November 23, 2011

Unlimited Yoga for One Year! $20!!!

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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Rachel 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.

catnipkiss 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

Valerie Carruthers 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.

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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!