Small Business Spotlight: Pura Vida Studio

“My hope is that Pura Vida is a safe and supportive environment for all of those that train at our studio,” said Calderwood.

Pura Vida Studio, an aerial, yoga and wellness studio located in Cary’s Parkside Town Commons, has been an award-winning business since they first opened their doors in 2019. Voted this year’s Best Fitness Program in Cary Magazine’s Maggy Awards, owner Alicia Calderwood, who has been performing and teaching yoga and aerials for almost a decade, is clearly doing something right.

“I opened my business at 25 years old,” said Calderwood. “I work hard to provide opportunities in my studio and within the community for all ages and experience levels to show them what they are truly capable of!”

As one of the founders and directors of Carolina Circus Festival, a local nonprofit performance organization for circus artists, Calderwood lives and breathes aerial arts — but when she’s not busy with studio/festival work, you can typically find her adventuring with her husband, their three dogs in tow.

We recently caught up with Calderwood to learn more about Pura Vida Studio and the unique form of fitness they offer the community.

Pura Vida offers a wide range of aerial and yoga classes for all different experience levels and ages. Contributed photo

How did Pura Vida Studio come to be?

I was visiting Costa Rica, with my now-husband, when the main yoga studio that I was teaching at abruptly shut down. It was my main teaching job, and I immediately fell into a panic about my next steps. While on that trip, my husband encouraged me to open my business. At the time, he worked in banking as a commercial lender for small businesses. He broke down numbers and showed me the potential of what opening a successful aerial business would look like. At the time, I was teaching and performing aerials at a bunch of locations. I experienced a lot of things in studios I didn’t agree with, and safety things that truly concerned me. I had written up plans of what I would do differently if I had my own business, but didn’t think I was ready for that. Opening a business was on the back burner until my husband opened my eyes to how accessible this really was for me. Six months later, I opened Pura Vida Studio!

What is the origin of the name?

Pura Vida is a Costa Rican saying that means “pure life, simple life, happy life.” I decided to name my business after this beautiful motto and channel that authentic energy into my business. Pura Vida is not just a saying, it’s a way of life.

What kinds of classes does Pura Vida Studio offer?

Pura Vida offers a wide range of aerial and yoga classes for all different experience levels and ages. We offer classes and camps in aerial silks, aerial sling, lyra, and trapeze. We also offer monthly specialty offerings such as dance, specialty apparatuses, flexibility, partner acro, and so much more. You, too, can fly like an aerialist or meditate like a yogi, no matter your age or experience level. Pura Vida also offers private lessons in yoga and aerials for those who want more individualized attention for their movement journey. We also offer teacher training to continue safely educating those who want to become instructors. We have something for everyone!

Aerial performers from Pura Vida Studio perform at Cary Magazine’s 2022 Maggy Party.

How did you first get into yoga and aerial arts?

I started yoga and aerial arts as an adult beginner as a New Year’s resolution. My mental health was having negative effects on my health and body, so I decided to make a change for myself in 2013 with yoga and aerials. I started teaching myself yoga in my living room and taking aerial classes locally. I fell in love immediately with both and knew that it was exactly what I was supposed to do with my life. It truly saved my life, and I will continue to spread awareness about these movement styles and open people’s minds to how much movement can increase their mental and physical health (plus, it’s fun)!

What has been the best, or most surprising, aspect of owning a business?

My Pura Vida community has been the best and most surprising aspect of my business. I struggled to connect with local aerialists and yogis in the area when I was a student and teacher. That was something I wanted to change in the area. It has been rewarding and humbling to see people come into our space and try something new, and all supporting one another doing it. This community has exceeded my expectations, and I will strive to continue to keep that energy flowing through Pura Vida.

Aerial performers from Pura Vida Studio perform at Cary Magazine’s 2022 Maggy Party.

What would you say to someone who is intimidated by aerial arts?

Everyone had to be a beginner once, even all the Cirque du Soleil performers! At Pura Vida, we introduce you to accessible and fun aerials for ANYONE wanting to try it. Our bodies and minds are capable of a lot!

What is your most popular class?

Most everyone loves our intro to aerial sling classes, or our higher level aerial sling classes. It’s a supportive way to try aerials if you are not sure you have the strength and flexibility for it. Once students find their apparatus at our studio, they are usually hooked, especially with aerial sling. I highly recommend trying an intro series with us!

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