WeissCrax: Yoga guru Hengels flexible & thankful for life’s challenges

Adrienne, second from left, with her family

She’s a Midwest girl at heart.

Mt. Prospect, where she grew up, is a 40-minute northwest ride from Chicago.

Her dad, Bob was an electrician and mom, Donna, a waitress.

Adrienne is active in the local running and triathlon community while running a yoga studio in Santa Barbara

Adrienne Hengels is the last of four kids – there’s Steve, Jeff and Denise before her.

“We were, and still are, a very close knit family,” she said.

This Hengels played basketball, volleyball and track.

She gave 110% in practice.

Got A’s in her classes.

And dreamed like all kids do …

For her, it was as a jet-setting business executive wearing the latest fashion and making a positive difference in the world.

At the University of Wisconsin, a senior internship led to a full-time paid marketing research gig after graduation in 2002.

It didn’t take long – even with a consumer science degree – to see that change here in Corporate America is slooow.

“I’d talk to consumers and get their feedback but, in reality, only 1% of changes ever gets to market. Plus, it takes years,” she says.

She settled in and started taking yoga classes with a friend and found she really liked it.

Then she discovered hot, power vinyasa yoga — LOVED IT!!

It would soon become her life’s calling.

Some time later, she and her then-husband looked at other jobs across the country before landing back to her native Chicago.

And the good news?

Hengels took a bite there at a market analyst role for a national bakery goods provider that ‘nobody doesn’t like.”

And the not-so-good news?

No yoga anywhere!!

Adrienne teaches a unique style of yoga at her downtown studio, in which she blends power Vinyasa Yoga with 90-degree heat.

Instead, she did it at home using DVDs but missed that special sense of spirit and community when practicing with others.

“I thought – if I want this – others must want it, too!” she said.

Yoga was also a perfect complement to her other athletic pursuits as Hengels started experimenting with half marathons and triathlons.

But, she struggled with going to work everyday – her main motivation was primarily for the workouts after shift.

It was a disconnect of sorts – living a healthy life while working in an industry that was delivering less-than-organic products.

So….

She quit her job in January 2008 to pursue her own yoga studio. Teacher training started the following month.

‘Second thoughts’ nearly crippled her…

“Then my teacher said, ‘Just go find some space for a studio,’ so I did,” Hengels stated.

As you might expect from a market researcher, she did her homework and found a ‘big, white vanilla box’ about a mile from home.

Hengels signed the lease and added her distinctive personal touch.

Coupla months later, she launched Power of Your Om …

That’s Om as a takeoff for ‘own’ – realizing each participant’s unique personal life journey that can come through yoga.

And ‘Om’ as in that unifying hummmm that starts each class to bring them all into the moment.

About her first class?

An amazing 47 students!

Adrienne competing in an Ironman competition

Adrienne with boyfriend Jason Smith

 

And when she wasn’t doing it all by herself – building her business and teaching 17 yoga classes a week – she was hitting full stride in her running and triathlons – having completed the Wisconsin Ironman in 2008 — her qualifying event for the 2009 Hawaiian Ironman World Championships, where she did OK.

But some turbulence along the way — a life shift with the end of her marriage.

Somehow, she kept a positive focus.

Her training helped her moving forward and later, a surprise silver lining …

A blossoming friendship with Jason Smith, a personal trainer and triathlete from Indianapolis – they began to realize they had much in common –- like a zest for life and living simply — tho they resided 3-hours apart.

When Smith travelled to Santa Barbara early last year, Hengels joined him.

“Santa Barbara was everything I thought it would be,” she claims.

They biked Gibraltar on their first day. Walked the beach on the second, plotting how they could move eventually here – together.

But, they were many roadblocks….

Like their apartment fell through a few days before driving across the country.

“It was as if someone was testing us and asking, “OK, how badly do you want this?” she said.

They moved here last November and stayed with friends until they got on their feet.

She taught yoga classes while Smith quickly built his fitness business.

Hengels kept her Chicago yoga studio and soon travelled for yoga workshops to exotic destinations such as Costa Rica and Italy…

“It made me think, tho – what do I really want?” she claims.

The answer, my friends, was putting down roots.

On launching her first yoga studio, it was nothing but naïve enthusiasm.

But, could she do it again in SB?

There were many doubts …

She couldn’t see the one simple mental obstacle that everyone saw within her:

TRUST.

She doubted herself when everyone believed.

In one of those ‘AHA moments’ – the walls came crashing down and she, like Stella, found her groove.

A cozy downtown spot near Soho Restaurant opened up – she took possession in August, then a little time to paint and add her personal touch.

Power of Your Om’s Grand Opening here was October…

Hengels is, again, on her way….

And about her life journey so far?

Well, she has learned many things about turbulence and how her personal challenges have only provided more opportunities …

“It has all helped make me stronger,” she says.

Now with two thriving businesses, she travels back and forth to Chicago to keep both yoga studios going, incorporating new things she has learned.

Plus, she still finds time, as an elite local triathlete, to train and compete in competitions.

Her recent SB Half Marathon time: 1-hour, 32-minutes.

And about those dreams as a young girl?

Well, at age 31, Adrienne Hengels is living them as that globe-travelling, successful business executive making a positive difference in the world – save, of course, for the high fashion.

“I much prefer California casual now,” she says.

A sign of being comfortable within herself?

That‘s the Power of Your Ommmmm …..

Hengels in her studio located in Victoria Court

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