When it comes to yoga, Kim Steen Langan has mastered child’s pose. No really. This former gymnast-turned-entrepreneur proudly owns and operates Intown Tumbling and Yoga for Kids in the Old Fourth Ward. Kim started out as a competitive gymnast, growing up in Stone Mountain, and after injuries sidelined her athletic career, she eventually came full circle and decided to teach the sport, rather than compete in it. Add a kids’ yoga studio to the mix and eventually, Kim had a business that served the mind, body and spirit of Atlanta’s smallest yogis. Get to know our newest, and probably most flexible, FACE of Atlanta, Kim Steen Langan. Namaste!
What made you decide to open a tumbling and yoga studio for kids?
I was coming off of being a nanny for years and in fall 2010 I offered a few tumbling classes (not full-on gymnastics because I only had some mats at the time) in my neighborhood. I found a church (former Druid Hills Baptist Church) that was willing to rent space to me and borrowed mats from a friend I used to teach acrobatics with. Much to my surprise, I had a wait list after the first 6-week session! I added a few weekday classes, then half-day camps. Eventually, I thought it may be a good idea to have a permanent location. The church let me renovate some old Sunday school rooms into my first location — we were at the corner of Ponce de Leon and North Highland. After that building was torn down, we moved to a bigger facility in the Telephone Factory Lofts.
The yoga studio part came second. I was inspired after spending some time with my nephew, a 7-year-old dealing with some ADHD issues. At Sunday night dinner, I was practicing yoga before we ate, and my nephew was entranced with what I was doing and joined me. To see his concentration — the calm in his body and mind, and his eagerness to learn more — struck me. That night I researched children’s yoga and signed up for a training with Karma Kids Yoga up in New York. After the tumbling space was renovated, I grabbed up another old Sunday school room down the hall and turned it into the first kids’ yoga studio in Atlanta. (In our current space, the kids’ yoga studio is inside our main space.) We are still the only yoga studio dedicated only to children.
Where are your favorite places in Atlanta to let kids run out their energy?
You were on the competitive gymnastics track but sidelined with injuries. What went through your mind when you realized you could no longer compete?
The decision to not compete did not come easy. At the level I was competing, you had to improve constantly. We practiced five days a week for 4.5 hours a day, plus competitions on weekends. Being sidelined with knee surgery at 15 was heartbreaking. I just felt I couldn’t catch back up so my mom and I met with my coach, who was like a dad to me, and through tears, I told him my decision. It certainly didn’t help that he was clearly upset by my decision — that may have been even harder than giving up gymnastics. With an intense and time-consuming sport, your team and your coach are very much like family. I took a year off and then ended up competing in varsity gymnastics for my high school. It’s hard to give up something you love once it’s in your blood!
When trying to de-stress and look for some quiet time of your own, which Atlanta yoga gyms do you visit (child-free of course)?
It’s actually been a little while since I’ve practiced anywhere other than home during naptime or after bedtime, but I like Form Yoga, Yoga Collective, Urban Body Studios, Tough Love Yoga, Sacred Thread, Pure Barre, Pink Barre and Forme Studios. My favorite de-stressor though is a massage at Art of Touch!
With a business serving children and families, what are some challenges you run into that gyms and studios serving adults don’t have?
I make sure that the students are having fun and learning; and that their parents are pleased with progress in class and their child’s experience (as well as their own experience). The number one reason kids quit a sport or class is that they are not having fun anymore — we have to keep that in mind all of the time. Our job is to keep all of our students safe all of the time. Teaching children also requires patience, especially explaining how to safely do skills over and over again. Staffing teachers that I feel are young at heart but mature enough to manage classes, communicate with parents, and be upbeat can be challenging — that’s why I was teaching 23 classes a week myself for the first 5 1/2 years!
Intown Tumbling and Yoga for Kids is located right off the beltline. Where’s your favorite place to go after or between classes?
I have a 15-month-old daughter who I love to spend my time with. We live in Virginia-Highland and we are always out and about walking the neighborhood. We love supporting the neighborhood businesses. We frequent Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, Press and Grind, El Taco, Dakota J’s, Urban Cottage, George’s, Moe’s and Joe’s, American Roadhouse and DBA barbeque. If I’m alone or on a date night with my husband, we will go to Bantum Pub, Venkman’s or Across the Street. And we love taking my stepkids to Jake’s Ice Cream!
How does yoga have an impact on children?
I look at yoga as a tool that students can pull out whenever they need to. We teach them how to utilize their breath to help them navigate things such as having a hard time falling asleep, meeting new friends, trying something new, feeling like they have too much energy, dealing with different emotions and calming before and during stressful school testing. For the littlest yogis, with their breathing, we can teach them how to recognize and work through feelings of anger or frustration. Breathwork along with our poses and yoga flows help build coordination, flexibility, strength, patience, self-awareness, self-esteem and concentration at an early age. Yoga for kids uses props, art, yoga games, books and partner poses that can all correspond with lessons. We practice Savasana (“corpse pose,” lying down with eyes closed) with all ages — we are all so busy in life that even the preschoolers ask to do this one.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I really enjoy time by myself! Don’t get me wrong, I love people and I love teaching, but I give a lot of myself to others. Before I had the baby, I would go on at least two solo trips a year, somewhere without my husband or friends, to re-energize and unplug. It’s been a little tricky getting that time this last year, but I’m guessing I’ll get back to that when the baby is older.
Name three things you can’t live without (excluding friends, family and faith)?
Coca-Cola, movies, books
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
As cliché as “Treat others as you would like to be treated” and “Just be yourself ” sound, putting these both into practice has served me well in my business and my personal life.
We dismount this article by giving Kim Steen Langan a perfect score! A huge thank you to this wonderful new FACE who’s helping Atlanta children live and feel their best.
And as always, our gold medal goes to CatMax Photography for today’s wonderful photos!