New Greensburg yoga studio classes vary with grades and instructional styles

Students can relax at room temperature or sweat at Tonified, a new yoga and fitness studio in Greensburg.

Owner Tony Ranieri drew on four decades in the fitness business and his recent exploration of yoga techniques in developing the studio and in selecting the group of instructors: five, including himself.

“You really have to find the coach that suits your needs,” said Ranieri. “Everyone has their own styles and their own style. You need to experiment and find the class that works for you.”

The studio opened on January 9 at 116 N. Carpenter St., California. In a building that had been vacant for several years, it formerly housed an after hours club.

Ranieri teaches a literal hot yoga class. Ceiling heating panels can raise the temperature in a studio space to over 90 degrees.

“People who take the hot season want to sweat,” he said. “Sweating removes toxins. I think it’s good to expose your body to extreme temperatures, hot and cold.”

The movements the students perform in that class are “not all yoga,” Ranieri said. “I do some core exercises and leg and arm exercises. I try to build some strong movements into my classes.”

On the other end of the spectrum, students at Tonified can sign up for a yoga basics class that takes place at room temperature.

“It’s a slower tempo, very calming,” said Ranieri. He said that a “warm” class, where the temperature is set at around 80 degrees, provides a middle ground for students.

Ranieri said people don’t have to be flexible or be physically fit to benefit from yoga. He noted that he might add a yoga chair “for people who can’t move up and down.”

Ranieri said that in addition to moving the body, yoga can help increase alertness.

“A lot of people don’t realize the mental benefits that come from yoga,” he said. “You try to coordinate your breath with the movement. It keeps you focused on living the moment for that hour, as you try to let go of all the issues and issues that have happened in your daily life.”

Ranieri, 73, of Hempfield, has run fitness stores and a training center and worked as a substitute physical education teacher. He continues to provide personal training and works with wrestlers.

He discovered yoga about five years ago and has completed a 200-hour course to become a certified instructor. Among other things, he credits yoga for allowing him to take up skating at the age of 71.

“I am really a proponent of strength training and cardiovascular training,” he said. “What yoga does is tie all of these things together.”

Ranieri, who also holds a real estate licence, was showing the Carpenter Street building to a friend who was not interested in it. But he realized, “It doesn’t have poles or pillars. I thought, ‘What a beautiful yoga studio it could be.’”

It took about a year to renovate the building, adding the front windows it lacked, a handicap-accessible ramp, and a new paint job. He turned to his daughter, Gina Ranieri, for interior design ideas.

The renovation benefited from a $5,000 facade improvement grant, drawn from an annual pot of about $200,000—part of a program offered by Greensburg Community Development Corp. and receives funding from the Greensburg Foundation Family of Funds of the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County.

The grants are an additional incentive to improve eligible commercial properties in the downtown area and many of the city’s adjacent areas. Approved projects must be worth $10,000 or more and may include banners.

Changing Tonified “was a good project for us,” said John Stafford, GCDC’s executive director. “It’s in an area we’ve been trying to revive.”

Visit tonified.com For more information about the new yoga studio and thinkgreensburg.com Learn more about the Interface Grants Program.

Jeff Himmler is a writer for the Tribune-Review. You can contact Jeff via email at jhimler@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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