If you’ve ever inhaled the stench of a carpeted Bikram studio—where buckets of hundreds of peoples’ sweat seep into the fibers daily—you know that a germophobe doing hot yoga is like an acrophobe taking up mountain climbing.
Sunshine Daidone (a self-described germophobe) is working to change that.
“I saw the benefit of hot yoga and what it was doing for my body and for my mental health,” she says. “The problem was there was nothing up to my standards. I would walk into these places and people are sweating everywhere…and it was flipping me out.”
So Daidone decided to open her own clean, pristine studio, Poe Yoga, in 2013. Poe’s original location is in Far Hills, NJ, and it started to generate buzz during a three-year lease term in East Hampton (which ended last year). Now, it’s picking up more steam, with three recently opened locations in Short Hills, Westfield, and Fairhaven, NJ—and plans to expand far beyond the Garden State.
“We’re going to focus on California and Brooklyn, possibly Connecticut, and the Hamptons, next,” says Daidone, who adds that she’s eyeing four additional studios by the end of 2017.
What’s driving her (sterile) success?
Poe’s studios differentiate themselves by using FAR infrared heating panels instead of forced hot air, a system that’s popular in saunas and is becoming more common in hot yoga, at popular studios like Y7. But Daidone says Poe takes it a step further, by combining the heat panels with an oxygen purification system and humidifier that perfectly calibrates the air quality. “We never get steam, the air isn’t thick. It’s just a pure, clean, fresh heat,” she says.
They also have cleaning staff on-site and other amenities to make the experience feel luxe, like Mullein & Sparrow products in the showers and a signature scent that fills the spaces.
In terms of classes, Poe offers a long list of yoga styles, from a Bikram-esque version with lots of holding poses to an athletic, fast vinyasa flow—all at 104 degrees and with loud, popular music (it’s more Rihanna than harmonium). And although the classes turn up the heat, it really does feel less sticky and swampy, and more airy. Think practicing in a lush, breathable, OMG-look-at-that-pretty-bird rainforest rather than a suffocation-central steam room. At some locations they’ve also added barre and boxing. (Note: You’ll have to bring or buy gloves, since Daidone says renting them is “disgusting! It’s just unsanitary.”)
Just beware if you’re headed to Poe for a morning class: You may find yourself calling in late to work on account of wanting to linger in the larger-than-a-studio-apartment showers for a while. —Lisa Elaine Held and Alison Feller
Also likely? You’ll spot someone in class wearing a pair of K-Deer leggings—here’s why. And if Poe Yoga has got you thinking about gym germs (this might do the trick, too), you’ll want to check out our tutorial on properly cleaning your mat.