New Kid On The Block

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From the outside, the long brick building that used to house American Youthworks in downtown Austin has a weathered, historic feel to it. At one time it might have been easy to miss it entirely, since it sat quiet and empty for several years.

The building at 206 East 4th Street still has its weathered bricks, but it’s no longer quiet and anonymous. Now home to Wanderlust LIVE, the building is brimming with energy and a lot of healthy looking people.

Owners Ashley Spence Clauer and Joanna Kutchey opened the Wanderlust studio after attending the yoga festival of the same name for several years. That festival draws together yoga teachers, musical acts, chefs and winemakers. Clauer and Kutchey started collaborating with the festival, and opened the doors of Wanderlust on 4th Street in April 2012. Beyond the yoga classes offered there, Wanderlust also holds a café and hosts live music events.

“Everyone’s happy and smiling,” Clauer said of the festival. “It was that experience that inspired us to take a vision and make a home base…it’s a yoga studio, but it’s so much more. We want it to be a place where people can gather, whether they practice yoga or not.”

If you do want to practice yoga there, you’ll find spacious and comfortable practice rooms and locker rooms with beautiful showers and towel service. Classes run the gamut from straightforward yoga styles to yoga and hula hooping (great for the core) or vinyasa and yin postures by candlelight.

The building is deeper than it appears from the street, and has high ceilings and warm brick walls. Rustic wooden beams offset the cool concrete floors in the entrance and café area. When they decided to launch the business, Clauer and Kutchey wanted to create a warm, inviting, and clean, streamlined space. While the building already had some diamonds in the rough like concrete floors and wooden beams, it took the two a lot of time and work to get the space to its current condition.

“I don’t think anyone had been in here for about seven years,” Kutchey said. “You couldn’t even believe how dark it was. We did a lot of renovations. We tried to preserve the old columns and didn’t touch the ceilings. The columns had been painted black but we knew there was beautiful wood underneath. We also kept the concrete floors and sealed them.”

The front of the building holds the boutique and the Açaí Café, which was once run out of one of Austin’s many food trailers. Clauer and Kutchey had been looking for a café concept that would be a good fit with Wanderlust when they stumbled upon Açaí Café’s trailer and decided almost instantly to ask the owners about a partnership.

Clauer and Kutchey also wanted Wanderlust to actively participate in the community, and to that end the space hosts music acts, speakers, film screenings and community gatherings on a regular basis. Events run the gamut from the Anti-Defamation League’s True Colors fundraiser to a yoga class practiced to the music of el john Selector.

“We have some customers who say that they could go to other yoga studios right next door to us,” Clauer said. “But they like that it’s warm and welcoming here.”

Wanderlust LIVE is located at 206 E. 4th Street. 

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A native New Englander, Kate moved to Austin in 2002 to attend graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, where she got her master’s degree in journalism. She spent several years as a reporter with the Austin Business Journal, where she covered health care, development and real estate. Kate now runs Thumbtack Communications, where she provides ghostwriting, copywriting, social media strategy and PR in addition to writing bylined articles. She lives in Central Austin with her husband, son, and two cranky cats. When she’s not writing, she’s playing guitar, gardening or hiking.