As a transplant many times over, I spend a lot of time in airports. I’ve mastered everything from the art of getting through security quickly (TSA pre-check forever) to avoiding the exorbitant costs of travel food (for evening flights, pack dinner and eat it at work before jumping on the A line to Denver International Airport). After years of frequent flying, though, there’s one still facet I haven’t been able to figure out: how to fit in exercise.
Denver will soon have a partial solution, when the country’s first private airport yoga studio opens at DIA November 6. Over the past few years, plenty of terminals across the country (San Francisco, Chicago, and Dallas, among others) have launched yoga rooms, in which yogis can flow with fellow travelers. But Yoga on the Fly—debuting here in Denver—departs from this trendy concept by offering five mini studios, each set up to accommodate one person.
These private rooms are each stocked with an iPad featuring instructional videos (designed by cofounders and longtime yoga teachers Elizabeth Feinstone and Avery Westlund), a set of wireless headphones, and a Yoga by Numbers mat that allows you to correct your alignment by assigning numbered targets to the hand and foot positions of different postures (think: Color by Numbers but for yoga). “We wanted to overcome the barriers of really clear, safe instruction, privacy, and, frankly, cleanliness,” Westlund says, laughing. “You want to know the mat has been cleaned every single time someone uses it.” (They do indeed plan to clean the mats after every use.)
The styles of the videos ($15 to $60) range from vinyasa to restorative to meditation and breathing, all lasting eight to 20 minutes long. Feinstone and Westlund used both their yoga expertise and their education—Feinstone has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a master’s in public health while Westlund has a master’s in forensic psychology—to create sessions that would explicitly address travel-related aches and pains, poor circulation, and anxiety. For instance, warrior II, chair, and high lunge poses will help to get your blood flowing after several hours of sitting in cramped economy class. If you need some guidance, don’t worry; the employees at the reception desk will be able to help you choose a video based on how much time you have and what you’re looking to get out of your mini yoga practice.
Yoga on the Fly will also sell a small selection of MPG Sport apparel (as well as jewelry, water bottles, essential oils, and carry-on bags), but you shouldn’t expect to sweat. “There won’t be a need for people to take showers or even wear yoga pants,” Feinstone says. “Most of the classes can be done in jeans and button-up shirts.” Just in case you want to freshen up afterward, though, face cloths, hand sanitizer, toner, lotions, and other skincare products will be available for free at the in-house beauty bar.
While all of this sounds great, the small number of rooms and the lack of both a reservation system and a time limit might be problematic. Feinstone and Westlund would love to expand at DIA if all goes well (they already have plans to open studios at other, undisclosed airports in 2018), so that issue might just be a matter of seeing what demand is like. The pair’s also working on a reservation system; eventually, a tool through Yoga on the Fly’s website will let customers choose a time slot in advance. And perhaps the short amount of time that most travelers spend in the airport means folks won’t just camp out in the rooms all day. But all three of those factors—limited space, no reservations, and potentially unlimited time per person in a studio—together could make for a dearth of repeat customers.
The people who should definitely come back are airport personnel and military veterans, both of whom will receive a 10 percent discount. And Feinstone and Westlund hope the size and number of domestic layovers at DIA (it’s the sixth busiest airport in the country and the largest in terms of total land area) plus the active, healthy culture in the region will ensure a steady flow of regulars otherwise. And with the holidays coming up, there really is no better time to come in for a little bit of stress relief, or, as Westlund puts it, “a mindful alternative to the usual chaos.”
Yoga on the Fly will operate at the A Gates in Denver International Airport; Sunday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.