Hot on Held
Yoga instructor Paige Held walks around the large studio at Fort Lauderdale’s The Yoga Joint. “What is it that you’re trying to create in your life?” she asks her students, who are lined up on the floor side-by-side on their yoga mats. “Visualize what you want out of your life, out of your yoga. There’s no limit.” She pauses before she instructs the students to change their pose.
Usually, yoga studios are library-quiet environments with Zen music as a background, but The Yoga Joint’s approach is different. Instead, the Top 40 hit, OneRepublic’s “Secrets,” plays.
This mashup of motivational, modern music and maintaining the lineage of 6,000 years of ancient yoga practice is Held and her business partner Kelly Green’s way of making yoga accessible to everyone.
Held, a Fort Lauderdale native, has been practicing yoga since she was 16. She says she thought the first class she attended was “weird,” but she immediately felt its magnetic pull. “I started to get into the spiritual aspect of yoga and I made some profound changes at a young age.” She began teaching yoga – 17 classes a week at different studios around South Florida. At the time, she was a single mom with two children. “I was on welfare and living off of Atlantic Avenue and Interstate 95,” she says. One night, she had a dream, a premonition really, that came to her with the name The Yoga Joint. “I visualized that it would be this really big space where people wouldn’t only go to do yoga, but there would be a sense of community.” And, as she says, the way the universe works, she met an investor who “had the money and I had the idea.”
After years of training in Bikram yoga, a style popularized by Bikram Choudhury that involves a series of poses in a heated room, Held and Green began to find Bikram yoga too dogmatic. “It was the same exact class every single time, with no music, among other things,” Held says. “So we decided we wanted to explore other styles of yoga.”
Incorporating different poses from many different lineages and styles of yoga, including heating the room to 95 degrees like Bikram, then adding their interest in metaphysical and spiritual teachings, the pair created their own style: Hot Fusion Flow. “In essence, it is using the power of yoga for empowering participants to become the very best version of themselves they can be: physically, mentally and spiritually,” Held says, adding that the name and the technique have been trademarked and patented.
It isn’t easy to create a whole new approach to yoga, which took the women two years to develop. They consulted anatomy teachers, orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors and a governing yoga alliance. “We wanted to make sure it was systematically right for the body. We knew, too, that we were going to get a lot of heat from people who would say, ‘You are in your mid-30s and you’re trying to develop your own sequence of yoga?’ We made sure we really put the right amount of time and effort into it.”
Currently there are three locations of The Yoga Joint: two in Fort Lauderdale and one in Boca Raton. Two more are planned for Miami and Sunrise. “Our goal is to have five under our belt, then do five more, and keep going. I want to bring Hot Fusion Flow to the world,” says Held. There are future plans to set up The Yoga Joint outside of Florida, but nothing is concrete yet. There are also ideas to have a retail store and healthy cafe paired with the studio. Another future aspiration is a yogawear line (Green is currently a brand ambassador for Lululemon Athletica).
As busy as she is these days, Held says she never misses starting her day with her own yoga and meditation routine before she heads out to the studio to teach a class. “When my life is chaotic, yoga grounds me. When I’m in traffic and everyone is honking, I think to myself, they need yoga. They need to breathe.”
What’s your go-to snack?
“I spread almond butter, banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon on organic rice cakes. My kids like it, too. If we’re in a rush, it keeps us going.”
Are you a vegetarian?
“I eat organic, but I do eat animal protein. I don’t eat dairy or gluten. I eat a lot of fish and salad.”
Favorite place to dine out?
“We love Green Bar & Kitchen on 17th Street [in Fort Lauderdale]. We probably go to Mayapapaya at least three times a week. And Casa D’Angelo, because they have great food and gluten-free pasta.”
Who would you like to turn on to your Hot Fusion Flow method?
“Sting. I was raised on his music; his songs were on when I was in the delivery room having my children, and my husband and I got married to the music of Sting. And besides being a musical legend, he’s a dedicated yogi.”