Alumna opens successful New York City yoga studio
by Mary Denny
Kate Davies advises fellow graduates to “explore what makes your heart soar. The things you love could very well become your career.” It worked for her.
Raised in New York, Kate had traveled extensively abroad —her father was a foreign correspondent— but had not seen much of the United States. Eager to experience a new part of the country, she found Trinity, with its small class sizes and proactive student body, to be a perfect fit.
On campus, Kate entered the Humanities program, where she was dazzled by professor Erwin Cook and vowed to take any class of his she could. She also majored in Spanish and minored in Eastern Religions. “I love finding patterns and connections. These three modalities appealed to that side of me.” Other favorite professors include Bladimir Ruiz (Spanish), Randall Nadeau (Eastern Religions) and her adviser, Tom Jenkins (Classics), “the funniest and best-prepared lecturer I’ve ever learned from.”
But her introduction to what would become her greatest passion and eventually career came from a classmate, who brought her to Bikram Yoga at the Union, owned by Trinity alumni Lisa Ingle-Stevens ’99 and Stevan Falk ’99. It was love at first sweaty pose. “When I wasn’t studying, I was in yoga class,” Kate recalls. “The practice brought clarity, improved focus, and erased the mac’n’cheese/beer from the night before.”
Although teaching yoga and opening a studio was her dream, it didn’t materialize immediately. Shortly after graduation, Kate moved to Beijing with three fellow Trinity alumnae to teach English. She traveled throughout China and Southeast Asia for a year before running out of money in Bangkok (“every parent’s dream for their daughter”), where she spent another year teaching kindergarten at a British International school.
Ready to combine her love of teaching with her passion for yoga, Kate returned to the States in 2011 to attend Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in Los Angeles. Alongside 400 people, she took two classes a day for nine weeks in an enormous hotel ballroom with 12 chandeliers. She then returned to San Antonio to mentor under Lisa and Steve at the Union. They are still her most influential advisers.
Kate returned to New York in 2014. She taught yoga, bartended, and saw hundreds (perhaps thousands) of real estate spaces. She found the perfect location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and opened YO BK on Halloween of 2015—11 years after her first Bikram Yoga class in Alamo Heights. YO BK also offers Inferno Hot Pilates, which combines Pilates, high-cardio, and resistance training. Hot Pilates is practiced to energetic music under a disco ball. Kate says it has helped her yoga practice and opened up her customer base.
As the sole owner of YO BK studio, Kate’s biggest challenge is juggling the many hats she wears: employer, teacher, manager, accountant, and sometimes plumber. She hosts monthly fundraising classes for organizations that are important to her community, most recently for Planned Parenthood. “I operate on so many levels from physical to intellectual that it’s difficult to turn my brain off and relax when I have the time,” she explains. Happily, her teachers and students help mitigate the stresses of owning a small business in a competitive city. “The community at YO BK is beyond my wildest dreams. People are kind, interesting, and working to become the best versions of themselves. I’m joyful to take part in this”
When time permits, Kate visits other studios where no one knows her, reads novels, cooks elaborately, and spends time with her family in NYC. She also loves traveling to other big, teeming cities where she can lose herself - physically and mentally.
Eager to open another location in New York, Kate is also building a fitness app and writing a book. She remains open to new possibilities and mindful of her favorite quote by Haruki Murakami: “Life is so uncertain: you never know what could happen. One way to deal with it is to keep your pajamas washed.”
You can contact Kate at info [at] yo-bk.com and find out more at www.yo-bk.com.