Leigh Wakeford was born and raised in the beautiful “Mother City” of Cape Town, South Africa. Big dreams, and great aspirations led him to the lights of Broadway, where he has called Manhattan his home for the past 4 years. He thanks the hustle and bustle of New York City for sending him on a journey to find the peace, harmony and balance, that is essential to juggle a career based in uncertainty and a life surrounded by chaos. Yoga was the answer. “On my mat, I could shut out the noisy surroundings of the busy Metropolis, and silence the voices of doubt in my mind. Even if just for an hour a day, I found my solitude, my church.” His inevitable obsession with the Yoga lifestyle lead him to his mentors Stephanie Culen and Mindy Frenkl, under whose guidance Leigh completed his 200 hour RYT certification in December 2010.
Fast-forward to April 2012, Leigh finds himself in the City of Angels, having made a career transition from the stage to the silver screen. Committed to finding his “church” in his new home, enter Hot 8 Yoga, Nancy Norby and a new fitness concept known as “Yoga Barre”. Having been trained in all forms of dance for the past 10 years, this combination of ballet barre technique, yoga and heat opened Leigh’s mind and body to the endless benefits of merging his passion for dance, his primal need for yoga, and fascination with healthy living. An obsession was born. Leigh received his Yoga Barre certification through Hot 8 Yoga in May 2012.
“If you're ready to feel the passion, the heat, the music and the love...come join me. It's about finding balance, inside and out, and whether you're a guy, girl, young, or not so young... let’s embark on this journey together. For if I'm in that place of peace, love and light, in me as you are in yours - then we are ONE. Namaste, friends.“
Hot yoga is so much more than just fitness to me, It's a way of life. It allows me to connect to my mind, body, and spirt as well as get a killer work out. My practice continues to guide me to the person I am meant to be. Hot 8 yoga is my home away from home. The community and support continues to inspire me.
Graduating from Point Park University with a BA in Dance and signed with Movement Talent Agency; Ilan has conquered many platforms in his career. Recent credits include: “The Greatest Showman Live Promo”, “WISH APP” and “Cointreau”.
Certified by Hot 8 Yoga, Ilan Nuñez is a believer in the power of a strong community. Soon after starting his practice with Hot 8 Yoga, Ilan quickly worked his way up to Sculpt instructor and is excited for his new journey and the continuation of his practice.
My fascination for the body and movement began at a very young age when I started my training in New York City at the School of American Ballet to become a professional ballerina. I became reliant on self-discipline and dedication in order to achieve my dreams. Feeling the pressure of such a competitive atmosphere, I turned to yoga in hopes to find a balance. It was then, at the end of my very first yoga practice that the instructor had us chant ‘OM’. In that moment, I could feel my body not only absorbing the yoga but for the first time ever, I felt a sense of inner peace and calm rush throughout my body. After that I was totally hooked, I began practicing hot yoga regularly incorporating it into my everyday routine while I continued to pursue my dance career. After becoming a professional ballerina and dancing with some of the best ballet and contemporary ballet companies in the country, I found myself with multiple injuries. I noticed that the more I immersed myself in my yoga practice, the quicker I was able to heal and regain my strength back from injury. I was really in awe and inspired by the yoga and what it had done for my body that I decided I wanted to deepen my practice.
I moved to California in September 2012 and set a goal to spend an entire year educating myself on the body, injury prevention and my yoga practice. Yearning to nourish my desire to learn more about yoga and how to instruct others, I signed up for the 200-hour Hot Yoga teacher training at Hot 8 Yoga under the guidance of Deanna Ainsworth. I learned yoga was so much more than just a physical practice but the compassion, acceptance and mental focus cultivated in class were powerful tools that would help me in my everyday life. After that I knew I wanted to educate myself further and became certified in my favorite class, Yoga Barre! I signed up for the Yoga Barre teacher training under Nancy Norby. This was an absolute perfect fit for me; harmoniously combining both yoga and dance in a fun yet very challenging class.
The opportunity to teach and share my passion for yoga is one of the most fulfilling opportunities I have endured thus far. I strive to help guide and heal other yogis toward mind, body, and spiritual awareness. I am humbled and honored by the power of yoga and dedicate myself to passing that on.
I'm currently the Yoga Director in Beverly Hills and I'm so excited and grateful to be apart of the community here!
When Jessica moved to California in 2012, she was searching for something to be a part of. All it took was one barre class at Hot 8 Yoga and she was hooked. It was everything she wanted in a workout and the warmth and kindness of the people in the studio just drew her in more. When the chance to take Nancy's Barre teacher training presented itself, she knew she had to do it. Since then she has also completed the YogaSculpt and YogaVibe trainings as well. Not only has this studio changed her body for the better, it has also changed her soul. She hopes to instill these same positive changes in those she teaches. As an architect by trade, Jessica has a passion for form, function, and beauty. She brings this passion to her classes helping to shape the building blocks of the body with flow, movement, and most of all... fun!
When not in the the studio or designing buildings Jessica can be found backpacking through the mountains or exploring the world, absorbing as much beauty, nature, different cultures and new experiences that she can.
I initially came to Hot 8 to take advantage of the free week of classes to motivate myself to get back into yoga, while giving myself the added challenge of practicing in the heat; what I found was something much more special. Hot 8 immediately drew me in with the beautiful & authentic energy that each instructor brought to his or her class, and the sense of community that I found myself walking into every time I stepped onto my mat. Having been a space of growth and transformation for me during a pivotal time in my life, Hot 8 has continued to be my home away from home.
The more I committed to my practice, the more invested and dedicated I became to the idea of moving with intention and integrity. I found myself wanting to deepen my practice further and learn how to guide others to work more mindfully on & off of their mats. Feeling a connection with Yoga Barre in particular, I completed my Yoga Barre certification in 2017 under the incredible guidance and mentorship of Nancy Norby and Briana DeFalco. I am so honored and excited to join the Hot 8 family and hold space with the community in a practice that I love so much. My goal is to provide a space that benefits everyone's intentions: whether that intention is to have a great workout, mental detox, or anything in between; and to encourage the practice of setting an intention for yourself to carry off the mat as well. Look forward to seeing you at the Barre!
My current adventure is studying Kinesiology at A.T. Still University to increase my knowledge as a fitness professional! My mission being, to encourage a lifestyle of aligned thinking and doing to a diverse clientele to change the mindset and bodies of those who wish to optimize their lives through leadership, continued education, and support in a safe and welcoming environment. This will be achieved within the confines of integrity and the standards set forth by the field of Kinesiology.