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.