(Please welcome guest writer Frank Morris)

Sanskrit word of the day: Sutra. It means the thread that binds. And it’s a word that one Downtown yoga studio is taking literally.

SuTRA Midtown, which opened its doors and innovative business practices in March 2009, fuses contemporary takes on traditional fitness techniques with a touch of Coronado culture in its efforts to remind the masses “it can be hip to be healthy.”

Set in what once was an abandoned factory along Seventh Street between Thomas and McDowell roads, SuTRA Midtown offers an array of exercise classes from yoga, Pilates and ballet barre to a number of sessions for kiddies and moms-to-be.

The studio also hosts a range of neighborhood events, rotating art exhibits, and is home to the Chop Shop Café, offering servings of locally roasted coffee, a cornucopia of world teas and an assortment of appetizing treats.

A fully family-owned-and-operated facility – co-owners Matt and Rebecca Fritz have four children together – SuTRA Midtown represents the unyielding will and resolve of two eager entrepreneurs and a community that turns out in droves to support them.

With backgrounds in the creative arts and real estate development, the couple said they waged everything in the midst of the worst economy in generations to open up their neighborhood business.

While the Great Recession proved challenging for an upstart undertaking, the Fritz family passion for healthy bodies, healthy minds and a healthy community kept them going.

“We’ve been living in this neighborhood for nine years and it got to the point where we wanted to do something in our own ’hood. We wanted to be that thread that binds and lets people be healthy,” Matt said. “Unfortunately, we opened our doors right before the rug of the economy got pulled out from beneath all of Phoenix. That was difficult.”

But with a mixture of affordable classes, a positive spirit, and a unique and upbeat business approach, the couple’s endeavor appears to be paying off.

“I think a lot of people were hurting, but we offered a lot of classes [30-40 a week] to help people get by,” Matt said.

“We’ve been very fortunate and have been fully embraced by Central Phoenix, the residents of our neighborhood and the residents of Downtown,” he said. “It’s been a baby-step process, but we’ve definitely been doing wonderfully.”

That baby-step process has earned the studio not only the support of the community, but multiple awards, as well. SuTRA Midtown been named best in the Valley on more than one occasion.

And from a purely selfish viewpoint, the couple’s venture has completely been worth it, they said.

“Everything we love we put into this building; that’s the whole reason we went into this. It’s really just our own lifestyle that we put into this space,” Matt said. “Even after maternity leave, Rebecca comes back to work and on the first day back says, ‘Oh, God, I love this place.’”

And it’s a place the Fritzes are hoping more and more will love, too.

Frank Morris can be reached by email at fjmorris@gmail.com.