Trials & Triumphs- Thunderbolt Turns Three

This week, we celebrate Thunderbolt Power Yoga’s Third Birthday.  In preparing for the studio’s birthday, I reflected on the hectic and exciting weeks leading up to our opening.  If you had asked me then, in the fall of 2014, where I thought I’d be today, I’m not sure I would have told you:  

  • My studio would  be running like a well-oiled machine and I would have 3 full-time, (rockstar) managers - Carlina, Charlotte, and Alex

  • I would have declined every opportunity to open additional yoga studios - despite prime location availability and generous build-out reimbursement offers

  • I would be married to the man I had just begun dating, expecting a baby, and living in Roswell, GA

If you are reading the above, you helped turn my dreams into my reality.

Last week I mentioned I opened Thunderbolt without a single employee.  What was I thinking? Though I lived less than a mile from my studio, I kept a bin of my clothes in the women's changing room, my apartment water bill was negligible because I rarely showered at home, and I put so little mileage on my car that I had to pay for a “not-enough-use” repair.  In the fall of 2014, I would have told you with confidence, “I am the manager, the lead instructor, the trainee, and the bookkeeper.”  I was running on adrenaline, yoga vibes and community support.  While I knew I needed to hire an assistant manager, it took two more years, a battle with anxiety attacks and the dimming of my passion to realize I needed to hire a team.

To say Thunderbolt Power Yoga took off is an understatement, we exploded! Classes were packed by Christmas 2014, and our schedule of 28 weekly classes quickly surpassed 50.  We began opening the studio at 5:15 a.m. and soon were closing well after dark.  I didn’t have the bandwidth to manage the business, build the brand or keep a smile on my face, and I definitely didn’t have a clue how to get out of the mess I had created.  Truth be told, if you’d asked me what my greatest fear was during Q1 2016, I would have told you, “Never being able to live a normal life. Never having breathing room."

An unexpected turn of events in early spring 2016 left me without my right hand assistant and quite literally knocked me on my as*ana.  While I was still responsible for management responsibilities, an assistant manager had been handling client experience, email blasts, social media and more.  I was paralyzed.  I had just inherited a load of responsibilities, and I had nobody in my pipeline I could readily delegate work to.  Buckets of uncontrollable tears - and a brave face I hope to never wear again - got me through one day at a time. With the help of a few committed mentors, some difficult “come-to-Jesus” moments and a hard reality check, I started making changes. I had been on the inside of my business climbing out when I needed to be on the outside looking in. I knew letting go of my baby was the only way it would ever truly fly.

What if I fall? Oh, but my darling what if you fly?
— Erin Hanson

I hired great leaders and built a team I implicitly trust.   At times, I am still tempted to micromanage; admittedly, its a challenge for me to quiet myself, allowing my team to take the reigns, and at times make mistakes. Owning a business is a lot of work, and there are days I want to run far far away from yoga. But it is the yoga that brings me back.  Again and again, yoga draws me in, and my community is always there accepting me with open arms.

Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again , come , come.
— Rumi
 Photo taken by my father, Scott Hinchman, at 5:30 am on TPY's opening day

Photo taken by my father, Scott Hinchman, at 5:30 am on TPY's opening day

 Before TPY had 'real' signage

Before TPY had 'real' signage

 Two months before TPY's opening

Two months before TPY's opening

 Two days before TPY's opening

Two days before TPY's opening

 
 The newest addition to TPY Leadership, he's irreplaceable 

The newest addition to TPY Leadership, he's irreplaceable 

 Thunderbolt turns three!

Thunderbolt turns three!

 Charlotte + Carly, Winter 2014

Charlotte + Carly, Winter 2014

 My amazing leadership team, Summer 2017 

My amazing leadership team, Summer 2017 

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Carly Grace Milyo

Born in New York City,  Carly Grace grew up in Atlanta and graduated from The Westminster Schools.  Carly received her Bachelor of Science in Human Development, and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Virginia Tech in 2012. During her college career, Carly began practicing yoga as an escape from her intense ACC Cheerleading training. The rigor and requirements Carly upheld as an ACC athlete combined with the social expectations and action packed schedule expected of an Alpha Phi left Carly depleted both physically and mentally.  Before Carly found yoga, she used running, partying with friends, and restricting her diet to maintain a sense of control in her life. It was Carly's true desire to find more purposeful and authentic friendships and to invest her time in cultivating her greater well-being and spirituality that lead her to yoga. 

The creativity and physical challenge of yoga captivated and inspired Carly. Yoga was the first thing Carly practiced where the perfect-ten mentality was not required; in fact, perfection is the antithesis of yoga principles.  After hanging up her poms poms and retiring from her ACC Cheerleading career, Carly quickly found herself  invested in the In Balance Yoga Community in Blacksburg, VA.  With encouragement and affirmation from Studio Owner, Becky Crigger, Carly set out for New York City to train with Dana Trixie Flynn at Laughing Lotus Love Skool.

Yoga Alliance 200 E-RYT, Carly has studied and practiced with many influencers and teachers all over the United States.  Carly currently teaches Thunderbolt Power Yoga®;  a powerful alignment based vinyasa flow inspired by some of her greatest influencers including, Dana Trixie Flynn and Baron Baptiste.  Carly infuses creative ideas and sequencing into her classes. Her purpose as a teacher is to inspire people to move like themselves. Carly is committed to helping students be audaciously playful in both their practice and in their lives. 

You can catch Carly Grace teaching at her studio Thunderbolt Power Yoga, at off-site events such as the infamous FIT Yoga Series with Carly Grace at W Atl Buckhead, at music festivals, corporate conferences, and more!  Be sure to look out for Carly's quarterly Boombox Power Yoga® Class offered alongside a live DJ, accompanied by her pink boombox, and enhanced with a 16 inch disco ball. 

In the mean time, you can follow her adventures on instagram (@yoga__barbie) or give her a wave when you see her drive by in her infamous pink jeep!