Jenny Miller and Katelyn Grady are the minds behind The Body Electric Yoga Company, a come-as-you-are space for mindful movement in St. Petersburg. The couple opened their studio, a beautifully renovated ice factory at 685 30th Avenue North, five years ago. Named for Walt Whitman's "I Sing The Body Electric" and affectionately known as The BE, the studio has pledged to Keep Yoga Weird ever since. Miller and Grady have taken painstaking care to elevate the practice of yoga and build The BE's culture, quickly becoming the preeminent force in the St. Pete yoga community. But as you'll hear, their plans for fitness industry domination don't stop at yoga - a major expansion is in the works.
Years in St. Pete
10 years, in business for a little over 5.
Organizations involved in
Katelyn: We have a nonprofit family. Jenny's parents have a nonprofit and Jenny's sister just retired from being the director of a nonprofit. Very involved in the Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay, One City Ministries. We for years would just sponsor lots of events and give gift certificates to lots of things and that's still the case. But we did just started this year our BE good club, what we do is every month feature a different nonprofit. Girls Rock St. Pete, we teach at their camp and sponsor their showcase. Other than that we like to sponsor as many different nonprofits as we can. We are also members of the Chamber and members of Cross SUP.
What gets you out of bed every day?
Jenny: Mostly Hank, our son. That's a good question, it has been hard not having a regular schedule to plan and organize my day. It's easy for Katelyn, she has a lot planned every day. But I'm pretty psyched about tackling every day, getting up, having fun, enjoying my life. Katelyn: On any given day of the week, something's getting me out of bed. I have to get up to go teach, to go to my pool workout or go paddle. I definitely schedule my mornings, I'm a sleeper. So I like to put something on my calendar for early in the morning, particularly on week days to just get me immediately rolling with my day. Jenny: I could also say fear of death but that doesn't sound particularly positive. I'm always worried that I'm going to have missed my whole life - that I'm going to wake up one day and have forgotten to enjoy myself or I'm not going to have made the best of what I can be and do. Awareness is good. I'm trying to move out of fear-based motivations and guilt-based motivations into something a little better.
Why St. Pete?
Jenny: I feel really lucky that I ended up in St. Pete, it was a total accident. I'm from Ohio originally, I started college at Ohio State in 1991. And that very month they rolled up to my hippie flophouse in a van full of my family and they were going on some gypsy journey and moving to California. But first they visited my mom's parents and my stepdad's parents who were living in St. Pete. And when they got to St. Pete they found that my stepdad's parents were not okay, so they stayed to help them. So they ended up here, and then I eventually ended up here many years later because of them. Katelyn: I moved here with an ex from San Diego, I grew up in Philly. And we were trying to open a business in Tampa and we just thought St. Pete was way cooler. And the business did open in Tampa and it's still happening there, he's still doing it, but we just wanted to live here. It's closer to the beach and more laid back and more our speed, kinda like San Diego.
What is one habit that you keep?
Jenny: I've been trying to keep up a real exercise habit, which comes and goes in my life. But every time I get back into it I remember and realize how important it is for my happiness. So even though I fall off that wagon over and over again, I'm on it right now and I hope that I'm going to continue because movement is the best thing for your brain and you really need to do it. Katelyn: I also have some real exercise habits. I paddle three times a week, I work out with my coach twice a week, I have scheduled days when I rock climb. I have a lot of habits in addition to yoga. It's important to me to food prep for the family, I cook a lot. I like to have certain smells and things - the way the house looks and feels, that's important to me. My work/life schedule. Pretty much my whole life is parceled out into habits that are important to me.
who are some people that influence you?
Jenny: I've mostly been influenced by my family. They have big hearts, they're all in the nonprofit/service world, I'm the only entrepreneur really. Katelyn is a big influence on me every single day. For me, it's people who are pretty tight with me. Katelyn: I'm very heavily influenced by the whole community at the Body Electric, both our teachers and our students. I'm constantly inspired by the different things people are interested in and bringing into the space. I'm inspired by other local business people, Kelly Lessem, Tonya Donati, I don't want to start listing people because I don't want to leave anyone out. I'm inspired by Lance Robbins, he has an amazing brain for how the body works. Various thought leaders on Instagram. St. Pete itself is inspiring.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
Jenny: Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman's big book of poetry. It's what inspired the name of our studio. He's all about the sacredness of the body, he's a great populist, he's a great American. He loves language, he's inspiring to me and that book seems very much about a celebration of human potential and human sacredness and love and lust and beauty. Katelyn: A journey that I've been on with myself as a person who has spent a lot of my life trying to rearrange everything that's external around me to make myself more comfortable, look within. Look no further than what's going on inside. Really working on yourself - you really have got to be doing the work.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
Jenny: It would be nice to know from the start that you're going to be successful. Also three years ago our son was born, so it would have been nice to have someone else doing (things). Katelyn: You don't really know until you do it that when you delegate, it frees you up to do a better job managing and it frees the business up for more growth. I think that three years ago, we were still doing everything ourselves and if we were brave enough to let go a little more, things maybe would have grown a little more quickly, and we would have had more sane lives. When you're so involved in daily operations it's hard to zoom out and see the big picture.
Jenny: Katelyn always got big ideas, she doesn't like to sit and settle for any amount of time, so we're thinking about another location maybe a little different concept. She's been working on that for a year already. Katelyn: It will be a lot of other physical movement practices that are complimentary to yoga. Rather than just yoga. Our location right now we have a couple of other things dabbled in, less than five classes per week that are not yoga. The new location will be stuff that yogis need, like physical strength training things to balance the yoga practice. I love the idea of pilates mat stuff. Speaking of Lance Robbins and Jessica Mihm, those guys have really great ideas about incorporate mobility and re-patterning exercises into your movement practice. Right now, it's all of these ideas. It's easy for a lot of us who "sell" a movement practice to be like, "this is the thing." But the truth is there is no one thing. The best thing that any of us can be doing is moving our bodies in a wide variety of ways. It's important to have some variety mixed in, so this will be a way for us to not only communicate that but also to serve it up in a nice, sweet way with a garnish.