Welcome to the ‘Hood: Body & Mind Builders

body-and-mind-builders-by-tribeca-citizenParents who find time to exercise have to figure out how to occupy their kids. And parents who want their kids to do something constructive generally have no choice but to sit around and wait. With Body & Mind Builders, Elisa Chen aims to create a place where everyone can be happy.

Opening today, Body & Mind Builders will have 78 “body” classes (yoga, pilates, tai chi, and meditation) for adults, and “mind” classes (SAT and PSAT prep, read and writing for fifth- and eighth-grade levels, Mandarin lessons, and private tutors) for kids—though parents can also just get supervision for their kids. It’s in the storefront on Reade Street that used to house the computer bookstore, and the 6,000-square-foot space has been thoroughly renovated. It’s spread out over three levels. The ground floor is home to the reception and three classrooms for kids. The basement has two yoga studios, two private studios, and men’s and women’s changing rooms. (“The basement has 12-foot ceilings,” says Chen. “You can’t even tell you’re in a basement.”) The sub-basement—which has eight foot ceilings—is the site of a lounge for employees and Chen’s two kids. All three levels have windows on the back side.

The conversion wasn’t easy. In April, when she offered many of the bookstore’s shelves free on Craigslist, a couple agreed to come get them. But the day that the couple rented a U-Haul was the day that 71 Reade collapsed. “The firefighters wouldn’t let the truck in, and the couple couldn’t wait,” recalls Chen. Finally, she persuaded the firefighters to allow the truck access late at night. “I was there from midnight to 3 a.m. helping the couple.” But that was nothing compared to her run-in with a dishonorable HVAC installer….

Born in China, Chen, 33, had been in finance until she was laid off. As it has for many people, the recession inspired her to start her own business. If the Tribeca location takes off, she hopes to open an outpost of Body & Mind Builders in the Financial District, where she lives with her husband and children.

Body & Mind Builders: 78 Reade St. (between Church and Broadway), 212-587-1099. For information on classes, rates, and introductory specials, see bodyandmindbuilders.com.