The entrepreneur finds a balance between work, health, fitness and family
While many small businesses in the region faced challenges during the year of the pandemic, some entrepreneurs saw opportunities to adapt, survive and even thrive. This is the case with Angie Toman, owner of Living Balance Studios, a local wellness and fitness boutique.
Living Balance opened its storefront as a private teaching studio only in Fayetteville in 2013, but Toman had been offering classes since 2001. When the pandemic hit, Toman was able to run classes online.
Due to his ingenuity and dedication to serving his customers, Toman has not only adapted his business to survive the restrictions of COVID-19, but is now able to grow his business.
On May 15, Living Balance Studios will host a grand reopening, with additional space to accommodate guest needs. The public is invited to the free event scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at 201 S McPherson Church Road, to enjoy a sample of the classes offered at the studio. There will be raffle prizes, nutrition and wellness consultations, and more.
Hobby at career
Toman is a former trial lawyer turned health and wellness teacher who began her journey in yoga and Pilates in the early 90s to help with her migraines as a result of her stressful working life.
“At the time, no one in town was teaching yoga in my part of Florida, so I basically started watching videos and practicing myself, and it wasn’t too difficult given that I had a dance training, ”Toman said. “It was fun, a hobby on the side.”
After moving to Fayetteville in August 2000, she became a stay-at-home mom.
“I wasn’t good at staying home and started to get very anxious,” she recalls. “I was looking for something to do and a local gym started offering yoga classes, so a friend of mine recommended that I teach yoga and Pilates.”
After teaching for a while, her students requested private lessons, which prompted her to offer classes away from home or with her clients.
“I started doing that and from there it was kind of word of mouth,” Toman said.
“A student told a friend, and a friend told a friend and in a year or two I was basically this traveling yoga show.”
Toman moved to DC and continued her business there before returning to Fayetteville in 2010. After the divorce, she had to consider whether she was going to make this hobby her career. Her family and friends thought she was crazy not to start practicing law again where she could earn a lot more money, she said.
“I liked being a lawyer, being a lawyer, I liked the energy of it, I liked the adrenaline rush, but I knew that this wasn’t the kind of job for me if I wanted to be present with my kids and create my own schedule, ”Toman said.
“So I decided I was going to give it a shot. I told my family that I was going to give him five years, and if I cannot provide for my family, I will become a lawyer again.
Thrive during a pandemic
Living Balance started in 2013 with five to seven instructors who gave private lessons. Classroom space went from a studio to two within two years of opening, but it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that Toman really considered expanding the business.
During the pandemic, most of their clients continued to take online classes when the studio was closed, so the company survived the financial crisis felt by many small businesses in the region.
“About 75% of our clientele has stayed with us,” Toman said. “Some people bought two or three packages in advance to help us keep the cash flow, so I was able to pay the rent, pay my instructors.”
Organizing online classes over the past year also allowed her to continue classes with clients who were not in town or on vacation,
Toman decided to open a bigger space and offer group lessons. With some local yoga studios shutting down for good during the pandemic year, she had the opportunity to ask these owners for their top yoga instructors.
“Because there were so many instructors who were suddenly out of work, I was able to really pick the best for my team,” she said.
Toman was looking for instructors with more training than basic yoga certification, those who worked therapeutically with clients who had injuries, health issues, and those who were mentally uncomfortable for some reason. or physically.
“I was specific about who I hired, how they were trained, and spent time observing private lessons to understand the attention to detail that comes with a private lesson,” Toman said.
With the expansion, Toman feared that she would not have time to teach and become more of an administrator, which led her to make her two senior instructors managers.
Jessica Laird handles social media and marketing, while Vicky Greene handles all of the day-to-day administrative tasks that arise, giving Toman time to run some classes.
“I know what my passion is teaching and watching people grow in their practice, and watching it change their lives, whether it’s physically, mentally or spiritually,” Toman said.
“Pilates is all about core strength, your abdominal strength, your back strength,” Toman said. “So many people have back problems – instead of taking a pill for pain relief, Pilates is a great place to build all those muscles, it gives you support,” she says.
Most clients who do Pilates find it to be a powerful workout, it is a hard workout, but they feel great afterwards and its impact is low, she said.
27-year-old yogi Toman enjoys running, gaining weight and doing aerobics, but yoga is the main thing that gets his body moving and
“It’s so good for your joints, your muscles, it keeps you moving,” she says.
Toman emphasized the benefits of yoga and focusing on the stressful environment of the pandemic.
“I find myself in the morning doing five or 10 minutes of yoga, it prepares me mentally for the day, it is a way of relieving stress,”
The dream becomes reality
“A year ago in March, it wasn’t even on my radar,” she said. “It’s been a whirlwind of a year, it’s been wonderful, people ask me if I’m stressed but I’m not stressed, I’m busy.
The pandemic and the lockdown have worked in the studio’s favor, giving them the opportunity to focus and have construction complete and conduct a smooth opening on March 22.
“It all fell into place, like I’m doing what I’m supposed to do,” she said.
“My kids say ‘you are so lucky to love what you do every day’ but I’m saying the idea behind it started in 2001 and it’s 2021 – it went on for 20 years, it doesn’t. ‘isn’t happening overnight,’ Toman said.
The mission behind launching Living Balance Studios was to make the place a sanctuary for everyone who entered it, she said. “I want this place to be a place where people can let go of their world and be taken care of,” she said.
Grand opening and beyond
Living Balance Studios will expand into the same building, but will now see larger studio spaces, ranging from 1,500 to 4,300 square feet in the building, which was once Morgan’s Chop House. They will now have 26 coaches in their team.
The grand opening will offer free classes in four studios. Classes should fill up quickly, so arrive early to register for the slots. For a detailed course program, visit www.livingbalancestudiosnc.com/grand-opening
“We will be offering lectures and discussions on health, wellness and all of our services, where people can be educated about them,” Toman said. Hayat from Hayat Yoga Shala (one of the yoga businesses that closed last year) will be a lead instructor.
Raffle tickets will be available for purchase to bid on various items like 25 Class Pass, Apple Crate Basket, Massage Therapy Gift Certificates, Wellness Coaching Gift Certificates and more. Classes will be free, but donations will be accepted to benefit the Better Health Organization of Cumberland County and the Children’s Advocacy Center.
The grand opening will highlight a sample of what Living Balance Studios will offer: yoga, Pilates, life and wellness, nutrition, counseling, yoga assist massage, reiki and more.
“The Nutrition Coach will help you guide your runs, walk through your pantry, Life & Wellness training focuses on lifestyle and healthier living, Yoga Assist Massage, a form of Thai massage, where the client is lying on the floor and I passively place them in different yoga poses. While they are in this pose, I do pressure points and massages on their bodies. We have energy healing reiki services, ”Toman said.
The studio will be offering meditation, chakra and hula hoop workshops this summer. The information will be listed on their website.
Living Balance also offers free Karma Yoga workshops every Thursday for the community at 6 p.m.
“One thing we’re known for is being very detail-oriented, we have a great reputation, trying to take care of customers,” Toman said. “Even though we have a lot more people now, I want it to be that experience.”
Pictured above: Living Balance Studios has been able to expand their space over the past year and hire additional instructors (above). Their May 15 launch will showcase classes available to include Restorative Yoga and Riki, Hot Yoga, Pilates, and forums such as Healthy Eating and Chakras 101.