“If I had gone to a yoga studio twenty years ago, and I’d walked into class, and they were chanting and om-ing and doing crazy breathing, I may not have gone back.”
Laura is 38, but her bubbly attitude and smiling face could belong to someone two decades younger. She wears bright colors and talks quickly, smiling and laughing throughout her classes in the small muay thai studio where she teaches yoga.
Laura’s unique style of teaching reflects her demeanor. Her studio is a windowless room with hardwood floors, tucked on the second floor of a kickboxing gym in Lodi, New Jersey. The room holds about 30 people, elbow to elbow, with scarcely enough room for Laura to walk between mats. Once class starts and people start to warm up, everyone in the room is smiling.
A far cry from the quiet, almost reverential tone of some yoga classes, Laura’s practice is filled with jokes and laughter. Classes have names like “Dude, Where’s My Core?” and “Crows and Hoes,” a cheeky reference to its focus on arm balances and spread-legged poses. Laura’s soundtrack foregoes nature sounds or soothing acoustic music for old-school hip-hop, and she encourages her students to twerk in Downward Dog, mixing fun with fitness throughout her sequences.
“I like to have a pretty laid-back attitude when I teach,” Laura says. “I like for my students to just have fun in class. If they’re smiling, if they’re laughing, if they’re connecting with each other, it makes my job just so much better. I like to play rap music in my class. I like to get them moving. I like to have them dance. It just seems less intimidating than going into a class and chanting, which a lot of people won’t be prepared for if they’ve never gone to yoga.”
Even the studio itself is a break from the usual mold. There’s no membership available; classes are a flat $5 each. Most of her students are regulars, returning again and again, but even for new students and drop-ins, the idea is to keep the intimidation factor as low as possible.
Laura lives in a cozy townhome in northern New Jersey with her husband and two kids. There are toys scattered around the living room, and a small back porch looking out on to a wide swath of grass backed by tall, slender trees. Every day, Laura props her camera up against the door frame and takes a few photos of herself on the porch, usually in an arm balance of some kind, which she sends out to over a million followers on Instagram.
Laura started practicing yoga when she was 19, but at the time, it was little more than exercise to her. “When I first started, it was definitely purely physical. It was just to stay in shape, to keep my flexibility going. It kind of went with my other workouts. I was doing a lot of cardio at the time, weight training, and everything else just to stay in shape through my twenties.”
As Laura has evolved from a teenage gymnast to a certified yoga teacher and mother of two, her practice has changed with her. It’s still a workout for her, but it’s also her quiet time, helping her ground herself before the chaos of the day. More than anything, though, it’s her way to connect with her students.
Laura is also one of the eponymous co-founders of Two Fit Moms, the lifestyle and fitness site Laura started with her long-time friend Masumi Goldman in an effort to spread their love of yoga and fitness to a wider audience. “The goal of Two Fit Moms is to keep inspiring people of all ages. You don’t have to be twenty to be healthy and fit. I think that, at any age, our motto really is ‘It’s never too late.’” Now, Two Fit Moms has tens of thousands of followers, of all ages, on Instagram, Facebook, and its website. They post recipes, fitness tips, and of course, yoga poses. For Laura, Two Fit Moms is another way to make sure that yoga and a fit lifestyle are available to everyone.
“For me, yoga means community. Being a teacher at a co-op that isn’t your typical studio. Being able to bring people together of different backgrounds, of different workout areas, because I get a lot of kickboxers, I get a lot of older people, I get a lot of men, I get a lot of women. It makes me so proud that I can bring people together and that they become friends. It just continues to build onto that sense of belonging somewhere and having someone to support you.”
“I think if you’ve never done yoga, and you don’t know anything about it, and you want to get a little more flexible, yoga can be very off-putting to people. And some yogis who come into my class might not like my class, because it’s too relaxed. I think there really is a yoga teacher out there for everyone. I think there’s a yoga, a style for everyone. It’s just about finding it.”