A business driven by philosophy instead of profits? No way.
And yet Adam Tournier thinks he can make it work. Grand opening for The Foundry Yoga Works was Saturday at the studio at 220 W. Saint Louis St. in Lebanon.
Recognize that address? It belongs to the Brickstreet Brew coffee shop, and Tournier said the partnership between the coffee shop and his studio will mean each business can expose itself to a larger clientele with half the overhead.
But more than that, Tournier said his goal is to offer a different way for folks in the community to get active and stay healthy. It’s a business built on philosophy, not profits.
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Tournier is a physics and science professor at McKendree University. He’s also an Aikido black belt and a longtime wrestling coach. Yoga, Tournier said, helped him change his life.
Evening classes at the studio begin at 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. A Thursday morning class is offered at 8:30 a.m. and Saturday classes begin at 8 a.m.
Q: What’s your story?
A: “I started practicing yoga in 2000 when I was in graduate school. I’m a professor at McKendree University. I teach physics and general education science courses. I practiced on and off since then. I wrestled in high school and college and then I’ve coached wrestling since then for the last 20-some years. I’m a volunteer coach for the men’s and women’s teams here at McKendree. I have a fairly long martial arts background, too. But I reached the point in middle age where I was injured. And I was very heavy; recently I had bariatric surgery about a year and a half ago. Yoga’s helped me lose more than 120 pounds. It’s been the key components in my personal life change. Obviously the surgery helped. But I was overweight, diabetic and in deteriorating health.”
Q: There are similar success stories to yours—someone gets in bad shape but then makes a positive life change. How did you transform that change into a business?
A: “It kind of happened holistically, on its own. The owner of Brickstreet Brew and I were having a conversation one day because someone had told her that I teach yoga. She wanted to possibly offer some yoga in the coffee shop. The conversation evolved into turning the space in the back of the shop into a yoga studio. Now we’re working to grow both businesses collectively.”
Q: Businesses are more collaborative with one another these days than at any time in the past. Do you notice that? Why might that be?
A: “Two of the things I’m most passionate about are coffee and yoga. So my love for coffee brought me into this coffee shop. My love for yoga, and how much I talk about it, created the conversation that we could bring those two things together. I think people who go to a coffee shop might not think about practicing yoga, and some who go to yoga classes might not think about getting coffee. We bring together different client groups that might not have otherwise patronized the other business. That’s a big benefit for the business owners. You find someone who has complementary philosophies, has a similar mission, but has a very different client base. You introduce each other’s clients to the other’s products and ideas, and ideally you develop more customers and that larger audience spreads word of mouth.”
Q: Do you think partnerships like the one you’re a part of have made getting into business easier for more people?
A: “I couldn’t have created the yoga classes without the support of the coffee shop. And hopefully, the creation of the yoga classes will not just support itself, but also bring new customers and foot traffic through the coffee shop and introduce new clientele to it. You’re correct in that we’re trying to drive our local community, and have our community have access to goods a services locally. Ideally, people would stay closer to home and have small, local businesses provide more for them as opposed to going to big box stores, national chains and franchises. If we could have more focus on local small business and have more local small businesses partner to decrease their overhead and bring more diverse services in one location, I think that can drive small town business growth. In a town like Lebanon, it can attract more small businesses to the main street and bring new and different types of businesses to town.”
Q: One traditionally might not assume yoga classes were available in Lebanon, but here you are. Is there demand for this?
A: “In the border of St. Clair and Clinton counties, there are a number of very small towns that are close together. Those communities want new and fun ways to be healthy. ‘How can I exercise? I don’t want to run on the treadmill, I don’t want to get on the Stair Master. I want to do something that’s going to make me feel better and improve the quality of my life.’ There’s not really been access to a holistic wellness program in this part of our area. So bringing yoga to Lebanon has gotten rave reviews. A lot of poeple in the community have already been in classes and others have expressed interest in joining us. We’re really excited for having the opportunity for the entire community to come practice yoga, and then drink coffee.”
Q: What does Lebanon being a college town do in relation to this shop’s success?
A: “I think there’s more of a conversation about non-traditional types of exercise, so people might expect to find something like yoga in a small, liberal arts college town. So with McKendree University here, there’s already a conversation about lifelong learning and community engagement that can help a business like this grow. But I know for us, it’s about reaching out to the surrounding towns and engaging people who might not expect to find yoga in small towns, and then convincing them to come into the cafe and the studio.”
Q: It sounds like your primary motive is philosophical rather than fiscal.
A: “Partnering with someone who has an existing business to bring extra value and extra service to their business, as we’re doing with the yoga classes, is a benefit to the community. And there’s not the drive to just generate a lot of money. It is more about our intention of bringing more holistic health and wellness to the community. We’re committed to creating a practice of health and wellness through many different aspects of people’s lives, but not doing it driven solely by generating revenue and creating profits. It’s about positively impacting our community.”
Q: What are you most excited about as you get this venture off the ground?
A: “I’m a teacher. My profession as a physics professor is my passion. I love coaching wrestling. So to bring together the philosophy and all the different areas of yoga and the physical practice at the same time is what drives me to teach. And what I’m truly excited about is teaching it, to share my discoveries, my own practice with the people in the community and watch them produce results and improve the quality of their lives.”
Job: Owner, Foundry Yoga Works
Goal: Give the community a new way to improve quality of life