When Lisa Pepper, co-owner of Bend and Zen Hot Yoga in Louisville, Kentucky, and her partners sat down at the start of their company to create their business plan, one word continually came up: pristine.
“I have done hot yoga at a bunch of different studios, and so often you go in and not only do you smell the sweaty smell — you can see it on the floor,” said Pepper. “We wanted to stand out and make sure we were different, especially when it came to cleaning.”
One unique aspect of the cleaning process at Bend and Zen is its ventilation system. In short, it’s an air extraction system that removes the sweaty air from the room and replaces it with fresh air from outside.
“In between classes, we will hit the exhaust and it will suck out all the old air from the previous class,” said Pepper. “It goes out of the studio and fresh air from outside will blow into the studio. It’s so powerful that when you flip on that exhaust, the door gets really hard to open when it’s going. You will feel the cold air rush in, so we close it up to get the warm air going. It really makes a difference in the cleanliness of our studio by making it not just smell good, but actually be good [quality].”
Having these standout features that contribute to cleanliness may be more expensive at the start, but will aid in your business’ longevity. Brittani Whittington, the owner of Hot Yoga Tallahassee in Florida, explained they used to have older flooring in their studio and have made the switch to Zebra flooring, which is specially designed for hot yoga studios.
“Our flooring is a vinyl surface that prevents moisture, fungi, mildew and bacteria growth the way it’s designed,” said Whittington. “It’s top-of-the-line flooring and is a good investment for a hot yoga room. It’s known to stay clean and doesn’t absorb smell. Our old flooring wasn’t a specialty kind. [With] those, you have to clean a lot more and you could see that they were getting a lot dirtier.”
Now, Hot Yoga Tallahassee does a deep clean once a week with a cleaning product called CLR. In between each class they also mop and wipe down the floors to get the sweat from the previous students off the floor, before the new class comes in.
Pepper also stressed the importance of cleaning between each class. Once all students have left, staff will spray Benefact disinfectant to clean and wipe down everything in the studio room.
“We spray Benefact on a dry mop and mop the whole floor,” explained Pepper. “You are mopping up sweat as well as getting it on the floor to kill bacteria. We wanted to make sure MIRSA and Staph wouldn’t be an issue at our studio. Not only do we clean the studio with that, but every day you will see us wiping down the seats in the lobby, the locker rooms and the showers — we are just really mindful to do it all the time. It’s an easy thing to get away from, but we are just very vigilant about it.”
Common items that can get overlooked in terms of cleaning are your props and mats. To combat this at Hot Yoga Tallahassee, Whittington has made the cleaning process of these items a community effort.
“After every class we ask students to spray down their mat with our spray bottles that are half water, half OnGuard concentrate,” said Whittington. “We have a great system where everyone helps out. We have ballet barres that we hang the mats on. After class they spray them down and hang the mat until they dry, because if you rolled them up right away, the gunk would sit in there for a day or two at a time. The next teacher on the next day will come and roll the mats up and store them nicely.”
Whittington also explained their props are kept in open containers, so the air can circulate through them and avoid any odor issues. They also encourage students to bring their own mats so they are only touching and using one mat.
All these tips and tricks have been trial-and-error processes for both Pepper and Whittington — but Pepper advised new studio owners to reach out to their local community for help and advice before choosing brands or specific cleaning routines.
“Ask other studios what they are doing,” said Pepper. “Work with your community and learn from each other. So often people want to come from a place of competing with one another and I think we all do better when we are in a place of collaboration and cooperation.”