Unlimited Yoga for One Year! $20!!!

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Look familiar?  Sound too good to be true?  It isn’t.

You probably get similar offerings in your inbox almost everyday from the likes of Groupon, Living Social or any of the plethora of discount networks that exist out there for small businesses. After the initial excitement of these deals wore off something about the sheer abundance of them started to rub me the wrong way and after receiving a small blurb about this in a newsletter from  I really started to think more deeply on the issue.

Are these deals hurting the yoga business world and community?

Does this cheapen what we are worth as instructors and get people used to a norm of cheap yoga? Yoga is an art form, a mind-body practice that greatly differs from just another fitness class and should be priced accordingly. The struggle already exists to get yoga recognized in this manner, and I can’t help but think that the proliferation of these deals is in the long run worsening the problem.

Perhaps they are a good way to get people in the door. A fast and effective way to say “Here I am!” but after this initial fanfare does it stick? Do the people keep coming back or do they just move to the next amazing offer? Maybe it would be a good way to offer introductory and limited packages? If someone is already coming to the studio they don’t need two months of classes to find out if they like it and the longer someone is on one of these deals the longer the studio isn’t making any income from them and operating in the negative. Again many yoga centers already struggle to turn a profit! While it would be nice to live in a world where we could offer yoga at no charge for many of us the reality is that it is our livelihood and a business.

I discussed this issue among my yoga kula and one friend offered this very good food for thought:

Like everything I think we need to reflect on what would be good for not only the business but also for the customer/client and the community. If the person buys this “deal” only to find out that” hot” yoga is like exercising in hell – that will turn them off from not only hot yoga but potentially for all yoga – what a loss that would be! I wonder if this would really align with the yamas (ahimsa, satya and aparigraha).

What is your take on this issue? Help, hindrance or something else?


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anonymous Nov 30, 2011 12:09pm

As a graduate school student these deals are amazing for me. I just can't spend $150 a month on yoga, so I need a little break here and there. I bought a deal like this and then negotiated a price I could handle with the studio and have stayed there! I think the more people who are exposed to yoga the better. If money is a barrier than we need to remove that barrier so there is greater exposure.

anonymous Nov 27, 2011 5:36pm

I have not seen the Groupon deals, but I admit to being a bit of a "yoga slut" at times: I want to try them all! Especially now when I am unemployed and wanting to do steady yoga, I am searching constantly for the deals and trial offers. But I am a person who will eventually commit, and this yoga-ing around is showing me that there are options out there and giving me a wide variety to try out before I settle for my one-and-only.

Alexa Maxwell

anonymous Nov 27, 2011 5:09pm

When you factor in the overhead of running a studio, rent/utilities/insurance/base pay to instructors PLUS the owner's investment in their original teacher training and continuing education, very often they cannot even pay themselves a modest salary—it's all labor (of love for Yoga) intensive. Now add in promotion such as Groupon and one-month specials. How can they even keep the door open? OK, a lot of studios do make their bread and butter via teacher trainings, celebrity teacher workshops, etc. but not every studio is equipped to do that in the early stages.

A large part of situation is the competition from fitness clubs, with low monthly fees where Yoga (including hot Vinyasa) is included at no extra charge, along with child care in some instances. Senior age students over 65 usually don't have to pay anything if they come in under Silver Sneakers.

Rather than try to pit themselves against gyms, studios need to focus on their uniqueness, their special niche, the value added of a supportive atmosphere in which to grow your practice. Holiday specials, sure. But if ongoing coupons and other "deals" only create a deficit in their bank accounts and devalue their social purpose then what is the point. Mixed-level classes notwithstanding, for studios to stay solvent they may have to face the fact that they cannot be all things to all customers. That is why conscious studios offer weekly "community" classes on a by-donation basis—as a way of giving back.

anonymous Nov 27, 2011 11:23am

[…] Unlimited Yoga for One Year! $20!!! […]

anonymous Nov 27, 2011 6:14am

[…] […]

anonymous Nov 25, 2011 1:42pm

The yoga studios know what they are doing when they enter into a Groupon type promo, they're a business first and foremost. Let's be honest, the average price of a yoga class at a studio is outrageous. I work in a university and have talked to several students who love practicing yoga but gave up their memberships due to the costs. Yoga is quickly out-pricing itself from all but upper middle-class people (and upwards).

    anonymous Nov 25, 2011 5:05pm

    A so-called "affordable yoga studio" (though not the most inexpensive for its general location) got rid of the full time college student price and raised its walk-in price by degrees, to now 50% higher than what it had been (after having gone through multiple Groupon, livingsocial, foursquare, etc., promotions).

    To clarify, my experience as a full retail walk-in student was acceptable (could have been better, but the studio was still running the social-buying coupons and its own in-house promotion concurrently).

    Now, they got rid of certain class levels that might appeal to the more mature student, who is active, mobile but not particularly athletic (like me). Perhaps they are going after solidly-intermediate level students and above. Having scared away many of the full time college students or converted them to unlimiteds. (They do not make their bucks by offering private sessions upfront and center.) Appealing with the intimidation factor is their only chance at creating value now, for what they must charge. After having taken a bath on all the social-buying.

    I dropped them from consideration (to go back to as a walk-in), not because of the new price but because they don't maintain a consistent mission … confusing. Despite their trying to appeal to the downmarket customer, they remind me too much of Lululemon.

anonymous Nov 24, 2011 1:59am

Hi Hannah – great discussion! I tend to feel it's up to the studio/yoga teacher in terms of what they feel is right for them. I also feel it is the same for the practitioner – going with what feels right.

You bet that I'd take advantage of a special deal at my favourite Ashtanga studio here in town – I wouldn't think twice about it. 🙂 I also offer a weekly friends & family rate – which is virtually NOTHING compared to what the average price is for a yoga class. I don't feel I'm devaluing anything, but perhaps giving people I know and love (who wouldn't normally do yoga) the motivation to give it a try without 'losing' much.

I've also gone in the other direction though – I've paid A LOT of money for workshops that I have personally felt were perhaps a bit too expensive given the substance taught. I've even been asked to pay additional amounts on top of the high prices to pay for teacher's currency conversion fees – whaaaat?!

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    anonymous Nov 25, 2011 11:39am

    currency conversion fees? for real?

anonymous Nov 23, 2011 8:13am

yes, I do believe it devalues yoga teaching.

my husband returned from a music fest where he took a "how to book yourself" workshop. the musicians teaching it said exactly the same thing: never give it away because you are only devaluing what you do. making music is also a business and so is yoga. there is a time and place for giving it away.

my massage therapist told me he would never participate in Groupon or any of those coupon deals because for the most part, people don't come back, they only want the deal. AND the participant only gets half of the amount of the coupon: if he gives away a $100 massage for $50, Groupon (and I am sure the other ones work the same way) gives him $25. so two months of yoga for $40? how much does the studio owner get, $1/class? and how much does the teacher make? I taught at a studio where the owner gave an intro yoga away for $5 class and she would not pay the teacher for teaching if the student used a coupon. Some months I gave away $100 because I had so many freebies in my class.

Ask me why I don't teach in studios anymore.

    anonymous Nov 23, 2011 9:39am

    Wow! Thanks for the input Linda. I'd love to hear more about why you don't teach in studios….

    anonymous Nov 23, 2011 10:36am

    I detest those yoga studios that have succumbed to the Groupon monster. As you know, I don't have much money for commercial yoga and am living close to the bone. But, one of the studios I have gone to, which is the one of the Master Swami, has never to my knowledge dealt in Grouponing. Maybe they would soon (they unified their prices across several categories of class they teach) … but they actually can't because they are a small studio, not out to build an "empire", and pretty much off-the-radar as far as styles go [Read: a mild practice].

    A studio or class that addresses all levels in a class (not just the future yoga rock stars), functions on personal attention, and does not foster achievement or competition … is not really going to be attracted to Groupon because their teachers (more mature than many) probably have day jobs—and their mission and vision is less commercial overall …

      anonymous Nov 23, 2011 11:06am

      Vision-I've actually found the opposite…studios in my town that are more multi-level have had more of these deals! The other studios that are more traditional in their practices haven't put themselves out there in this way.

    anonymous Feb 4, 2016 8:54pm

    Hmmm. The overpricing of something originally designed as a spiritual practice in India by practiced yogis. The appropriation of a spiritual practice priced and sold to the upper class who can afford the classes. If a studio offers Groupon so people can actually afford to try it, I’m more inclined to visit that studio. I would love to better establish a practice, but I am an artist and a Preschool teacher. I dontvhsve $100+ a month for yoga

    Thats the price of actwo month wster bill, or half my art studio rent. I left a Buddhist center I attended for many years because it became more and more a commodity. I now drive six hours , once a year to a temple that asks for donations on the honor code. Thete is no pressure. Thete is a write up sbout dana on tbe bedroom door, and annonymous envelopesvin tbe lobby to put into a pay box. There is a list of needed items each month. They do just fine without charging members for dharma. Some give a lot. Others less. I’ve been in both positions. I donate acvordingly. I just shake my head at all the glossy zines, the “zen” everything from CD music to a box of Zen salad greens. And no, meditation is not a practice you play with before a business meeting to better accumulate more stocks. It’s not that I don’t want anyone to get paid a fair wage. It’s that these studios with their jewelry and lulu clothing shops make money off of image instead of content i suspect a quality of content within a class and studio would be more financially stable and solvent in the long run. JMHO.

anonymous Nov 23, 2011 9:38am

Glad to hear you continue on with the deals!! I hope others follow suit!

anonymous Nov 24, 2011 6:01am

Awesome, yet for the consumer, but my question is does it hurt those who own studio and those who teach. If the companies really end up pocketing so much money is that good for anyone but themselves? It sounds predatory and dishonest to me….both violations of the yamas.

anonymous Nov 24, 2011 6:26am

Yoga studios themselves aren't above the bait and switch long before Groupon came along. If I were not so paranoid about new surroundings (and had more time) I would have done it. I certainly from time to time, did that with regular gyms. Of course, I'd taken no classes and kept a very low profile.

I caution deal-hoppers to already know how to do the kick butt stuff. Back at thieving studios!

Do it for me!!

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Hannah Siegle

Hannah Siegle began to do yoga four years ago initially for the physical practice, however she quickly discovered that the yoga began to do her in ways she never anticipated. The mind, body and spiritual connection that yoga cultivates has helped Hannah through the ups and downs of life, both large and small. She regularly blogs at Balancing on Two Feet on topics such as yoga, mindfulness, eating disorder recovery and all those things people don’t like to talk about. She was trained at the RYT 200 through Laurel Hodory and is currently working towards becoming a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist. She teaches yoga throughout Central Ohio with GoYoga ,yogaServe, and also works as an Assistant Editor for the elephant journal!