Turning your certification into full classes.

This has come up in several questions and online threads recently. What happens when you are certified? The simple answer is you go and teach DDP YOGA to the masses. I could leave it there, but I won’t. Instead I will continue this blog with personal stories of building my own DDP YOGA teaching business.

December 16th 2013, I woke up to my phone going crazy with notifications. My Facebook was alive and well that day, all because Yoga Doc had announced that I had completed all the requirements of my Level 1 certification. I had done it! I was the first person outside of the USA to become a DDP YOGA Instructor………WOW! I hadn’t  even thought about what my next move would be.

I used the Christmas break to formulate a plan of action.

Find a venue to hold my classes.

Build a website.

Build a Facebook page.

Open a Twitter account.

Easy right? Not so much! I have no previous website design experience. I tired to do this but it didn’t work out so well. So it was with a sore head and tired eyes that I finally called a friend of mine, a computer nerd who worked in the gaming industry. He designed and created my first website and Facebook page. Once this was done and I understood how to update the website, the rest was easy.

Finding a venue proved interesting. Whilst training, I had taken part in several local fitness activities (fitness fairs, free workshops etc..) and made some contacts. I thought these would all prove useful. Only one of them did, and that took a while to fit together. The two main council-run (funded) gyms/leisure centres in the area avoided my calls and emails. I eventually visited these places in person. The first of which told me nicely that I should email all of my details through and they would book me…….they never did. The second place put me on a list of sub yoga instructors, even though I pleaded my case that it wasn’t traditional yoga. They only called me once and I was unavailable, although I would’ve liked to have seen the faces of the 10am ’60+ vinyasa’ class in the middle of the first Diamond Cutter.

So I turned to the independent gyms. I found a local boxing gym that had the right feel to the place. When I met with the manager, a pleasant 24 yr old ex-boxer, he warmed to the idea instantly. We set a date there and then, and agreed I would pay them a percentage of each person who came to my class. The class was booked. Thursday nights would be mine to own!

With that class booked and looming, I decided to branch out and find a venue in a neighbouring city. I booked a school hall. I had contacts at the school through my drum teaching and they gave a good deal on room hire. This would be my Wednesday night class.

On the first Thursday class at the boxing gym I had a class of 15 people…..15!!!! It was a free taster session. We videoed the whole class for my website. On the first Wednesday class in the school hall I had a whopping 3 people! How could this have happened? Both classes were free tasters. It all came down to the venue. I’d done the same marketing for each class; flyers round towns, flyers in the gym reception/school, Facebook posts, and more. The gym had people already venturing in and out that wanted to try classes, they also shared every post I put out. The school shared nothing, and parents didn’t pick up the flyers.

Over the next few months I kept these 2 classes going. The gym class dropped to an average of 8 people per week. The school hall class stayed at a cosy 3-4 each week. Then something changed. I managed to do something virtually impossible over here in the UK. I managed to get my DDP YOGA story in a local newspaper. It was published in March 2014. The week after this came out my class numbers soared. I had 8-10 on a Wednesday and 12-15 on a Thursday. Finally the week before I got married, it happened. With patience and persistence I pushed more advertisements out, I shared posts left right and centre, finally Wednesday had more people than Thursday.

Both classes were very busy and I rode this wave for a few months. I even started a third class. I hired the same hall I used for my training, and started a Tuesday evening class. This was off the back of my Thursday clients asking for a second class in the week. My first few Tuesdays were incredibly huge……22 people most weeks. I actually ended up splitting the class and running two classes on a Tuesday. Then it changed………

The summer holidays arrived. And with that came a huge drop in numbers. Classes that were running at 15 each week were now getting 5. I found myself slipping into a depressive state; I took this very personally. Just as the holidays were closing out and the new school was about to start, something good happened. I was approached by another gym, a MMA based gym. They offered me an early morning slot, which I gladly took. Also that contact I made at a fitness fair came through and offered me 3 classes at her yoga studio.

At the start of September I had not only managed to boost my original numbers

again, I had increased the amount of classes I taught each week. From 4 classes to 9. Each venue had different payment options; the gyms liked to take a percentage per person, the yoga studio paid me a flat rate per class and the hall I just hired for the hourly cost.

Over the next few months I took on a few 1-2- 1 clients as well. I found myself teaching 14-16 hours of DDP YOGA each week. I felt great, and so did my clients. A few bumps in the road occurred in early 2015. The yoga studio had to close, I managed to keep most of my clients from there and they followed me to another one of my venues. I started classes in Portsmouth (a 60 mile round trip), these worked well for a few months but I didn’t have the personal energy to keep up with this routine and my day job as well.

By December 2015, I’d seen a decline in the attendance at both gyms. I asked my clients why they stopped attending those venues and the same answer came back for both places: the venues didn’t feel friendly, and they preferred the classes in the hired halls. So with mutual agreement on both parts, I left the gyms. I want to say I will be forever thankful to the first gym, they gave me an opportunity and I took it and ran with it. But at the end of the day you have to listen to what your clientele is telling you.

So 2016 marked a new start again, new class timetable and new  dvertising. I’ve run the same class timetable for the whole of 2016 so far and I can tell you it’s working: Tuesday evening – 12 to 20 people each week.

Wednesday evening (2 classes) – 15-22 between both classes.

Thursday morning – 8-11 people.

Thursday evening I’m now bought in buy a company to run a staff class. I occasionally offer a Saturday class, maybe once every three weeks.

I realised a year ago that you can burn yourself out trying to run too many classes for not enough people. I scaled down to accommodate growth.

So when someone asks what to do after getting certified or if this can be a viable business? My answer: work your ass off and yes it can! Be prepared for drops in numbers over holiday periods. Don’t be afraid to spam social media. Have a plan for rewarding loyal clients; T shirts or bring a friend and get the class half price. Keep your options open, meet as many people as possible and invite them to your classes. Don’t be offended when people stop attending, it’s their choice. Just be ready to recruit more people. Above all else have faith in the fact that the energy you put out over a 1-2 year period WILL eventually come back to you.

Good luck with all you want to achieve!

See you next time!

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