The spiraling economy really has us all in a bind. A nagging question all the yogis out there are wondering is just how profoundly will it affect the business of yoga? Early on there were reports of people strung out from layoffs and drained 401(k)s flocking to yoga studios and gyms in search of stress relief, scrambling for some peace of mind. So it can be said, then, that yoga is in fact still expanding, now being accepted, embraced even by communities across the country, in some areas transcending prior religious barriers.
Here’s why that’s a problem.
There has also been news of yoga studios shuttered all over the country, like in Arizona, Nevada, Nebraska, mostly fledgling businesses that just couldn’t get a foothold. Unfortunately this is probably only the beginning of more closures to come with the economy tanking and people feeling the pinch of $20 yoga classes. So where are yogi-hopefuls heading instead? Community centers, local Y’s, libraries, and churches, places that offer classes for FREE or at minimal cost. So is the growing ubiquity of yoga to blame for studio closures?
To many people fitness is a necessity, but anything that comes at extra cost in these times of budget busting, like a yoga class, is superfluous luxury. Gyms which usually see a flood of new memberships at this time of year are already nervous, aiming to retain customers above all else, while Americans find other cheaper ways to stay fit. As one article put it, “Why pay for a run around the pole when you can run around the block for free?” in reference to the hugely popular pole fitness classes.
And as much as some teachers claim money is not the object: “We want everyone to be able to access yoga. We don’t want money to get in the way,” says Gabriel Feld, a yoga instructor at Back Bay Yoga in Boston, money is still a necessity in this world.
Our prediction? Keep your eyes peeled for huge deals and discounts at fitness centers and yoga studios. Surely we will see prices dropped way down and possibly more of the “pay what you like” model a la Yoga to the People. And don’t be surprised when you find out your yoga teacher is a full-time lawyer, a freelance web designer or tends bar on the weekends, because as if teaching yoga full time wasn’t hard enough, this economy makes it pretty much impossible.
As far as the big kids go, it’s perhaps too early to tell what this means for hodgepodge extravagance Pure Yoga. We await the next marketing email.
Expect a lot more “home practice” tips.
Consumers Exercise Control [The Boston Globe]
Fitness Studios Feeling the Economic Crunch [KTNV, ABC affiliate, Las Vegas]
Community Yoga Catches On [News Herald, Panama City, FL]
Asheville Art Museum Offers Yoga [Citizen-Times.com]
The fact is, that studio yoga is more convenient time-and-location-wise than some of these community centers, Ys, libraries, churches, etc. So the whole remains not a perfect fit. The studios are churning through students who take limited class paks. They are having to deal with non-advanced-student home practitioners who may take a class at the studio once every two weeks, to whom possibly lengthy home practices are both an economic and time-saving necessity–and with whom the studio owners have a love-hate relationship with: chances are they are not going to get premium services requested such as privates, etc. from these students. Likewise, possibly little or no demand from these students for instructor training, as they tend to stick to just the few classes they could afford.