Since the pandemic has forced many yoga studios across the nation to shut their doors to in-person classes, they’ve been getting more creative with how they’re connecting to their beloved yogis. In fact, quarantine has even created a stronger and more diversified community at many of the local yoga studios from Berkeley, California to Washington DC, as they’re finding new and innovative ways to engage with their members.
They’ve pivoted their schedules to offer classes at times that students won’t feel “zoom burnout,” after work, and reconnected with students and teachers who have relocated across the world and are now able to practice again with their favorite community. Read more about how these six studios rapidly reworked their operational strategies, kept their students and staff aligned, and successfully forged the business forward throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Innerstellar Pilates & Yoga, Berkeley, CA
Photo Courtesy of Interstellar Pilates & Yoga
Innerstellar Pilates & Yoga founder Kiki Lovelace says that it’s the particularly niche nature of her studio, which focuses on calming anxiety and healing pain/injuries, that has kept it running so successfully for the past two months online.
“We serve a certain kind of person, and we serve them extremely well. Clarify your NICHE. Own your genius,” Lovelace explains, “Since we’re so niche, we attract people that really crave this kind of community, and I think that’s another reason why we’re doing relatively well during the pandemic is because people are willing to pay a premium to connect with our teachers and to be a part of our community.”
Lovelace has also noticed that while the shelter-in-place has been in order, morning classes have been much more popular. Therefore, they’ve pivoted their strategy to temporarily eliminate some evening classes from the schedule to make room for new morning and weekend offerings.
“There’s this beautiful ‘everyone wins’ situation — students are feeling really supported and the staff are feeling like they have a purpose and they can serve their purpose. I’m really proud of how quickly we’ve really changed our business model and somehow we’re making it through this crazy time,” she adds.
Eugene Yoga, Eugene OR
Photo Courtesy of Eugene Yoga
Valerie Morris, owner of Eugene Yoga, describes her space as an “accessible studio.” It’s not a power-flow fitness studio aimed at raising the heart rate, it’s a gentler approach open to anyone of every age.
Morrris attributes the studio’s success throughout quarantine to how swiftly they acted to implement a variety of online class options within just a day of closing its doors. This way, Eugene Yoga had the extra time to establish their online presence ahead of the competition.
“I think the most interesting thing about this was the guts, resilience and fortitude that the instructors showed,” she says, “One day you’re teaching live classes, and literally the next day it’s, ’woah, I’m teaching to an empty room!’ It takes guts to talk to nobody, and know that you’re going to stream to the entire planet…It’s been frustrating for the teachers not to be able to see everybody.”
Morris also details how some of her students just feel “zoomed out” after spending all day on zoom at work — which isn’t a problem, because she immediately directs them toward the studio’s Youtube channel, where they can stream a class at their leisure.
“In these divisive times, people are reaching out and being even more supportive than perhaps we all were to each other before. I think that’s made a really big impact on me and has been apparent to our teachers,” she says.
Spark Yoga, San Luis Obispo, CA
Photo Courtesy of Spark Yoga
Steph Young, co-founder of Spark Yoga in San Luis Obispo, California says that her studio was already planning on adding online classes to the roster since it’s located in a college town, and many of the local college students become attached before being forced to relocate after graduation.
In addition to connecting with previous members, Spark has been able to meet new subscribers through this network of existing yogis. Steph has successfully leveraged her existing relationships to cultivate new ones, and she plans to continue growing this online presence once the studio reopens for in-person classes.
“I feel that I’ve learned so much, but overall I am grateful that this has strengthened relationships between my staff,” Young says. “I’ve learned more than ever to trust that life throws out beautiful opportunities even in a global crisis. You just have to observe and acknowledge them!”
Past Tense Yoga Studio, Washington DC
Photo Courtesy of Past Tense Yoga Studio
“It’s been a marathon and a sprint all at the same time.”
Kelly DiNardo’s Past Tense Yoga Studio in Washington DC has been adding a variety of online workshops and events that are especially relevant to the times throughout quarantine, such as a “Mother’s Day mini-retreat,” and a “yoga for anger management and stress relief” course.
The studio has also added new classes in response to student feedback such as “cardio flow,” which is interspersed with HIIT moves in response to people’s frustration with being stuck inside all day. She also added a “breathe and meditate class” with breathing exercises in response to requests from students who were worried about their lung strength relating to the virus’ effect on breathing capacity. The studio has additionally added a class called “TBT Flow,” which is taught by an instructor who has relocated out of the DC area and has been wildly successful among longtime students who are missing their past favorite teachers.
Live Oak Yoga, New Orleans, LA
Photo Courtesy of Live Oak Yoga
Rebecca Hutchings, owner of Live Oak Yoga in New Orleans, and her husband are both physicians — so as the coronavirus began to spread, the two of them felt that it was important to set a good example of how to stay safe by closing the studio earlier than many other businesses in the city.
Live Oak Yoga has seen an increased popularity in their “family yoga class” offering, which had been challenging to execute in-studio due to the cost restrictions that come with a family of four each getting charged for a class, in addition to the fear that parents had that their young child might be disruptive during class. Now that the classes are virtual — each family is in their own home participating without worrying about disruption.
The family yoga class has also been a popular opportunity for families with students who have developmental disabilities that may hinder them from enjoying an in-studio experience together. Parents have the chance to appreciate the flexibility to join in and leave class as necessary, without having to worry about whether their children will be able to stay present for the entire duration of time.
Photo Courtesy of YogaSix
Being a national brand, the transition toward virtual offerings allowed YogaSix to become a leading force in the fitness industry by proving how resilient they are as a modern yoga experience accessible to everyone. Y6 was able to pivot toward online classes almost immediately because they had already been working to launch the streaming platform “Y6 GO” around the same time that studios began to close across the U.S.
Since YogaSix was already beta testing “Y6 GO,” their live, virtual classes began within the first week of nationwide studio closures, which allowed Y6 members to experience a different set of instructors from all across the country that they may have not been able to take class with before.
This continued to build the Y6 community in a way that members would not have been able to enjoy through an in-studio visit, and the company plans to continue to offer classes virtually once studios have fully reopened.
There’s no shortage of loving kindness continuing to radiate from these six studios, each of which have proven that the yogi community remains strong throughout the toughest of times. Each studio community may be diverse in nature, but they’re united through the common goal of keeping a strong and supportive practice.
Molly O’Brien is a freelance writer and storyteller with aprofessional background working in fitness, travel, and hospitality media relations. Currently based in Los Angeles, Molly has avidly beenpracticing yogasince college in studios from Barcelona to Boston and most enjoys theunique community each individual studio brings together at any location. When Molly isn’t writing aboutfitness or travel, she’s most likely out appreciating the California sunshine,searching for a new cozy coffee shop, or enjoying a drink somewhere with a view. Email Molly at email@example.com follow her at @metropolitanmolly.