For some studio owners, giving happens all year round. While it may seem intimidating to think about sending money to others while trying to cover your own overhead, community or donation-based classes are a simple and effective way to pay it forward. Consider these tips from Byron de Marsé, a yoga teacher at Power Yoga East in Santa Monica and Nick Velkov, owner of Yoga Agora in New York City, who get creative while giving back.
How do donation-based classes work?
For donation-based classes, the teacher pays to rent a space and those who show up to take a class will give however much they want or are able to afford at the time. The instructor usually promotes a specific cause or charity and donates any proceeds. In the end, the amount people give is subtracted from rental space costs. While it’s common just to break even with these classes, it helps to keep in mind those individuals who aren’t usually able to afford self-care practices like fitness.
There are no rules when it comes to how often to offer donation-based classes — it’s all about finding a rhythm that works for your studio.
“I offer low-cost drop-in classes, and two donation-based classes every day. There’s no pressure to commit to a long-term package.” says Velkov. “This model creates a happy environment at the studio.”
Charitable classes offer variety
Whether the studio is membership-based or big on class packs and drop-ins, you can still provide karmic options; there’s no one size fits all when it comes to giving back. “I’ve seen studios have occasional donation-based classes — once a week or once a day — to get new people in the doors,” says de Marsé.
If people aren’t sure whether they like certain classes or want to try something new, this is a way to sample what they could potentially sign up for without the financial commitment. “The best way for studio owners to give back is to create an environment where every employee and every client is eager to return,” says Velkov.
Why is donation-based important?
Most studios owners want to get as many people as possible fit and healthy. By lowering the cost to entry and making classes approachable for more types of students (with varying budgets), you’ll invite a more diverse audience. In addition to saving your students’ bank accounts, Velkov explains that an exercise class might be the only time of the day when someone can detach from social media, screen time or the stress of everyday life. “Fitness engages in real human-to-human contact, and we as studio owners can provide wide-open access to our classes.”