CAPE ELIZABETH — When Paul and Rebecca Sahlin realized how well kickboxing and yoga complement each other, they also realized that not many fitness studios combine the two activities.
After the couple moved to Cape Elizabeth two years ago, they decided the town was the perfect place to open the studio they’d been imagining.
Last November, Fearless Phoenix Fitness, at 327 Ocean House Road, became a reality.
“Kickboxing and yoga are both things I’m passionate about, so what better way to make a living than doing what you love to do,” Paul Sahlin said.
Rebecca Sahlin agreed, but said when they first had the idea to open the studio, she was unsure if people would like or understand the kickboxing and yoga combination.
“(Paul) said, ‘I don’t think people will see it in an aggressive way,'” she said. “‘They’ll see it as empowering.'”
She said now that they’ve been open for a few months, she sees that people definitely are empowered, and she’s glad she and Paul have been able to give students that feeling.
“I would never have imagined how amazing it is to see how happy people are at the end of class,” Rebecca said.
Paul Sahlin is the only person currently teaching classes, because Rebecca is still working full time at the job she held prior to opening the studio. With small class sizes of three to seven people, though, one instructor is all that’s currently needed.
Paul said he enjoys instructing small classes because he’s able to give each student more attention.
“Smaller class sizes lend themselves to being able to give individual guidance,” he said. “When the class sizes get too big, you’re running a script. You have to give stock guidance.”
Rebecca said she’s happy with the class sizes, especially because many students are attending classes on a consistent basis.
“I’d much rather this studio grow slowly with a dedicated core community of practitioners,” she said. “There are these wonderful, fantastic people drawn towards what we offer.”
Cape Elizabeth resident Calie Ramisch has become a regular at the studio and said she enjoys what the Sahlins have created.
“I love the supportive atmosphere,” she said. “I really like how (the Sahlins) invite you to show up where you are in your personal fitness.”
All skill levels are welcome at Fearless Phoenix Fitness, and Ramisch said from class to class, Paul remembers the students’ levels and offers guidance accordingly. Ramisch said not many studios do this.
“(Fearless Phoenix Fitness) is a lot more personalized,” she said. “It feels more like home.”
Ramisch said kickboxing and yoga make for “fantastic cross training” and she likes that the studio offers separate classes for each activity, and also offers a combination class.
“Kickasana,” a term coined by the Sahlins, is a class where students start by working with the large kickboxing bags along one wall of the room, and spend the second half of the class doing yoga in the center of the bright yellow studio.
Rebecca Sahlin said it’s a very effective workout and can have some of the same benefits as “hot yoga.” Instead of doing yoga in an overheated room, students heat up their bodies with kickboxing and then transition to yoga.
For the Sahlins, fitness, and teaching others about fitness, is very important.
“If you have it as a pervasive core in your life, it’s a way of taking care of yourself,” Rebecca said. “We’re doing this because we like helping people feel better.”
Fearless Phoenix Fitness’s role in Cape Elizabeth
Paul Sahlin leads a yoga class at Fearless Phoenix Fitness in Cape Elizabeth.