A Conversation with Lindsey Breitwieser: Yoga Like You’ve Never Seen It Before

Welcome to the third installment of the “Conversations” series we began last year where we share what we learn from gathering outside perspectives on our favorite topics such as learning, innovation, and culture. There are few things we love more than an opportunity to question conventional thinking and challenge ourselves to do something differently than everyone else. Simply put, we like to break the mold—and this is true whether we’re developing training, designing an event, or reimagining a brand experience.

It also explains why we were so eager to talk to Greenville’s own Lindsey Breitwieser, owner of HMF Yoga Studio, about her fitness concept that completely reimagines the traditional yoga experience. HMF is yoga like you’ve never seen it before. You won’t find any mirrors, incense or plants in this studio. Instead of moving through poses to the soft sounds of wind chimes, you’ll be sweating, stretching and strength training to familiar hip-hop beats. We talked with Lindsey about what it means to be brave enough to “do it differently” and her journey to opening the doors of her (now wildly popular) studio—and here’s what she had to say.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Lindsey is a seasoned fitness instructor and has spent years taking every type of fitness class at more than 30 different studios in Greenville. She advocates the benefits of each and appreciates that by “doing her homework,” she was able to really understand what was available—and feel affirmed in her belief that there was space for something completely new and different.

In some ways, HMF is an example of innovation born out of necessity. After realizing she was frustrated with wrapping up an intense cardio workout only to find herself thinking about how and when to fit in the strength and flexibility she also needed, Lindsey had an epiphany. Why couldn’t a single workout give you all three—in a manageable timeframe? As a busy wife, mom, and professional, Lindsey didn’t have hours to dedicate to working out each day—and knew there were others who felt the same. And so, she started dreaming about a very unconventional fitness concept…

AN UNCONVENTIONAL CONCEPT

In fall of 2020, Lindsey decided to make her vision a reality and HMF Yoga Studio was born. Seeking to deliver an exercise experience that does it all, Lindsey put together a proprietary class structure that packs the most punch by incorporating elements of her favorite ways to work out: mobility & flexibility from yoga, heart rate & sweat from cardio, and bodyweight exercises for building strength. In 45 minutes. No fancy exercise equipment needed (although a yoga mat is nice to have).

Most of all, Lindsey wanted to create a space for people who sought a non-traditional yoga experience, and so HMF is designed for those who have perhaps felt alienated by classic yoga—maybe because of the music (or lack of), their fitness level, or not feeling “yogi” enough. Her mission? To break down the barriers of traditional yoga by offering the same benefits in an athletic version of yoga, wrapped in hip-hop music. And thus, HMF, which officially opened its doors on November 2, 2020, defines itself as a music-led unheated yoga and athletic conditioning experience for the modern person.

When it came to branding her concept, Lindsey, who has a marketing background, knew it just made sense to lean into the hip-hop aesthetic. Music is often one of the most enjoyable, motivating aspects of a workout, so HMF is music first and portrays a street style, edgy aesthetic—the very antithesis of every other yoga studio in Greenville. But a brand has to be about more than just an aesthetic, and so Lindsey was intentional in putting out what she wanted HMF to attract. And as she hoped, HMF’s enthusiasts come from diverse backgrounds. CrossFit loyalists, soccer players, former body builders, people who love working out to hip-hop, and those who have just never felt comfortable in a traditional yoga studio. Lindsey is a firm believer that the benefits of yoga—flexibility, range of motion, breath control—are for everyone. “Find the beat, find your breath, find your tribe” is how she sums up the HMF experience. And that feeling of belonging you get from being in a room with others, all moving to the same beat? It’s pretty special.

Lindsey’s process is not dissimilar to how we approach designing training or an event, which frequently begins with our team of Thinkers asking ourselves, “How can we do this differently? What hasn’t been done before? What’s been overlooked?” If a client tells us their existing training has missed the mark, we live to uncover just why that is—and then reimagine and reinvent to create custom content that resonates with learners and achieves business objectives.

And just as we build completely custom solutions for our clients, Lindsey has carefully cultivated elements of the HMF experience that can’t be found anywhere else. HMF’s Connect Moment comes towards the end of each class. For one song, the instructor steps back and everyone is encouraged to listen to their own body and move any way they would like, be it holding a pose, trying a flow, or dancing it out. As the enormous words scrawled on HMF’s studio wall remind clients, “No one does it like you”—and Lindsey’s greatest wish is for everyone to make each class their own by taking exactly what they need from it. She encourages clients to show up and try hard things, because that’s where growth and the ability to build resiliency (another favorite topic of ours) happen.

DON’T LET THE FEAR OF FAILURE HOLD YOU BACK

We asked Lindsey the obvious question: was it terrifying to open a fitness studio in the middle of a pandemic? She laughed, saying, “It would have been terrifying at ANY time! And if I’m not willing to feel that fear, then I don’t deserve the reward.” Lindsey approached opening HMF as an incredible learning opportunity. Although it would likely be messy and far from perfect, Lindsey decided she had to start somewhere. Taking a “start from where you are and evolve as you go” mindset was freeing, Lindsey says. “You have to be brave enough to be bad at something.” 

As firm believers in the idea that vulnerability spurs innovation, we love that approach. When we’re ideating at Think Up, we’ll sometimes use rapid prototyping to expedite innovation—the idea being to just put something out there, tweak it, and move forward. The process of creating can be vulnerable and messy, and we challenge ourselves to embrace that kind of bold thinking and support our clients in making their own bold choices.

As for feedback, Lindsey says it helps her to learn and evolve a better experience for people. “Bring it on. When I receive feedback from clients or my team, I remind myself that they’re sharing this with me not because they think something is bad, but because they’re so invested, they care enough to want HMF to be the best it can be. And that’s a gift.”  As proponents of building a culture of feedback, we couldn’t agree more!

Many thanks to Lindsey for reminding us to embrace the unconventional by looking for new and different ways of doing something—and for inspiring us to be both bold enough and vulnerable enough to go for it.

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