The owner of a yoga and fitness studio set for the former Bethesda Post Office is promising new life for one of downtown’s oldest buildings.
Alain Cohen, who with his brother Marc will open Bridges Fitness & Yoga there later this year, said the all-in-one yoga studio, gym and health center will benefit from the historic nature of the building.
“You feel grounded, connected a little bit more to the things that are stable,” Alain Cohen said. “It’s stable. It’s an old building. It’s more connected to the earth and has that feeling of something genuine as opposed to something newer and more artificial. It doesn’t really have to be spelled out for people, but I think they can relate to it.”
The building (7400 Wisconsin Avenue) opened in 1938 as part of the New Deal and was a post office until 2012. Citing financial difficulties, the United States Postal Service sold the building for $4 million. That same year, Cohen and his brother sold off their Bethesda-based software firm for $1 billion.
Alain has turned his attention to health. He’s practiced yoga for about 15 years and said he doesn’t think he could’ve found a better spot for Bridges in downtown Bethesda.
The Neo-Georgian stone structure has been designated historic and must remain intact. Cohen said the roughly 5,000-square-foot main floor will serve as the main yoga and fitness studio. The roughly 5,000-square-foot downstairs will have locker rooms, massage treatment rooms and some individual training rooms.
The major change to the building will come on the back loading dock, where Bridges will build a modern-looking structure to house a health cafe that will be open to all — not just members of the gym.
There will be a space for rooftop yoga on top of the new structure.
“Bethesda’s such a great community for people who are into healthy things,” Cohen said. “We want to connect with that aspect of the community.”
As for the plethora of yoga studios and gyms already in Bethesda, Cohen said Bridges will carve out its own niche because it’ll offer some strength training and cardio around the yoga focus.
“We’re going to call it yoga-centric, but not purely yoga,” Cohen said. “We believe that yoga is beneficial, but it’s not everything. The idea here is that you can have everything you need in one place.”
Cohen hopes to have the facility open by the end of the year.
Rendering via Alain Cohen
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