My Seattle yoga studio is undergoing what its founder calls a “rebirth,” overhauling its web presence, expanding the class roster, and offering online class registration and payment options. Finally!
This is a smart decision, as they have limited space, a growing number of qualified teachers, and increasing demand for their classes and workshops. On one noteworthy Sunday, the class was so crowded that only inches separated our yoga mats. Those of us who were there are still talking about that class.
There’s a very limited supply of Anusara style yoga classes in the Seattle area, so it’s been clear for some time that this studio needed to take action to deal with their capacity challenges, given the demand that they enjoy. This week they’ve responded.
Like other nearby yoga studios, Seattle Yoga Arts has just implemented the MindBody ecommerce engine to make online class registration possible. Students can now pay by-the-class, prepay for either a fixed or unlimited number of classes, or subscribe to an entire series of classes over a 60-day period.
I applaud the studio for offering more choices, more classes, and a more flexible registration and payment system. If the online scheduling mechanism is kept up-to-date, it should be possible for students to make last-minute decisions to attend a class without fear that it will be over-booked. (A recurring problem with this studio in the past – the problem of popularity when the resource is finite.)
The combination of more classes plus more insight into class availability should also help relieve some of the capacity pressures. It would be great to know we’ll have more space between the mats!
Change Brings Challenges
From emails and remarks to students, it’s clear that the principals who run the studio are of mixed minds about this transformation. They are dedicated teachers, and devote a lot of time and care to planning their 8‑week class sequences. They want to ensure that each session builds on concepts, principles and skills introduced in the preceding classes.
But the drop-in model that MindBody makes possible runs counter to that teaching philosophy: it puts students in control of their schedule, and lets students attend class at their convenience. Our teachers no doubt fear that those of us who are still in the learning phase of our yoga practice will lose the coherence of their teachings if we let scheduling convenience trump disciplined class participation.
People with unpredictable schedules or jobs that require a lot of last-minute travel will welcome an online registration model that accommodates today’s crazy schedules.
My business travel has never allowed me to attend more than 5 or 6 classes out any given session, so I’ll welcome a payment model that’s more accepting of this reality. Much as I’d like to attend all the classes in a session, it has never been possible. In effect I’ve paid a 20% premium given the classes I’ve been unable to attend. (And there’s been no way for me to provide information that my space would be available on such-and-such a date, due to business travel.) Clearly, the paper-based booking system was sub-optimal for all concerned.
All of this makes me wonder whether our pay-per-view and online lifestyles are bleeding into the world of yoga, resetting expectations of how studios “should” treat their students or manage class logistics. As a practical matter I look forward to the convenience of online registration and payment, but hope to continue benefiting from the teachers’ wisdom and session-long class planning as well.
I hope this transformation proves to have been a good business decision for Seattle Yoga Arts, as well as its students.