A few months ago, I almost read an entire article. But then my newborn ripped up the magazine. For me, a freelance writer and new mom, the New Yorker's “Is the Gig Economy Working?” was a relevant source of work-related information and helped me feel connected to the world outside my living room. The author talks to youthful über-entrepreneurs who found ways to live their travel fantasy lives while filling a niche in the economy. Their lives were exhausting to contemplate while I was trapped beneath a small creature sucking life from my boob.
Fast forward a few months. I asked my cousin’s wife, another stay-at-home mother, how she gets exercise. She sent me a link to the YouTube yoga gurus of Boho Beautiful. These two incredibly attractive yogis, Juliana and Mark, film short clips of Juliana stretching herself like a rubber band on far-flung tropical beaches. Naturally, the combination of nature, travel, and fitness is a lifestyle winner, making them the ultimate yoga/lifestyle channel with 3.5 million views a month.
When I heard they were visiting Miami on their Positive Movement Tour — during which they are raising money and awareness for local animal nonprofits — I wanted to speak with them about how they found this perfect balance of elements that fits perfectly into the YouTube paradigm and into our collective fantasies of how our lives should feel and look.
They spoke with me on the phone as they drove through Florida in their travel van. Juliana explained that as a kid, she was a professional rhythmic gymnast who had trained for the 2007 Beijing Olympics but had to retire at 17 due to a spinal injury. “Yoga and Pilates pretty much saved my life, and since then, I’ve become a teacher,” she said. Originally from the Ukraine, she built her career as a yoga and Pilates instructor in Toronto, which is where she met Mark, a former rocker who still worked in the music industry.
“I knew there was something else out there for us,” she said.
Mark had a snowboarding accident that resulted in an ACL injury. That's what got him into yoga. “It gave us a little space. I couldn’t work, and I had a long recovery time. We realized that maybe this happened so that we could do what we always talked about,” he said, which was taking to the road. So they bought a video camera and learned how to use it by watching YouTube videos. “That was really the beginning for both of us.”
Though they were working full time, they used their free time to concentrate on this budding idea. They used Mark’s office to film. But a family trip to Costa Rica really produced the winning combo. It was there that they realized they were meeting people who were traveling and doing what they loved, not seeking six-figure incomes: travel bloggers, YouTubers who travel, graphic designers. “They find a way to use the internet to be digital nomads,” Mark said. “We’ve seen the different yoga and Pilates channels out there, but no one offers the travel aspect that we find we bring people.” This was how they found their angle.
After learning to shoot against a white wall, they found Costa Rica’s beaches a challenge, but they figured it out. “We shifted priorities and made a lot of sacrifices,” Juliana said. “It was a snowball effect after that... Our YouTube channel started to slowly grow. We realized people were connecting not just to doing yoga, but it transported them to a beach in Costa Rica for 20 minutes.” That allowed them to head out on longer trips, about two weeks at a time, and edit at home. The appearance of traveling constantly was an illusion.
“We made a dream board, and we said, 'How do we get closer every year?'” Mark said. Their goals were traveling and being their own bosses.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
A year ago, the growth of their online community had become solid and stable. So they sold everything they owned to buy a 12-passenger van. With that, they left everything behind. They shot in the Rockies, went to Southeast Asia for eight months, and then, after they returned, converted the van into a tiny home.
Out on tour, Juliana said, “We get to meet our community for the first time.” They’re doing a 40-stop tour presenting yoga classes. Many of their fans are like my cousin’s wife or me — we can’t make it to a studio or can’t afford it, can’t go to retreats, but still need to stretch. There were also people who are intimidated to join their local yoga community, who found a safe place with the videos. Mark said, “I can’t tell you how many people come to our classes and say it’s their first yoga class ever.”
And that is their winning formula. That and their philanthropic attitude. Every dollar raised in Miami will go to the Gulfstream Rotti Rescue. Consider this your opportunity to bridge the gap created by the internet and meet people living your dream and theirs. It just might rub off on you.
Boho Beautiful. 6 p.m. Thursday, November 2, at Inhale Miami, 6310 NE Second Ave., Miami; 786-789-0943; inhalemiami.com. Suggested $10 donation.