Expand Yoga recently opened its second location in Federal Way, creating another space to help people live healthier for longer and de-stress from the day-to-day.
Owners Matt Ottenbach and Liz Houck, who are also husband and wife, soft-opened the space in January. In the months following, they’ve been building connections and trust with the Federal Way community.
A party was hosted on June 10 to officially celebrate the new space and honor Expand Yoga’s 12th anniversary. The new studio is housed in the former Hot Yoga Inc. space, at 31839 S. Gateway Center Plaza in Federal Way.
“I’ve always thought if we were to expand, this would be the one studio I would be interested in taking,” Ottenbach said of the Federal Way space.
Houck, who is from New York, and Ottenbach, from Lakewood, met in New York City in the early 2000s.
In 2011, they opened and operated a yoga studio in Tacoma for about five years before moving to their current and ever-popular location in Tacoma at 3909 6th Avenue.
The new location pulls clients from Tacoma and those who may live in between the two spots. With an improved heat system of both gas and electric, the space is safely heated and humid for class members.
Ottenbach and Houck say they provide a “grounded practicality” approach to yoga, one that is not overtly spiritual, but instead aims to transform lives class by class.
“People end up having this experience that really connects them more to themselves,” Houck said. “So I think we do a really good job of helping people in that way.”
Expand Yoga has 16 teachers, shared between the two studios, and most of whom participated in the business’s own annual teacher training. The 12-week program, beginning in September, trains teachers-to-be on various yoga styles and how to lead classes.
Expand Yoga doesn’t post the teachers’ schedules – which is a move motivated partly by safety and partly so people become dedicated to the practice of yoga and not specific teachers.
“One thing I really love about being here is it’s such a cool community, people are really doing their own thing,” Houck said. “There’s a lot of diversity and … a lot of people who have a very full life and they need something to support them in what they’re already doing.”
Expand Yoga offers Original Hot, Vinyasa and Yin classes, along with private lessons, workshops and retreats.
Starting July 1, Expand Yoga is adding an 8:30 a.m. class on Saturdays. Additional class times will be added as the community grows. For all class times, visit www.expandyoga.com.
A hard class at one point in the day – practicing discipline, balance and looking oneself in the mirror for an hour – makes the remainder of the day a breeze, Ottenbach said.
“I hope they feel lifted up, inspired, and … more full of themselves,” Houck said. “Oftentimes being full of yourself has a bad connotation, but I think of it in a really positive way, like someone who feels fulfilled – full.”
Combined, Ottenbach and Houck have at least 1,000 hours of certified yoga training experience. They’re both curious, empathetic people who steadily pursue knowledge and the power of movement.
Houck began teaching in late 2005, and earned her first of many 200-hour teacher trainings in the New York and Philadelphia areas while managing yoga studios.
Ottenbach suffered a chin injury while skiing and couldn’t close his mouth properly for about four years, he said. He wandered into a hot yoga class, at the studio he and Houck would later end up owning today, and his jaw felt better after the class. So he kept practicing.
He was in New York doing construction remodels when Ottenbach met Houck. Part of his pay for a job was to participate in a teacher training, he said. Since then, both he and Houck have completed several coveted trainings.
After a 40-day road trip west, they arrived in Tacoma and opened their first “DIY” studio, Ottenbach said, thanks to his construction background.
“It gives us a really good eye when looking at people … It gives us an ability to address the individual a bit better,” Houck said of their knowledge.
In Tacoma, the couple said, they wanted to create a space accessible for all people, of all occupations, backgrounds and abilities.
After a few classes, Ottenbach said people’s bodies can feel better, which then creates a domino effect: better physical health leads to better mental health, which often leads to better mentalities and outlooks on life.
Despite the heat and humidity inside an Expand Yoga class, the overall goal is less physical and more mental.