​First Sewanee Village Independent Project: Bodyworks Youniversity

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Introducing Bodyworks Youniversity owner Kim Butters, Frank Gladu said, “Kim’s been working on her project three years now. I’ve never met anyone with more persistence and commitment.” Gladu oversees the Sewanee Village initiative charged with guiding and directing long-term development in downtown Sewanee. Butters Pilates studio will be the first independent project completed in the Village. Butters spoke at the Aug. 6 Sewanee Village update meeting.

Butters began offering once-weekly Pilates classes at the Fowler Center in 2007. By 2014, her classes were so popular she moved her Jasper-based business to Sewanee and began teaching here full time. Unable to find a suitable building for a studio, Butters decided to build her own. She persuaded two leaseholders to relinquish a section of their leases to create a new downtown lot for her business.

Located between Beauty by Tabitha and Sewanee Realty, the building’s country schoolhouse design and the business’s name, Bodyworks Youniversity, reflect Butters philosophy on Pilates instruction.

“I want you to learn about your body,” Butters said. “Pilates can be done by anyone.” Her clients range in age from 19 to 92. “People leave class pain free or with greatly reduced pain.”

In addition to a full studio on the first floor, the building features several rooms for practitioners of related disciplines. Butters envisions massage therapy, acupressure, and similar offerings. The second floor space will be available for rent, probably on an hourly basis. Possible activities include yoga classes and group music instruction given the interest expressed. Butters also hopes to host health related seminars.

Bodyworks Youniversity is expected to open next spring.

Turning to updates on other Sewanee Village initiatives, Gladu said the Tennessee Department of Transportation had incorporated the Mountain Goat Trail into the US Hyw. 41A road-narrowing project. The multimodal path will run along the highway at the front of the development lot where the Sewanee Gardeners’ Market is held.

When the lot is developed, Gladu expects the market will move to the Village Green proposed for the current Sewanee Market lot. Asked if farmers would be allowed to drive their trucks onto the Green, Gladu said, “We’re trying to figure out how to transition the farmers’ market into the space.”

Plans call for locating the new Food Market Building at the current site of the Hair Depot. “We’re trying to achieve a small Whole Foods rather than a large convenience store,” Gladu said describing the type of market hoped for.

The second floor of the proposed 7,000 square foot building will have six one-bedroom apartments and six studio apartments. The project developer BP Construction will host a “Come and See” event in mid-September inviting the community to learn about apartment and housing visions.

Discussing use of the nearly $25,000 from the Tiger Tuesday fundraiser earmarked for augmenting amenities downtown, Gladu said free Wi-Fi was now available in Angel Park. Other enhancements under consideration include banners, flags, signage and landscaping.

Stressing the importance of increasing visitor activity, Gladu said, “The current population can’t support retail growth.” The Carey Fellows of the Babson Center for Global Commerce at the University of the South and Middle Tennessee State University tourism majors are expected to undertake projects examining visitor activity in Sewanee, Gladu noted. He also pointed to the new South Cumberland Tourism initiative of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development as a resource.

The next Sewanee Village update is scheduled for Sept. 3. There will be two sessions, 10–11 a.m. and 4:30–5:30 p.m.