About a year ago, when I was waiting for the landlords’ decision about renting out the space that would become my yoga studio a couple of months later, I found myself googling “what’s it like to own a yoga studio?” There was little on the web about the matter back then. Now, nine months into the experience, I have a few things to add to the mighty source of random information that is the world wide web.
So, what is it like to own a yoga studio?
Fun & games
First of all, it is a great source of joy. Opening the door in the morning, meeting students and seeing them develop in their practice is making me very, very happy. Yoga is up the with tea and toast with regards to the things I love most in life, and working with a matter that personally interests me is immensely satisfying. In fact, I think the yoga studio is the single one most important thing to see me through the bleak and long Swedish winters.
The daily grind
Secondly, the studio is a lot of work. A lot. A lot. A lot. There’s admin, accounting, stock taking, staff-management, a little marketing and social media, a lot of website and booking system stuff, and cleaning of the studio. I am currently teaching 11 classes a week, which need to be prepared at the beginning of each week. Contrary to common believe, teaching doesn’t count as practice, which takes up at least another five hours a week. I am a firm believer in teaching from your own experience, hence a regular meditation practice is mandatory not only for my own sanity, but also for my teaching. The hours add up, and as much as it might look as if I could fit them easily around family life, of course it isn’t that easy. The most popular classes are early mornings, evenings and weekends – naturally, those times clash with the reality of family life.
I opened the studio when my husband was on gardening leave. Now that things are somewhat back to normal, my slightly unorthodox work schedule not only adds complexity but also a little tension here and there. When things were really busy for both of us towards the end of the year, I had an important revelation: Big M and I working full-time collides massively with the idea of how I want my family to work. I have always been doing something, but my family has always been my number one priority. It pains me that I am tired when I am home, that I am not as present with the girls as I used to and that my idea of an ideal date night now includes reruns of Gavin & Stacey on the iPlayer and dressing up in sweatpants.
With a little help from my friends
I guess I started out completely by myself, because a) I didn’t know of anyone who’d be interested and b) I had something to proof to myself. Almost a year in, and I am totally over that. As it stands now, I am looking for the right person to share the studio with. If I could do one thing differently, I’d look for a trusted business partner from the beginning.
I have one friend who has helped me immensely with design and marketing materials. Sadly, she’s no yoga teacher. But who knows, maybe, one day… (Come on, Paula!!!)
All about the money
To keep costs down, I will have to teach the bulk of classes for a little bit longer, as other teachers equal more costs. A way around this issue is to offer teachers a generous cut per student instead of an hourly rate. Teachers will have to bear the downside if classes are quiet, however, as classes fill up, rates can easily double the regular pay you would expect from a bigger studio. Still, for the studio this means only a small portion of what’s been made on that day goes into the bank.
Three years (or not?)
The first thing people told me when I started out was that it’ll take three years to make it work financially. My experience has been a slightly different one. The studio has reached breakeven during the last couple of months, despite charging the lowest fee for yoga classes in the whole of Stockholm. In my opinion, yoga classes have to be affordable. There is something so intrinsically wrong with overcharging yoga classes, it makes my blood boil. But that’s a whole different post all together.
Be true to yourself
From how you set your prices to what and how you want to teach – it pays off to be true to yourself. You can’t be everything to everyone, and the students that like what you have to offer will find you eventually.
One thing I had to get my head around (and still quite haven’t) is the curious fact that some people would like to see you fail. Maybe this sentiment stems from the misconception that one person’s success can only be built on another person’s failure – but wherever it comes from, it definitely adds to the possible unwanted responses of putting yourself out there. And it doesn’t get much more out there than that, with a big sign on your local high street and flyers in the bakery and all that.
It all starts with you
A last point which I can’t stress enough, is the importance of self-care. From your own practice to taking time to just do nothing or having a little pamper time here and there, the whole thing stands and falls with you. So take good care of yourself!