Hot yoga is a wet and sweaty situation.
And on those mornings when perspiration drips from the tip of my nose onto my mat while I flow from downward facing dog to plank, my focus is on making it to savasana — not germs.
But Doylestown entrepreneur Lori Gildea wants yogis and gym rats not to just know, but to understand, that post-workout microbes are real. Gildea, a pharmaceutical executive, got so sick two years ago from a bug doctors think she contracted from the gym that she was out of work for six months.
After recovering from myositis, an infection that attacked her muscles and left her in such pain she couldn't pick up a fork, she conceived, designed, and produced ThePureBag, a 29-inch-long germ-fighting crossbody specifically for toting yoga mats.
ThePureBag is fashioned from material infused with silver ion technology that, Gildea says, inhibits the growth of microorganisms. "It detects the slightest moisture and breaks down the cell membrane, killing off the gross stuff," Gildea, 56, said.
Not only is the bag made from fabric that's antimicrobial and antibacterial, its detachable strap (which can be used for stretching) also has antibacterial properties. The zipper is antifungal, too. Even the thread — custom-made in North Carolina — is antibacterial.
"I thought if I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it right," Gildea said.
ThePureBag is available online at www.thepurebag.com, and Gildea is in talks with several local studios that she hopes will carry it. The bag holds a full-length yoga mat as well as two blocks and a towel and comes in reversible and non-reversible styles retailing for $148 and $98, respectively.
Also a part of the ThePureBag collection are waterproof ZipPockets, perfect for keys and cellphones; cinch bags to store drenched, after-yoga gear; and a silver lining wrap mat designed, Gildea says, to guard against unwittingly rolling germs into your mat. The cinch bags are available at Hot Yoga Philadelphia and, Gildea said, the ThePureBag will be featured in the September issue of the Yoga Journal
"My goal was to make something that protected gear from the inside and out," Gildea said. "I was washing my hands, using wipes, and cleaning every surface, and I still managed to get sick. I was terrified of stepping into a gym again."
After two months of physical therapy, doctors suggested Gildea take up yoga. She started looking for gym bags that were more plastic than cotton so she could more easily spray or wipe them down. When she couldn't find anything, she decided to make her own.
She sketched the bag and found an Amish seamstress to make both the pattern and the sample. She sourced fabric, settling on a New Jersey textile company that makes antimicrobial fabric. (She won't say which one, for competitive reasons.) ThePureBag collection is manufactured in Lancaster County and a patent is pending. All told, Gildea has spent $100,000 on ThePureBag. She launched the line in March and has sold about 200 bags.
"Before I knew it, my project had really just taken on a life of its own," Gildea said. "Maybe the universe had this happen to me for a reason."