A Refuge from the Hustle and Bustle
River North’s Yoga Loft offers mindful wellness community for all levels
by Katie Wilkes
In early 2012, Yoga Loft founders Jill Jerome and Tim Ceurvorst saw an opportunity to fill a yoga lifestyle gap in the River North neighborhood. Now, many of its students are calling it Chicago’s best-kept secret.
Affectionately called “YoLo” by its regulars, Yoga Loft is a boutique studio that has grown to be a well-rounded health and wellness community for advanced and beginning practitioners alike. Nearby residents and out-of-towners flock to Yoga Loft to seek a refreshing refuge from the hustle and bustle of everyday city life.
The space remains true to its name. On the fourth floor of an old brick loft building nestled in the thick of Hubbard Street bars and restaurants is an intimate two-studio space lined with original wooden beams. Barely visible from the street in a high-traffic area of town, its nondescript entrance is easy to pass, shared with multiple other businesses in the building.
Originally slated to open a block east above Andy’s Jazz Club, it took months of space hunting, lease negotiating and remodeling woes to open what is now Yoga Loft. Since then, the orange shag carpet has been replaced with rich wooden floors and walls that encourage flow from one studio to the next. But the charm of the original building’s craftsmanship is still largely intact.
“Like any other new business, we had a slow start at first,” explains Ceurvorst. “Class sizes were small and the word took time to get out. Now, it’s a different story.”
Jerome’s goal was to create a wellness community focused on a healthy balance of movement, not just exercise. The studio offers unique, intention based classes that complement one another. Students can rev up with a short bootcamp class, then cool down with restorative yoga.
“Yoga has literally changed the way I see myself, others and the world around me. It doesn’t matter what type of yoga you do, just do something with consistency and you will notice a difference.”
–Jill Jerome, co-owner, Yoga Loft
Sidelined by a running injury years ago, Jerome tried yoga as an alternative workout. She never looked back. “Yoga has literally changed the way I see myself, others and the world around me,” she says. “The physical and mental benefits are vast and limitless, especially if you have a daily practice. It doesn’t matter what type of yoga you do, just do something with consistency and you will notice a difference.”
Mirrorless studio walls encourage students to learn by feeling for alignment rather than looking for it. Instructors are chosen based on their ability to read the room, infuse creativity and originality and, most importantly, be authentic, say the owners.
More than 15 types of yoga classes are on the weekly schedule, from a flowy vinyasa practice to mindful meditation to a sweaty high-intensity workout. Office dwellers can even slip in a “busy people class” on their lunch break. New classes are also added often to the schedule based on student interest and feedback. All classes are designed to be just as fulfilling to the mind and heart as they are to the physical body.
“We are serious about helping people make real lifestyle changes,” says Jerome, adding that both owners want to offer a safe space for the community to feel comfortable evolving their practice, whatever style that might be.
“Can’t touch your toes? That’s OK here. Want to sweat like a maniac? You’ll find a class for that too,” Jerome says.
Many of studio’s instructors also consider themselves regulars of Yoga Loft’s community. Yoga teacher Cassi Stuckman led the opening night class in May 2012 and has taught weekly at Yoga Loft since. “I’ve stayed because of the closeknit vibe and freedom to be creative teaching a range of workshops and training sessions,” she says. “It’s definitely helped strengthen my own practice, too.”
For Yoga Loft student Laura-Ashley Burnside, the studio has become a familiar place during her transition to Chicago. “I’ve been practicing for several years in various cities, so I know what I like in a studio—inviting, warm, easygoing, friendly, balanced,” says Burnside, who moved to Chicago a little over six months ago. “The moment I stepped through Yoga Loft’s door, I knew I had found my place. My yoga ‘home.’”
Yoga Loft is located at 15 W. Hubbard Street in Chicago. Check out Yoga Loft’s latest class schedule,
pricing, upcoming teacher training programs and workshops at yogaloftchicago.com.
Katie Wilkes is a marketing professional, yogi,foodie and devoted rescue pup mom.