Many yoga studios begin their business’ journey offering just two or three yoga styles. Usually, that is determined by the owners’ individual specialty, and that of the other instructors on staff.
But as a yoga studio grows, so should its class offerings. Diversifying your class schedule can appeal to a wider audience, and offer a more balanced program for your current students.
Mel O Yoga in Palm Bay, Florida, offers the yoga “classics,” such as Vinyasa Flow and Yin yoga. But, it offers unique classes as well. For example, Candlelight Flow focuses on strength, flexibility and relaxation in a serene atmosphere lit by candles, and led with attentive instruction.
According to Cathy Mussman, the owner of Mel O Yoga, she wanted to offer diverse programming that appealed to many fitness levels, so that all students could feel included.
“What I had seen at other studios is they were [all] power-based,” said Mussman. “They seemed to only focus on certain markets. Whether it was your Lululemon market, or it was your very physically fit market, I wanted a market that included everyone. I wanted my grandma to do yoga. Or my mom, who broke her foot and used yoga as rehab. Or a patient who is recovering from a stroke.”
At Chagrin Yoga in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, diversifying the studio’s class portfolio was a natural progression of its teachers’ evolving practices.
As teachers developed their own specialties or had ideas for new classes, Robin Pastor, the co-owner of Chagrin Yoga, followed their lead — as long as it aligned with the studio’s mission.
“It helps increase revenue,” said Pastor. “Because then you’re tapping into another market. If you only offer Power yoga, then all the other people who can’t do it, they have to go somewhere else. Try to please as large of a crowd as you can.”
However, before you go adding new classes to the schedule just to offer something different, Pik Chu Wong, the owner of The Yoga Studio in Campbell, California, offered some sage advice. “I would encourage every studio owner to look at what their guiding lights are,” she said.
Wong explained the focus shouldn’t be on just offering diverse classes, but on offering the right types of classes that will appeal to your target audience and that match your core competency.
“So, if your target market is kids, then you should just focus on kids,” explained Wong. “You can be diverse, but there should be some common link that ties all those things you offer. Otherwise, it would be really hard to manage.”
Wong saw this first hand when The Yoga Studio opened in 2010. At that time, it only offered three yoga practices: Aerial, Vinyasa and Hatha. And when other studios saw The Yoga Studio was offering Aerial yoga, they followed suit. “None of them lasted,” she said. “Because it’s not their core competency and it does not line up to what they do.”
Now, Wong uses the four quadrants theory of marketing to decide when to add more diverse class offerings. Those quadrants include product innovation, operation efficiency, price competition and customer intimacy. “Start off in one of the quadrants until you’re known for it,” said Wong. “And once you are ‘known’ for that quadrant, then progress to the next.”
At Chagrin Yoga, Pastor added that if you add a class and it doesn’t work, not to fret — you can take it off the schedule. “We just kind of go with the flow of what works and if it’s successful, then we add more and if not, then we take it away,” she said.
Stress can be mitigated by listening to what your students want, as well. “You get emails to the website and stuff like that, with students saying they’re interested in Therapeutic or Restorative [yoga], so you just listen to what the clients want,” said Pastor.
With this advice in mind, take time to evaluate your target audience, core competencies, feedback and mission before adding a class. And if the fit is right, go for it. Changing things up can be just what your studio needs to attract more clientele, and retain current students.