No one wants to talk about this, but we have to. Yoga studios can’t survive on free online content and R50 virtual classes. But what can you do about it? Local studio owners weigh in…
Yoga studios may have stayed alive virtually…
In the midst of the confusion, days before lockdown, while other people were getting their alcohol stocked up or generally panicking, three women were operating to ensure the continuation of yoga to their community. Clé Latouf, the owner of Yogalife, together with Yogalife manager Kristi Goodman and Teacher Trainer Chantal Cohen, were working around the clock to create Yogalife Online Classes.
Members from all over the world link into Yogalife daily. At 9.30am on a Saturday morning, the class boasts on average 70 people.
Thanks to these women’s fast thinking, strengths and commitment to keep the community together, as well as to expand their offering internationally, Yogalife has remained alive, virtually.
But for how long?
When digging a little deeper, we are reminded that even the most innovative of companies are still taking a hard knock. As Clé explains: “We’ve worked night and day to keep Yogalife alive. At a point we realised we were doing this as a daily gift to the community, because the overheads are just too high.”
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That said, Clé has managed to keep jobs going, and instructors, who are all independent employees, still with some income. “It’s been hard,” says Cle. “We’ve had to make some cuts. But as a team we stood united. I have the most incredible team of instructors and the community has shown up through the hardest times. But our business models are not virtual, and if we want to reopen physical studios again, we need to tread carefully.”
“The human spirit naturally has a desire to help and gift. And people are financially struggling. So we have seen an emergence of many free yoga offerings online. There’s a fine line, however, between giving for nothing and hurting those people who rely on people paying for yoga to feed themselves.”
“Please carry on supporting your local yoga studios”
The instructors desperately need to be held at this time too, says Cle. “This goes for any yoga studio that you are part of – I encourage you to support it if you have the means. As a studio owner, I do everything I can to provide teaching jobs and provide a physical space for our students again when this is all over. As students, if you have the means, please stick it out with your studios and teachers. Pay them the full price. Don’t take your favourite studio and teachers for granted. They need you.”
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“And to the instructors out there, we need to be careful at how much free and discounted content we are providing right now. I say that knowing that people are financially strapped right now, and I say that because it doesn’t have to be one or the other. We can provide a service in exchange for money, and we can help the ones who need this service but can’t afford it.
“If we don’t come together though, and pay where we can, there will be no more yoga community in Cape Town after this is all over. No one wants to talk about this, but we have to. Yoga cannot survive on free content and R50 classes. Our business models are not built on virtual revenue. We want to re-open studios when this is all over, give hugs and gather in community again. I have a deeply-rooted commitment to stay open and to be able to provide that. Please let’s all do what we can.”
“The world, as we know it, will never be the same”
So says Sandi Dekker, owner of myUTOPIA. “How we interact, work, shop, live and exercise has all changed in an instant. At the start of lockdown, we realised that it was vital that people stay committed to their health, mental wellness and their fitness journey.
“The glue had not yet dried on those vision boards, and we needed to ensure the pictures did not fall off. Free classes felt great, it was our way of contributing to the greater good. We thought 3 weeks, 3 bottles of Gin, 3 UCook boxes and we would all be back at it. Clearly, delusional (which may be due to the consumption of all that Gin.) Now that I no longer have Gin 33 weeks feels like the new normal…
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“We made the decision to move to paid online classes so that at the very least we can ensure that our teachers, instructors and staff can earn a living. This is their survival. I genuinely believe that the fire inside me burns brighter than the one around me and we will get through this. Continue to support your local studio. We need to ensure that when this does pass, we will still have that safe space for personal refuge.
“My wish for everyone during this time is that we emerge from this as a more caring and compassionate nation.”