When you walk into a Moe’s Southwest Grill you are always greeted with an exclamation of “Hey, Welcome to Moe’s!” from the staff. You feel comfortable and welcomed instantly, as if they value your business.
While your yoga studio isn’t going to be serving up burritos on a normal day, this same approach to embracing your students, especially the new ones, should be taken into consideration. Alex Cole, the co-owner of YoYo Yogi in Portland, Oregon, said they embrace each person who walks through their door as family. This is credited to the front desk staff.
“You want people to work your front desk who are going to bring a certain feel — that friendliness and that openness,” said Cole. “I almost think that is something you can’t teach. We instill in them our belief that probably the most important interaction is that very first one. Not only the first time somebody comes into the studio, but every time someone walks in. Our returning students get as big of a greeting as the new students do.”
Eugene Yoga in Eugene, Oregon, also empowers their front desk staff to be the first point of contact for students. Owner Diane Butera said an important step for her studio after greeting members is to go over the schedule with them. They offer many different styles of yoga at their two locations, so they try to be very clear on the experience levels needed for classes.
“Oftentimes I’ve found students pick classes that are more conducive to their schedule, not whether it is conducive to their body or where they are in their practice,” said Butera. “I really try to encourage them to find a place to start that is going to be accessible. You can always go bigger, but why not start where you are comfortable?”
Cole reiterated this feeling. YoYo Yogi also has various styles of yoga, with 27 teachers and 70 class offerings. They hire the best teachers to embody their overall philosophy, so it isn’t abnormal for a student to be drawn to a certain teacher or certain style over another.
Because of this, YoYo Yogi offers new student specials. They charge $38 for 12 classes as a way for students to try out different styles or teachers.
“We want a new person to be able to come in and experience a variety of classes and find one that fits for them,” said Cole. “After their first class, we talk to them about how they liked it or how they feel. We want to see if it was what they were looking for. If not, we go through what they are looking for and try to find something that fits them.”
Creating comfortable energy between teachers and students is important for first-time yogis. It is nice to feel cared for, and at Eugene Yoga they encourage their staff to come early to look at their class roster and learn who the new students are.
“The new students are starred by MINDBODY [software], which is really helpful,” said Butera. “Being there in the studio waiting for the student to come in, and being there afterwards if they have any questions, goes a long way. Just a few moments of saying, ‘Are there any questions, or if you want to give feedback, I’m here for you,’ goes a long way.”
What it should all come down to when you decide on strategies for embracing new members is if they feel like a valued part of the family created within your studio.
“I think the thing that is important is yes, we are a yoga studio, but more importantly, we are a community,” said Cole. “We want people to feel the [community] whether they’re walking through the door for the first time, or if they have been with us for the entire seven years we have been open.”