Although yoga has grown in popularity over the past couple of decades, one thing is glaringly obvious: the overwhelming majority of yoga instructors and students in America are women.
However, that doesn’t mean it should be. Through strategic marketing and operational adjustments, studios can bring in a larger male client base and ultimately raise their bottom line.
Peter Vanderloos, the owner of Black Orchid Yoga and Cycle in Billings, Montana, has a rather large male client base — nearly 50 percent women and 50 percent men come into his studio each day.
What Images are You Using?
The first step Vanderloos suggested was to adjust the imagery that represents your studio. Many new students are stepping outside of their comfort zones to try yoga, and seeing people like themselves in photos could be the push they need to try your studio over another. If you want to bring more male clients to your studio, have males represented on your website and social media.
“I’m over six feet tall, and over 200 pounds,” said Vanderloos. “Just having myself as a testimonial on the site, along with images of myself and our other two male instructors, has really been a tipping point for men to come into our studio. They see us and think, ‘If these guys can do it, then so can I.’ We make it a point to have the testimonials on our site — along with a photo of each of those clients — be completely equal between the number of men and the number of women.”
What’s in a Name?
One thing that helps Black Orchid in marketing to men is within their name. Offering cycling has been a great way for Vanderloos and his team to show more male clients the benefits of yoga. The studio sees a large number of men who come for cycling begin to add in yoga classes to help with their cycle workouts.
“We love to stress how great yoga is for cycling athletes,” said Vanderloos. “Your hips get so tight from riding, and the perfect remedy for that are some good hip opener poses in our yoga classes. Even if you don’t have the space for a cycle studio to bring in male clients, you can offer other specialty classes that will mimic what we get from cycling — yoga for golfers, runners and injury recovery will all appeal to the male client base.”
Events to Draw Men In
Jessica Jollie, the owner of Yoga Landing in Chattanooga, Tennessee, said she offers specialty events outside of her normal schedule that are designed to bring men into the studio or an outside location with hopes they will see the benefits of the practice.
“We will do a ‘Bring Your Significant Other for Free Week’ during February as sort of a Valentine’s Day incentive to couples to spend time together,” said Jollie. “We also like to host partner yoga classes or workshops once a month. Our big kicker though is offering yoga and beer classes at local breweries around town. This is a great way to have men give yoga a try for the first time, because it is in a more masculine environment, and who doesn’t love a beer after yoga?”
Jollie also explained that during these events she makes it a point to have her or another teacher personally reach out to the new students and get to know them before suggesting they come to more classes.
“I have found once people — men or women — have that personal connection with you, it’s harder for them to say no,” said Jollie. “I truly care about our community and love interacting and having conversations with everyone, so actually connecting with each student isn’t hard for me, and I think I could say the same for most people in our industry. Once you learn about their kids, work or home life, it’s easier to understand how yoga could benefit and enhance their everyday life. The sale is then being made to a new friend you want to see healthier, rather than a stranger you want money from.”
Tell How it’s Helped Other Men
Vanderloos suggested another way to explain the benefits of yoga to men is to simply give examples of who it has helped in the past. Tell how some male clients have improved their health and wellness, have been able to play with their kids more or have reached a fitness goal they never thought possible through yoga.
“If all else fails, just explain to men that come into your studio that LeBron James is a frequent yogi,” said Vanderloos. “You can’t find a man out there who would argue they are too good to do what LeBron James is doing.”