This is your first business ever. Isn’t it scary starting out here?

There was nothing like this in the Heidelberg and Mannheim area. From a business perspective it was too much of an opportunity to pass up. I figured if I didn’t do it, someone else would. And I’ve just always wanted to own my own business.

Are yoga and Pilates big in Germany?

Not like they are in America, but it’s slowly changing. It tends to be five, six years later that movements in the States catch on here. Right now, we’re the only Pilates studio that’s fully equipped between Stuttgart and Köln.

What’s business like?

Overall, really good. We do a lot more Pilates business than we do yoga. When you say yoga, people think you’re sitting around meditating and chanting. We’re having a hard time getting out there that it’s a more powerful type of yoga, it’s something that athletes do.

Who are your customers? Are they Germans, Americans?

About half and half. We have a lot more Americans than I thought.

Do the Germans get into it?

Yeah. They’re not as dedicated as Americans are about it, though. Americans will take two, three yoga classes a week. The Germans will take one. They see it more as a hobby, not so much as a lifestyle.

How is your German?

Slowly getting better. I hate answering the phone. I’m always afraid there’s going to be a German person on the other end.

If your German is so bad, how do you tell a German to turn himself into a human pretzel?

Yeah, you know, everybody else teaches their classes in German and English. We have several German teachers here, too. I’m the only teacher who teaches just in English. I’m slowly learning the body parts and left and right and stuff like that.

A lot of Germans have specific outfits for different activities. Is there a typical yoga or Pilates outfit?

Like the Nordic walkers with their checked shirt and fishing vests and poles? No, it’s really weird. They don’t even dress as well as the Americans in here. It just doesn’t even apply, and I’m not sure why.

Doesn’t yoga focus somewhat on diet?

I think traditional yoga does.

Where does schnitzel fit into the yoga diet?

(Laughter) Traditional yogis would completely shun it.

What advice do you have for other Americans who want to start their own business in Germany?

You have to have a lot of Germans helping you. And don’t plan on making any money, because the taxes are too high.

Laurie Hogie

Title: Owner of Yoga Pilates Studio, Heidelberg, Germany

Military connection: Military spouse.

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