Every day, news stories seem to debate whether we are headed into another recession. With house and gas prices soaring, it is understandable that people are watching the economy closely. Yoga studios are probably wondering how to survive a recession.

Yoga rose to popularity in the United States in the 1960s and the industry has steadily grown since then. Yoga studios are entirely “recession-proof” but they can survive with proper planning. 

What can a yoga studio do to survive a recession? Surviving a recession starts while the economy is still strong. Make sure your yoga studio offers top-quality classes in a well-maintained studio. Happy students are more likely to retain their memberships, even as budgets get tighter. You want to make members feel like they are getting their money’s worth (or more)! During a recession, the studio can adjust offerings to increase perks for existing members, explore alternative income streams, and promote stress relief. 

As a yoga practitioner, you’re probably of the mindset to not worry about things that may not happen. However, as a business owner, it is prudent to have contingency plans in place so you aren’t scrambling if a recession begins. 

How to Survive a Recession as a Yoga Studio

These suggestions are not necessarily a to-do list for every studio. Incorporate these tips if they apply to your business.

Offer Additional Perks

Instead of offering discounts and losing income, try to increase the value of your existing memberships. The key is to introduce perks that are relatively inexpensive to you but that seems highly valuable to the members. 

Hot yoga studios can offer chilled towels at the end of every class. All studios can offer light snacks and water to members. To boost the luxury, have fresh lemon or cucumber water available. This is inexpensive to create but adds a nice touch to the ambiance of your studio.

You can also begin offering rewards or raffles for members. These may be at random, based on attendance, or longevity with the studio. For rewards, make sure that they are given out promptly when a member achieves the desired goal. Raffles should be fair and random for all members that qualify. 

Alternative Income Streams

Yoga classes are the main service offered at your studio, but there are several options to bring in additional income. Sometimes, these combined income streams can bring in more revenue than members and drop-ins for the yoga classes.

Online Streaming

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw a huge increase in online workout streaming. Since many studios and gyms were closed due to local regulations, facilities needed to shift their focus to stay in business. Most gyms and studios are offering in-person classes again, but online streaming is a profitable business in itself.

Yoga studios can easily film their yoga teachers leading in-person classes. These videos can be played live or be made available for playback at any time. Members that can’t make it to the studio due to illness or travel can still enjoy a class with their favorite yoga teacher.

Online streaming also shifts your market of potential customers from your neighborhood to the entire world. Anyone can stream your classes through the internet. 

You can include online streaming free of charge for your memberships. Alternatively, you can make online access an add-on cost to membership. For those who don’t live in town or don’t want to be in a class setting, an online-only membership is a way to go. There is very little overhead to getting your online streaming set up and bringing in income. 

Renting Out the Studio

Most likely, you have times during the day when your studio is not offering classes. This is an opportunity for you to rent out your studio space. Since yoga studios have open rooms with smooth flooring, they also make great studios for dance, zumba, and kickboxing classes. Any activity or fitness modality that uses no equipment or handheld equipment can operate in a yoga studio. 

Another option is partnering with wellness professionals to use the space. Mobile massage therapists, acupuncturists, and even chiropractors may be interested in renting the space during the middle of the day. As a bonus, you can even negotiate discounted rates for your members.

Membership Options

In addition to offering standard monthly or annual memberships, you can look at alternative membership options. During a recession, people are not going to want to be locked in a membership plan or long-term contract. 

You can offer monthly memberships without a contract. Alternatively, you can offer single classes at a lower rate. Punch cards or class passes are also a way to offer multiple classes at a single price point, but clients can choose when they attend the classes.

Maintain a High Quality Product

People love the community aspect of yoga and fitness classes. Even in a recession, they may feel that coming together with other members at class is worth the money. However, the community and the classes lose their appeal when a member is not satisfied with the studio space, the teachers, or the quality of the classes. 

You should always be working to provide the best possible service to your students. As a yoga studio, this means focusing on creating engaging classes by hiring yoga teachers who are dedicated to helping their students learn and progress. Passion is something that cannot be taught, so it is important to put the effort into hiring the best staff for your yoga studio (link)

Focus on Relaxation

Recessions are stressful periods for most people. Money gets tight and people worry about the future. Negative news can be found on every platform. Most importantly, businesses are struggling or shutting down, leaving many people without work. 

This is the best time to promote relaxation and stress relief at your studio. Everyone will need it. You can offer new, slower paced classes that focus heavily on breathing and stress relief. You can also tailor your existing classes to provide more stress relief and deep breathing. Ideally, your students will feel a noticeable difference when they leave your classes. 

Part of promoting relaxation means setting up your studio to provide calming energy. Typically, this is done by using soft, dim lighting. Avoid distracting colors or decor. Set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature. To hit all the senses, include light music and aromatherapy. 

Be in the Right Location 

Your location is something that you choose when opening your yoga studio. It is usually recommended that fitness businesses and yoga studios open their locations near affluent areas. By finding a location with a higher median income level, more people in the community have the disposable income available to afford memberships.

This also means that come a recession, these are the same people that will most likely be less affected by the economy. Upper middle class and upper class people tend to have secure jobs or multiple income streams. 

It is unreasonable to think that your studio will only attract “rich” people, but it is something to keep in mind. If the community near your studio cannot afford memberships during good times, they certainly won’t be able to afford memberships during a recession. 

Plan Ahead Financially

It can be hard to predict what the economy or fitness industry will be like 5 or 10 years down the road. Therefore, you should set up your business finances with a safety net. Having liquid assets and/or an emergency fund set up for your studio is helpful should you lose members and clients during a recession. 

An emergency fund won’t keep you in business forever, but it can help you weather the initial storm. Oftentimes, when a recession begins, people panic and start cutting their expenses (including yoga memberships). As time goes on, people get their finances in order and may be able to return to the studio. 

Partner With Medical Professionals

Yoga has several medical benefits. Notably, yoga is a low-impact form of exercise that provides stress relief and increases joint mobility. There are many medical conditions that a doctor or medical professional may recommend yoga as a lifestyle-based treatment. 

Regardless of the economy, people are still going to have medical conditions and still be seeking treatment from doctors. By partnering with local practitioners and educating them on the benefits of yoga, you may be able to gain client referrals. 

Additionally, you can offer special pricing for members who are referred by medical professionals. Local doctors will appreciate your willingness to work with their patients during a tough economic time.

Give Back

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for many people to be laid off or lose income during a recession. While you can’t get people their jobs or money back, you can offer them an outlet of physical activity and stress relief.

Consider offering free classes at community centers or at your studio. These can be marketed to those hit hard by the recession. Also, you can offer discounted or free limited memberships for people who can show that they have been laid off from their jobs. 

Altruism goes a long way in building your brand. The local community will see your business as one of the good ones who cares about the people. While these free classes may not bring in income now, the good karma will come back to you in the long run. 

Final Thoughts

When it comes to surviving a recession as a yoga studio, the most important thing you can do is provide the best possible service. When your studio has excellent instructors that lead engaging and fun classes, people are more likely to maintain their memberships during an economic downturn. The biggest focus during a recession is to maintain your current membership. Happy members remain members.

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