Yoga is a fantastic type of exercise, but the practice itself is much more than just a physical activity. Originating in Northern India, yoga is a spiritual practice that includes mental and physical components. In Western culture, what people think of as yoga is usually just the physical portion.
Since yoga is a full experience and not just postures, your studio must maintain a positive culture. The atmosphere and energy of the studio directly impact your students’ experiences. This can affect member retention and satisfaction.
How can you build a positive culture in your yoga studio? First, set the right tone with the studio space. It should be calming and inviting. Your instructors should competently and kindly lead students through engaging classes. Everyone should feel welcome at your yoga studio, regardless of their ability, body shape, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc.
Building a positive culture at your yoga studio is more than just lighting some candles and finding a teacher with a soothing voice. The real importance comes from defining what you want the culture to look like and continually working to maintain that environment.
Facets of a Positive Yoga Studio Culture
Our sight is typically the first sense that gives us information about the world around us. Make your studio look like the calm, inviting space that you want it to be. Many studios like to dim the lights, use aromatherapy, and play light music during classes. This calm atmosphere can immediately soothe students as they join the class.
It cannot be stressed enough how important a clean studio is. A messy or dirty studio can easily prevent students from returning. Clutter in the class area or welcome space is not relaxing. No one wants to be doing downward dog and look right at a dustball. A clean space shows the staff of the studio care about the space that they teach.
Teacher Demeanor and Education
As a service business, your employees (especially your yoga teachers) make your business. That is why it is so important for you to hire educated teachers that maintain the culture you want for your studio. Instructors should be calm, positive, and welcoming. They should be able to recognize members and chat genuinely with everyone.
Students can quickly become displeased with the studio if the teachers are not helpful and cannot lead a smooth class. Teachers should be able to put together thoughtful and fun classes. They should use helpful cues and corrections to improve students’ experiences in class.
Many studios run promotions or challenges throughout the year. These are often marketing tools, but they can also help boost member satisfaction. However, these events must offer equal opportunities for recognition. Beginner yoga students can get discouraged if only advanced students win prizes or get recognized.
Random member gifts can also be used for member satisfaction. Once again, these gifts should be given equally to your member base. There are plenty of ways to reward and thank your most loyal students without excluding others.
On a more day-to-day basis, teachers should be giving equal attention to all yoga students. They should recognize all levels of achievement, whether someone touched their toes for the first time or finally completed a challenging posture. When all ability levels feel seen, they are more likely to feel satisfied with their experience at the studio.
Employee happiness can have a huge impact on your business. As the owner, you can be friendly with your staff, but you must remember that you are always their boss. One of the best ways that you can maintain a happy staff is to ensure that expectations are clearly communicated.
When an employee has been thoroughly trained and knows what is expected of them, they will feel more confident to complete their tasks well. When procedures have been laid out, there is no uncertainty.
Setting employee expectations begins with training. When you spend the time thoroughly training your employees and teachers, everyone will be on the same page with how things are done. When the business is running smoothly, you are more likely to have happy employees who can then cultivate a positive environment at the studio.
As a student coming to a yoga class, the last thing you want to experience is listening to employees complain or gossip. This is unfortunately a common occurrence in many businesses, but it can be especially destructive to the goal of creating a serene environment at your studio. While you most likely won’t be present to police your staff at all times, do your best to make sure they understand the importance of avoiding complaining and negative conversations in front of students.
One thing to consider incorporating at your yoga studio is written documentation. You can create a document for any and all tasks at the studio. Additionally, you can have procedures documented for almost any scenario that could arise. By having plans available for employees to reference at any time, the employees can provide a more seamless experience for students.
Before we start, not every student wants to be social and that is fine. There is nothing wrong with someone wanting to come to enjoy a class and then head right out.
For those that do enjoy the community aspect of fitness and yoga, you and your staff may need to help with some ice breakers. Call students by name and specifically welcome new members during their first week of classes.
Since teachers are hopefully taking a genuine interest in their students and know about common interests, have them make thoughtful introductions between members. These shared interests or common points can be used to build a community of acquaintances and friends.
In addition to actively cultivating communication between members, your studio should also have zero tolerance for bullying, sexual harassment, body shaming, and related issues. If students do not feel comfortable at your studio, you do not have a positive culture.
If any issues arise between two students, the problems should be addressed immediately. These matters should not be taken lightly. If a student cannot treat other students appropriately, they should not be allowed to continue taking classes at your studio.
Acceptance for All Students
The only way to create a truly positive culture at your studio is for all people to feel welcomed. People of any body shape, sexual orientation, gender identity, yoga ability, race, and nationality should feel included and invited to participate at your yoga studio.
Another group of people that you should actively work to include is those with disabilities. Some people may need mobility aids, but they can still enjoy most yoga postures. Teachers should be educated and trained to help with modifications for all students. Take a look at how accessible your studio is, especially the restroom and entranceway.
Is a Positive Culture Enough to Protect Your Yoga Studio From Recession?
Economic downtowns usually lead to high numbers of canceled membership and stagnation of new members. As people have less disposable income, they need to prioritize necessary expenses first. Unfortunately, this means that yoga studios and gyms tend to lose a lot of members.
Believe it or not, a positive culture can be enough to prevent someone from canceling their membership during a recession. When someone can exercise in a calming location with an uplifting community, they are less likely to consider a membership fee expendable. The experience of going to a yoga class can become so important to someone that they are willing to make the cost work.
Every business owner has heard that it is cheaper to keep an existing customer than it is to get a new one. This is especially true during recessions when there are fewer customers to go around.
Some students report that a positive culture and atmosphere at a yoga studio are more important than the quality of the classes or the cost of the membership. People want to enjoy the experience. Most people want to have friends in the classes, have teachers who take a genuine interest in their practice, and take classes in a serene environment.
It really doesn’t take much to create a positive culture at your yoga studio. It starts with you, as the owner, defining what kind of energy and experience you want for your studio. From there, ensure that employees are thoroughly trained and know what their job expectations are. This allows them to perform their best and provide top-quality service to your students. Educated and passionate teachers can lead classes that challenge your students while they enjoy themselves. Make sure that every single person from any demographic feels welcome at your studio. Have a zero-tolerance policy against bullying and harassment. Finally, don’t forget to make sure that your space is accessible for those with disabilities.
A positive culture doesn’t have to cost a thing, but it can create a priceless impact on your business. Happy customers are loyal customers and loyal customers stick around.