How Yoga Six creates real results and progression for yogis across the United States.
A single light falls on a stage as a violinist begins to play. Alone, her solo starts to take shape as the violin makes its own unique, beautiful sound. Then, as the single light begins to grow, an entire orchestra is illuminated on the stage — each instrument joining the violin to create a much larger, outstanding harmony of noise.
Leading the orchestra is the maestro — directing each area of sound to its fullest potential. He lets the wind section shine when it is their time, while encouraging the percussion to maintain the beat. He is their conductor.
Across the United States, there is another orchestra of sorts taking place. It isn’t composed of violins or cellos, but instead of studio managers and yoga instructors. The sum of these parts is Yoga Six, a science-based yoga and fitness company aiming to deliver real results and continuous progression.
The conducting is handled by CEO Peter Barbaresi. After making the transition from advisory board member for Yoga Six to CEO in 2016, Barbaresi works with the staff to create a cohesive unit with the 12 Yoga Six locations spanning from San Diego, California, to Columbus, Ohio.
To keep 12 locations up and running smoothly, communication is vital. Since many of the locations are further apart than a short drive, Barbaresi makes sure there are meetings put in place that allow the teams to feel part of something bigger than the studio where they work.
“Whether it’s marketing, operations, programming or anything related to the business, the communication with the individual studio and program managers is consistent on the group level, as well as on a one-on-one basis,” said Barbaresi. “It’s critical for our managers to feel that they are indeed part of a larger community, which is very different than just being an unattached outpost. It’s easy to get lonely out there and we want to make sure that’s not happening.”
Hiring and placing key players to take the roles of studio managers ensures communication between the executive team and the staff runs smoothly. In order to do so, Ben Tucker, the chief financial officer and vice president of operations, said one of the biggest parts of managing falls back on their hiring process, which he attributes to a famous Steve Jobs quote: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
Tucker explained, “When I am hiring a manager, I make sure they are local and therefore know that market. Having them tell us what needs to be done to build community, and therefore the business, is imperative. We have an overarching idea at how we want the studios to run and look, but within each studio some things might look or work better there specifically as opposed to other markets.”
The vetting process for each position is carefully thought out, as the team tries to find the best people to fill each spot. “We don’t have a lot of turnover, which I think is a testament to the job itself, the culture of the company, the fact that we treat our employees very fair in terms of compensation and work-life balance — which are all really critical in getting good people and keeping them,” said Barbaresi.
Just as each instrument has a specific and unique voice in an orchestra, so does each studio location of Yoga Six. With 12 locations nationwide, Dustin Towery, the director of marketing, explained they really try to play on the personality of each location’s team to structure the branding and marketing. This allows each studio to be unique, while maintaining the same style.
“We have our cohesive brand in terms of visuals and the language that we use for our brand personality,” said Towery. “But what we really focus on at the studio level is amplifying the personality of the space. That’s where that human connection comes in. For instance, the manager at our Carlsbad location has a lot of high energy and is involved in the local road-running clubs, and the studio reflects that. When students can connect with the personality of the teacher or manager, it really aligns well in every aspect.”
“We aren’t too modern in being super cheeky or provocative; we really just try to make yoga fun,” said Towery. “We might not set intentions in class. It’s more about that personal experience for each student, and we try to get that message across in our branding.”
Yoga Six ensures the marketing and branding is designed to appeal to the broad base of the beginner yogi. “There are so many who have an interest in yoga, we need our messaging to get them on a mat and to feel the benefits of a consistent practice,” said Barbaresi. “However, as people graduate from beginner to intermediate and advanced, we want them to feel challenged, and we ensure that through our variety of classes and workshops led by our amazing corporation of instructors.”
Each class offered at Yoga Six has a specific focus and produces different body benefits. They offer a hexagon of class tracks to be taken — as a way to educate beginners on which classes they can join — but to also show intermediate to advanced students how to pair specific class offerings to get the best results.
The hexagon offers two distinct class tracks, one heated and one room temperature. The beginner students are encouraged to follow the non-heated progression before moving to the heated track. The hexagon allows students to see the various benefits that can come with pairing classes on opposite sides of the figure, like Boot Camp and Deep Stretch. They provide unique and different benefits, but complement each other well.
“Because there is such a pyramid of everyone coming to yoga through that base of a beginner level, and because there’s so many people with an intent to try yoga, we want them to feel comfortable doing that versus the intimidation that people often feel about it,” said Barbaresi. “We want to break down that barrier and say, ‘Come in and try it, no one is going to judge you, and just enjoy the experience.’ It’s tough to come in once and say you are in love with yoga. You have to give it a couple tries. I can attest to that personally.”
Breaking down that barrier for a beginner starts as soon as they decide to step into a Yoga Six location. This is a consistency Barbaresi wants to ensure is found at each studio.
“We thought through every operational detail,” said Barbaresi. “What happens when you walk through the door? How can we greet you? How do we make sure you feel comfortable at the check-in process? We have all of those steps in our manuals and training. They are all natural, genuine approaches, but we want to make sure we guide the client through their experience every time they walk into one of our studios. We want a consistent delivery through the locker rooms, reception area or wherever they are in our studio.”
While the beginner’s experience starts with a greeting and check-in process, it is followed by feeling comfortable within the space and with the teachers. This is another aspect Yoga Six holds dear and confirms will be found within all of their studios.
“Inside the classroom, the instruction of the class is as good as you are going to get anywhere else,” said Tucker. “We have top-notch customer service that we pride ourselves on. The studios are beautiful which is great, but at the same time anyone can build a nice studio, so our major focus is the customer service side and the quality instruction. If we want our students to invest in us, we want them to take care of themselves. If they take care of themselves, we have to make sure we are taking care of ourselves and giving them the best experience possible.”
At the end of most concerts the maestro will turn, take a bow and exit the stage as the crowd applauds. However, the concert is only beginning for Yoga Six’s orchestra as they plan to take their consistent delivery into the future, with growth as the goal. It will manifest in various ways across the board, but it will maintain the over-arching brand and sound foundation found throughout Yoga Six.
“At the end of the day, we want to make sure we have a really good studio experience, making sure our brand is solid and that our managers are happy,” said Towery. “We are really focusing on investing in our teams. We want to rally our teams to build that culture of yoga and drive home how strong Yoga Six is as a team.”