The Blend founder Jennifer “Zee” Zalev developed her unique workout that combines aspects of yoga, mat Pilates and high-intensity interval training for herself in between teaching yoga classes in Toronto, Canada.
As a fitness competitor in her early 20s, Zalev found that lifting weights and doing cardio were not only limiting but became damaging to her body.
“That’s what led me to yoga, and then yoga led me to Pilates,” Zalev says. “But I was missing that cardio aspect.”
While developing The Blend, Zalev was looking for a workout that lengthened and strengthened her muscles while providing a burst of cardio, too.
“Eventually, what happened was clients would start asking me, ‘Well, what do you do to stay in shape?’ ” Zalev says. “Then when I started telling them that I have this blend for classes, they wanted to start doing it themselves.”
Her unique class was added to the schedule at her yoga studio before she had even named the workout, Zalev says.
“My private clients all went from doing yoga, Pilates, all separate classes, to this blend class three times a week, and a lot of them noticed changes to their body, how they felt mentally, emotionally,” Zalev says.
When she and her husband, Adam Zalev, relocated to Dana Point during the pandemic, she dreamed of opening a new studio where she could offer her blend classes.
In early September 2022, The Blend studio opened its doors at Monarch Bay Plaza, offering a variety of classes, including the unique blend flow, Vinyasa yoga, HIIT, mat Pilates and more.
A typical blend class starts gently with a yoga flow before moving into a burst of HIIT. After getting everyone’s heart rate up with the HIIT workout, the class moves into a mat Pilates workout, using props and resistance bands.
The class ends with a yoga flow moving into Shavasana, a pose in which class members can lie flat and focus on recovering their breath.
“So, you get that lengthening component where you stretch the body out, you get a strength component where you build on long, lean muscles, as opposed to if you were in the gym doing typical weightlifting workouts,” Zalev says. “So, you get those long, lean muscles, and then there’s a cardio component which is the HIIT portion, which is more circuit training.”
“You get to sweat, too, because that’s all intertwined together in 60 minutes, which makes it really fun,” Zalev adds.
While the structure of the class is always the same, Zalev says you never take the same class twice, because instructors add their own creativity to the workout.
Zalev explains that the benefits of her blend flow go beyond physical.
“Part of what the blend does for people, whether it’s weight loss, toning, whatever that is, there’s also a mental and emotional aspect of it, too, because it does incorporate the mindfulness of yoga,” Zalev says.
“Then, beyond that, I think because our community is so welcoming and so warm, it’s kind of like a trifecta of physical well-being, mental and emotional well-being and then social well-being,” Zalev continues.
In the six months that the studio has been open, The Blend has been very well-received by the community, with Dana Point Times readers voting the studio as the recipient of our Golden Lantern for Best New Business in 2022.
YogaSix, which opened in the Prado West development in June 2022, earned the Silver Lantern award for Best New Business.
The name YogaSix stands for the six signature classes that the yoga studio offers: Y6 101, Y6 Restore, Y6 Slow Flow, Y6 Hot, Y6 Power, and Y6 Sculpt and Flow.
“We have classes that are gently warmed all the way to heated, so you can get your sweat on,” General Manager Jennifer Mussaw says. “There’s lights that change colors throughout practice, music; it’s an experience that you can’t find anywhere else right now in Dana Point.”
At The Blend, the studio also offers a unique travel package that includes three classes—the perfect number for someone staying in town for just a week, Zalev says.
For new members, Zalev recommends having a conversation with the front desk staff to find out what classes you should start with and how you should progress from more beginner classes to more intense ones.
“Beyond that, when you go into the studio, talking to your instructor and making sure that they can modify and customize and know your goals, they can build with you,” Zalev says.
Zalev believes it’s the welcoming environment she’s been able to cultivate in the studio that has helped The Blend become so successful in its first year.
“Sometimes, what happens, especially when you’re new and not from the area, it’s almost like a fear-type thing when you go to a new studio,” Zalev says. “You don’t know anyone, and it’s a little bit uncomfortable.”
“Our whole goal with The Blend,” Zalev adds, “was we wanted everyone to feel comfortable right when you walk through the door.”
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