Kansas City’s Kalos Experience offers a new outlook on fitness

Wendy Zoog, co-owner of the Kalos Experience
Wendy Zoog, co-owner of the Kalos Experience

For many, working out is a form of therapy. It’s a time to focus on yourself, to push your limits physically, and to help relieve the stress of everyday life. But for some, working out is intimidating. Insecurities or negative beliefs can be roadblocks to finding that sweaty, happy place that so many find liberating. Thanks to Julia Harkleroad and Wendy Zoog, the Kansas City community will have a new outlook on fitness with their concept the Kalos Experience.

Harkleroad is a clinically licensed psychotherapist and mindfulness coach who has spent years helping people deal with stress, trauma, and grief. She struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as a teen and went on to treatment in college for depression and suicide ideation. As someone who personally worked on herself from the inside out, Julia was a true case study for Kalos. Harkleroad found power in using physical movement and breathing techniques to master depression, anxiety, and self-hate. Looking for a way to mobilize mindfulness and an outlet to express and teach others these mind-body methods, Kalos was born.

Zoog is a registered nurse and yoga instructor with more than 1,000 hours of teaching experience. Suffering through arthritic hips in her late 30s, she underwent bilateral hip replacements 14 weeks apart at the age of 41. Zoog used her yoga practices and cardio activity to help rebalance her own body. Her yoga background combined with functional training and purposeful movement is what you can expect with the Kalos Experience.

Kalos has been a work in progress since 2015. Zoog created a class called Exhale, combining cardio intervals, yoga, meditation and stretch. The class was taught at Fit Formula in Brookside, which shut down in 2016.

After bumping into Harkleroad in 2017, the two discussed partnering on a unique movement experience that combined the foundational elements of Zoog’s Exhale class with more heart-centered movement and mindfulness principles.

After playing around with names, they settled on Kalos, meaning “goodness that inspires.” Their philosophy is to emphasize the beautiful and powerful teacher in all of us.

“We call it an experience and not a class because the label of a class has a beginning and an end,” Harkleroad says. “We didn’t want the connection our students found in the movement to end with Savasana. It’s also a deeply personal journey and a class indicates that there is a standard operating procedure; something everyone should feel and do and be. That isn’t the case with Kalos—the experience is highly individualized.”

In a nutshell, the Kalos Experience is a heart-centered, sweaty workout that combines intervals of potent and functional movements balanced by meditation and stretch. For those who don’t practice yoga, the Anahata chakra, also known as the heart center, is the core of our being. It is the home of our sense of self and of our higher, indestructible self. Throughout the experience, not only are you working on your strength and fitness, but you are also working on yourself.

The experience has 3 main guiding principles. First is breath awareness, which helps with emotional control and well-being. This is done through movement, with both soft and loud breaths and sounds from deep within. Harkleroad and Zoog are inspiring leaders who guide their students through the breathing, allowing them to peel back the layers and to release the stress and the things we hold deep inside. There is a feeling of unity and a sense of tribe as the group breathes together.

The second principle is increasing heart-rate variability, which is done through functional flexibility and strength. Your body will be challenged through balance, and using your own body weight to execute the movements. The workout is designed for all fitness levels and capabilities, and there are always modifications for each exercise.

Lastly, Kalos helps increase self and community connection through compassion and commitment. The experience is not competitive; it is supportive. Everyone starts and ends together with a Savasana. The feeling when you leave the class is one of lightheartedness, peacefulness, and self-awareness. Kalos is hoping to bring the community together to celebrate the body in a healthy, mindful and sweaty way.

Kalos is currently located within Pilates of Kansas City at 7656 State Line Road, Prairie Village, Kan.