CorePower Yoga, a yoga studio above the Akira, 1539 E. 53rd St., will close for good on May 14.
CorePower opened in the neighborhood in June of 2013, two years after the building — a shuttered Borders bookstore — was purchased by the University of Chicago.
A spokesperson from the Denver-based company, the largest yoga studio chain in the country, said corporate is closing the Hyde Park studio due to the expiration of the location’s lease.
“With that said, CorePower Yoga operates over 15 highly-trafficked studios in the Chicago area a short distance away, from Bucktown to Sauganash,” the spokesperson said.
A representative from the University of Chicago’s commercial real estate division told the Herald that the corporate owner “chose not to renew its lease for the Hyde Park location under the current terms.” The U. of C. is actively looking for a new tenant.
The news, announced via email in mid-April, came as a surprise to the studio’s instructors and students alike.
Nicole Fuller, a part-time instructor of several years and a Hyde Park resident, said staff were “blindsided” by the closure at a time when classes and attendance are ramping up.
“It’s a really interesting time that they’re closing because we feel like we’re just getting on our feet again after the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Fuller. Our classes are full — it feels like they swept the rug out from underneath us.”
The studio employs about 14 instructors, most of whom are part-time but count on the income from CorePower as a “substantial part of their salary,” Fuller said. She estimated that CorePower runs about 50 classes and instructs almost 180 students per week.
Some classes are so full, she said, that corners of yoga mats overlap each other.
”We know that numbers of (people) coming back into studios are low around the country, and at other businesses,” said Fuller. “(But) it doesn’t feel like we’re low on enrollment.”
A spokesperson for the company said that instructors have been offered opportunities to teach at other CorePower locations. "All Access" members have also been offered 10% off of monthly membership dues, which cost about $179.
“I’ve lived in Hyde Park for, I don’t know, 20 something years, and one of the best communities I’ve ever found here is through this CorePower Yoga studio,” said Stefanie White, a student at the studio. “I’m upset that corporate is pulling it with complete disregard to the community.”
Noting the company's recently established Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Council, created to bring more yoga instructors of color into organization, White questioned the decision to close the only studio not in a majority-white neighborhood.
“They teach diversity and inclusion to their staff and employees, yet they’re pulling out of a diverse community,” said White.
Regarding diversity, a spokesperson said, "this was a very difficult business decision to close this specific location, but we remain wholeheartedly committed to diversifying the yoga community through our BIPOC scholarship program, amplifying minority owned and led retail brands, and through our hiring and training efforts."
Though there are three other yoga studios nearby — YogaSix, 1618 E 53rd St., Chaturanga Fitness, 1525 E. 55th St., and Blue Lotus Yoga, 816 E. 63rd St. — instructors and students lament the loss of the connections they’ve fostered with other community members in CorePower classes.
“I don't know of any other place in Hyde Park that I feel the same community aspect,” said White. “I go in there and I can get a hug — I know that sounds goofy, but group exercising is still a form of community.”
“It’s really challenging for us (instructors) because we’re not sure how to best serve our community now,” said Fuller. “It’s not that there aren’t other studios, it’s the fact that we don’t have the opportunity now to help the people where we live."
[crying] My daughter and I love Corepower and the community built around it. Andrea is an amazing teacher. I hope Corepower can stay or relocate nearby.
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