“The movements are a little bit faster, the music is a little bit louder; all of our classes are just amped up a little bit,” says Amanda Lopez about what to expect from the yoga, barre and Buti classes at Soul Tribe, the wellness studio she recently opened in New Paltz’s Cherry Hill Plaza. “The classes are not hard, they’re just very energetic. I want people to feel free to let loose, that they can move around and have fun.”
Bringing people together in a judgment-free space to empower and uplift one another is an essential part of why Lopez launched Soul Tribe. The name signifies the community-building she hopes to foster there and that she says is already beginning between students in the six weeks they’ve been open. “It’s inspiring to see how quickly people can become this little ‘soul tribe,’” she says. “People are vibing off of each other and there’s a lot of good energy. I love when people stick around after class and make new friends; that’s exactly what I wanted it to be. A place where people can come out of their comfort zone, make new friends and not feel judged.”
Born and raised in New Paltz, Lopez says she has always felt deeply rooted here, even while living outside of the area for a time. Her path to becoming a yoga instructor began in 2014 with completion of a 200-hour yoga teacher training course in Costa Rica. That was followed by teaching in several studios locally and working with clients one-on-one, but the past eight months spent traveling in Mexico and Europe with her husband, Fabian, and their three-year-old daughter, Zaya, opened her eyes to the possibilities for a business. “As we were traveling around and exploring, I was going to different yoga studios and meeting with different teachers, with the dream in my head of eventually opening a studio.”
Returning from their travel adventure in June, the doors to Soul Tribe opened July 7. “Right now, we have 13 classes a week, with only me teaching. But starting in September, we’ll have other teachers on the schedule. We’ll be adding to the class times as well as the variety of classes.”
The Buti class — and yes, it’s pronounced “bootie” — will be the one that people will probably be the least familiar with going in. Buti classes are a high-energy fusion of yoga, tribal dance, bursts of cardio and plyometrics (high intensity intervals). And while it does indeed involve a lot of shaking one’s bootie, the word Buti is an Indian Marathi word meaning “a cure that has been hidden or kept secret.” The philosophy of Buti yoga is that every woman already has the power within to transform or heal her body, and only needs to unlock that hidden cure.
“The music is loud, you’re constantly moving, and after the 60-minute class, you leave here drenched in sweat,” says Lopez. “It’s open to males and females, but it’s very much a female empowerment kind of exercise. It’s a lot about supporting each other and coming in with no judgments about yourself or other people.”
There is also a 45-minute “Buti Express” class; shorter in length but no less energetic.
And while participants are asked to “come with an open mind” about the volume and choice of music in Buti classes — “loud, energetic beats that will have your heart pumping and your confidence rising with each movement” — that doesn’t mean anybody should be intimidated thinking they have to perform at a certain intensity, Lopez says. “Every class at Soul Tribe is open to all levels; there are always modifications, always ways we can make it work for you.”
The barre classes offered are a 60-minute workout integrating a ballet barre, light weights and a small exercise ball to tone and sculpt the body. Small, isometric movements concentrating on one muscle group at a time create long, lean muscles like a dancer’s, with improved posture and balance the result. “There are a few barre classes at other yoga studios in the area, but we’re a little faster-paced,” says Lopez. “And we’re not as much about ballet. Every movement in barre class is really small, but again, we want people to feel they can move their hips and have fun while they’re in class and not feel like they have to be stiff.”
The “empower hour” classes employ vinyasa-style yoga, with flowing movement in a cardiovascular and strength-building workout designed to awaken a mind-body connection. “Core flow” classes are a vigorous vinyasa class with the focus on deep core engagement.
The suite that houses Soul Tribe was renovated before its opening into a light and airy space, with décor reflecting personal history and the personal connections that Lopez values. The reception desk crafted by her husband, Fabian, has a unique two-level design that looks stylish as it is but is made more special by knowing the marble tops were once on side tables belonging to Amanda’s grandmother. The walls in the entry are decorated with photographs of colorful street art — pictures taken by Amanda on the couple’s travels — and her photos of new Soul Tribe enthusiasts are clipped to cording and hung on the wall like cheerful flags on a banner.
Next month, Soul Tribe will begin offering monthly special events and workshops. A Buti Brunch will be a Buti session followed by mimosas and brunch in a local restaurant, and Blacklight Buti a special session with blacklights in the studio and glow-paint available to embellish oneself. Classes with a live deejay will also be offered. Workshops planned include an essential oil-and-beading session, a meditation class, some prenatal sessions and activities for moms and kids, and a raw food/juicing experience in collaboration with a local chef. “We just want to keep it fun and keep people excited,” says Lopez. “We want to make it more than just a place to work out.”
Soul Tribe is located in suite 11A at 246 Main Street in the Cherry Hill Plaza, New Paltz. For more information, call (845) 255-SOUL (7685), check out Instagram (@oursoultribe) and Facebook (@soultribe), or visit https://www.oursoultribe.com/