Johnny Fantuzzi was an international scout for the New York Yankees and Mets, and before that, he played for a few years in the minor leagues. The native New Yorker moved to Dallas four years ago to settle down with his wife, Dee Dee, who is from Texas. And this year, he opened Tranquilo, a yoga studio in Oak Cliff.
Why did you want to open a yoga studio in Oak Cliff?
I’ve always wanted to be a small business owner, an entrepreneur. We really like the vibe of Oak Cliff. My wife is from Austin, and I lived in the East Village. There’s a certain authenticity here. We looked at the Knox-Henderson area and Uptown, and it was more the vibe than anything else. We love the location.
I know you were a pro athlete. How did you get into yoga?
I’ve been practicing for over 10 years. I got into it coming back from an injury, and it was recommended that I take a class called “deep stretch”. After I tried it, it just really piqued my interest, so I started discovering the different styles of yoga. And then I became certified in flow vinyasa.
Why are you so into yoga?
I wish I had found it earlier in life, actually. For a long time, I was trying to fit in a certain mold and be a certain way. And then I realized I don’t have to be a certain way. There are certain things that make me up and make me unique. I’ve always been athletic, so I was always being evaluated on that day’s work, and I didn’t really understand that today is today, and God willing, there will be a tomorrow. My practice has made me a better father and a better husband because it’s slowed me down. I call it locomotion meditation. I’m going through my day, but I’m in the moment. If I’m cooking dinner and my daughters talk to me, I stop and look at them instead of going, “uh-huh, uh-huh”. I attribute a lot of that to my practice. Everybody should have something they enjoy, something that slows them down and gives them a chance to feel good about themselves and what they’re doing.
And you teach yoga classes?
Yes. And I try to have a diversity of yoga instructors here. With Tranquilo, I wanted to have more of a community center. So I’m trying to get different people and energies in here. I’m trying to use the space to provoke thought and provoke people to find out about themselves. There ain’t no one like you in all the world. When people start tapping into who they are and questioning why I am here and what I am all about, that’s the payoff.
A friend of mine took a circus class here a few weeks ago. What else are you offering besides yoga?
Yoga is a big part of what we do, but I’m also trying to bring in some cross-fit classes and boot camp classes. We had a body-juggling seminar here recently. About 10 people showed up. But we got some people out of their comfort zones, so it was cool. I’m also interested in using the studio space for gallery shows, live music and maybe a scotch sipping, speakeasy type thing. We’ve thought about doing dance classes. We can’t get a thousand people in here, but if we have something that piques your interest, we want to put it on.
That seems like a good fit for Oak Cliff.
Yes. This community is kind of slanted that way anyway. There are parts of Dallas that are status quo — the same thing over and over. And it’s cool that there are people in this part of town that march to their own beat. You have a five-star restaurant next to a tire shop, next to a taqueria, next to an architect, and it’s just a really cool mix. We’re not trying to be all things to all people, but we’re trying to be an urban community center.
How much does it cost to take classes here?
We offer drop-in classes at an introductory rate of $10 for ten days, and it’s only $50 for unlimited monthly yoga. I wanted it to be accessible to people. I didn’t want it to be exclusive. Yoga has gotten to the point where, because it’s priced the way it is, it’s exclusive. And I think yoga should be for everybody.
• Tranquilo, 611 N. Bishop Ave., betranquilo.com, 214.943.9704