Roman Szpond is a seasoned yoga instructor and studio owner. When he launched Gratitude Hot Yoga Center in Raleigh, NC, he set out to create a place for all yogis to practice safely with physical and mental challenges that inevitably lead to growth. His mantra is, “Our Father…” It’s important because it reminds us that we are all brothers and sisters, “It’s like ‘Namaste’ … the light in me bows to the identical light in you!,” says Szpond, and that mindset resonates at Gratitude Hot Yoga Studio.
Here is the story of our favorite yoga studio in Raleigh, NC in 2021.
Roman’s personal development as a teacher and leader in the industry began over 20 years ago. On his first visit to India, he was touched so deeply, that upon return to the U.S. he immediately began his research and studies. Roman immersed himself with senior Iyengar and Anusara teachers as well as mentors like Baron Baptiste and Rod Stryker. Like his teachers before him, he developed a system that was inclusive and embodied the best qualities from the different systems he studied.
In 2002, Roman opened Inner Strength Studios. His intention was to bring together, train, and work with some of the best yoga teachers in the Boston area to offer real, powerful yoga and help transform lives. Built on the success of his first studio location, he opened two more Inner Strength locations. In May of 2018, Inner Strength Studios was acquired by YogaWorks.
Having a renewed sense of purpose and direction, Roman purchased Gratitude Hot Yoga in Raleigh N.C. in December of 2018 and Element Hot Yoga in August of 2020 and has since rebranded it as Gratitude Hot Yoga Center’s second location.
Gratitude Hot Yoga Studios are designed with all of the safety protocols in place to ensure the safety of the team and community. Each studio has ample parking and all of the yoga ‘extras’ you may need like water, towels, yoga mats, and Gratitude swag. The yoga rooms are clean, spacious, and well ventilated. There is antibacterial non-slip flooring at both studio locations, plus showers, lockers, and plenty of yoga props.
What We Love
Gratitude Hot Yoga Studios has three uniques: 1. Alignment/safety cues 2. Challenging 3. Narrative.
Firstly, every single class offers the right amount of challenge with scaling-up or scaling-down variations to suit all levels of students, all so you can continue to experience growth, progress, and realize the results you want and need. Secondly, every single class is cued for alignment and safety as they ‘teach’ you the nuts and the bolts of each pose. And, to add value, the entire leadership team shares soulfully uplifting narratives that help correlate what the student is doing on the yoga mat and how it will positively affect their lives.
The heartfelt, candid testimonials from the community members tell of mental clarity, emotional stability, a physical ‘wringing-out’ as well as a deeply satisfying soulful connection.
“At Gratitude, we create a ‘pipeline’ for teachers to continually develop in our Teacher Yoga Study programs where we provide weekly coaching sessions to continually sharpen their leadership skills,” says Roman. “They’ve all been training in classical yoga and are able to add ‘yoga-inspired physical fitness’ techniques to keep up with the times.”
Expert Advice for New Yogis
We asked Roman what his one piece of advice for new yogis is, this was his response: “Remember your why…your purpose for seeking yoga in the first place…that will give you the power to continue on your journey time and time again as everyone was once new.”
Gratitude Hot Yoga Center is located at 10501 Shadowlawn Dr #109, Raleigh, NC 27614. You can search the class schedule here.