reach that community. Yoga Racheal (Racheal Weathers) inspires people from every race to join Yoga, and we believe that with her influence these numbers are about to change. Angela Dawn is also one of our assets. She is an ambassador of curvy/ “pus-size” yoga, and she is certified Yoga For All.
We are a body positive studio, whether you are small, tall, wide, narrow, whatever, you can become an asset in our team. Of course nothing is perfect, including us, but many of our attendees begin to value what their bodies can do more than just how they look. We want to impart that same kind of mentality to our audience. This attitude is everything to us, from recruiting like-minded professionals, programs, to client interactions and social media.
Is FinerStudio a membership-based fitness studio? How can we sign up for classes?
We offer memberships, but also Walk-Ins are welcome. People usually call to schedule a consultation or book online at finerstudio.com