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LA’s InYoga Center Announces Closure After 7 Years — What’s Happening To All The Indie Studios?

in Business of Yoga, YD News
photo via InYoga Center facebook

photo via InYoga Center facebook

The yoga landscape is eternally changing and we’re losing a lot of good-ness through the cracks. Are we being too dramatic? Maybe. But when it comes to “mom and pop” yoga studios trying to make it through the mud of the yoga business like the little lotus that could, it’s hardly an overstatement. As it turns out, after all, a lot of them couldn’t.

There are several factors leading to why indie yoga studios are shutting their doors after two years, five years, seven years. And we’ve heard the woes of what it takes to run a successful yoga business (see: if you want to hate yoga, open a yoga studio). It’s not easy, and many will argue the model is just not sustainable. With real estate (ie. rising rent) being a major issue, it seems it’s even harder to compete with the big guys (corporate d dogs a la CorePower or YogaWorks) as they continue to gobble up the market .

We recently caught wind of yet another studio, LA’s InYoga Center, being forced to close down after seven years of what could be considered a successful run. InYoga will close shop at the end of this month because their lease is up and they have no other options. While the loss of the studio, the physical space, seems sad, it’s the fracturing of the community of students and teachers that hits hardest. Seven years isn’t ancient, but think about where yoga was seven years ago, and where it’s at today. (For context, this is pre-mega yoga festivals, before the deaths of Sri K Pattabhi Jois, BKS Iyengar, and TKV Desikachar, and just around the time Twitter was getting big—before Instagram, Groupon and ClassPass). InYoga happens to be one of those studios that maintained, through the years, many of its original students, as well as growing a local community that found it to be a welcoming space where yoga blossomed, yet felt rooted, without falling deep into trendy territory.

We’re sad that yet another local studio must succumb to the looming threat of closure and opted to share their big announcement that just went out early this morning to their community. Here, in its entirety:

InYoga Center to Close Permanently Oct. 30, 2016
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Our Dearest InYogis:

With deep sadness and a profound sense of loss for the whole community, we write today informing you that InYoga Center will permanently close its doors in Valley Village at the end of this month. The last day of public classes will be held on Sunday, Oct. 30.

You’ve chosen InYoga as your home yoga studio; it’s been ours too. For many, we’re family. So we recognize this news is disappointing, indeed difficult. It comes as a shock.

Deep breath.
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With seven years serving the community, InYoga’s lease expires soon. Unfortunately, we’ve been unable to renew or extend the lease. We don’t hold an option to buy the building. We don’t know who the new tenant will be, or if there will be a tenant. The land itself is valuable. Please be assured that we have pursued every recourse in a vigorous effort to preserve our beautiful shared space for this vital community resource: yoga.

InYoga, like other neighborhood brick & mortar small businesses, relies on location for its success. We vigorously explored numerous opportunities for relocating nearby. We’ve been unable to identify another property with the same amenities we enjoy here: lots of square footage; high ceilings; natural light; a dedicated room for privates, small groups and teacher trainings; spa-like restrooms, with changing areas and showers; retail and lobby areas; plus plenty of free parking. There’s nothing like it out there.

Commercial real estate is expensive. Leasing is precarious. Properties come with usage limitations; local government (in our case, the City of Los Angeles) imposes onerous requirements. Small businesses struggle to meet state and federal regulations and compliance measures. Moreover, building out to InYoga’s specifications demands capital investment for construction improvements and startup costs.
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While the situation with InYoga’s lease is insurmountable, the competitive challenges, including real estate, for all independent yoga studios in L.A. and in other big cities nationally are pervasive. It’s true that more and more people are doing yoga asana. Yet fast-growing gym-like chains dominate the marketplace. Today, an independently owned yoga center is not a promising business model, especially not one that provides an exceptional customer service experience, as we do.

Over the years, InYoga seriously examined expanding its brand by opening additional locations; there were awesome opportunities from the Eastside of L.A. to Ojai. Yet, we made the decision not take on another location, rather to focus on foundation. Our flagship is here, in this Village.

And so, despite our strongest efforts to save InYoga Center and with these additional business considerations, we’ve determined there are no further options for InYoga to continue at this time. We must close.
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InYoga has been a labor of love on the part of ownership, management, teachers and staff alike who hold this space. It takes the ongoing support of students who want to practice and pay for high-quality yoga. Everyone here has made a commitment, an investment. We’re honored and humbled knowing you’ve trusted us – and each other – in this endeavor.

Our primary responsibility for the remainder of our time together is to you – this community of teachers, staff and students.

Over the last several months, we’ve put in place certain business protocols intended to help make the studio’s closing as smooth and easy as possible for you. Later today, we’ll send out emails with detailed information about memberships and class packages. Anticipating many questions you’re likely to have, we ask that you please read and review those emails carefully for relevant information.

Please be assured that we are prepared to manage this transition with the same level of care, professionalism and integrity that you’ve come to expect from us.
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What can you do to help?

Come to class. Practice yoga. A lot. Take advantage of your memberships and use the remaining classes on your packages. Participate in our workshops; attend the special events. Support us by buying merchandise in our store, SEEDS.

To students who we’ve missed for months or even years, come back! We’re offering reduced rates and we’d love to see you before we close.

Join us for two wonderful workshops and other special events. The first is this Wednesday evening, Oct. 5, from 8:30-10:00 pm – a gathering to support each other and celebrate the community we’ve created together. We’ll be available to listen, answer questions and share stories.

Throughout the month – and while we process this together – InYoga is committed to maintaining its mission: providing the best yoga experience in the Valley, in this safe, inclusive, welcoming space. You can expect a full schedule of classes, with your favorite teachers and same friendly faces greeting you at the front desk when you come in.
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InYoga is a special place. It’s unique, especially in this town, at this time. Although our hearts are broken, it is with tremendous gratitude and true joy that we’ve been blessed by the opportunity to serve and spend the last seven years with you practicing yoga, creating community, and in doing so, making the world a better place.

InYoga,

Julie Buckner
Founder/Owner/CEO

Kelly Benshoof
Founder/Co-Owner/COO

Erin Hoien
Founder/Studio Manager

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13 comments… add one
  • Julie Buckner is on Yoga talks Podcast next week. She tells the whole story.
    http://www.jbrownyoga.com/yoga-talks-podcast/

    • Joe S.

      Looking forward to it, J.! As an independent yoga studio owner, rising real estate cost is our/my number one concern. A close second is the saturation of the market. I would love to hear you talk about that. YTTs are most studios’ bread and butter, including ours. They are also among the dumbest business strategies of all time, creating nearly identical competition in the direct local market. Something has to give.

  • Very nicely worded! Lucky to have created a community. May u find the strength to survive and restart your god yoga deeds!

  • What a wonderful group of teachers at InYoga! Reading their bios I was impressed by their breath of experience and diversity.
    Making a living, maintaining a thriving yoga studio, will likely get more and more difficult due to the externals viewed as necessary to practice. By that I mean a studio that is dedicated to yoga practice. Maybe it is time for more multi-use of buildings, shared spaces, where yoga and other like-minded activities can thrive. This model gives us the opportunity to integrate yoga into new
    venues, strengthening everyone. I hope we can see this as an opportunity rather than a setback.

  • Colleen

    I’ve never owned a studio and I never will, except I’m confused why this article had no possible answers to the question it poses in the headline. I have been teaching yoga for 4 years and I’ve come up with plenty of reasons why studios close: they refuse to raise their prices even as offerings have increased (basic business skill here), they let expiration dates just be suggestions, they don’t utilize free marketing like Facebook or Instagram, they don’t utilize the strengths of their teachers to delegate (i.e. marketing), they refuse to try out new package ideas or unlimited/monthly packages even though time and time again that is what students request. They don’t charge for things such as mat or towel rentals even though it costs money to buy those things in bulk and maintain them. I don’t want to come off as judgmental, it’s just that I’ve yet to come across a studio owner that wasn’t doing most of these things and scratching their head wondering why it’s so hard to pay the rent. I’ve sat in studio meetings where the owner shared she’s scared she may not make the rent, and we all offered concrete ways we could contribute and she still wanted to do every single detail herself. I understand being put off from the “non yoga” way of capitalism, however, there are ways to run an authentic business that people want to patronize without selling your soul to Corepower and voting Trump.

    • Abby Lou

      I’ve tried to support the smaller yoga studios in my area, and there actually are quite a few. The smaller yoga studios do not offer classes at times that are compatible with a working person’s schedule. I would go to a 5:30 a.m. class or a class at 6:30 p.m. class, but I can’t go at 8:00 a.m., and candlelight flow at 7:45 p.m. doesn’t work so well either. On weekends the offerings are too few: gentle yoga, yoga for sore knees, chair yoga. Also, if monthly memberships are priced at $139, the studios have to offer classes that people really want to go to, not just niche classes that the owners are into.

  • S.

    Yoga was never designed to be a successful business model. Only a successful liberation model.

  • Canelius

    There should be a boycott of all yoga studios since they have exploited students forever with their overpriced classes and deceptive teacher training programs from the get go.

  • q48

    Nicely worded! Lucky to have created a community. May u find the strength to survive and restart your god yoga deeds!

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