Biz Beat

Yoga studio, boutique opens in former site of Keller’s

Michaela Purnell, owner of Sukha, looks at workout clothes made out of recycled plastic bottles in Modesto, Calif., Tuesday, July 19, 2016.
Michaela Purnell, owner of Sukha, looks at workout clothes made out of recycled plastic bottles in Modesto, Calif., Tuesday, July 19, 2016.

Michaela Purnell is pretty familiar with Keller’s.

“As a young wife and bride, I pretty much lived in Keller’s,” Purnell said. That was more than a few years ago, when Keller’s was the place in town for everything from china to chicken tenderizers. Unfortunately, Keller’s closed late last year after 60 years in business, the last several decades at McHenry Village shopping center.

So when Purnell, who has been practicing yoga for 25 years and a certified instructor for two, started looking for a spot to open her own yoga studio, it was no surprise where she was drawn.

“I looked at several spots around town, but I kept coming back to Keller’s,” she said. “I just fell in love with the space.”

So that – more specifically, the back side of what used to be Keller’s – is where Sukha opened on Monday. The name, Purnell explained, means “good space” in Sanskrit.

The studio offers four different rooms for yoga, hot yoga and Pilates. Purnell said she is excited to make yoga and Pilates accessible for more people. I asked, “What is so rewarding about teaching people in these classes?”

“That moment when you know you’ve made a difference for somebody,” she said. “You see the expression on their face.”

Classes are open to everyone from a beginner to advanced yoga enthusiasts. Even instructors will be able to get new certifications at Sukha, Purnell said. In addition to the hot yoga room that gets up to 108 degrees and 50 percent humidity, there’s a studio with an inversion wall where people actually hang upside down.

“People tell me they can’t do it because they’re not flexible, or they can’t clear their minds,” Purnell said. “Those are exactly the people who should be doing yoga.” She said she believes in the philosophy of serving yourself before you can serve others.

In addition to the fitness classes, the facility has a boutique and locker rooms that were still under construction during my visit.

Purnell said she emphasized a green approach to everything from transportation – there’s $1 off for anyone who rides a bike, walks or drives a “clean” car to class – to products in the boutique. She showed me men’s swim trunks and women’s workout clothes made primarily from recycled plastic bottles.

Some of those clothes are displayed hanging from a wooden fixture that looked familiar. That’s because it’s a nod to the previous tenant.

“It’s from Keller’s,” Purnell said.

Find Sukha in McHenry Village, 1700 McHenry Ave., Modesto. Call 209-996-9642.

Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

If you should see picketers around Kaiser Modesto Medical Center on Wednesday, they are protesting staffing issues.

According to a news release, the California Nurses Association has scheduled informational pickets at seven California hospitals. The display is scheduled in Modesto from 2 to 5 p.m. at the hospital, 4601 Dale Road.