If you’re a typical motorcycle cop, you may spend your hours off watching football or TV.
If you’re Richard Failla, you teach yoga classes in a 105-degree room — in a studio you own.
Failla — in his 25th year on the Westport force — is clearly not your typical motorcycle cop.
He’s spent his life around bikes — he rode his first motorcycle at 8, and is a former racer — but he says the course he took to be certified in Westport was “the hardest one I ever took.”
Nine years ago, his dog sitter suggested he take a yoga class.
“Immediately, I got addicted,” Failla says. “It was winter, it was cold — the heated room warmed me up quickly.”
It was also physically challenging. Failla had played soccer at Shelton High School — and later lifted weights, did martial arts and ran — but this was waaay more demanding.
Most importantly, yoga relaxed him. It gave him peace of mind.
He became co-owner of a studio. Last January he opened his own: Fairfield Hot Yoga, on Mill Plain Road in Fairfield.
It’s where Failla now spends much of his free time. He teaches many of the Bikram-style classes — that’s when the studio is the hottest, and the focus is on stretching — as well as 6 Vinyasa classes (the room is a mere 95 degrees; the focus is on strengthening the upper body and core).
Adult classes are 90 minutes long. Failla also offers 45-minute (unheated) classes for children, ages 5 to 11.
Morning classes attract “mostly soccer moms.” In the evenings, it’s primarily commuters coming from the nearby station.
Last year, the Fairfield Ludlowe High School girls lacrosse team took classes. They won the state championship. This year he’s training the school’s girls basketball team.
Despite owning a yoga studio, though, he’s still a cop. What do his fellow officers think?
“They tease me a lot,” Failla admits. “I just tell them, take a free class. I’ll show you what it’s like.”
Five cops — 4 men, 1 woman — are regulars. They quickly learned how demanding it is — and they keep coming back for more.
Do his yoga clients know about Failla’s day job?
“Yeah,” he laughs. “I’ve stopped several of them!”
He did not say whether he gave them tickets. Or just worked them even harder the next time they came to the studio.