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Meet Rebecca Sisson of Riverside Yoga and Massage in Newburyport

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rebecca Sisson.

Rebecca, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I found the practice of yoga 13 years ago. Years of long distance running had taken a toll on my physical body and working 9-5 in the face-paced, high-stress advertising agency world and moonlighting as a cater waiter to make ends meet had taken a toll on my emotional well-being. I began having serious stress-induced heart palpitations and when my doctor suggested I trade my running shoes for a yoga mat it was all I could do to hold back the tears. Since I was a teenager I always ran, and ran far. It was part of my identity. Who was I if not a runner? But after rolling out my mat just a few times, learning to move and breathe in a whole new way, I felt the pull of this practice. I had to learn everything I could about it and share it with others.

A few years later I had a serious and regular yoga practice and was teaching several classes a week at local studios. Although I had integrated yoga into my life I found myself in a familiar situation—working 2 jobs, (a 9-5 marketing job at the Museum of Fine Arts and teaching yoga) once again burning the candle at both ends and not feeling like I was making a real contribution to my community or others. I would daydream about opening a studio—of building a community and space of impact. Of really contributing bringing something positive to others.

I opened Riverside Yoga and Massage in 2014 with a firm nudge from and unwavering partnership of my husband, who runs the massage therapy practice at the studio. We were new to the Newburyport community and I knew we had an uphill battle to fight to build a business–and a service business no less—in a community where we knew no one.

To this day I continue to be impressed with how we’ve been embraced by Newburyport. Some days I walk into the studio and it’s bustling with conversation, warmth and energy and I’ll have to fight back tears. This is community.

And while learning to burn the candle at just one end will be a lifelong practice for me, I’m getting closer.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Competition is fierce and frightening for most small businesses, and yoga is no exception. There is no shortage of studios and teachers and it seems like a new studio is popping up every week. In the beginning, this led to countless sleepless nights and stress-induced tears, wondering if we would make it and if people would recognize and appreciate what we were trying to build. One of the most powerful but difficult lessons I learned how to remain authentic and steadfast in our mission instead of reacting out of fear.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Riverside Yoga and Massage – what should we know?
We are a yoga and wellness studio in Newburyport. We have a variety of class types and levels—classes for those who are rolling out a mat for the very first time, to classes for seasoned practitioners and teachers looking to go deep into the practice. We also offer massage and nutrition coaching services for a holistic wellness experience. Beyond that, we strive to create a loving and welcoming space, a space where people can press pause for a moment.

What we are known for and what I am most proud of are one in the same—our high caliber of teachers. Honestly, we could have erected four walls and laid a wood floor anywhere—it’s our teachers that have built this space. The majority of our teachers have been with us since we first opened our doors, from the days when we busted our asses to get a just couple people to come to class. They have worked just as hard to help us grow organically and authentically to where we are today and have created our reputation as a studio with smart, high quality teaching.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Finding the bravery to take that very first step in starting a business. In the beginning, I had no idea how to run a business or even write a business plan. I didn’t know what P&L stood for. Or even LLC for that matter. I was afraid I didn’t know enough or wouldn’t be able to learn what I needed to know. I remember standing in my tiny Somerville bathroom (where all great beginnings brew) getting ready for work one morning, waxing poetic to my partner about my big dreams to “someday” open a yoga studio. He looked me in the eyes and replied, “What are you waiting for? You can do this.” 12 weeks later we were moving to Newburyport and I was signing a lease on our studio space. Believing I could take the leap into the unknown is one of my greatest accomplishments.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Michael Richeson, Jacob Tabor, Raya

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