COVID-19 hero: Maidstone Iyengar Yoga Centre
The unexpected arrival of COVID-19 has resulted in unforeseen changes for every business, regardless of industry or geographical location. While 5% of UK-based small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) have already decided to permanently close their businesses (CFN), others have been able to adjust to trading during COVID-19.
Until two days ago, the entirety of the UK was permitted only one exercise excursion per day, resulting in many fanatical gym-goers turning to their computers and tablets for keeping in shape. A number of businesses, such as the Maidstone Iyengar Yoga Centre, have addressed the closure of their premises by bringing their classes online.
Lin Craddock, the owner and founder of Maidstone Yoga Centre, faced a number of challenges to keep her business afloat:
“Having to close the centre’s two studios meant business would cease completely unless we found a new way of reaching our students. We had to go online.
Our first issue was poor internet speed, but it became immediately clear that the real challenge was to film, record, edit, produce and post the videos – meaning 18-20 hour days, 7 days a week which was obviously unsustainable, so we have had to reduce the number of virtual classes by 50%. Quality over quantity is now our motto!”
Despite the challenges encountered through recording and hosting their classes online, Lin and her team realised there was a new virtual user-base available to them. By leveraging social media to engage a wider audience and attract new users, they were able to reduce the number of classes whilst increasing attendees, incorporating both existing students and international newcomers:
“The uptake by our students has been astonishing and we are so very grateful to them all. Their support and enthusiasm will help secure the centres’ future once we can return to normal classes”.
However, unexpectedly, we are now attracting a wider audience (literally worldwide), through the platforms of YouTube and our own website, and although nothing can replace the experience of a real class, this has brought in a new aspect to our teaching and we are looking forward to mixing both virtual and actual classes for the future”.
With classes now reaching numbers that could not be hosted in the Yoga Centre, and students spanning from across the UK, Denmark, Germany, French Guinea, Vancouver and Toronto; Lin and the team are exploring a different business model to be tested once the centre re-opens: a class-system attended by students both physically and virtually.
In addition, they are also hosting charitable yoga classes, the earnings of which will be donated to mental health causes, and pet yoga sessions for those wanting to share their exercise time with their furry friends!
The businesses highlighted in this spotlight series, and businesses like them, make up the lifeblood of the UK economy. It is up to us as consumers to explore how we can support those small companies making a difference. If you’re interested in joining in with online yoga session, you can sign up to one of their classes through their website.
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