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Cheap Yoga Deals: How Does the Yoga Community Benefit from Them?

posted by Charlotte Bell on October 10, 2013 |

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Cheap Yoga Deals:  How Does the Yoga Community Benefit from Them?

Everybody loves a deal—everybody. That includes me. I can easily be sucked into buying something I don’t need just because it’s deeply discounted. Who knows? I might actually need that discounted thing someday. Might as well get it now while it’s such a great price!

About four years ago, the internet exploded with deals. Sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial, as well as Google and Amazon began offering deep discounts for all sorts of goods—from clothing to haircare products—and services—from restaurants, hotels and spas to various training programs. Yoga studios jumped on the daily deal bandwagon as well with deals such as:  “$20 for 20 classes! One day only! Buy before midnight!”

The sites partnered with businesses, advertising the deals and splitting the spoils. Businesses would benefit from an influx of new customers.

A few months ago I read a blog by yoga teacher/writer Chris Courtney that is unfortunately no longer available. Titled “Why Daily Deals are Bad for Yoga,” the article discussed the reasons why studio owners might want to think twice about using these services. On the surface, these deals look good, and it’s quite possible they have been successful for some studios. After all, making your yoga classes stand out in a saturated market is not so easy. Offering a deal to a wide audience seems like a good way to attract new business. While it’s true that studios do experience an influx of students when they partner with Groupon and other such sites, it hasn’t always yielded greater income. In some cases, it has cost them. Just this morning I read an article about a Portland yoga studio actually going out of business after offering Groupon specials.

Why I Never Latched on to Daily Deals

When Groupon was first taking hold, I looked into it. As an independent teacher who’s been teaching for more than 27 years it’s been increasingly challenging to make my classes known to my community. I simply haven’t had the visibility of a studio and as a single person with a job and many other commitments, I can’t offer the all-day-long, seven-days-a-week convenience of a studio. Students have always had to schedule my classes into their weeks. They couldn’t just pop in whenever it’s convenient. Also, I’m not the world’s best self-promoter. (I’m happy to say that I’m now part of a wonderful, recently formed collective of experienced teachers, Mindful Yoga Collective.)

Groupon’s advertising power, combined with a deal that new students couldn’t refuse seemed like the shot in the arm I needed to boost attendance. Or was it? As I began thinking more about it, I envisioned what would happen if the special yielded even as many as 10 more students in each class. One studio owner told me that when her studio ran deals, they packed in more than 20 extra students per class, in a space that barely holds that many to begin with. In several classes, so many people showed up that they had to turn away some regular students.

Because I teach a slower, more meditative style of yoga, my classes are not packed. My classes average 10 to 20 students. An influx of even 10 more new students—let alone 20—would crowd the 1,200-square-foot space. My students are accustomed to being able to move freely. I know how uncomfortable it is to feel like you’re going to slap the person next to you in the face when you raise your arms. One of the reasons my students come to my classes is that the atmosphere is mellower than in the trendier classes. A crowd of newcomers who are likely used to a fast-paced, sweaty class would alter the feel of my classes.

Plus, my students are a loyal lot. Many of them have been attending classes for 10 years or more; a few are 20-year students. I’ve become very protective of this cherished community. Is it fair to them to pack the space with people who were mostly attending only because they got a deal—and likely wouldn’t come back once the deal was over? And how fair is it to offer such deep discounts to brand-new students when my longtime students are paying full price? All in all, discount yoga deals didn’t seem like a good fit for my classes.

How Have Yoga Deals Worked for You?

Every studio, every teacher, every situation is different. We’ve love to hear your thoughts.

 This short article on CNN.com explains why you might not see as many of these deals today as in the past.

Post By Charlotte Bell (193 Posts)

Charlotte Bell discovered yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. Charlotte is the author of Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice, published by Rodmell Press. Her second book, Yoga for Meditators (Rodmell Press) was published in May 2012. A lifelong musician, Charlotte plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and folk sextet Red Rock Rondo, whose DVD won two Emmy awards in 2010.

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4 Responses to “Cheap Yoga Deals: How Does the Yoga Community Benefit from Them?”

  1. Derp Nowinski Says:

    I’m probably an odd bird here but Groupon helped me get into yoga. I purchased a deal, went through the 20 classes in a about a month and then bought a real membership. Oddly enough though – 10 months later – I get annoyed when my studio runs Groupon deals now and am thinking about switching to a studio that doesn’t run deals. I believe practicing with more dedicated yogis will richen my practice.

  2. Sean M Says:

    Along the same line..another article to read:

    The Business of Teaching Yoga
    by Ira Israel (May 5, 2013)

    http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/05/the-business-of-teaching-yoga/

  3. Charlotte Bell Says:

    Deals like Groupon can be helpful for students looking to find a yoga space that resonates for them. You can sample different studios without a whole lot of investment. But, as you say, it’s not fun to be a dedicated practitioner at a studio that’s running deals. Groupon may work well for particular studios, but I would never impose a huge influx of deal-seeking students on my community. Each studio and situation is different. Thanks for pointing out how the deals can initially benefit students.

  4. Charlotte Bell Says:

    Sean M, Thanks for the reference to the article. I’ve read this piece before and it’s really helpful.

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