(Part 2) (Interview with Alex Klein & Alex Jaton)
What you’ll learn from this episode
The old school overlooked tool that is still the best in retaining students
Kristy: [00:00:00]For maintenance or maintaining your core group, what methods are you thinking? Are you mainly talking about just reminding them? Are you talking about Facebook groups? Are you talking about email lists to maintain the connection and encouragement between classes?
Alex Klein: [00:00:15] From what we can see, email is the way to talk to your people. A lot of people have left Facebook already. If you have a Facebook page or something, and people might follow it, you post whatever you want. Nobody’s going to see that unless you pay Facebook for paid promotions.
So, Facebook and social media are generally unreliable. Unless you have some Instagram account where you have thousands of followers, and then of course posting things on there makes sense. Usually, email is the most effective way to get it into people’s minds. They’ll open the email and be like, “It’s from my instructor.”
Not overdoing it is important . The days of social media where, especially in yoga, people would post inspirational quotes and all kinds of weird stuff, thinking that they have to keep posting for the algorithms to show their content and stuff. That is counterproductive in our experience.
If you just send an email once a week to students and say, “Hey, my schedule is up for this week. We’re going to do something special. Bring a block or something.” Just staying top of mind in the not too crazy intrusive way is the way to go.
How To Get Started With Email Content For Your Yoga List
Kristy: [00:01:27] You kind of outlined a basic email. Nothing too fancy. Just mentioned the class schedule. In the email, do yoga instructors have to also just generally be content? Like, “Oh, here’s some poses.” Make the newsletter more encompassing. Do they have to offer events or something to increase? Are you seeing that they have to do more than just, “Here’s a class and time?”
Alex Jaton: [00:02:08] First of all, I think it depends on the type of group that you’re teaching. Perhaps if you’re teaching seniors or if you’re teaching very busy people and this kind of discussion or interest doesn’t come up in class and people don’t ask you about this kind of stuff, then maybe don’t send them advice on how to meditate or something.
If it is something that students ask about and they’re interested in having this conversation, then I think it’s perfectly okay to put that in the email. Especially at the beginning, don’t overdo it. Just put it out there, and then just see how people react. And this have it almost sends a conversation with the students rather than announcements or the theme of the week or something.
Alex Klein: [00:03:00] Yoga is very unique in this respect. There is such a variety. You have yoga teachers who are spiritual guides and life coaches. They may teach you how to stretch a little bit, but they do much more than just that. Then, you have yoga teachers for whom teaching yoga is basically just to work out and get sweaty, and their clients are like those kinds of people.
There’s a huge variety in terms of the personality, and that’s what I was talking about earlier. Teachers should find their niche, and then go attract the kinds of students that they want to teach and the kind of stuff that they want to teach them. If that’s how to become a vegan and be healthy and meditate and do all this other stuff, awesome. But, there are many other yoga teachers for whom it’s a whole different kind of world.
Alex Jaton: [00:03:52] I think just being cognizant of who you’re talking to and really making the content targeted to these people. It’s really the best advice.
How To Take Advantage Of The Quirky Nature Of Yoga To Grow Your Following
Alex Klein: [00:04:02] What’s great about the current times is when you’re independent and you’re able to connect to the online world, which means 4 billion people that are connected to the internet. You can really find and engage with the exact kind of person that you want to engage with and that you want to teach, and so you don’t have to compromise.
Then, just sort of collect students at all costs because they’re not going to stick anyway if they don’t like how you’re teaching and what you’re telling them in your marketing.
Kristy: [00:04:36] That’s definitely interesting. Going into the idea of even yoga, we feel like yoga is the niche, but you’re saying within yoga, you can have your own personality and niche. Use that not just to attract people, and that’s how you stand out on social media and YouTube, but also how you keep your students engaged through content specific and to that specific niche.
Alex Klein: [00:05:03] Yoga is extreme. In fitness, in general, you’ve got people who are running marathons, doing crazy superhero stuff, lifting 300 pounds of weights and stuff like that. Then, you have seniors who maybe are doing chair yoga or something. Yoga is extreme in this way.
There are hundreds of yoga styles. A lot of them get into arguments with each other about, “That’s not yoga and this is not yoga. I have the true yoga,” and all that stuff. So, yoga is kind of special.
Kristy: [00:05:35]I could see that. I think it’s a good reminder that if you’re a yoga teacher, there’s ways for you to stand out and be more authentic to yourself, and that’s okay.
For the video library, you mentioned that it’s an asset and I do see that as an asset where instructors are building these video libraries. How do you see yoga instructors monetizing that? Are they making it a certain monthly membership to gain unlimited access to the videos? Are they reselling it? What situations have you seen working with that?
Alex Klein: [00:06:18] All of the above. Ubindi right now is for live classes, and we’re about to build another part of it that’s going to give students access to recorded classes. And it will be just like with live classes, and probably cheaper.
You don’t get to ask questions in that recorded class and you can watch it anytime you want, so it’s no big sacrifice for the teacher to let somebody watch a video. It’s not like they have to be in front of the class and teach. Memberships and monthly unlimited access, that kind of stuff. We’re going to do passes where you buy a pass for 10 classes and you can watch 10 videos. Same stuff as for live classes. That’s the cheaper way.
Post Covid Studio Predictions
Kristy: [00:07:00] With people being at home, do you see everybody going online or is there just a general step back from fitness or yoga that you might see with COVID?
Alex Klein: [00:07:14] There is unfortunately some step back, as you say. People are getting fat, out of shape, and unhealthy. For the most part, people eventually have figured out, but they need to do something for their wellbeing and for their wellness. The online thing, I would say roughly, and this is sort of without too much evidence, half the people who were doing yoga were exercising in some way are still doing that in their living room and maybe outside in the park or something like that.
The problem is this COVID thing. It’s forced the world to change, but that change is not gonna be rolled back. It was already the case before COVID that everyone was putting their face into their phones all the time, and more people were just doing things online. That’s the way the world is going, and that’s hugely accelerated now. It’s not going to go back to the way things were.
As I mentioned before, they’d like this convenience of taking a yoga class online, and the teachers like teaching online from their home. Even when COVID is long forgotten and nobody’s wearing masks anymore and all of that is over, it’s still going to be the case that the brick and mortar businesses are going to have a very hard time attracting people into a physical space where they have to pay a lot of money just to be able to afford the overhead and hardwood floors and the cleaning and the showers and all this stuff.
We see dark days ahead for the venues.
The Benefits of Yoga Class Online
Kristy: [00:08:50] You guys have probably done a lot of research into understanding the signup process for maybe a new customer or someone who just saw maybe a video on YouTube and they’re thinking about signing up for the class, but they’ve never met this person.
I think it’s sort of a different process because people are a little nervous. They think, “Who is this person I’m going to join the swim class with?”, or if everybody knows each other. Sort of similar to a regular studio. What have you guys discovered in your process in trying to understand that sales process so that it’s easy for the yoga teacher to get that person from an outsider to a student? What do you see as the process there that seems to work?
Alex Klein: [00:09:39] Well, first I should preface what I’m going to say with I think it’s much easier now to get people to take a class with you because you don’t have to upwardly walk into a room, and then be stuck for an hour and you can’t leave. If you really don’t like the class you’re taking right now on Zoom, you just close your computer. That’s it. You don’t have to be ashamed of walking out the door and that kind of stuff. It’s much easier.
This is part of the reason why a new yoga is really a big thing now because people were kind of curious about naked yoga. It’s not for sex or anything. It’s just really a yoga style, but the scariness of it when you’re talking about in-person is a hundred times bigger than if you do it online. You can just almost be anonymous. You can be like, “Well, at least they’re not in front of me, and if I have some weird thing happen, I can just close the session.” So, it’s much easier to get people to sign up for class. The short answer.
Alex Jaton: [00:10:39] I think maybe a few months back, it would’ve been just all these interactions on Zoom where maybe it was a little bit weird and you were awkward, but I think now everybody’s pretty much getting used to that stuff like jumping in a meeting for work with a whole bunch of people you’ve never met before.
The etiquette of the online meeting of the class is already there. So I think the teachers just have to find a way to get the students to be interested enough and think, “This is going to be a fun class because this is a fun teacher.” Then, I think they’ll step in to actually giving it a try and think it’s not that big.
Alex Klein: [00:11:29] You can even turn off the camera. You can take the class and ask questions, but you can also be like, “Well, people can’t really see me. They can’t see how bad I really am at doing yoga.” It’s less of a commitment to show up for an online class.
Alex Jaton: [00:11:44] Going to a yoga class in your studio, I think probably was an intimidating experience for somebody who’s new or isn’t new to that particular teacher or that particular group. I imagine that online is less daunting
Alex Klein: [00:12:02] As for how to do it, Ubindi is a place where people can put their schedule, and then sign up for classes. A lot of people are just putting their Ubindi schedule into the YouTube description and say, “Hey, take a live class with me.” There are various places where you can do that stuff and just get people. If you have a website, you can have people maybe sign up to a mailing list, and then we can work on them to show up for live class as you send out your newsletters or whatever it is.
Alex Jaton: [00:12:32] Well, the extra thing I’ll say for example, on Ubindi, it just makes it very easy for the person who might be potentially soon to arrive because it’ll just go to the page and they can register. Taking an online class with somebody shouldn’t be like taking a private class with somebody.
You shouldn’t have to write them an email beforehand and ask them about their schedule. Just let people join and then jump in, and then don’t make it difficult for them to make them have to email you before.
The simple technique that creates community & retains clients
Kristy: [00:13:05] One thing we’ve probably noticed about fitness is, like you mentioned, the community. I think we know we really have a student who loves us when we get that to that connection. They didn’t just take a class, but then they felt seen and heard. So, I’m curious since that’s a really important part of what may people come back to people’s yoga classes. They probably spoke to the teacher a little bit after or something.
What have you seen? You guys have the software, but I’m not sure if you’re in the yoga classes. What have you seen afterwards that maybe yoga teachers do? So, that their sense of, “Oh, I saw you. Who are you?,” and hopefully that connection brings them back.
Alex Klein: [00:13:54] This is another advantage when it comes to online teaching versus in-person. A lot of teachers are keeping people, keeping the session open after class, and then they talk and let students talk amongst themselves and stuff. In the studio, you can’t do that if there’s a class happening in five minutes in the same room.
Of course they try to compensate for the fact that people are isolated and are just looking at each other through screens. They started doing extra things to make the community experience.
Alex Jaton: [00:14:23] Some of the teachers say at the end of class, “Everybody takes a five minute break. Go make a cup of tea or coffee or juice or whatever.” Then, just come back and have more like a social time. Everybody with a drink in hand and just chat, and I think that’s really nice.
The surprising place where yoga is now very big
Kristy: [00:14:38]That is really nice. I like that a lot. Where have you seen the yoga teachers on your platform, YogaTrails? Where are they? Are they all over the world? Are they more in certain areas of the world?
Alex Klein: [00:14:52] Well, on YogaTrail, it’s an English website, so all the buttons and things are in English. Roughly half of everyone is in the US, 12% in the UK, 11% in Canada and 9% in Australia. I don’t know how I remember these numbers. The rest are just all over the world, but they’re mostly English speakers in YogaTrail.
Alex Jaton: [00:15:15] Ubindi is similar because for now, the main language of the platform is English, but we have some French speakers and some Spanish speakers as well.
Kristy: [00:15:30] I guess it would be hard to teach if the student’s not in that language, so that limits it. I was just kind of curious if you generally saw yoga being more popular also in certain areas or do you feel yoga is generally popular in most areas?
Alex Klein: [00:15:50] Well, yoga popularity was huge in the US 10 years ago, and then Europe kind of caught up around five years ago. Then, it was the fastest growing health and fitness thing in Asia. We’re not sure where this is going to go now with everything being online and yoga studios having a hard time.
In the recent past, it’s a global phenomenon. In China 2009, there were nine yoga studios. In 2016, there were around 30,000 and millions of people were doing yoga. I think in 2016, there were more yoga students in China than in the United States, and that was kind of crazy.
Kristy: [00:16:42] Regarding back to yoga business models, in personal training, there were lots of times where trainers can charge the bigger bucks having a program, so it’s not just training sessions. It’s really a guided program to achieve a goal, which is where the add value usually is to lose weight. Do you see that happening for your yoga instructors? Anyone doing more programs and charging more?
Alex Jaton: [00:17:10] People do a series of workshops on a specific theme, so they’ll just have four or five series of classes and they just call it a workshop, and people will sign up for the whole course. Then, they just get a membership that just is tied to that specific course or some teachers offer terms, so you have to sign up for the whole term as well.
Alex Klein: [00:17:37] For the most part, I would say no, but a lot of teachers do that. The ones who have their act together more will offer these sorts of structured programs that are more thought through and not just improvised. The more quality teachers and the more driven teachers will put more into preparing things and doing these sorts of things just like in fitness.
That’s a great idea.
Kristy: [00:18:07] I have one more question. When I was in New York city, I had a tennis school and we taught a lot of tennis to kids. That was a big thing. There was a yoga company that focused on teaching yoga to kids. I thought that was great. I was like, “It’s such a great idea. It’s easier than tennis.” But, it was just like, “Put that racket down before you hit someone.” That’s kind of hard.
I liked yoga, so I was like, “I should do that instead.” Have you seen people doing yoga for kids or is that kind of too hard to do?
Alex Jaton: [00:18:38] On Ubindi, we have some teachers that are teaching just the kids. Of course the online stuff and the registrations goes through the parents because of payments and security. The parents would take the kids to the yoga class.
Alex Klein: [00:18:58] With kids, there’s always extra security things to watch out but It’s niching down. If you’re really good with kids and you have a special way of teaching yoga to kids, it’s a great market to be in because lots of kids in some states are out of school. They’re bouncing off the walls and parents are trying to keep them not just busy, but also kind of healthy and maybe do some relaxing and mindfulness for kids kind of training and stuff. It’s a huge thing. It’s a great niche to be in.
Alex Jaton: [00:19:34] Kid’s yoga is definitely a thing, but there’s yoga really for anyone and all sorts of groups of people, age or levels of ability or just preferences.
Success story of online yoga classes for blind people
Alex Klein: [00:19:50] I spoke with a yoga teacher last week who does yoga for blind people, which is another thing that’s only possible online, as weird as it sounds, because there are not that many blind people who are into yoga in a particular town. In the state or country or in the world, there are a lot of those people. I don’t know how they do it. I guess it’s just audio.
In terms of success, not just financially, but also as a person, if you’re teaching something and you’re really passionate about it and it’s really your thing, niching down and really finding your unique thing that you can offer to the students, that’s the way to go. You’ll be more successful internally and externally in every other way. You’ll have the energy to keep going and try harder. If there’s one thing I’ve said in this podcast, it’s niche.
Tips on starting your first online yoga class
Kristy: [00:20:53] Great. Well, that brings me to my closing question. If there was someone who was a yoga instructor and they wanted to get started teaching online and they might have one or two students, but let’s just say they weren’t able to bring them over or capture their emails, what would be the top two or three things you guys would suggest to them to get started? So, they could kind of see that it’s a viable way to make some money during this time.
Alex Jaton: [00:21:20] First of all, I would say to people don’t make it into a big deal in your mind because when you start something new, you make it harder. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes.
Jump right in and start with a small group, then manage the expectations of the people and tell them that you’re starting off with this new project, so they kind of know not to expect the most polished classes.
Don’t think that everything has to be perfect from the get go because you have to get used to this new technology. Your students have to get used to stuff. Encourage people to give you lots of very honest feedback about what was working and what they didn’t like, so you can kind of get better at that.
Alex Klein: [00:22:14] The number one tip is do it. Just do it. Do it in a crappy little weird way. If you’re not familiar with Zoom, go in Zoom, make a free account and just teach a class. Even if it’s to your brother or mother or whoever.
Just jump in and do it. That’s the number one thing that people are hesitant about. They think it has to be perfect. You have to have equipment. They have to have a lot of people signing up and all that stuff before they give it a go.
Alex Jaton: [00:22:42] No, just start small. When you’ve done your first couple of classes, maybe with your friends, or when you feel a little bit more comfortable with the technology, then start charging people for it because it’s your time and your work. Don’t be shy to get paid for it basically.
Alex Klein: [00:23:03] I agree. Number two is don’t sell yourself short just because it’s online. It doesn’t mean it’s that much worse than in-person. It can even be better depending on what it is exactly you’re teaching and how you’re teaching. In life throughout the world, we see a lot of people who are just not as confident as they really should be because they’re awesome and they have wonderful things to offer that nobody else can actually offer to anyone else. Try not to sell yourself short.
Alex Jaton: [00:23:42] If you’re scared of the admin side of it, then check out Ubindi because it will help you.
Kristy: [00:23:54] I really liked that a lot. Listeners, if you’re not sure and you’re scared, just do it and charge enough and see it’s sustainable for you and your students. You guys have some cool businesses. If people want to reach out to you or check out your services, how can they do that?
Alex Jaton: [00:24:13] Just go to ubindi.com. That’s where we hang out most of the time.
Alex Klein: [00:24:22] There’s a chat on there, and It’s usually one of us on the other side.
Alex Jaton: [00:24:25] So, feel free to come say hello and ask us anything.
Alex Klein: [00:24:28] Ubindi is free if you have a small teaching business with 50 students or less. It doesn’t cost anything for you to use Ubindi. It can help you save a lot of time with admin, so it can handle all the stuff surrounding classes, registrations and payments, and taking attendance and sending emails to students and that kind of stuff.
Alex Jaton: [00:24:27] A lot of the boring things.
Alex Klein: [00:24:49] Just click the chat button on there, and that’s where you’ll find us. We’re always happy to talk to you.
Kristy: [00:24:56]Awesome. Well, you guys have to check that out, listeners. It’s been [00:25:00] great to have you guys. It’s really interesting to hear how people the yoga industry is changing. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and knowledge, Alex and Alex.
Alex Jaton: [00:25:10] It was lovely. Kristy: [00:25:12] Thanks so much.
Companies Mentioned in today’s show: