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Many businesses have had to make pivots in their business model due to COVID-19, in this series we explore different pivots or total transformations our clients have been making. 

Yogatown in particular has been incredibly creative, not to mention generous in what they’re coming up with to support their clients, staff and the community…take a read…

What’s changed at Yogatown since COVID?

Jason: The biggest thing that we’re missing is the sense of community. Our yoga studio was never just the place where you came to do yoga, it was a real community. 

We’ve always fondly called our clients “Townies”, and that’s name they actually started giving themselves. There’s really such a big sense of community at the studio most of the time. I think that’s what most people are really, really missing, from a client perspective.

Then from our staff perspective we miss all the clients as well. 

From a business perspective, what’s changed? 

Jason: We’ve closed down entirely. Our studios can’t be open, even before the government mandates came, we were the first Yoga studio and I think one of the very first fitness businesses in Ottawa that closed their doors. 

After our closure we immediately started having our teachers do a lot of videos for YouTube for free so people could go and practice for free on YouTube. 

Shortly after that we started doing Instagram live classes.

How does that work for your memberships? Is it going to be membership based?

Yes, so when we first closed down, we automatically put everybody’s memberships on hold and we told everybody, “We’re putting you on hold.” Again, thinking this is going to be two weeks to two months maximum. 

We were really surprised and moved by the outpouring of support we received from our community when they started reaching out to us and saying stuff like, “No, please don’t put my membership on hold. I want to support you guys.”

We’re looking at different ways not only by providing online yoga (because there’s tons of it out there now), but asking how can we differentiate ourselves?

We’re also giving some of our members who have kept their memberships active some added benefits and some of those benefits we haven’t announced yet.

One of the things we’re going to be doing for our clients is they get access to all the online classes we’re doing for free, not only during our closure but indefinitely, as long as they have a membership open with us. 

The other thing we’re thinking about is what’s life going to look like as we start to transition back to normal, whenever that is….We know we’re going to be one of the very last businesses who will be able to reopen, just because of the nature of the work that we do.

And there’s a high likelihood when we reopen we’re going to have to follow certain social distancing guidelines. That might mean we can’t open at all, but it might mean that we can do classes with a limited number of people. If we can do classes with a limited number of people, those spots are going to be really in high demand.

That’s a lot of logistics to lay on your end, trying to figure it all out.

Jason: While we needed to lay off most of our staff, we’re still supporting teachers by paying them to do online classes and workshops.

Anybody who keeps an active membership is going to get free or at no additional cost to access all of our online classes. 

Is there a positive takeaway from this pandemic?

Jason: We’re always looking for the silver lining. We’re seeing firsthand just how strong our community is. And when I say our community, I’m talking about our Yogatown community, our Townies and our clients, and also our staff.

Beyond that, into the larger Ottawa community… It’s heartwarming to see how people want to be supporting and helping each other in whatever way that they can. There’s different ways people are showing up to support, whether it’s kind words or sharing information on social media, people are certainly coming together. That’s probably the biggest thing for me.

Do you have any tips or suggestions for your Yoga clients?

Jason: Keep practicing, but let your practice be fluid and messy if it needs to be. I think that it’s really important to have some kind of a movement practice, regardless of the kind of exercise that people are doing. 

Certainly yoga offers a number of benefits right now, not only from a physical perspective but also from stress relief and helping people to cope with this mentally and emotionally. 

I strongly encourage people to either continue their practice or even start a practice if they don’t yet have one. 

Obviously we have lots of resources online where people can practice, and if they visit  www.MyYogaTown.com, there’s links to show people where they can go and practice virtually.

But most importantly take it easy right now. Don’t stress out if you miss a practice or if your kids are around and you don’t feel like you can focus as much. Make it playful, make it fun. There’s already enough stress, so don’t burden yourself with getting the perfect practice in. Just keep moving.

Check out their website & online classes at: www.MyYogaTown.com also their blog post: 10 Years of Yogatown and how Yogatown came about: https://myyogatown.com/10-years-of-yogatown/

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