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El-Sadek finds latest exercise trend, paddleboard yoga, makes good business sense, too

Sally El-Sadek, owner, Bodhi Ama SUP Yoga, instructs a paddleboard yoga class in Red Bank.-(PHOTO BY AARON HOUSTON)

Sally El-Sadek’s post-college career path took her from documentary film work to international development in post-crisis settings to New York University School of Law.
And they all had one thing in common.“I was idealistic and wanted to change the world by helping people in need,” El-Sadek said. “But they all turned out to be industries just like any other, where you’re chasing money and not entirely sure of your effectiveness.”

Midway through, El-Sadek made the hard decision to discontinue law school and re-evaluate.

“I had never before in my life walked away from anything,” she said. “But I needed to give myself space to see what might happen.”

On her new path of rediscovery, El-Sadek took a new interest in an old hobby: She began practicing and teaching yoga. Not long after, she came across the art of stand-up paddle board yoga.

“It reminded me that we can absolutely live our life in the here and now without being run by the expectations of others or even ourselves,” she said.

“When I saw the change that was possible inside of me, I wanted more people to learn to live this way.”

El-Sadek teamed up with her friend, Noel Fitzpatrick — a stand-up paddleboard and surf instructor who already owned boards — to start Forever Changes Yoga & Surf in Neptune last summer. That partnership lasted a year before El-Sadek realized that “as much as our energies and visions were in synch, our schedules weren’t matching up.”

So El-Sadek created a website and purchased two used boards, anchors, paddles and insurance in order to begin teaching her own stand-up paddleboard sessions with her new business, Bodhi Ama SUP Yoga.

“I’ve already paid off my initial investment,” El-Sadek said. “And it’s looking like I’ll be able to pay off my next investment — seven Glide boards (costing anywhere from $600 to $2,000), paddles, anchors, and a trailer — by the end of this season.”

Her goal is to continue reinvesting in the business until she’s not only able to offer yoga, Pilates and more on both land and sea, but also provide paddleboard rentals and holistic wellness services.

“It’s all about helping individuals or groups connect with themselves and nature to find peace in what they’re doing,” El-Sadek said.

On average, El-Sadek leads between five and 10 paddleboard sessions a week, starting at $45 a person for a 90-minute group lesson. El-Sadek also offers 90-minute private lessons for $90, and even provides the option to spend half-days touring a chosen body of water.

Which means if El-Sadek led just five group sessions a week during an estimated 14-week summer season, she could earn a minimum of $15,000 on top of her original yoga practice.

It’s a business model that doesn’t require a brick-and-mortar location nor a large inventory at the moment — and once her investments are paid, El-Sadek can choose to both reinvest and continue to grow or increase profits.

So far, El-Sadek has decided to grow — and fast.

“People go out, have a great time, and then I post and tag them in photos on Facebook,” she said. “Their friends see their photos and then want to try it, too!”

Bodhi Ama SUP Yoga is currently insured to launch from Red Bank’s Maple Cove on the Navesink River and Shark River Hills Marina in Neptune.

And yes, people do fall in.

But that’s part of the experience.

“It’s just wonderful to share in the empowering experience of conquering uncertainty to step onto a board and into the water,” she said.

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On Twitter: @megfry3

Meg Fry

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