Fitness facilities have been closed since the beginning of lockdown and yoga studios are no exception. Yoga has so many physical and mental benefits. Therefore, it’s important for people’s health that studios reopen safely. Countries around the world are coming out of lockdown at a different pace. Guidelines can change considerably from state to state.
While some yoga studios may already be operating, others are still trying to figure out their re-opening strategy. Now is the time to think about how you will re-open and welcome members back to your studio. From new health and safety guidelines and rigorous cleaning to social distancing and capacity limits, there’s plenty for yoga studio owners to think about over the coming weeks. In this article, we discuss 11 things you need to start thinking about to re-open your yoga studio safely.
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Bracing for Big Changes after COVID-19
The COVID-19 crisis took everyone by surprise. Many fitness businesses have shifted to a digital fitness platform to not only survive but thrive throughout the pandemic. The business of yoga continues to boom throughout lockdown with many people using a regular yoga practice to relieve stress and anxiety in a time of uncertainty. Yoga has seen a global increase in popularity by 42% according to a recent digital health survey.
Yoga studios tend to be a close-knit community. Often, when teaching yoga, instructors get close to students to adjust asanas and educate the class. In what is usually an intimate setting with an emphasis on breathwork and group classes, there is an inherent risk of coronavirus transmission. With the fear of health concerns and social distancing worries, does that mean we’ve come to the end of in-person yoga? Of course not.
While digital fitness has allowed yoga businesses to continue to generate income throughout the pandemic, yoga studio owners are prepared to do whatever it takes to keep students safe while offering the yoga experience members love. No doubt, there will be big changes in store for studio owners alongside the rest of the fitness industry. Business owners, yoga teachers, and students will have to adjust to a new normal to the way studios and classes are managed. But it’s important to embrace change so you can figure out how to re-open your studio safely and continue to generate income.
For more insight and comments from thought leaders, here are a couple of resources to inspire your next steps:
- The Yoga Industry: Teachers, Studios & the Future – from The Flow Artists Podcast, this episode explores issues in the yoga industry and how the coronavirus has changed the yoga landscape.
- Takeaways from 3 Months of Online Yoga Studio Management – from the Mastering the Business of Yoga Podcast, this episode talks about life in the yoga world since the pandemic hit, how studios have adapted, and top tips for taking your yoga studio online.
11 Things Yoga Studio Owners Need to Think of Right Now
It’s no secret that yoga studio owners face a lot of challenges. Turning a passion for yoga into a business takes a lot of hard work. Couple that with a pandemic and you’ll find that there are a lot of things studio owners need to think about right now in order to operate their studio safely and successfully.
1. Digital Fitness Plan
An important part to think about is your digital fitness plan. If you have created a digital fitness platform, consider how this will fit with your in-person classes. Many fitness businesses are now moving forward with a hybrid fitness business model. This means that you use digital and physical components within your business.
If your current plan consists of streaming from your yoga teacher’s home, you need to think about how you will continue to provide digital fitness from the studio environment. This may include recording or streaming live studio yoga classes or pre-recording a block of content in a short space of time. It’s a good idea to continue to offer online classes and streaming from the studio. With health concerns still ongoing and increasing popularity of home workouts, a digital fitness platform expands your reach and allows you to serve a wider audience.
2. Update Studio Space for Social Distancing
Depending on your location, the advice on social distancing may differ slightly. One thing that remains the same is that you will need to incorporate an element of social distancing into your studio space. You need to think about spaces like the entry and check-in area, waiting area if you have one, and the class space.
You will need to update your studio space to accommodate social distancing. This could include removing any areas where students tend to gather and placing clear markings on the floor to show where members need to stand or queue. One way to stick to social distancing guidelines is to reduce building capacity. If fewer people are in the studio at one, it’s easier to maintain social distancing between other students and staff members.
3. Smaller Class Capacity
You will likely need to set a smaller class capacity. With smaller numbers in classes, you can spread out and ensure more space between students. Think about how you can use your space efficiently and safely. In some communities, local governors are limiting capacity in fitness facilities. However, the majority of studio owners are choosing to limit class sizes. You have the option to start with one-on-one training programs and small group classes.
When you limit class sizes, booking will need to be mandatory. You won’t have the flexibility to provide drop-in appointments quite yet as you need to be in full control of numbers. This is why it’s so useful to continue providing digital fitness services as your business will not be running at full capacity yet. Make sure to allow for extra time between classes so that students can clear any shared space before your next class. Providing separate entry and exits will be useful if you have the opportunity to do so.
4. New Cleaning and Disinfection Standards
Cleaning and disinfection are some of the most talked-about points when it comes to reopening fitness facilities. As you tend to share props and mats during yoga as well as share an enclosed space with other students, studio owners are taking cleanliness extremely seriously. All surfaces and floors will need to be cleaned, disinfected, and sanitized regularly. For many businesses, a thorough and deep clean will become the new daily norm.
Your standard cleaning routine may not be enough for current guidelines. With an increased focus on cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting, you will need to up your cleaning regime. This might include using antiviral and alcohol-based cleaning products to kill coronavirus and disinfect all surfaces. Think about cleaning supplies that you will need to stock up on.
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5. Update Social Media and Website
Use your social media, website, and any other online presence to keep your students and potential members fully up-to-date. Your website can go into detail on all your coronavirus updates and safety procedures to make members feel safe and comfortable coming back into your studio. One way to answer multiple questions in one place is to create a new FAQ section on your website. This should cover all the questions you regularly receive and should be the first place you direct students to.
With social media, you can share news and updates immediately. It’s important to provide clear communication at all times. It’s not the time to go silent. Whether it’s an email to update members on your new streaming platform or letting them know that you’ll be running yoga classes at a reduced capacity. Members should know exactly what’s happening with your business and the steps you’re taking to make them safe and lower the risk of transmission.
6. Revisit Pricing Structure for Hybrid Business Model
If you’re emerging out of lockdown with a slightly differing business model, you may need to revisit your pricing structure. As a hybrid business, think about how you will price your in-person and digital fitness platform. It’s important to offer flexibility and convenience when it comes to your pricing and membership options.
Your pricing structure heavily depends on the type of business you operate. If you previously relied on a lot of drop-in students, you will need to think about how customers will book ahead. Will you provide both a digital and physical membership and pricing options? Think about what your members will appreciate the most.
7. Health and Safety Guidelines
You will need to implement new health and safety guidelines for members, visitors, and staff. This will include procedures on top of your regular health and safety processes. There will likely be increased handwashing, so it’s useful to position hand sanitizing stations throughout your studio, especially at the entrance and exit.
Some facilities may choose to close changing rooms, so members will need to show up dressed and ready. Here are a few other factors you may need to think about and prepare for:
- Updated check-in experience with contactless payment and protective screens
- Online booking only with no-drop in classes
- Equipment needs such as PPE and additional cleaning products
- No hands-on adjustments during classes
- Students could bring their own mats and props to reduce shared surfaces
- Health and safety handbook and staff training
8. Outdoor Classes
If you have access to additional space, consider outdoor classes. Running outdoor classes is a great way to generate income while sticking to social distancing guidelines. With free-flowing air and plenty of space for students to spread out, outdoor classes can help support your business while you’re running at a reduced capacity.
Outdoor classes work for a ton of different types of yoga styles. An outdoor space is perfect for a combination of pilates, yoga, and meditation. If you’re thinking about running outdoor classes, we’ve pulled together a guide on everything you need to know and a few tips to get you started.
9. Re-Engage Staff
It’s one thing to prepare your members for your reopening, but you also need to make sure your employees are comfortable coming back. With updated guidelines and new health and safety rules to stick to, your team need to be fully prepared before returning to work. You’re not only asking your team to follow guidelines but they will also be enforcing guidelines to members of the public.
To help re-engage and prepare your staff to come back to the studio, try the following ideas:
- Health and safety training
- Wellbeing check
- Set expectations
- Clear and regular communication
10. Fresh Sales Approach
There’s a chance that you may have lost some members during lockdown. With money tight, some students may have dropped your membership or be on the fence about whether to return. Now is the perfect time to put a fresh twist on your sales approach. You need to effectively speak to your audience.
Whether you’re looking to re-engage existing members or reach out and target new students, you need to look at your sales tactics. Remember to be flexible and proactive with your approach. If you’ve recently brought on new instructors and exciting new classes, make sure to promote them across your online presence.
11. Clear Communication
Your communication is key. Whether it’s with your staff, members, or potential customers, you need to be clear and transparent with all your communication. Clearly explain all the new steps and procedures put in place, so members feel prepared to come back.
Members should know exactly what to expect when they visit your yoga studio. Whether it’s an updated entry procedure with a temperature check or no sharing of props or mats, preparation is key to welcoming members back to your studio.
The bottom line is that planning for COVID-19 is an ongoing process. The good news is that you will now have methods in place and a way to manage your business if a second wave were to hit. By putting procedures and plans in place, you can lower the risk of transmission and protect students and staff. You can re-open your studio safely while retaining the fitness experience your members love.
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