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Crystal Tretbar, left, and Keri Vammer are shown in The Studio: Wellness Community of Mandan, a new business located in the city's historic Lewis & Clark Hotel building.

Two Mandan women with a love for yoga are growing a business and giving life to an old building that suits their needs and the needs of their clients.

Crystal Tretbar and Keri Vammer opened The Studio: Wellness Community of Mandan in April after seeing a need for more than yoga classes in Mandan. Vammer was a student in a class Tretbar was teaching in Bismarck, and the two noticed that everyone in the class was from Mandan. They got together for coffee and started brainstorming.

“There are places in Mandan that have yoga classes, but there wasn’t an actual studio here,” Tretbar said. Their discussions led them to ask “why not do it?”

“It was born,” Vammer said.

Tretbar walked by the 100-year-old Lewis and Clark hotel building on Third Avenue Northwest and knew she’d found the spot. The floors and ceiling needed work, and a lot of little things had to be remedied. Windows that had long been covered now allow natural light from the front and back of the studio.

“It had not been loved for a very long time,” Tretbar said.

The studio space most recently housed a scrapbooking service and retail store. It sat vacant for a couple of years before the two decided to lease it. 

Having a place to do business allowed them to put in place their plan for a different type of yoga studio. Their focus was on creating an environment that was noncompetitive and supportive.

“Our whole goal when we started this was to provide a space that gave people a place to practice and gave them a safe place to do that, as well as our goal was to just be kind to everybody,” Vammer said.

It’s happened, she said, and more quickly than they might have imagined.

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They started out teaching their favorites -- vinyasa (traditional yoga) and power yoga for Tretbar, vinyasa and yin (a slower-paced yoga) for Vammer -- but they soon realized many of their clients were beginners.

Now there are classes for students at any level, and classes are available as early as 5:30 a.m. and as late as 9 p.m. They offer 16 classes, everything from high-intensity yoga to candlelight yoga, and more classes for beginners are slated to start this fall. The success of a meditation class has surprised them.

“I did not think in the middle of North Dakota that meditation would really be a popular class, and it’s our most popular one,” Tretbar said.

Participants range in age from teenagers to people in their 70s. Among them is Linda Beechie, 65, of Mandan, who got back into yoga after being away from it for many years. The supportive atmosphere is evident, she said, and the cry of “good job, ladies” is not uncommon.

“They work on making sure people are doing poses right so nobody gets injured,” Beechie said. “Each instructor has a way of going around to help.”

Beechie said her muscles are more toned, she loves yin, and the calmness brought on by meditation has been a bonus.

“And I’ve just met some really nice people,” she said.

Tretbar said she and Vammer received a lot of support from students and the community, but she was amazed to see how much the students encouraged each other.

“I didn’t expect that,” she said.

More than 1,000 people have tried the business since its opening four months ago. When classes aren’t in session, space at The Studio is available for groups and events with a wellness goal.

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Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or Travis.Svihovec@bismarcktribune.com

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