WEST BRADENTON -- Erin Geraghty doesn't want instructional fitness to be intimidating.
Inside her tranquil studio, Geraghty wants to embrace beginners and guide them through anything from body rolling to Zumba.
"Beginners are my best teachers," Geraghty said. "I always try to invite people in with a sense of unconditional love because not everybody gets that. Not everybody knows that within themselves to get it to other people."
Geraghty has gained a following from teaching classes, therapy and personal training at Bradenton gyms for the past six years, including Three in One Yoga Studio on Cortez Road. She also operated her own business, Well-Rounded Fitness. Her varied passions and growing classes needed a space of its own to be pulled into one at Thrive Yoga & Fitness, 8819 Cortez Road.
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"I felt like a flower that needed a bigger pot to keep growing," Geraghty said.
Geraghty likes variety in her training as evidenced by her certification as a yoga instructor, personal trainer and her skills as a black belt martial artist. She also taught women's self defense and cardio combat training in both Japan and the United States.
"I know the benefit of getting that broad variety of things because I was seeking it," she said.
Classes included some blended and trendy names including piloxing (pilates with boxing), yogakix (yoga with martial arts movements), and flight school where people can learn how to do handstands and headstands.
The studio feels like a room in a house with dimmed lights and a welcoming sage and citrus aroma for relaxation. At other times, the room will thump with music as people dance to work up a sweat.
Geraghty had a reiki master put reiki symbols on the walls, and had the studio blessed by shamans. Yoga friends gave the studio "vibrational blessings."
To help attract beginners, she's going to offer free or low-cost seminars on topics like emotional eating and meditation to invite folks who are curious into a safe environment.
"You need to have a sense of safety to grow because growing requires you to get out of your comfort zone," she said.
Regular classes cost $12 for fitness, $14 for yoga or $100 for 10 classes. Spots and personal sessions can be reserved either online at thrivefityoga.com or by calling 570-497-7801.
One of the hard-to-find fitness classes Geraghty offers is something called body rolling in which a six-to-eight inch ball is used to stimulate muscles by applying pressure to iron out tension and lengthen the body, giving a therapeutic massage effect when combined with breathing and relaxation techniques.
She said she has helped post-rehab patients who have recovered from broken bones or knee and hip surgery.
Virginia Conk walked into the studio Monday to pick up a raffle prize from the grand opening. She was excited about what she tried out Saturday and wanted to sign up for body rolling. Conk tried a couple of her yoga classes before at other gyms.
"I do feel better when I leave because I've already worked out for an hour and now I'm getting relaxed," Conk said. "She's very hands-on, she's very helpful making sure you're in the right position."
Beyond beginners, Geraghty wants to bridge the experienced exercise crowds to have them cross over.
"Yoga people and fitness people are a little bit segregated," she said. "They don't quite understand each other, they kind of look at each other and they're a little curious, but nobody's going to cross that line."
It's all about trying something different, no matter the experience, she added.
"It's like a fitness buffet. Make fitness and health a lifestyle," she said. "Find that thing that brings you joy and make a commitment."
Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter@ImYourChuck.