■ BY SUE ERWIN
Banyan Tree Pilates and Yoga has new owners – but they’re not new to the island. Jan Waters and her husband, Ron, officially purchased the business on September 1.
Jan has been teaching fitness classes for about 30 years. She has taught step, boot camp and Pilates. An avid runner, she’s also competed in local triathlons sponsored by the YMCA. She started running 30 years ago, right after she had her first daughter.
Jan has led classes at The Gasparilla Inn & Club, and she knows many of the clients at Banyan Tree Pilates and Yoga quite well.
“I heard through the grapevine over the summer that Heather and Chris were thinking about selling – but I never imagined in my wildest dreams this is where we’d be just a few months later,” Jan said.
The previous owners had expressed an interest in selling, but they weren’t in a hurry.
“They wanted to make sure the new owners would keep the business the same and continue to serve their regular clients,” she said.
And Jan and Ron ended up being the perfect fit.
“We really like the island and the atmosphere of the community … it all fell into place rather quickly,” Jan said.
Jan and Ron moved here three years ago from Chesapeake Beach, Maryland.
After Jan’s career as a loan officer for Wells Fargo for more than 25 years, she and Ron decided it was a good time to move to Florida.
Jan’s parents, Eunice and John Herr, had retired and moved to Englewood, and she wanted to be closer to them. “They’ve been down here for 12 years,” Jan said. “My mom has been really active in the community with the shell club and the orchid club … she likes to keep busy.”
Ron owned a construction business for years, so he is familiar with the benefits and challenges that come along with owning a business. Combine that with Jan’s lifelong dedication to living a healthy lifestyle, and it makes them fine owners for the island establishment.
Jan and Ron will be running the business together. She has the background and training for the clients and Ron has the business sense and personality to interact with customers. He will be upfront, greeting and scheduling clients as well as handling behind-the-scenes operations.
“And Heather is still very involved in helping with the transition, so it’s been very smooth so far,” Jan said.
Jan and Ron have been married for 25 years. They have five children: Ron, Rian, Randy, Amanda and Robert.
They have two grandchildren: Christian, 15, and Carson, nine.
Robert recently flew down from Maryland to visit his parents. Christian and Carson spent three weeks with Jan and Ron over the summer.
Jan said the kids prefer to come and visit during the winter months, to enjoy the warm Florida weather.
Jan and Ron had plans to visit their oldest son, Ron, in New Mexico in September. But purchasing the business and then dealing with Hurricane Irma put a damper on that plan.
“We’ll go out next summer when things slow down,” she says.
Other classes offered at the fitness center are body sculpting, chair yoga and other kinds of yoga.
This business is not just a job, but also a dedicated passion for Jan. She believes exercise is for everybody and that every little bit of movement helps.
“We have a class for Parkinson’s patients called ‘Rock-Steady Boxing,’ and it helps clients with mobility issues,” Jan said. “And we’re also looking into adding a program called ‘Pedaling for Parkinson’s,’ in which the patients sit on a regular spin bike to strengthen their leg muscles.”
The studio has a 7-bike spin room and a massage therapy room on the property. Two massage therapists who have been working at the studio for years will be returning this season. They offer relaxation, deep tissue and a variety of other types of massage. Most of the teachers from last year will be returning this season.
Jan hopes to replace the spin bikes within the next year.
Two news teachers are coming from New York and will begin teaching classes at the fitness center soon, and Jan hopes to implement some new classes like a foam-rolling class and some bar and more yoga courses.
“We’re also going to be providing Boca Fresh products like juices, shakes and health bars for our clients,” Jan said. “We’re really trying to gear up for season and add some new things.”
Jan is currently finishing up a series of courses on how to maximize the different apparatus available in Pilates. After she earns more observation and teaching hours as an apprentice, she’ll advance to the next certification level.
When Jan is not working, it’s no surprise she likes to spend her time exercising. She also enjoys planting and working in the garden.
She enjoys reading, but as a new business owner, it’s hard to find the time for such luxuries.
Ron is a passionate golfer, and Jan hopes to play the sport more and improve her game in the future.
“I try to encourage her to go more, because for me, it’s a great form of relaxation,” Ron said. “We try not to take it too seriously and just get out there and have fun.”
Her favorite time of the year is fall. Jan and Ron enjoy sharing good meals and a good glass of wine together.
She said that what she likes best about Boca Grande is the relaxed feel of the people in the community and the natural beauty of the island.
“I feel really blessed to be living and working here, and I appreciate it every day,” she said.
When asked whom she admires the most in life, Jan said there are many people she looks up to, but she puts her mother at the top of the list.
If you’ve never taken a spin class before, Jan invites you to come to today’s class (October 13) at 9 a.m. to take a complimentary introductory session (provided that space is still available).
Jan and Ron have recently created a new Facebook page for their business. You can find them by searching for Banyan Tree Pilates and Yoga. Be sure to check the site regularly, as Jan will be adding news about classes and other specials as they become available.
To ensure a smooth transition, the new owners are keeping the current phone number and email address for Banyan Tree Pilates and Yoga the same.
The studio is open now by appointment, and classes will officially start on Monday, Oct. 16.
For information about upcoming classes, visit banyantreepilatesandyoga.com or call (941) 964-4404.