Beyond The Mat

Boutique Yoga

According to Yoga Journal’s “Yoga in America” study, 20.4 million Americans practiced yoga in 2012, up from 15.8 million in 2008. And, yoga studios have been popping up around the country to meet the rise in popularity.

Pura Vida Fitness & Spa in Denver, Colorado, is also capitalizing on this opportunity. It boasts its own yoga studio, which offers a number of yoga practices, including vinyasa, iyengar, restorative, suspension and more.

Harmony Hoefner, the group fitness talent and programming manager at Pura Vida, said yoga is “it’s own little boutique studio” within the club. But she said Pura Vida has an advantage over boutique studios in a variety of ways.

Fostering community. Through Pura Vida, yoga participants can take part in a variety of offerings outside of just yoga classes, including events. In fact, Hoefner puts together social events specifically for the yoga demographic, such as Thursday Night Champagne Specials, or group retreats to Costa Rico, where members can practice yoga at a high-end resort.

Without the support of the club as a whole, this would be more difficult. Before Hoefner worked at Pura Vida, she owned her own studio, admitting it was difficult planning for socials or events while also juggling overhead and payroll.

“It was just too much for one person. I sold it and I realized that the way to go in being successful in developing a program … was to link up and partner with a bigger health club. And in a sense, they already have the infrastructure, they have the facility, they have the funding,” explained Hoefner. “And I was able to take my boutique studio concept and put it within their health club. So it’s been a really successful model, as far as the business model and partnership.”

The socials, said Hoefner, strengthen the community of her students. And she feels Pura Vida stands out as a leading health club because of the community they are able to foster.

“At Pura Vida, I’m constantly hugging or saying hello to people or asking them about all sorts of stuff — what’s going on in their lives, and same with me,” said Hoefner. “I feel a real sense of community. And I think that’s super important to be successful as a big health club, kind of taking that boutique feel and putting it into a larger scale. It’s like having a bunch of boutique studios as one.”

Keeping it small. To ensure community stays central, Hoefner caps all of her classes at 10 participants, except for the Volo (aerial) yoga and suspensions classes, which are capped at 15 members.

This way, “You don’t feel like you’re coming to a big club [where] you jump into a class, and maybe there’s 20 to 40 participants,” explained Hoefner. “You’re getting more of that personalized, individual instruction and connection with your instructor.”

But Hoefner said that the smaller the class, the more important it is for instructors to engage with members.

Not only do smaller classes lead to more individualized attention with the instructor, Hoefner said members who regularly attend the same classes create their own class culture.

Creating a serene setting. The environment you create with your studio is also important. Pura Vida’s yoga studio contains mold resistant surfaces and decorative Helsinki panels that are textured to enhance wall poses. Plus, it is engineered for optimal acoustic performance, and boasts an HVAC system that can make extreme temperature adjustments quickly.

Offering variety. Finally, another advantage Hoefner believes Pura Vida has over boutiques is the ability to offer various programs. “We offer everything you can think of, and you’re only paying one initiation fee and one membership fee,” she said. “A lot of members have commented on this, where they’ve gone and tried out some boutiques and then come back to us and said, ‘In the end, I’m saving money just going to you guys.’ They might as well come here because they get all the benefits of a balanced program.”

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