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Episode 76: Mastering Science, Yoga and Social Media with Dr. Nicole Calhoun

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IANWA 76 - Mastering Science Yoga and Social Media with Dr. Nicole Calhoun

Duration: 42:58

IANWA Open [0:11] It's time for another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. The podcast covering the intersection of business, culture, entrepreneurship, and life in general here in the Ozarks. Whether you were considering a move to this area or trying to learn more about the place you call home, we've got something special for you. Without further ado, here's our fearless host, Randy Wilburn.

Randy Wilburn [0:44] Hey folks, and welcome to another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas, the podcast. I'm excited today to be with my next guest, Nicole Calhoun. She is, well, I don't know how to put this but I follow her on Instagram and I don't stalk her, which would be weird. But I do try to do a lot of the stuff that she shares on Instagram. She is a yoga master at best and a contortionist of epic proportions that has caused me not pain, but definitely some discomfort in trying to mimic the things that she does online. But without further ado, I really want the audience just to give Nicole Calhoun a big welcome. Thank you so much, Nicole, I should say, Dr. Calhoun for coming on the podcast today. How are you?

Nicole Calhoun [1:38] Thank you so much. I'm really well. Thank you so much for having me.

Randy Wilburn [1:41] That's awesome. That's awesome. So, listen for those that listen to this podcast on a regular basis. And as we were talking earlier, the first thing I love to do is for you, I mean, I could obviously read your bio, I could share that but that's not as cool as it is hearing in the first person, somebody's background and story. So, as I ask all of our guests, I would love for you just to give us a little cliff note version of your superhero origin story and how you got to where you are right now?

Nicole Calhoun [2:10] Well, we're speaking about yoga, obviously, because that's the bulk of my life and the bulk of my time right now. But as you said, I'm also a doctor at a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology, and actually just stepped away from my full-time job as a Molecular Biologist, during the pandemic. And so now I'm a full-time yoga instructor and a yoga studio owner. I'm also a Yoga Ambassador with Lululemon and an Ambassador with Garmin. And so, my life is basically centered around yoga for the time being anyway. So, I got into yoga, maybe about 12 years ago. I had some car accidents that you know, left me with a lot of back and neck pain that I couldn't get rid of. I didn't want to take medication for pain and so my doctor suggested I try yoga. I went to a power yoga class, which is if anybody knows anything about yoga, one of the hardest, the other classes you can attend as my first yoga class, and I was immediately addicted. I was an athlete in college and so I love something that gives me a physical challenge. And so, I kept going back and kept going back just determined to do as well as I could and heal my back and neck pain. And after practicing for about six years or so, the back pain was gone, the neck pain was gone and I decided to take a yoga teacher training. I took a yoga teacher training. I think in 05 it was and started teaching yoga not too long after the training ended. I talked for a few years and then decided, you know, I think I have something special to offer that I can use to establish a new career and branched out on my own at that time and opened up Elixir Yoga Lounge, which is my yoga studio.

Randy Wilburn [3:58] Wow. So obviously and you know, I've talked to a lot of people that have been through unfortunately car accidents and maybe some accidents at work, and they have found yoga to be one of the few things that have provided some comfort and relief. Are you totally healed now from whatever back pain that you endured with your accident?

Nicole Calhoun [4:25] Oh, yes for sure. Thank goodness it was nothing serious or debilitating- no bone breaks or anything like that. So, it was essentially all muscular that needed to be worked out and reestablish to be even. So yes, all the back pain is gone.

Randy Wilburn [4:40] Oh, man, that's awesome. Well, I'm glad to hear that. So, tell me a little bit. I'd be curious to know in your former life as a molecular biologist, and now the fact that you're leaving, what drew you to that? Was that just something that somebody kind of said, oh well, you have the inclination towards this or were you just a science nerd growing up?

Nicole Calhoun [5:04] Definitely was not a science nerd growing up. Actually, I remember this is funny. I don't tell too many people this but I actually failed high school chemistry and had to take it twice. But when I got to college, I had to take a biology class and was really interested in the stuff that I was learning. And as I went through my freshman year, [inaudible 5:27] fall and spring semesters, I noticed that a lot of my friends who were in my science classes were doing poorly. And I was doing well and I was like, man, maybe you're good at this. Maybe you really like this, and you could make a career out of it. And so, I declared a biology major and have stuck with science ever since. Contemplated going to medical school at one point, but just decided that's not for me- I don't like being around sick people- blood and things.

Randy Wilburn [6:03] Yeah, that's so funny. My mother always joked with me. She said, you know, she legitimately wanted to be a doctor until she was 12 and fell out of a tree and when she saw the blood because she opened her knee, she said, that was it. I was done. So, she went off and became a teacher. But, you know, I would venture to say that she impacted enough lives as a teacher that would be commensurate with being a doctor so there's certainly nothing wrong with that.

Nicole Calhoun [6:30] No, absolutely. Well, I still had a great desire to help people, so I turned to science. You know, I figured I could discover drugs or discover healing options or other medicines to help people and have the opportunity to help people on a more massive scale than treating one patient at a time. I could either treat one patient at a time or I could discover a vaccine and help potentially millions of people. And so, it worked out in the end. I got to do what I wanted to do on a more massive scale, which is to help people in a biomedical way and I didn't have to be around blood or sick people.

Randy Wilburn [7:11] There you go. I'd love for you just to kind of break down for the audience. Because, you know, I know there are different types of yoga. Power Yoga is, I'm not as familiar with as I am with like Bikram style or Hot Yoga, and I'd be curious if you could just give us just a quick definition for Power Yoga as it compares to the other styles or types of yoga that are out there.

Nicole Calhoun [7:39] Of course. So, I think that most people, when they think of yoga, think that it's just stretching. And there are definitely types of yoga that are more geared toward developing flexibility on a more calm level, more relaxing level. There are several different types of yoga that when it came to the US from the east that was developed over the years, and one of those is Power Yoga. Power Yoga is a form of yoga, where you are taught to move in synchrony with your breath. And as you do that, your heart rate is going to get up; you're going to sweat, it's a form of cardiovascular exercise. There are a lot of strength elements, and also a lot of flexibility elements. So, I like to tell my students that the point of a power yoga class is to challenge your body physically so that you can learn to heal through the breath and through focus on the mind.

Randy Wilburn [8:36] Yeah. And that makes perfect sense because, like I said, I mean, I legitimately follow you on Instagram. What is your--- it's yogaelixir, right?

Nicole Calhoun [8:50] Yes, it's @yogaelixir.

Randy Wilburn [8:36] @yogaelixir. I've tried a number of things. The only thing that I haven't tried, I'll be honest with you, is the handstand. And I know that you do that quite a bit. But there are a number of things that I've done because I walk or run a lot. And so, I always like to stay as limber as I can and stretch out. But there have been a number of exercises that you have shared on your Instagram channel that have really helped me out considerably just from my normal workout practice. And you know, as you get older, you need to stretch and you need to keep those muscles going, otherwise, they will atrophy and you will lose them but no, I certainly do appreciate that. So now at your studio, you guys practice power yoga, solely, or do you do other types of yoga?

Nicole Calhoun [9:49] So, we do power yoga, and that's when we open that was our niche. That was what we were known for. That's what actually set us apart in the community. So, we're actually the only true power yoga studio within Northwest Arkansas. About eight months after we opened, though, we added a class called deep stretch, which is more of that. It's going to be dark. It's going to be candlelit. You're going to be on your back for the majority of the time just really working deeply into the muscles and the joints and developing flexibility from that standpoint. So, no breaking of a sweat in that class. No heart rate getting high. No cardiovascular workout in that class. So, we really offer at the studio, the yin and the yang of the practice, the high-intensity power yoga, where you're going to break that sweat and then the deep stretch where it's more calming, it's more relaxing, and the focus is on true flexibility.

Randy Wilburn [10:43] Yeah. Are you at the point now where you've trained a bunch of other people to be power yoga instructors, or have people just come to you with power yoga experience and joined your team?

Nicole Calhoun [10:59] So, both. I'm actually wrapping up my second year at the studio and leading a teacher training program. And so, we will actually be graduating the second class of yoga teacher training in a couple of weeks. And I've also had ladies come to me and interview at the studio and we've hired them on from either other studios or they moved in from out of town and wanted to join us. So, a mixture of both.

Randy Wilburn [11:26] Okay, alright. And then obviously, you are the only black-owned yoga studio in Northwest Arkansas. Is that correct?

Nicole Calhoun [11:35] Yes.

Randy Wilburn [11:26] Okay. I thought I read that. I wasn't sure but I figured I would ask. I think that's also exciting as well as certainly more and more African Americans move to Northwest Arkansas, they have got options and your yoga studio is certainly one of them. Given everything that's going on now, and I like to talk a little bit about everything but how has the pandemic affected you guys with regard to your studio? Obviously, you were closed for a period of time as was most places. But how have you guys been able to kind of bounce back if you will, if there is such a thing with regard to the business, in relation to having classes again? Has it been more of a hassle because of all of the extra requirements in order to kind of keep everything fresh and safe? What is that been like for you guys?

Nicole Calhoun [12:34] You know, I'm so very thankful and blessed to say that we were not drastically affected by the pandemic and having to close. The studio has done very, very well since we've opened, and we really have grown a close community of very close and supportive community of clientele and that clientele supported us throughout the pandemic. We didn't have people canceling memberships or jumping ship, they were still so financially supportive of the studio, even though they couldn't come into the studio. We offered online classes during the closure, which was different for my teachers. I have a lot of experience teaching online, but most of them did not. And it's a whole new game to teach a power yoga class online. So not only does it mean you have to teach it, you actually have to do it. You have to do it, get out of breath, and also try to instruct so that was a learning curve for a lot of them. But I think that what we dealt with mostly during the closure was just kind of like the emotional aspect of having to close the business. You know, like I said, this is a community that's very close-knit and supportive that we've created, and just not being able for the teachers to see each other or to see our clientele; that was pretty hard. And me as a business owner, who has opened this business and developed it and nourished it into something successful, having to close that down through no fault of your own was pretty tough for me.

Yeah. There were a couple of times I remember standing in the studio--- so the studio is normally hot because it's hot yoga. But there's a couple of times when I would go into the studio and it's just dead cold and quiet. And, you know, I remember just standing there a couple of times and crying, because this is my baby. I want people here. I want people experiencing what I'm trying to offer them the power of yoga. And so, not even from a monetary aspect, there's just not being able to nourish and continue to be involved in this community that we've created was really hard.

Randy Wilburn [14:41] Yeah. I get it. I mean, every vertical or every industry in our area is struggling in some way, shape, or form. Some businesses are doing okay. There's a couple of pizza shops that are just selling a lot of pizza right now. But outside of that, there is some pain there. And I know that there is still concern about what the fall holds because I was reading an article in The New York Times about how so many cities that are tied to a university and the amount of money that comes in from that university and from the students and the teachers and all of that. That still remains to be seen. I think it'll be interesting for what happened specifically here in Fayetteville, but I'm hopeful that we will get through this and be stronger because of it.

Nicole Calhoun [15:36] Yes, yes, yes. As far as reopening, though, it hasn't been too much of a hassle. We are just doing what we're told making people wear mask taking temperatures and, you know, not lingering in the studio like we used to. That was huge for the studio before the pandemic was people love to come into the studio like 30 minutes early, and just go get to know each other talk about their days talk about their weeks, their plans and everything that they had going on. So, people that would normally probably never speak, or meet or cross in real life, came into that space and made friends with each other. And so that was huge for us.

Randy Wilburn [16:16] Yeah. I've done yoga quite a bit before I moved here. And then, when I moved here, I worked with a colleague that was a yoga instructor. So, she did a couple of yoga classes at my old company that I worked at. And then I took a couple of classes at Trailside, don't hold that against me, I did not know about yours, but I'm coming to that as soon as. I will be down there to stretch myself and hopefully end up better because of it. There is something to be said for going into those environments. And I still have connections with people that I have done yoga with because it's not like your normal thing. It's not like you run to the gym and lift some weights, it's a little different and so there is that. One of the other reasons why I wanted to talk to you is because you know and I think some people listening to this would benefit from what I'm going to ask you but your social media game is on point, alright. So, I'm just going to put it out there. I don't know if that was because of Lululemon or/and Garmin or was it that you already feel like you had yourself together as far as that's concerned to present yourself to the world via social media even before you started doing the things that you do as an ambassador and spokesperson for both of those uniquely different products and companies. I mean Garmin--- for people that don't know Garmin is Garmin. You want to tell people about Garmin and then we can talk a little bit about Lululemon.

Nicole Calhoun [17:56] So Garmin, I feel like people's first experience with Garmin was probably when we were buying GPS systems to go into our cars- when people stopped using Google to search things and printing out directions. Well, then there came Garmin. So, Garmin first started making GPS systems that you could take in and out of your car, and then eventually got into the wearable market with watches, basically. I feel like the majority of their business that your listeners would be familiar with are the wearables, like the run watches. Basically, I'm a runner, I want to be able to track my miles, and I need a Garmin to do that. So, Garmin is going to help you track your miles track your fitness, track your water intake, track your calories, just everything. It's basically like an Apple watch, but I feel like a little smarter, and more targeted if that makes sense.

Randy Wilburn [18:56] Yeah. It does make sense and it's funny I was going to ask you about that because I know that there are pros and cons to trying to wear a smartwatch when you do yoga. I mean, obviously people wear them when they work out and lift and all that or when you go out and run but what are you pro or not or against wearing a smartwatch when doing yoga?

Nicole Calhoun [19:20] If I'm staying true to the practice, I would say don't wear it because it's a distraction. If you can wear it and it not be a distraction, then yes, feel free to track your calories. But if you're looking at text messages, looking at the time, and doing all these other things, checking email on your watch, I would say to leave it in the other room and not practice with it. But if you can practice and not look at it, hey, go for it. I think it's a great way to track calories and we have a lot of clients that actually do track their calories and their heart rate during the class so, if it's being used for that, I'm all for it, just no texting or checking email.

Randy Wilburn [20:03] Right because you should be focusing on yourself, especially when you're in a yoga class. That would have to go without saying. So then tell me just a little bit about Lululemon?

Nicole Calhoun [20:14] So Lululemon and believe it or not they are still people who have never heard of Lululemon, which surprises me because they have a---

Randy Wilburn [20:25] ---or they're like mispronouncing, right. Trust me, there are people listening to this podcast that have called, oh, I didn't know it was Lululemon I thought it was Lululemon. Even I said it wrong when we got on the original part of this call, but you corrected me right quick and I appreciate that.

Nicole Calhoun [20:42] Oh, no worries. So Lululemon was initially established as an athletic wear for yoga company. So they basically started making yoga pants, and then ventured out into other yoga products, eventually ventured out into the run game and then to what they call office travel commute so which is basically things you could wear to work or maybe even wear to the gym and then wear out to happy hour. So, they're a clothing company at leisure company that has expanded their roots within yoga but still very deeply seated values and goals that surround yoga and the yoga practice.

Randy Wilburn [21:24] And there is a store right above you, is that correct? Which is next to Arsagas, which is where I love to get some coffee when I'm downtown Fayetteville so just a big shout out to Cary Arsaga's family and to the Lululemon store that's right there. And then once you've purchased the items that you want to wear, you can go right downstairs to Yoga Elixir and workout. So, it kind of works out that way. So how have you enjoyed being an ambassador for them? I mean, they are worldwide brands so how has that actually been for you as far as that's concerned?

Nicole Calhoun [22:07] It has changed me definitely as a person. It has changed me as a yoga teacher. It has changed me as a yoga practitioner. One of the things they tell you when they ask you to be an ambassador, and you accept is that this opportunity is what you make of it. And just like anytime you hear that there are going to be people that take great advantage and put great effort into the partnership and then they're going to be people who don't. And so, I have benefited a lot from the partnership and the partnership has also benefited a lot from me, the company Lululemon. And that's what they like, they want to benefit from you and they want you to benefit from them. I've had the opportunity, my first year I was selected as what's called a summit ambassador, which is where Lululemon invites 100 ambassadors from around the world to Vancouver and basically treat them to four days of self-work, business work, meditation, yoga, and you know, just a nice time at the Four Seasons in Vancouver. After being invited up there, my purpose or my yoga career really, really hit home for me, which was making yoga more inclusive for everybody and increasing the number of black teachers in the yoga profession and that's what I've been working towards ever since.

Randy Wilburn [23:36] Yeah. I'm glad you mentioned that because I was going to ask you about that. I mean, obviously, there are not a lot of us, meaning African Americans that do yoga period, right. It would be rare, like--- I lived out the Bay Area for six years. I was in Berkeley. I used to take yoga classes all the time. I'd see some black people there. When I went to Boston, I never saw black people taking yoga and I was really surprised at that. And I was like, wow, I wonder why? I was in Atlanta, of course, there were a lot of black people, but that's also Atlanta and DC the same thing. But, it's not as popular in the African American community as some other exercise activities. And I'm wondering, what has been your goal in terms of getting more involvement of African Americans in yoga?

Nicole Calhoun [24:30] To be honest, the way I approach the problem and the situation because we have to treat it like a problem. After all, it is, which means we have to brainstorm and think of solutions to solve the problem. Why yoga, when it came over to the United States, was heavily marketed towards rich white women. And it's probably, if I'm being honest, still being marketed heavily, heavily heavily towards rich white women. It's better than it was and companies who have a huge platform like Lululemon, like yoga journal and other huge brands, it's going to be up to them to change this view of whitewash to yoga because they helped create it. And when I went to Vancouver, doing the Lululemon summit that I stood up during a forum, and I said that this is partly your fault. You're going to have to help fix it. And they were like, we absolutely agree. And they have. But I think the way I like to think of approaching the problem is representation. If you see people that look like you doing the things that you want to do, you're more apt to do them. You're more apt to feel welcome to not be scared, and you're more likely to feel safe. That's one thing that I bet that I'm very proud of with the studio is that when people ask me what it is, I say it's a safe space for everybody, no matter what you look like to come and experience the power of yoga. But it's hard and I've experienced this firsthand as a black woman who loves yoga, walking into a studio where the clientele is all white, the instructors are all white and you are the only person of color. That's not a safe space. Because while I'm there, I feel very uncomfortable. And so that space is not safe for me. So, my ideal space, which is what we've created at Yoga Elixir Lounge, is to create a space that is safe and part of that safety is representation. You're going to see people that look like you.

Randy Wilburn [26:35] Right. I love that. People that haven't done yoga before or participated in yoga sessions, you have to be all in or nothing. When you take a yoga class, you can't like phone(*) it in. You can go to the gym, and just kind of half-hearted, you stare or half hard on the bench(*), you can't do that with yoga. You either have to be or it's going to be really evident and it just does not work. Well tell me this, so your social media game you have a ton of followers, did you take any classes to kind of expand your ability to reach because the thing I like about--- and I follow you primarily on Instagram so you post quite a bit on there at least once a day if not more. A lot of times you're posting a lot of positions that you do just providing some feedback and there are some long-form videos that you put on there when you're working out. How did you develop that scheme for how you put out your social posts? And is there a method to your madness? Do you follow like an editorial calendar with the stuff that you're going to put out or do you just kind of share what you're feeling at the time?

Nicole Calhoun [28:03] So I try to keep it organic for the most part and share what I'm feeling at the time just because that speaks to authenticity. And I always want to be authentic, no matter what people think I want to stay true to myself, but people are drawn towards authenticity. You have yoga pages or pages on Instagram that look very professional, but it's a person right, and that makes people feel like it's fake; it's not authentic, like, who is this person really though? So, one thing that I've always tried to be is very authentic. After a few years I got on Instagram, I became friends with a lady and kind of internship with her who is a yogi based in Florida. Her name is Beach Yoga girl, that's her handles @beachyogagirl. Kerry*(sp) is her name. But she was one of the first Yogi's to have over a million followers on Instagram. And so, I learned a lot about just the yoga business, about social media from her and we're still friends to this day. She's one of my mentors. And it's a lot to learn. So, when you say is there a method to my madness, absolutely. When I lead my yoga teacher trainees, we spend a whole weekend on social media and yoga business. So, there's a lot to learn and posting more than once a day is a start.

Randy Wilburn [29:32] Absolutely. You have to post more than once a day and you have to be exotic. The thing I like about your post too, is that again, you kind of engage your whole self, right. Like, I know that you are a Kansas City [inaudible 29:46] you sell it, congratulations. You celebrated your team going to the Super Bowl and all that other stuff. And, you know, you kind of share your whole self, which is kind of cool. I try to do the same thing, but you're absolutely right, being organic and being natural with social media and not being fake goes much further. And you build what I would call more social credibility that way than trying to create a persona of something that maybe you really aren't, you know, and I think that's---

Nicole Calhoun [30:15] That's exhausting. That's exactly when you keep a persona that's not you, right.

Randy Wilburn [30:21] It is, it is. And it's so funny because I had somebody tell me the other day, after the whole George Floyd incident, I was honestly tired. As a black man, as an African American in this country, my grandfather was a civil rights leader. And, for me, it's like, I'm 50 and I was just like, man, I'm tired of this. But at the same time, I was like, you know, I have a platform I just want to share how I'm feeling. And I was totally transparent and raw in a podcast episode I did, and I got more responses and feedback from people than a lot of the others. I've gotten a lot of listens. I've tons of episodes that are super popular but that was probably one of the most popular and people just appreciated the freshness and just sharing how you felt.

Nicole Calhoun [31:10] Yeah, they want to see who you really are as opposed to like some super edited, great-looking photo that could probably appear in a magazine. That's great too but who are you outside of that?

Randy Wilburn [31:22] Yeah. Absolutely. So, I think there's something to be said for that and that would be a good message for anyone out there trying to improve your social media game. Whether it's just to do it on a personal level, or if you're getting a business started, I think it's just to be as Shakespeare said, "to thine own self be true and let people see who the real you is and then let it go from there." There's always going to be some people that don't like you, no matter what you do, no matter how you do it, how you say it. There's always gonna be some people they're just like, they're gonna be dismissive of you or not like you and that's okay because there's going to be more people that like you.

Nicole Calhoun [32:01] Those aren't your people, that's what my friend Carrie would say. It's okay because those aren't your people. It's okay.

Randy Wilburn [32:06] Yeah, absolutely. So, I want to ask you about this before we close up. Do you follow or have you seen some of the videos for yoga with Adrian?

Nicole Calhoun [32:17] Yoga with Adrian? I think I have.

Randy Wilburn [32:19] Yeah, she's out of Austin, Texas. She's somebody that had [inaudible 32:23] for several years, and she has a huge following on YouTube. And I was just amazed by a lot of the stuff that she created during the quarantine during the pandemic online. I just thought, man, based on that, and I was curious to know whether or not with all of the new opportunities that have been presented to go online, are you going to focus some more on that in the future?

Nicole Calhoun [32:50] Absolutely.

Randy Wilburn [32:51] Okay. So, you are going to have the physical and in person, but you're saying there's room for yoga elixir online and that there's going to be definitely an expansion of those offerings?

Nicole Calhoun [33:08] Absolutely. So, we are in a different time now, and you have to change with the times or you are left behind. And I honestly believe that probably when the end of the year hits that we will probably be re-quarantined. I hope not, but I mean, I'm planning for it. So absolutely, we're going to up the yoga game with all my yoga game at the studio for sure. Not just showcasing me and that with that, but also the teachers that I've trained and I've hired. Because I've always said with as far as my business, you know, I don't want this to be all about me. The spotlight is not on me here and I tell my ladies that and I want them to believe me, and I hope they believe me. And so, whenever we have huge opportunities like that, it's not all about me it's about you guys, too. I have my own thing on the side. That is all about me. And so, I hope to release more videos on YouTube. And I'm also in talks with friends of mine in the business about just an online subscription platform for yoga.

Randy Wilburn [34:17] Yeah. I think it would be great. I mean, I'm looking on your website, and it is Is that correct?

Nicole Calhoun [34:27] Yes.

Randy Wilburn [34:17] Okay, right. So, and there's a lot of information on here. You've got the virtual studio. You have a store, their events, and then also a link for online classes. So, we will make sure to put all of that in the show notes for anybody that wants to check it out. And I would certainly recommend that people reach out to you at least take a class or two. Do you have a special for people that are just getting introduced to Elixir Yoga Lounge, and what's the easiest way for them to do that?

Nicole Calhoun [34:58] So yes, we do. So, new clients of ours, we offer two weeks of unlimited yoga. Come as much as you want in those two weeks. We have classes six days a week. We take Sundays off just like chick fillet. So, in those two weeks, if you wanted to come 12 days in a row, you can do that and it's $49. So, two weeks or $49 or you can just come try out one class. One dropping class is $18. We have mat rentals for you. If you don't have a mat, we have those that you can rent. And also, if you are not in Northwest Arkansas and you want to try a class, we have virtual classes that you could sign up for as well.

Randy Wilburn [35:42] Right It's like peloton, but better.

Nicole Calhoun [35:47] Yes, thank you.

Randy Wilburn [35:49] I love that. Okay, good. Well, I'm definitely going to come down and check it out. And, I'm going to find two weeks when I can just get my money's worth, but also really try to explore the full gamut of offering because you have a lot and if you come here and look, you can easily book online and it's pretty laid out. Classes are spaced out accordingly. So, yeah, I definitely want to encourage people to check these guys out at If anybody wants to reach out to you, Nicole, what's the best way for them to connect with you?

Nicole Calhoun [36:26] So, the website is a great place to connect just for general information. You can also find me on Instagram. I'm @yoga, y-o-g-a, elixir, e-l-i-x-i-r. The studio's Instagram, excuse me is @elixiryogalounge which is e-l-x-r-y-o-g-a-l-o-u-n-g-e. We also have a phone number that you can text for the business if you have any general inquiries, it's 479-310-5199.

Randy Wilburn [37:03] Okay, well, that's perfect. That's perfect. How long have you been here in Northwest Arkansas?

Nicole Calhoun [37:10] Since 2003.

Randy Wilburn [37:13] So you are kind of like an OG when it comes to that. Because I know people that were born here, but that's a long time. That's 17-18 years. Where do you like to go when you are hanging out with family or friends and you want to get a nice bite to eat? Do you have a favorite restaurant? And I know that a tough question. I hate asking that to people because like I know a bunch of restaurant owners so if I mentioned just one then throw me shade like, what's up dude, you didn't mention me or whatever. I don't mean to put you on the spot, but---

Nicole Calhoun [37:48] Oh, no, put me on the spot. I love to be social. I love to go out for happy hour and dinner. So, I have a few different ones. So, my favorite local spot is called the Leverett lounge, and it's near the university. Try the Leverett Lounge, it's so cute and quaint and the food is great. The martinis are excellent. My big chain restaurant that I love Ruth's Chris. Love Ruth's Chris and Rogers. And then there's another restaurant that opened off of the square in Fayetteville called Atlas but I only got to visit a few times before everybody had to shut down. But I'm really ready to get back in there and enjoy some of the things they have. Favorite bar, Maxine's, of course.

Randy Wilburn [38:34] So we've had Hannah Withers on the show, and of course, we actually met. I interviewed her in Maxine's taproom and we talked about Leverett Lounge and that Korean fried chicken is out of this world so---

Nicole Calhoun [38:49] I get the cauliflower- it was good.

Randy Wilburn [38:50] Well, yeah. It won't hurt you. But there are so many great places to eat in Northwest Arkansas. That's the thing that I don't think people realize that. That means You've got some James Beard award nominees and winners here in Northwest Arkansas so our food game is on par with anybody. I will put it up there with anyone so as far as that's concerned. When you are not at the gym when you are out and about and because there are so many things to do outdoors, do you have any one thing that you like doing maybe riding around Lake Fayetteville or hiking [inaudible 39:34]

Nicole Calhoun [39:34] So I have to admit I'm not a huge hiker because I'm scared of bugs. But I do love to rollerblade so it's a friend and I got some rollerblades last year, and we've been slowly but surely learning how to rollerblade along the trails. There's also a custom skateboard shop called The Path in Fayetteville that I'm going to go probably this week or next and have a custom skateboard built so I can learn to skateboard.

Randy Wilburn [40:03] Yeah. Well, listen to me because you already know yoga that should help you out there as far as that. I hope so. Yeah, I'm hoping. That's awesome. Well, we look forward to seeing some, some posts on Instagram once you get your skateboard all set up. That's awesome. Yeah. Well, Nicole, thank you so much for coming on the podcast and just sharing a little bit about your story. And I certainly hope people were encouraged by what you shared. I know I was and I look forward to continually watching your ascent as you continue to grow with the Yoga Elixir Lounge as a representative and ambassador for Lululemon, as well as with Garmin. So, I know the sky is the limit for you so the future looks really bright. So, I want to congratulate you now. And I want to say thank you again for taking time out of your schedule to just spend a few minutes with me and the rest of my I am Northwest Arkansas tribes so we really appreciate you.

Nicole Calhoun [41:03] Thank you so much for having me. This was fun.

Randy Wilburn [41:06] Oh good, good. I'm glad you like it. Well, there you have it, folks, another episode of The I Am Northwest Arkansas podcast. I really appreciate you guys taking time out of your schedule to check this out. As you know, our podcast comes out every Monday, right around 12ish or so. I never want people to pin me down to a specific time but by noon Mondays there's always a new episode out so we appreciate you taking the time to listen to it. You can listen to this podcast wherever great podcasts can be found. Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify, Apple, wherever you name it, you can find us and by the way, did you know that you can listen to us on your Amazon Alexa. So, if you have a little Alexa in your home, just say hey, Alexa, play the latest episode of The I Am Northwest Arkansas podcast, and you will have it just like that. So that's all I have for you this week. We really appreciate you guys. We wouldn't be here if it weren't for you. We continue to share the intersection of business, culture entrepreneurship and life in the Ozarks and how you play into that. So, we appreciate you guys so much and we will see you next week. Peace.

IANWA Open [42:22] We hope you enjoyed this episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. Check us out each and every week available anywhere that great podcasts can be found. For show notes or more information on becoming a guest, visit We will see you next week on I am Northwest Arkansas.


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