How to find the best deal on a yoga studio

April 26, 2023 0 Comments

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Yoga is not cheap.

On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a month’s unlimited yoga membership can cost $249. In downtown Washington, the same month of practice costs $189. In Cincinnati, it will cost you $170. Take one lesson in Bozeman, Montana and it will cost you $18.

There are legitimate reasons why yoga studios charge for their services. Although that doesn’t exactly help when you’re trying to make room in your bills for yoga as an important expense.

As a student of yoga, I’ve been there. And as a yoga teacher who has spent a lot of time in studios, I’ve been privy to a lot of behind-the-scenes pricing talk. It’s not easy on both ends of the situation.

But I can tell you that what seems like the cheapest option is not always the most effective for you. There are many less obvious factors to consider when exploring pricing options for your studio. Knowing what these are and how they apply to you can save you literally hundreds of dollars in studio classes each year.

How to find the best deal at your yoga studio

1. Introductory special

It is best if: You are trying out a new studio for you

Why: Most yoga studios offer a “special introductory course” just for students who haven’t taken a class there. Basically, you can take unlimited yoga classes for one to four weeks for an incredibly low price.

When you’re trying out a new-to-you studio, a special introductory program seems like “no option.” And it is. Or rather, maybe. It all depends on whether you actually use it.

Think of the special introduction as the discussion phase of your relationship with the studio. This is a chance to get to know the teachers and the studio beyond the initial attraction. This means that you need to spend enough time to see if the studio is right for you or not.

Two weeks may seem like enough time to check out a studio. But if you have more commitments than usual in the coming weeks, wait until your schedule clears up. I have overheard countless students asking if they can continue with a special introductory course because they missed it due to illness, deadlines, final exams, laziness, forgetfulness, etc. The answer was almost always no.

Chances are, as an incentive to attend classes, you’ll receive text messages and emails during a special offer with a significant discount on a membership or class package if you sign up before the introductory special offer ends. Gather your information before committing.

2. Membership

It is best if: You exercise more than once or twice a week

Why: Unlimited membership offers you as many classes as your body and schedule can handle for a flat fee. If you regularly practice at the studio more than once or twice a week, a membership is usually the most cost-effective option in terms of class cost. Memberships at some studios also include other financial incentives, including waived mat rental fees, free guest passes, and discounts on yoga workshops and teacher training.

But you also want to consider the less tangible benefits of membership. Some students say that taking a membership encourages them to try classes they might not otherwise attend because there is no additional cost. Others find that membership encourages them to practice yoga more consistently because they see it as an accountability partner in the form of an automatic debit to their bank account.

And when you practice more often, you usually practice with the same students class after class. If every Tuesday you nod hello to the same person in the row ahead of you or laugh as you leave the studio with others, that’s a form of community. And the scientific evidence for the health benefits of social connections is quite profound.

You will typically come across two membership options:

Monthly membership

Most students who choose a membership use the monthly approach. When you compare what you would pay for a year, the one-time cost of an annual membership is usually much lower than what you would spend with a monthly membership. But with a monthly payment, you don’t have to commit to a whole year or part with so much cash all at once.

Monitor attendance. If it starts to decrease or you are unable to visit for a long time, ask if you can suspend your membership. Or, if you’re just not using unlimited classes, consider canceling and opting for a class package instead (see below).

Be sure to read the fine print. Membership contracts usually require 30 days (or more) notice of cancellation. Also, if you’re currently paying for a discounted membership rate, you likely won’t be able to access it if you renew your membership after cancellation.

Annual membership

If you are committed to the studio where you practice, an annual membership is the most affordable option in terms of class cost. Although, of course, there is a rather large expenditure of money at once.

If you’re tempted to sign up for an annual membership at a new studio, you might want to pause before committing to a full year. It’s like moving in with someone after the fifth date. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of this special introduction.

Keep in mind that these contracts are usually non-refundable. If you move before the end of the year or other circumstances reduce your attendance, you will still be locked out of this membership. A rare yoga studio that will offer an exception. Ask if your annual membership is set to auto-renew, and if so, remember the start date so you can review it before renewing.

3. Class packages

It is best if: You train once a week or less

Why: Most studios offer a range of class packages, whether you buy five classes, fifty or somewhere in between. Some studios allow you to share your package with friends or family, which makes it even more fun. The math is pretty simple: the more classes you buy, the lower the cost per class.

But your calculations should not end there. If you train intermittently, a course package is almost always the most economical option. But if you work out at least once a week, you can get cash up front with a monthly membership. Think about your average attendance per month and the amount you would spend on a class package. Then compare that to the cost of membership.

For example, one day someone gave me a package of lessons at the studio where I practiced. After sincerely thanking this person, I quietly counted. The same dollar amount that would get me through four weeks of yoga classes would fund four months of my classes if spent on a one-month unlimited membership. When I approached the studio manager and asked if they could apply the cost of the package to the membership, she didn’t hesitate to change the terms.

Also, check to see if there is an expiration date on your class packet. Buying a pack of fifty classes can be the best price per class. But if you work out once a week and your package expires in six months, you’re effectively donating what you paid for those unused classes to the studio.

4. Speed ​​of application

It is best if: You travel or visit the studio from time to time

Why: Paying per class rate is usually the most expensive option for each class. The cost varies wildly by studio and city—$20 in Raleigh, $22 in Nashville, $27 in Boulder, $30 in San Francisco, and $35 in New York—but it’s always obnoxiously expensive.

This is intentional. Studios are developing add-on programs to encourage you to choose a class package instead, which makes each class experience more affordable for you and more financially rewarding for the studio.

But there are times when this visit can be a godsend. Choose this when you’re training in a city or area you don’t normally frequent. Maybe you’re secretly practicing yoga during a work trip or taking a class with a friend on the other side of town.

Drop-in can also, counter-intuitively, work well if your financial situation is a bit shaky. When I took a significant pay cut that came with the installation I desperately wanted, I had to juggle the bills quite creatively. I literally couldn’t afford a cool package. But I could pay $18 a week for one class I didn’t want to miss.

5. Irregular sales

It is best if: You have time and patience to wait for a deal

Why: Many studios drop prices from time to time. The studio where I practice regularly offers significant discounts on the anniversary of the studio’s opening, around the end of the year, even on certain astrologically important dates. These sales are announced on social media and in the studio’s email newsletter, making it easy to take advantage of special offers.

As you begin to pay attention, you may begin to notice a pattern as to when a price breakout will occur. Knowing this, you can budget accordingly.

6. Sliding scale classes

It is best if: You are struggling financially and cannot afford yoga

Why: Some studios allow those with financial difficulties to pay what you can for classes and memberships. This is a significant loss of revenue for the studio, but some owners choose to do so to make yoga accessible to those who otherwise cannot afford to practice.

A sliding scale structure is typically applied to studio memberships and yoga teacher trainings. A lower rate is negotiated in conversation with the studio owner or, increasingly, some studios allow you to choose a discount online without the potential inconvenience of meeting in person.

Pranidhi Varshni, founder of Yoga Shala West in Los Angeles, applies a sliding scale to all of her students. She lists the recommended price for a monthly membership and asks everyone to pay what they can afford towards that. Revenues from those who can pay more complement those who have to pay less.

“Each student does not pay for his practice. Rather, all students contribute to the community so that we can all thrive in practice,” Varshni writes in the website’s explanation of the studio’s pricing policy. “We encourage our students to think not about getting the best deal, but about allocating capital in a way that aligns with their core values.”

About our contributor
Renee Marie Schettler is a senior editor Yoga magazine and was a writer and editor at The Washington Post, very simpleand other online media platforms. She began practicing yoga nearly 20 years ago with teachers who instilled in students a sense of strength and space in precise alignment of postures. Her understanding of yoga changed when she began studying with teachers who emphasized the grace of stillness in the poses. Renee has been teaching yoga since 2017 and believes that writing and practicing yoga are equally about exploring truth. Follow her at @reneemarischettler.

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