Opening an aerial yoga studio or offering aerial yoga can seem risky and difficult, but can be a phenomenal opportunity to share your love for the art and all its therapeutic benefits with your community. If you are patient, knowledgeable and disciplined, it can be a great way to generate extra income and impact the lives of those around you.
Yoga has been one of the most chosen wellness practices because it does not only promote a healthy body but it also promotes sound mind. Yoga industry keeps on growing each year, a study by Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal stated that in the year 2016 the number of American practitioners grew up to 36 million. Moving beyond basic yoga by offering aerial or other niche fitness classes can help you stand out from other studios in your area.
Aerial and aerial yoga studios carry a higher overhead, but can also generate higher revenues than traditional yoga studios.
Here are five things that are worth knowing before starting:
- Opening an aerial yoga studio is as hard as opening other business ventures
Before diving to other things, it is important to know that opening an aerial or aerial yoga studio is just like opening other businesses in many ways. It will take a lot of time and not to mention, money. Costs such as insurance, equipment, teacher training, staff, rent, and utilities can generate high upfront costs. But don’t fret, with a careful and detailed budget and some creative ways to generate funds, you can avoid costly surprises.
Prepare the necessary documents, certification, permit, license, etc. Teaching certifications can help you gain a better reputation and may be required by your insurance. Aerial yoga and aerial arts insurance can be more expensive than regular yoga insurance. At Uplift Active, we offer Aerial Yoga Academy Teacher Training which can be a great option for experienced yoga or fitness instructors. Available in an online or onsite combination format, you can choose according to what’s convenient for you. This is a 250-hour training to be World Yoga Alliance Certified Aerial Yoga Teacher. This course includes lifetime membership and free access to all future course additions. For more information visit here.
- Location is everything.
Research your area well to determine if the demographics meet your target customers. As much as you may wish to open the studio a block from your house, or somewhere you have a personal connection, it may not make business sense. For example, starting a circus school in an area with primarily retirees may be difficult. You may find some success with senior aerial classes, but it would likely be easier to succeed in a community that includes young professionals and families. Remember that aerial classes are more expensive than other fitness options and may do better in middle class or affluent areas.
Once you have your location, research the existing offerings within a 20-30 minute radius. People often are willing to driveways for niche classes and workshops, but they will come much more often if you are near where they live. If there are existing yoga or aerial facilities there, how can you stand out? Or, can you join forces and mutually benefit by offering fresh classes to an existing audience?
If you are set on starting your own facility, it may be best to rent a partial space temporarily (like a room in a gym or community center) to start up your own classes before getting your own building. This can be a great way to build a following in your community with lower upfront investment.
If renting your own building, research thoroughly all expected expenses and budget those against expected revenue to see how many classes a week, over what length of time would need to be filled to break even. See if you realistically can expect that attendance in your area to see if it is a good opportunity or not.
Educate yourself on commercial real estate. If you think you have the right area, consider road visibility, surrounding tenants, etc. Will it be safe for female students at night? Do not compromise on a space that is too much for your finances. It may take extensive research and even waiting and watching to find the perfect space for you.
Finally, attend classes in your existing community! See what studios and gyms are offering, and observe the types of people that are attending these classes to get an idea of who may be coming to your new classes.
- Find your niche and get creative!
Nowadays, there are many different types of yoga, fitness classes, and even different modalities within aerial yoga and aerial arts. Traditional yoga and aerial yoga are both popular among yoga practitioners, and aerial yoga is a great way to introduce yogis to aerial arts. You may want to focus on those first, and as the community grows in skills consider adding aerial hoop, bungee fitness, dance or aerial silks classes.
Find your focus and inspiration behind your studio. Who inspires you, why do you want to start this, what have you loved at other facilities you’ve attended. Incorporate all these elements into your brand and focus on just a few practices to start. This will help focus your expenses as well; choosing the specific equipment and materials needed for your startup studio and avoid the mistakes of buying too much at a time.
Within your niche, get creative! Aerial parties (bachelorette, holiday, or birthday), kids classes, private lessons, shows, etc can be fun ways to appeal to different demographics. You may try pre-selling classes or passes before opening to gauge interest and generate funds for the equipment purchase.
- Plan your set-up carefully.
You will need to plan out the space needed, and equipment set-ups based on your class offerings and the space you have to work with.
How much space do you need?
Aerial yoga hammocks can be suspended from one or two points (traditional aerial yoga is two points). The amount of space you need will depend on the style of classes that you teach. If you're teaching aerial dance or classes with a lot of motion, you'll need more space (7-10 foot radius to avoid collisions). For traditional aerial yoga, it is most important to have space to the front and back of the hammocks. If hanging in rows, keep in mind your wingspan and plan accordingly. Studios can leave anywhere from 4-6 feet in between each hammock, and be sure to have at least 6 feet in between each row. We recommend staggering the hammocks for maximum space usage, and you may be able to fit more this way. Always consult with a licensed professional rigger or engineer to assess your studio and install the hammocks.
Will I need additional daisy chains for my ceiling height?
When assembled, the hammocks are fully height adjustable. Without any extra length, they can be hung easily in spaces 8-10 ft tall, and if your ceilings are taller (or you just want extra length) you can use additional rigging equipment or daisy chains. The standard size can be used in slightly higher ceilings, up to 12 feet, but you may not be able to have low-height hammocks. Fully assembled at maximum height, the hammock with included rigging equipment (daisy chains and carabiners) hangs about 10 ft long. You may want to consider these factors: how low do you need the fabric to come to the ground, what other equipment you are using to rig, and what knots you prefer. The fabric can hang as long as 7 ft when knotted, the daisy chains provide an additional 3.5 ft, and the carabiners provide an extra 3-4 inches
What is the weight capacity of each hammock?
Hammocks are tested to hold up to 400-600 pounds safely. Typically, the strength of the location you hang the hammock will be weaker than the hammock itself. Please be careful hanging the hammock that your weight will be supported.
We have special discounted Studio Pack pricing to save up to 30% for facilities purchasing 5+ Yoga Hammock Sets. You’ll want to make sure the equipment you get is properly rated and installed.
We always recommend hiring a professional rigger or structural engineer to help with the installation to determine what rigging equipment is needed for space. This is best evaluated prior to finalizing a space or equipment purchase. Local aerial studios/circus/theater groups tend to be knowledgeable on the best people in your area, or the ETCP certification website has a directory of professional riggers. Dynamic aerial movements produce forces greater than the body weight; for Aerial Yoga and Bungee Fitness, professional riggers typically recommend rigging point can hold a minimum of 3000lbs. For Aerial Silks, you will need to be able to hold 5000lbs or more. When looking for contractors/riggers, if you can't find someone experienced in rigging, look for a contractor experienced in framing or structural work.
- Price your services properly.
If you want to have a high retention rate, you must know how to create prices that will be beneficial not only for your business but for the entire yoga class as well. Aerial Classes go from anywhere $12-30 based on where you are in the world. The average aerial class is around $20 in the USA. Reward your early students with introductory specials or pre-sale pricing. Since students attend classes weekly targeting a high retention rate is possible if you incentivize it for them. Consider different pricing structures (class packages, unlimited options, referral bonuses, student/senior pricing).
Don’t be afraid to run promotions! This doesn’t make you look cheap but provides an opportunity to share news and specials with your customers. There are lots of promos and discounts you can offer, you just need to learn how to use them to your advantage to keep them coming back and spreading the word. One example would be offering 2 classes for free after their 15th class. You can also do the bring a friend and get 10% off the next purchase.
Speaking of pricing, don’t forget about your instructors. You may structure their pay to incentivize them to fill their classes. Experienced instructors often have a wealth of knowledge around pricing and their students’ expectations. Always stay in tune with them
- Spread the word: get the marketing done right.
This cannot be emphasized more. A functioning website with online class purchasing and booking functionality is required. There are many alternatives to the big class booking software out there, so if you are on a tight budget, research and explore your options.
Don’t be afraid to pay for advertising! This is less scary than you may think and one of the quickest ways to reach students in your area. Advertise on Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc.
Social media is also a great way to share updates, schedules, and more - you definitely need to keep these updated, but local advertising and engagement are even more important.
Get local when starting out, look into local community groups, share the news on NextDoor, visit local events. You don’t need to hire an agency to take care of is everything for you right away, you can do a lot of things yourself with your team. Online tools like Canvaa make simple graphic design easy. Leverage your resources wisely to make the most of what you have, and be patient - the word will spread the studio will grow!
“Chase the vision, not the money. The money will end up following you” Tony Hsieh
Beginning an aerial studio or launching a new endeavor must come from your heart. Treat everyone you meet along the journey with kindness and respect and remember your ultimate goals (which should not be money). It’s an honor to have the ability to share something you love that can grow and change a community.