We are a yoga and Pilates studio. We offer all levels. I wanted to create of diverse community of practitioners of yoga and Pilates.
When and how did you start the studio?
I come out of movement therapy, both in terms of my education as well as 15 years of therapeutic work. I happened into yoga by taking a course at the Y. The teacher identified me as someone who might be a good teacher and took me under her wing. Eventually I became certified as a yoga teacher through Yoga Alliance. I also completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training program through OM Yoga based in NYC. In addition I completed a comprehensive Pilates training through BASI, Body Arts and Science International.
I taught classes on the side. It was the best part of my day…it was peaceful, it was exhilarating, it was energizing. I wanted to do it full time, but there just wasn’t enough work at the local studios. Then I saw a perfect space…a nail salon was going out of business. I grabbed the chance and three months later we opened the studio.
What do you think makes a good instructor?
Sometimes people who are very good at doing yoga are not necessarily always the best teachers. It can be useful to have to have struggled a bit yourself in order to be most helpful to your struggling students. It is so much better to be able to break it down, rather than just flowing through it effortlessly, as a model to your class.
What were your guiding principles in starting the studio?
My philosophy was middle path. Some studios that I saw felt too tight, very strict and overly regimented. Then there other ones which were pretty much anything goes and lacking in discipline. I thought to myself there is nothing in the middle.
I wanted the middle path and I wanted non-heated. (note: some yoga is practiced in very heated environments, so it is a very intense, even violent, work out for the body. Its proponents love it, but there may also be safety concerns related to this type of practice). For some people the lack of heat was a drawback but I felt strongly. Just the middle path. And five and a half years later the middle path has helped us thrive.
There is so much competition in the world of fitness and yoga…What do you do better?
I wanted to create a welcoming community. My idea was to try to be all inclusive.
And I wanted it to be non-competitive and that is why I chose not to do the mirrors.
I think that we have a welcoming space which is inviting to people of all different ages and backgrounds.
What has been the biggest challenge in developing your business?
The beginning was very smooth, everything went well, it felt like serendipity, like it was meant-to-be.
I’d say the challenge has been in the longer haul.. My challenge is that now I have two children and finding a balance of home and work. Some of it is just figuring out what I should do and what I should outsource. Until very recently I was doing it all myself from cleaning the toilets to, you know, the books to teaching classes …it can be hard to let go.
How have you built your client base?
A lot comes through word of mouth. What helped us get started was local magazines and newspapers.. Marketing has really changed over the past five years. Facebook wasn’t a real factor when we started. We had a website, but we didn’t use if dynamically. Now we rely on social media and have used Groupon and Living Social to encourage people to come to the studio. We gotten a good return rate with that. I also keep an eye on our Google ranking.
People’s yoga practice can be fluid. There are definitely ebbs and flows during the year. Social media is definitely a help in bringing people in, and bringing people back. I use Facebook. I try to post daily but it is more like every other day.
What is the biggest pleasure of your business?
I think just the teaching itself.
I am not a book person. I am not a crunching numbers type of person. I’m not a behind the scenes person. I got my energy from interacting with people, from teaching. I like the pleasure of just teaching. With two small kids, my life is hectic. There are moments where I am like “Oh, it would just be simpler if I stayed home and started cooking dinner right now”. But when I get here it’s just a whole different story. My stress level melts. My energy level goes up. I remember why I do it.
What quality of your own character contributed to your success as an entrepreneur?
It’s a good and bad quality. You could call it loyalty. Or stubbornness. It is one of my core character traits. I also call it “stick-to-it-ness”. It cuts both ways, I can stay in situations that don’t serve me way too long.
But that same quality, that tenacity, that ability to roll with the punches, is a good quality when you’re starting your own business because you just have to stick to it. Sometimes is it is tough and sometimes it will be easier. You need to hang on if you’re going to go out on a limb and start a business.
What are your plans for the future?
I want more space, perhaps two studios, so I can offer a bigger range of classes.
Whatever you’re planning, think it through. Don’t go into something blindly. But once you know what you want, go for it! When you decide to live your dreams and pursue what makes you excited that is ultimately what is going to be successful and create happiness for others and happiness for yourself.