01/02/14 3:00pm
01/02/2014 3:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | April Yakaboski (second from left) leads a ‘hot yoga’ class at her West Main Street studio in Riverhead.

April Yakaboski is building an empire on West Main Street — and the 2001 Riverhead High School graduate is doing it one inspired, in-shape fitness student at a time.

Ms. Yakaboski opened her Aerial Fitness studio in June 2009 with the idea that she would offer her clientele experiences they couldn’t get at any other area gym. She did so first through aerial silks. Her students, also called aerialists, use the silks to suspend themselves from the ceiling and use their muscles to stretch, spin, bounce and flip to music.

She’s since opened two more health and fitness locations nearby. Her Hot Yoga studio occupies the second floor of the WRIV building — and gained regional media attention for its “Broga” classes for men. The latest addition, Spin-Sanity, opened in October in space previously occupied by The Hamptons Furniture Co. The spin cycle studio features 29 RealRyder stationary bikes, which she purchased from a Westhampton Beach fitness studio that had recently closed its doors.

For her creativity, business acumen and help in rebuilding a once-beleagured area, Ms. Yakaboski is the News-Review’s 2013 Business Person of the Year.

She also runs a paddleboard business on the Peconic River during the warmer months with friend and studio employee Rachel Goodale, offering locals as well as visitors to Riverhead’s East End Hyatt Place hotel a peaceful place to unwind on the water.

“She really wants to give clients what they want, so everything is based on what she gets back from clients,” said Ms. Goodale. “She has people of all ages, that’s the best part. She has as 73-year-old client who looks like she’s 50 because she works out every day. It’s an awesome place to work. I love going there and I love working there.”

She described Ms. Yakaboski as someone who’s “always thinking outside the box.”

Downtown Riverhead is also seeing the benefits of foot traffic, as the studios attract hundreds of people to the area each week.

“I try to do what the bigger gyms aren’t doing,” Ms. Yakaboski told the News-Review recently.

Even the spin cycles at Spin-Sanity are available at only four other locations on Long Island, said Roland Walker, who teaches a Sunday morning class in Riverhead. RealRyder-style stationary bikes “offers more of a core and upper body workout,” he said. The bikes – which go for about $2,000 a piece – pivot from side to side, offering a more real-life experience.

“There’s very few in the U.S., period,” he said. “She recruited me because she knew that I knew about that type of bike. They are very few instructors that are certified at teaching those bikes.

“It’s a big gamble, no doubt,” Mr. Walker said.

To hedge her bets, Ms. Yakaboski will seek certification for the unique bikes in January, along with Ms. Goodale and others.

For those involved, working in Ms. Yakaboski’s businesses doesn’t feel much like work.

The 200-plus clients are more like family, Ms. Goodale said, coming together daily for positive reasons.

“People see results quicker when they come to her studios,” she said. “People will say, ‘I was sick of going to the gym and doing the same routine.’ Everyone’s getting results and it’s fun. We look forward to seeing each other; everyone’s become friends.”


03/23/13 8:00am
03/23/2013 8:00 AM
Riverhead Broga classes

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | April Yakaboski (center) leads a hot yoga class at her studio on West Main Street in Riverhead Friday evening. Broga classes are Saturdays and Tuesday nights.

Aerial Fitness Hot Yoga Studio in Riverhead tries to separate itself from the competition by offering the newest fitness trends to East End customers, said owner April Yakaboski.

Its newest trend: Broga, a yoga class designed specifically for men. It focuses more on strength and less on flexibility, traditional yoga’s focus.

“As a yoga instructor I have always felt something missing when men attended my yoga classes,” said Ms. Yakaboski.

The Main Street yoga studio, which has been around for four years, now offers the class Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. and Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. Classes are open to both men and women, Ms. Yakaboski said.

Q. What is Broga?

A. It is a cardio-based yoga, it is de-stressing and strengthening; so a lot of planks, push ups, a lot of upper body and core work.

We probably do 50 pushups in a one-hour class, different types of push-ups. Then we do core strength, yoga style crunches. We balance the strengthen with the flexibility.

Q. How is it different from regular yoga?

A. Because it is specifically geared towards guys, it is based less on flexibility and more on strength. Regular yoga has a lot of hip opening poses, where Broga does not. When you look at traditional yoga, men are not comfortable doing them. Their anatomy is a close frontal pelvis. To do hip openers its kind of painful, which is a bit discouraging for men.

Q. What are the benefits?

A. The benefits are increased total body flexibility, range of movement, strength conditioning, cardio and an overall de-stressing experience.

It’s an hour and it caters to yourself, not your family or your coworkers. We spend most of our days stressing about everything going on around us, but for one hour you focus on you, just your body, just your needs.

Q. Who came up with Broga?

A. Two men, Robert Cidoti and Adam O’Neill, from Massachusetts invented it. Robert is a yoga instructor who wanted to bring the benefits of yoga to more men. Adam is a devout believer in the benefits of yoga for all people, especially men who think they won’t enjoy it.