It’s November 1, the two-year anniversary of box + flow, and 32-year old founder Olivia Young is feeling reflective. “I woke up from a nightmare this morning,” she says. “I was crying right before you got here.”
Young is unapologetically herself, and is arrestingly honest. She’s the kind of person you trust immediately. She hands me a beer from the mini-fridge beside her desk, and we cheers to the second anniversary of box + flow and to my own personal growth, in a disclosure I will share with her but not with the internet.
She’s building a lifestyle brand, starting with box + flow, her Liv Young website, and herself. She talks quickly and excitedly about her future plans, accentuating the last syllables of every sentence as though she is kicking a punching bag. BelieF. KicK. PunCH. DreaM.
Young moved to New York from Miami Beach in December of 2009, leaving an ex-boyfriend in Boston and chasing her dream. She was a culinary school graduate and a brand director with restaurateur Michael White, but it wasn’t fulfilling. “It got to a place of indulgence rather than enjoyment,” she says. “I wasn’t eating to be stuffed. I was eating to appreciate the food.”
Instead of staying out late and drinking at festivals, she says, she was waking up at 5am to run, box and do yoga. She found herself on a path of self-understanding and, and at 29, created box + flow.
The concept of box + flow is Young’s brainchild, unique in its combination of high-speed boxing moves and a sudden switch to calming yoga poses. For the yoga segment, participants are lined up facing each other in homage to the brand’s slogan, “bringing mindfulness to the fight.” Lights change color and background music changes from Nirvana to Bon Iver as one’s heart rate rises and falls again, but Young says her class is designed for people to work and motivate themselves only as hard as they want to. “I’ve seen people say things like oh, you got to the gym, the hard part’s over. Great job!” she says. “No, now you’re at the gym. What are you going to do with that time?”
The space at 55 Bond Street attracted people like her: young creative professionals. It’s easy to see why; her office has beautiful wallpaper (purchased at CB3, a fact Young is very proud of), Instagram-worthy quotes on the walls, and a wall made from cases of beer. “Budweiser sends us a lot of beer,” Young says by way of explanation, her high heels tapping by the boxes and punching bags.
The studio has done so well in the last two years that Young has decided to remodel, accommodating showers and an open-concept bar/front desk in the second-floor space, where she hopes that, in the future, she will sell her own brand of lifestyle products, including apparel and food items. Recently, she started selling CBD gummies out of her office.
Since she took the space over, it’s become a materialization of Young herself: flower arrangements and trendy furniture align with Young’s stylish outfit and perfectly coiffed hair, while a photo of Muhammad Ali on the wall and boxing gloves on the opposing shelf align with the image of Young beating up a punching bag. The whole space is echoey, forcing you to listen back to the words you just said–whether you want to or not.
Now, box + flow’s website boasts seven instructors, both male and female (including Olivia), and offers registration for 24 classes a week, sold individually or in packages ($33 for a single class and $300 for ten classes, with other options available). Her clientele is divided almost evenly between men and women, another fact Young is proud of. “I didn’t want to cater just to women,” she says. “I want everyone to feel comfortable here.”
Her alter-ego, Liv Young– a clever play on words that encompasses the meaning of her lifestyle brand– is omni-present in the studio and in her life. She can still appreciate a good bunless burger and a six-pack of good beer, but is more than willing to show off her six-pack abs and her post-workout sweat. “Work hard to live young,” she says, regarding a burger or a cold beer as a treat for working out and being introspective.
It’s a mantra of her whole life: put in the work, she says, and then celebrate yourself and what you’ve accomplished. And, on the two-year anniversary of her opening, that’s exactly what she’s doing, but not without a bit of self-awareness. “What are you celebrating if you haven’t worked hard to get there?”