Odd Couple At a new exercise studio in Mt. Vernon, an unexpected pairing creates fitness magic.

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Restorative yoga and intense strength training might seem like opposite ends of the fitness spectrum, but to Alexa Pancza, co-owner and founder of Mt. Vernon’s new Lift Yoga & Strength, there’s no pairing more perfect.

“Drawing on my experience as a yoga teacher and Crossfit coach, I got the idea to bring the two together,” Pancza says. “People who work out a lot really need yoga. [At Lift,] we use it as a cross-training method to build body awareness and balance.”

The renovated-church studio is bright and open, perfect for its two signature yoga classes, “Restore” and “Flow.” But it’s the eponymous “Lift” class that really brings Pancza’s vision to life.

“Warmup in ‘Lift’ feels very yogic,” she says. “We flow through postures, getting everyone ready before we go into our workout, which is pure cardiovascular and strength training. The end of the class returns to a yoga vibe. Everyone gets a lavender towel and is invited to stay in corpse pose as long as they need to.”

This focus on relaxation and rest is key. Pancza says that while there is no one “typical” client at Lift, those that come to the studio are often looking for an experience that’s a little gentler.

“Don’t get me wrong, the workouts are very tough,” she says, “but the way we approach them is to make them work for any student. A lot of our clients are former athletes or have experienced an injury in the past and really love physical activity and working out, but want to approach it in mindful ways. Everyone seems to be looking for a balanced and safe experience.”

Overall, Pancza’s goal is to improve the lives of her clients, and she hopes that the Lift community will continue to grow and strengthen.

“Your life doesn’t get better if you’re skinnier or you have a six pack,” she says. “It’s really about developing the strength and the courage to make your life better and do the things you need to do.”

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