From dance classes to their choice of college and even living arrangements, sisters Jessica Bajoras and Jamie Malinowski have taken on many of life’s milestones together.
Now that includes owning a business.
“We always wanted to open something together,” Malinowski said.
On Sept. 27, the Penn State grads and former roommates opened Prima Yoga on Route 19 in Cranberry, fulfilling their dream not only of working in business with each other but also of being their own bosses.
“It’s something we love to do, so it doesn’t feel like work,” Bajoras said.
Prior to operating the studio, which specializes in the Bikram-style of yoga performed in a hot setting, the sisters were working in sales for pharmaceutical companies but living thousands of miles apart. Bajoras, 30, was in West Palm Beach, Fla., while Malinowski, 32, had moved to Washington, D.C., with her husband.
Both sisters were ready to change their careers, Malinowski said. They also yearned to move back to the Cranberry area, which is where they grew up and where the rest of their family still lives.
“At that point, we were sick of working in corporate America, and we wanted to go home,” Malinowski said.
After Malinowski fell in love with the Bikram yoga classes she took in D.C., the sisters hatched a plan to open a similar studio in Cranberry. Although Amazing Yoga in Wexford offers Baptiste Power Vinyasa Flow Yoga, also performed in a hot studio, Malinowski said there are no studios in the North Hills or the Cranberry area offering Bikram, a discipline that consists of 26 postures and two breathing exercises.
“My little entrepreneurial wheel started spinning,” Malinowski said. “I called my sister and said, ‘I think we can do this.’”
Besides studying under different yoga masters across the U.S., Bajoras and Malinowski become certified instructors in Bikram, which focuses on spinal strength, alignment and flexibility among its other health benefits. Malinowski and her husband, Ed, a former marine who works in business development for military accounts, moved back to the area and live in Adams Township. Bajoras returned to the area in the spring.
After a search of Cranberry, the sisters found their dream location at the former Elite Dance by Damian studio on Route 19. Originally slated to open in the April, Prima Yoga debuted last month because the construction process to transform the space from a dance studio to yoga destination took longer than expected.
“We just kept positive,” Bajoras said of the delay.
The 2,475 square foot studio features a mirrored “hot room” that warms up to a temperature of 105 degrees during the 90-minute classes. There also are changing rooms for men and women.
From the spring green color on the walls to the layout of the space and the flooring in the studio, the sisters chose everything in the studio to create a harmonious environment they hoped would attract yoga enthusiasts. They even painted the artwork that hangs from the walls.
“We wanted it to be a place that if we were the clients we’d want to go back there,” Bajoras said.
The sisters said they decided to call the studio Prima Yoga in part because of their heritage (their mom was born in Italy) and because it means “first” in Italian.
Since it opened, the studio has been popular with area residents, including many who have never taken a Bikram class before, Malinowski said. The yoga style is suitable for all levels of health and physical condition, she said. The same 26 postures are performed in each class, and poses can be modified to suit one’s ability.
“The postures can be made more and more difficult, so there’s always a challenge,” Malinowski said. “Your body never gets used to it,”
The sisters take turns instructing the classes. For a full schedule of the classes, individual and package rates, visit the Prima Yoga website.
“Everyone can do this,” Bajoras said.