If you haven't yet, swing by the 105F Yoga studios (1344 N. Milwaukee Ave, all the way up the stairs) for the Chicago Summer, any time of year. Their bright, spacious space looks like a great place to pump your endurance production into overdrive. Read on to get a brief introduction to the man who best knows Bikram to be the antidote to "working in skyscraper-world," 105F Director, John Marcoux.
Briefly describe your business and introduce yourself.
We founded Chicago's first hot yoga studio in 2001 inside of a bodacious old furniture warehouse loft at 1344 N Milwaukee. Originally known as Bikram Yoga Chicago-Wicker Park, 105F offers classes exclusively in a room heated to 105°F and humidified to 40%. A couple of dozen hot yoga teachers keep it hot 365 days a year.
Where did you get the inspiration to open your business?
Working in skyscraper-world tasted like poison. Hot yoga was the antidote.
Chicago needed a hot studio. Wicker Park was our first choice. We started searching at North-Damen-and-Milwaukee and found our landlord in the first hour.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business in Chicago?
Before opening: find someone who knows what you don't.
Upon opening: default to generosity. Always generosity.
What product or service of yours are you the most excited about offering?
It's a tie.
(1) We just launched a new, Smart60 60-minute version of our original 90-minute series. Student feedback is ideal: a heart-pounding challenge that leaves them feeling euphoric. We're doubling the number we offer for Fall.
(2) We just welcomed the USA Yoga Champ and two-time World Yoga Championship runner-up Gianna Purcell to our teaching staff. These laurels hardly even hint at her ability to teach and lift a school full of yogis. Girl got game.
What do you like the most about being located in Wicker Park Bucktown?
As with leaders and entertainers, neighborhoods achieve greatness through character. We'd put WPB's scrappy, open energy up against any 'hood in the galaxy. We have fantastic neighbors, decent street parking, and all kinds of fun to tumble out into after a class. Witnessing the area blossom over the last decade and a half has been like rooting for your favorite team and they keep winning!
What kind of people are your customers?
All sorts, like the neighborhood. Definitely a lot of local residents and professionals as well as a slew of people wishing to feel more alive -- the total yoga beginners, the young tattooed crowd, chronic sufferers, runners training for marathons, professional dancers, disabled folk -- some of the best people-watching outside of an airport.
What can people expect when they walk in your front door?
A visceral surprise. The lobby is irrationally spacious. These big ol' Willy Wonka doors open to a 4000 square foot, sun-drenched lobby with plants and art and seating and happy people loitering. First time visitors enter, halt, survey, and then smile. When we see that smile, we know our jobs are more than halfway done.