UP in DC co-owner Dave Giacomin behind the studio’s front desk, which he built with reclaimed barn siding. Photo by Mike Diegel.
UP in DC, a yoga/wellness/adventure studio, will open Saturday in the second level of 8083 Georgia Ave., above the former Jackie’s Restaurant.
Husband-and-wife owners Dave Giacomin and Erin McNamara, who live in the Seven Oaks/Evanswood neighborhood, will offer a variety of classes, programs and products geared to helping people change their lives for the better.
The concept grew as a result of a conversation Giacomin, an avid mountaineer and chairman of the local chapter of the American Alpine Club, had with his guiding partner during a climb they were leading on Mount Rainier in Washington State.
His partner on that trip was a Special Forces veteran who, during the 20-hour climb, told Giacomin about calls he would get from soldiers who had served under him that now were suicidal.
“It was like, woo, what do you do for those guys?” Giacomin said. “That’s where the initial concept of healing, wellness and adventure came from.
“The healing is getting the head right,” he continued. “The wellness is giving them tools to get quiet when things get dark . . . really hard for them. The adventure comes in where we want to put them back into a traumatic situation with their brothers, other guys they were in the military with, take them rock climbing, take them ice climbing. Basically, put them back into a traumatic situation in a healthy way, have them help each other get up a mountain.”
Once the concept is sufficiently proven, Giacomin said they hoped to be qualified to work with the Veterans Administration to reach this type of audience.
In the meantime, UP in DC will offer more than 30 yoga classes taught by a variety of instructors, as well as classes and workshops focusing on healing and wellness, and local adventures, all open to the community. McNamara, a licensed social worker and certified yoga teacher, is the head of the healing and wellness programs.
The idea of “adventure” varies with the individual, Giacomin noted, and participants may go hiking in Rock Creek Park. Others can rock climb at Great Falls or in the Shenandoahs.
“We’re going to try to bring the healing of nature to adventure people,” he said.
For the more daring, they will offer programs like Six Months to Summit. Participants will be trained by some of the world’s top mountaineers for a six-month period. Then, with a small group of fellow climbers, they will go climb a big mountain somewhere in the world.
Changing gears, Giacomin said they have about 20 yoga teachers lined up to offer almost 20 different classes. Those include the more familiar vinsaya and yin yang yoga, along with Metal Yoga, Hip Hop Yoga and Yoga for Athletes, and yoga for runners, or those who’ve suffered some kind of trauma, among other types of classes. They’ll be adding aerial yoga in the next few months.
UP Wellness will be a part of the business that also includes “various homeopathic or natural products that are made locally,” Giacomin said. At one point, the space will include private office for therapy sessions, acupuncture or massages.
While working with veterans will come later, their target audience includes others who serve.
“We have a discounted rate for teachers, social workers, any first responders,” Giacomin said. “We really want to bring this whole idea to many facets of the community.”
In other examples of the wellness program, Giacomin said they would offer classes in subjects such as how to raise backyard chickens or grow micro-greens in an apartment.
“It’s all about knowing where your food is coming from,” he said. “That’s part of the wellness.
“The big thing that we want to hit home is that this is a community for Silver Spring,” Giacomin continued. “We want people to feel like they have a home here. It’s real comfortable, it’s inviting, we’ll do a lot of pro bono stuff. If you can’t afford yoga, like the people in Progress Place across the street—there are people there who want to do yoga—we’re going to have community classes that will either be free or really cheap.”