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  • Heather Dressler

Has Covid turned me into a failure?

Exactly one year ago if you would’ve asked me how my studio was doing I would’ve said it is thriving. I had finally built it up to where I had carved a path to success. My (and many friends, family and clients) literal blood, sweat, & tears had grown a business from nothing. I loved every moment of my job (well maybe not the bookkeeping but it comes with the business ).

Two months later Covid hit and businesses were mandated to shutdown. Small businesses suffered greatly. And just because they opened back up didn't mean people came running through the doors, this was/is especially true for studio owners.

Fast forward to today...last night I had a panic attack about the struggle of the business “post” Covid & its long lasting effect. Last year shutdown is trickling through to this New Year. I had to ask myself has Covid turned me/my business into a failure?

My truth:

I didn’t open studio in a small town to become a millionaire. I opened a studio because my goal then and now are to help others find healthier minds and bodies.

Some may not know this but my biggest reason for having this studio is to give people an outlet for their mental health, especially those that suffer from anxiety and depression. It’s not about the gains and the physical look of the body because if you don't feel good underneath that physical body nothing else matters. I truly believe exercise is the most underutilized prescription.

My mother committed suicide about 4 years ago. She struggled all of her life with anxiety and depression, and the times when she was the healthiest mind & body was when she was exercising. I know, first hand, the difference movement can make for mental health, it keeps me balanced. I know how important it is to have studios like mine in small communities.

The universe must’ve know I had a panic attack because today an article written by Anastasia Buterina of Shut up & Yoga showed up in my inbox- here is the article paraphrased (she hasn't posted the article on her site yet. link to be added). This article really nailed my reality as a fitness (not just yoga) studio owner in this time...

"I wondered just how much pain is hiding behind the cheerful façade of studio owners who are trying to keep it together and not give up on their businesses and students.

You might be thinking, but what about teaching online? Isn’t the Internet the great equalizer that allows any studio or instructor to connect with their students? Let’s pause for a moment and reflect on whether running a yoga studio online is sustainable in the long run.

If you ask me, teaching [exclusively] online is like using ClassPass or Groupon on steroids. While it democratizes yoga and removes inefficiencies of an offline practice (e.g. long commute, inconvenient class start time), it also robs the studios of their essential advantages, like the transformative power of practicing physically together. The collective energy can be electric and life-affirming, and online studio classes simply cannot replicate that.

These days, a local yoga studio is suddenly competing with every other studio in the neighborhood, city, and country - not to mention online platforms like YogaGlo and countless free Youtube videos. Clearly, this is not an easy transition for any yoga studio. So, what can we do as practitioners to help out our local yoga studios?

Here are a few suggestions to get your imagination going:

Help grow the yoga community by encouraging your friends and family to join you for your favorite online classes. With all the perks like discounted class packs and convenient start times, they have no excuse to not give yoga a try!

Pause (or don’t start) that attractive $10/month online membership that features bendy celebrity yoga instructors. They’ll survive without your help. And yes, even $10 rechanneled into the local economy make a difference.

Don’t wait for the studios to post about these opportunities on social media - reach out and start the conversation.

Resist the temptation to simply wait until things go back to “normal”. The local yoga community needs your support now."

My business struggle is real but so is my love for linking movement and mental health. This will not be my failure; because just one class, one interaction, one workout, could be the beginning of a better day for a person that walks into the studio. And every one deserves that opportunity.

This will not be my failure.

This will be my future.

Today I keep my chin up and continue to find ways to support the current clients that I love so much and the ones that may soon walk through that door. Thank you BodyLift Community for letting me be part of your day!

Be kind and let the light inside yourself lift others up-

Heather Dressler


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