Yoga Studio

Top 5 Ways To Retain Yoga Students Past Their First Month

Running a yoga studio is a full-time job that requires massive effort and dedication. If you’re the owner of a yoga studio, knowing how to retain yoga students and increasing your class attendance consistently, can propel your yoga studio business to great heights. 

So, how do you retain yoga students? To retain yoga students, teachers have to create a unique, consistent experience that keeps students coming back to your yoga studio. They can do this by:

  • Developing a strong brand identity
  • Offering creative renewal plans
  • Forming personal relationships with students
  • Providing differentiated classes
  • Automation

In this guide, I will show you the best methods to increase retention over the long term. I will explore each of the points mentioned above in detail. Additionally, I will help you understand the retention metrics for your yoga studio. Finally, I have also included a calculator you can use to find the retention and churn for your yoga studio.

Why Is It Crucial To Retain Yoga Students?

Intuitively you might know that the longer a student is a member of your yoga studio, the more money your yoga studio will make, long term. 

If you have built a great inbound marketing engine that generates more new members than you can handle, every single day, then you might not need to focus on retention metrics. 

However, I can safely assume none of us are in that enviable position. Hence retaining yoga students is crucial for the survival of your yoga studio. Here are some facts that will put the importance of student retention into perspective:

  1. It costs five times more to acquire a new student than to retain an existing student [source]
  2. If you fail to retain at the very least 50% of your current students, you will perhaps never reach the seven-figure mark in revenues. 

Now that we understand how crucial retaining yoga students is to the success of a yoga studio let us explore the retention metrics that help us identify the health of your yoga studio.

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Key Metrics For Yoga Studios To Retain Yoga Students

Reports

Before we explore the strategies and tactics to retain yoga students and to increase class attendance, we must first understand and regularly track the key retention metrics. 

There are two crucial retention metrics that a yoga studio owner should track regularly:

  1. Churn Rate
  2. Retention rate

To get to these metrics, we will need to begin with more straightforward metrics. In the next section, I will explain the parameters and also provide a calculator you can use to calculate the churn and retention rates for your yoga studio.

Understanding Retention & Churn Metrics For Yoga Studios

The calculation of retention and churn metrics happens over a specific period, typically over a month. Here are the key metrics that you need to understand and track:

In this example, let us assume you are trying to find out the retention and churn metrics for March.

Members Beginning Of Period [MB]

The “Members Beginning Of Period” [MB] is the total number of yoga students your yoga studio had on March 1st (beginning of the tracking period).

Members End Of Period [ME]

The “Members End Of Period” [ME] represents the total number of students on March 31st (ending of the tracking period).

Gross New members [GNM]

The “Gross New Members” represents the total number of new students who joined your yoga studio in March. Here you count all the new students who joined, irrespective of whether they stuck around after a month or not.

Gross Lost Members [GLM]

The “Gross Lost Members” represents all the yoga students who left your yoga studio in March to never return. These are the members your yoga studio lost in March.

Net New Members [NNM]

The “Net New Members” represents the overall number of students your yoga studio gained or lost in March. If this number is negative, it indicates overall you lost more members than you gained new members. If that’s the case, then it is bad news for your yoga studio, and you must act fast. 

NNM = GNM – GLM

Churn Rate [CR]

Churn rate is a crucial metric you will track for your yoga studio. A high churn rate indicates that you have an issue with student retention. 

Some churn is natural, and it is next to impossible to get to a scenario where you don’t have any churn. Your students move away, change jobs, their circumstances change, so it is natural that your yoga studio will have some level of churn as students leave your yoga studio membership. 

Your job as a yoga studio owner is to identify the benchmark churn values and make sure your churn rate stays below that value. I get nervous when the churn rate for my businesses exceeds 10% – 12%.

CR (%) = [GLM/MB] X 100

In some cases, you will need to identify your yearly churn and compare it to previous years. In such cases, your beginning period will be the beginning of the year, and the ending period will be the end of the year. Calculate the annual churn rate [ACR] as follows:

ACR (%) = {GLM/[[MB+ME]/2] X12} X 100

Don’t worry if you do not know how we arrived at these formulas. You are an entrepreneur and not a mathematician. I have provided a calculator below, just plug in numbers specific to your yoga studio and the calculator will give you the churn and retention rates automatically.

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Retention Rate [RR]

The retention rate represents the percentage of members who continue their membership with your yoga studio. The higher this number, the better you are doing at retaining yoga students. 

I tend to track and work with churn rates rather than retention rates, but it is a matter of personal preference.

RR (%) = [[ME – GNM]/MB] X 100

NOTE: StudioGrowth is the yoga studio software that not only helps you with class and member management but also provides powerful reports in a simple dashboard. 

Your dashboard shows reports such as churn and retention rates, and you always know how your yoga studio is performing. We offer a free 14-day trial and 30-day full money-back guarantee. Do give it a try and reach out to me directly if you have any questions! 

Yoga Studio Churn Calculator

Use this calculator to identify the churn rate for your yoga studio. Simply enter the number of students at the beginning and end of a month, and new students added and lost, and the calculator will do all the work for you!

Yoga Studio Churn Calculator
Number Of Members At The Beginning Of The Month
Number Of Members At The End Of The Month
Number Of New Students Who Joined This Month
Number Of Members Who You Lost This Month
Net New Members Your Yoga Studio Added This Month
0.00
Churn Rate (%)
0.00

How To Retain Yoga Students

In this section, I will explore in detail the 5 top ways you can retain yoga students and increase class attendance. The top 5 ways that I will explore are:

  1. Developing a strong brand identity
  2. Offering creative renewal plans
  3. Forming personal relationships with students
  4. Providing differentiated classes
  5. Enabling automation

How To Retain Yoga Students STEP 1) Develop A Strong Brand Identity

How to build a fitness brand

Your brand is what attracts new students to your yoga studio. The yoga industry is highly competitive, and branding is what separates the leader from the other yoga studios.

Students will pay more for your classes and will keep returning to your yoga studio if you manage to build a strong brand. Once you have a strong brand presence, you will stop worrying about the competition.

Think about what attracted you to yoga teachers to sign up for their classes in the past:

  • Did they have a unique teaching style that appealed to you? 
  • Were the logo and positioning appealing to you? 
  • Did you like the teacher’s aura and decided to learn from them? 

Developing your yoga studio identity is the first step to retaining your yoga students and attracting new ones.

NOTE: I have written a detailed guide on how to build a brand in the fitness industry. I cover key concepts such as developing the right positioning and messaging, with exercises. The ideas explored apply equally as well to the yoga industry.

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Develop Your Teaching Brand

You or your famous yoga teachers are also the brands of your yoga studio. What you teach is, in essence, a brand in itself. 

Follow any influential yoga teacher on YouTube or Instagram, and you’ll notice that they have different teaching styles, tones of expression, and philosophies in regards to yoga. These unique characteristics are what make them appealing to students who align with them, and people rarely leave their favorite teacher. 

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help define your brand:

  • What was the best yoga class you ever attended? 
  • What stood out about that teacher? 
  • How can you replicate that in your yoga studio environment? 
  • Do you have an advanced understanding of anatomy and movement that will help you devise specific plans for students in need?
  • Do you have special skills you could teach to other students that no one else can?

Start implementing these elements into your teaching style to develop your specific teaching brand. 

Market Your Personality

Your personality type will always attract a particular kind of student. 

Calm people will gravitate toward meditative teachers, while people who have a more energetic personality will gravitate toward teachers who focus on physical exercise in their yoga classes. 

Neither style is superior; the best option depends on your personality. 

The main thing you need is sincerity. People can tell whether your behavior fits your personality or whether you’re faking it. You need to be sincere about who you are; students will appreciate that and naturally gravitate towards you. 

Identify Your Yoga Niche

The students want to know they are part of a community. If you decide to teach athletes, many of them will come to your class because they’re athletes and want to practice a type of yoga suited for athletes. 

Once you brand your studio as a studio for [X type] of people, you immediately stand out in the eyes of that group. 

Example: If you teach children and mothers exclusively, you can become the premier yoga studio for mothers and children in your area. If you teach the elderly, you can develop your brand around yoga for the elderly. 

Class Structure & Progressive Teaching

The structure of your classes reflects on your brand identity and your teaching style. You should think about what your ideal teaching session is. 

  • Do you want to hold large group classes with over 20 people in attendance? 
  • Or do you want to hold small group classes with around 5-10 people each? 

The format you choose will play a significant role in shaping your brand identity. Some people will be attracted to large group sessions, whereas others will prefer smaller group classes.

The advantage of the former is that you can generate more revenue, but with the latter, you can establish better personal relationships.

To keep your students coming back, you have to have teaching continuity. Continuity in yoga requires two things: Your classes will need to be progressive and exciting. By providing continuity, you motivate students to achieve higher levels of perfection.

If you have a progressive teaching style, this means you’ll be teaching your students a series of lessons over many classes.

If you decide on a progressive class schedule, make sure your students sign up for a “series” of classes that form a course. 

NOTE: With the StudioGrowth yoga studio management software, you can create a “series” in a few simple clicks. Students know that they are purchasing a series of classes, and those classes will not be open to “drop-ins.” We offer a free 14-day trial and full 30-day money-back guarantee. Do give us a try and I promise you won’t be disappointed. 

Simplify The Material

As a studio owner, you will have new students signing up all the time. And many of your regular students will only come intermittently, which means it’ll take them longer to grasp the essentials of yoga.

Because so many students will be new (or newly returned), you need to make sure you keep the classes challenging both for beginners and advanced students.   

To better cater to these newer students, you should simplify your instructions. Simplification doesn’t mean reducing your teachings to the fundamentals but making sure to explain what you mean in simple terms when you’re teaching. 

Example: If you use Sanskrit or complicated anatomy terminology, make sure to simplify your instructions for the new students who might not be able to follow. 

You can gauge how understandable you are by noticing how students respond when you’re teaching new asanas. Do they “get it” off the bat, or are they confused and in need of help? 

Whatever you find, you’ll have to analyze your student’s responses to the teaching methods and calibrate. It’s tough to teach uniform lessons to people who signed up at different intervals and have different experience levels.

However, students come to your yoga studio because you offer them something that no one else does. They come to you for consistency. Ensure your teaching is always consistent.

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How To Retain Yoga Students STEP 2) Develop Personal Relationships

Laughing Yoga

Consumer behavior is changing. Gone are the days where memberships tied students down to a single studio. Today, students use Class Pass and buy drop-in classes and visit multiple yoga and fitness studios. 

You need to work extra hard to retain students. The bridge between new students and loyalty is a personal relationship.

If a student cares about a teacher, they’re more likely to attend their classes. So if you’re friendly and sociable in your classes, students will form a personal connection that goes a long way in retaining yoga students.

It’s possible to develop personal relationships with all of your students, and this is something you should strive for even if you already teach large classes. 

However, it can be difficult if you’re not a naturally social person. Here are a few tips on how you can build relationships with your yoga students:

Ask Them Questions

The first step is to ask questions. Get to know them like you would a friend: Ask them their name, where they live, their occupation, why they like yoga, etc. 

To facilitate this, you can have each student fill out a questionnaire once they sign up for classes. 

Asking students questions helps you get a general idea for who they are, which will improve your relationship with them. 

You should also use a pleasant tone of voice, as people place significant emphasis on your tone of voice when deciding whether they like you or not. 

If a student notices you showed an interest in knowing them, they will assume you like them, and they’ll start opening up to you. Developing this relationship is essential in any long term business. 

Remember that people love to talk about themselves, and this is something that will work to your advantage when you get to know your students better. If you have an introverted personality, have a series of questions prepared to ask students. These should be basic personal questions that let you get a general idea of who they are. 

When you ask these questions, the answers will usually lead to a more extended conversation in which you get to know the student on a deeper level. The student’s respect and appreciation for you will grow, and they’ll be eager to learn from you and attend your classes.

Call Students By Their Names

Another way to build a personal bond with students – and thereby increase retention – is to call your students out by their name. Using a student’s name will make the person feel a lot more appreciated. 

If possible, try to learn your students’ names after just one day of class. Students will appreciate that they made such an impression on you that you remember their name, and they’ll think better of you for it. 

Help Them Personally

Once you’ve gotten to know a student, you can build your relationship with them by tailoring classes to meet their needs or helping them out with further resources. 

Ask them about their yoga knowledge and what made them curious about yoga. Questions like these will reveal the student’s intrigue regarding yoga, and they will also inform you about their yoga goals. 

If the student is struggling with a certain goal, you can use this information to show them the postures after class or point them to books, YouTube tutorials, or other resources they could use to find a solution.

Helping in this way is imperative if the student is struggling with a medical condition or an injury. Some students will require special attention from you to achieve their yoga goals while not injuring themselves further. You need to work with these students individually and carry out research on poses and exercises that could help them. If you help students on a personal basis, they will be eternally grateful to you.

Keep Up With Their Lives

Consistently engaging your students is imperative to developing long-term communication. Many teachers only form relationships with their students at the start and don’t check-in on them or care for their progress. 

So don’t just make an effort to learn their names. You should go above and beyond, learning about their hobbies, families, and anything else they are open to sharing. 

Engage With Students Online

Social Media presence

Each yoga studio should have a web presence that includes a website, social media accounts, and email follow-up [StudioGrowth can help with this].

Once you’ve established personal connections with your students, you want to keep building on those connections and expanding on them. 

Here are a few ways you can do that:

  • Tell your students to follow you on social media. Facebook and Instagram are some of the best platforms for yoga studios to connect with students.
  • Take pictures of classes and update them on your Instagram Stories. 
  • Write creative newsletters and send them out to all your students at once. All you have to do is get their email when they sign up and update them once a month. 
  • Whenever you have a change in class schedule, update them on all social media accounts at once. This process will keep them engaged with your studio, and it will attract new students to your studio.

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How To Retain Yoga Students STEP 3) Offer Enticing Renewal Plans 

Marketing

Offering economic incentives is an effective way to retain and re-engage students. 

If you’ve already improved your class experience and you developed personal relationships successfully, you can still improve your price structures and provide economic benefits to students staying with you over the long term. 

Student retention is about planning for the long term: at least 6-12 months in advance. 

If you’ve ever attended a studio for this long, you’d typically receive 6-month or yearly membership discounts, as well as access to retreats and vacations under the guidance of the studio.

NOTE: With the StudioGrowth software for yoga studios, you can create unlimited discount codes, gift cards, and offers such as discounts on 6-month or yearly memberships. We provide a powerful member engagement module in addition to the class and member management solutions.

Here are a few of the techniques you can implement using discounts and incentives:

Offer A Freebie

Freebies are excellent for attracting new students. However, most studios that offer freebies do so in the form of 1-month “free-trial” periods. 

If you have ever used ClassPass, you will know that the primary way they get students to your studio is by offering free initial trial classes. However, the majority of these students never stay past the free trial period.

Such freebies don’t encourage students to stay with your studio – it only encourages them to sign up. What you need is a freebie that supports long-term membership. If you implement this, your retention rates will almost certainly increase. 

Example: If a student stays for six months, you can offer them one month for free.

There are two ways to implement long-term incentives: offer a free month for upfront purchase of a year of classes, or guarantee a free month of class after a year’s worth of continued monthly membership. 

Incorporating both of these methods ensures you improve retention rates for members who prefer paying all at once at a discounted price and also students who prefer to pay month-to-month. 

Offer Renewal Discounts

You should reward students who continually renew their membership or regularly buy class-packs at your studio. Here’s an example of how you would implement such an incentive:

  • If the student makes it to 3 months, offer them 25% off the 6-month upgrade. 
  • If the student makes it to 6 months, offer them 50% off the yearly upgrade.  

The amount of the renewal discount is up to you, but one principle should remain consistent: the longer students commit to you, the more they deserve a reward.

If you don’t want to discount your classes, consider offering other perks such as private lessons.

Example: If the student pays for a year in advance, offer them a free consultation each month. This incentive could grant them the right to 30-minute sessions with you before or after class, where you can work with them individually. 

Offering private lessons or free consultations is one of the best ways to incentivize long-term members without offering a monetary discount. You could also consider offering private lessons as part of a package or an individual upgrade.

Offer Reward Mechanisms To Retain Yoga Students

If the student spreads the word for you, they should be entitled to a discount because they help you attract more students. 

One way to do this is to develop a referral program. Tell all of your current students that they’ll receive a freebie or a discount if they refer someone to your studio. The nature of the freebie or discount is up to you. Just make sure it’s substantial enough that students will be motivated to try and claim it. 

To further boost the effectiveness of your referral program, offer benefits to the new students who are joining as well. 

NOTE: StudioGrowth has a powerful referral module that lets you design referral programs. Your students get their specific referral codes, and when new members join, the rewards are automatically assigned. We have a free 14-day trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Do give us a try!

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How To Retain Yoga Students STEP 4) Provide Differentiated Classes

Once you’ve created a strong brand identity, developed personal relationships, and offered renewal incentives, you should work on differentiating your classes. 

Look at it this way – you need to have a “secret sauce,” which keeps your students coming back for more. 

There are a variety of ways to make classes more interesting for students. Here are a few:

  • You can implement a variety of warmup routines that break up the monotony and give the beginning of classes an exciting sense of uncertainty. 
  • You can do things outside the classroom, such as taking your students out for retreats and workshops. While leaving the studio adds another layer of logistical complexity, it also adds a degree of freshness to your classes. 
  • You can offer healthy snacks before and after classes. Just make sure no one is allergic to any of the foods you offer.  
  • You can incorporate meditation into your yoga lessons. 

In this next section, I am going to discuss the nuanced details of some of these methods of differentiating your yoga classes. 

Hold Workshops & Retreats

Yoga students tend to love the outdoors. To capitalize on this preference, you can start planning retreats where you can teach students over 7 to 14 day periods. 

The retreats don’t have to be in an exotic overseas location; they can be held in a local campground or at a resort with a particularly nice yard. The important thing is to get out of the studio and experience the outdoors with your students. It could be something you do yearly.

If you do implement this, make sure you charge a fee for the hotel accommodation, transport, and classes. Try to hold retreats during the summer months when most of your students can get away from work. If it’s impossible to plan longer retreats, try to plan short 2-3 day weekend retreats.

If you don’t have an idea of how to run a retreat, start by attending other retreats or look up YouTube videos of retreats that you can replicate. 

You can also host events in the studio where you hold workshops and competitions for your students. 

Chanting Exercises

Chanting “Om” or another yogic phrase at the start of your class is great for the spirit, and it also makes your yoga classes more authentic. In Buddhism, this sound is used as an expression to signify an offering of help to others. Hence it’s proper to use it when forming a community of people in your studio.

Chanting will also set your students in a meditative mood before you proceed to physical movements. The meditative mood will enhance their yoga experience, and they’ll be more likely to return to classes in the future. 

Meditative Exercises

Meditation brings students to the present moment when they’re distracted by thoughts, effectively allowing them to immerse themselves in the class. 

Many students come to yoga classes after or just before work, and they carry the anxiety that comes from the workplace.

The only way to help them forget that is to immerse them in the present moment by starting your lessons off with a short meditation session.

Meditation is a simple skill that will clear your student’s head before each class. However, you should keep it short; don’t go overboard with meditation. A 5-10 minute session is enough for group yoga classes.

Experts recommend 15-20 minutes per meditation session, but in the studio environment, you might find it hard to make your students focus this long. If you want to extend your meditation class, you can offer separate classes for students who are interested in it, and teach them your methods for a full hour-long class.

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How To Retain Yoga Students STEP 5: Enabling Automation

yoga

A lot of work in retaining your yoga students is simple grunt work. You need to keep track of when their memberships or class-packs are expiring. 

You need to send them reminders a day before their class informing them of the upcoming of the class and the cancellation policy. In the case of waitlisted students, you need to inform them if any spot opens up.

Finally, if you have students who have not attended your yoga studio for over a month, you need to check-in and offer a discount on additional class-pack purchases.

Setting up automation can be tricky. If you are doing this on your own, you will need several software tools such as email autoresponders, marketing automation, etc. 

I strongly recommend you checkout StudioGrowth. We provide the complete automation you will need to retain yoga students. From pre-built email templates to engage students who have not attended your yoga studio for a while, to notifications and reminders, keeping your existing students engaged. 

StudioGrowth also offers a robust review management module where asking for and collecting reviews is completely automated. 

Even if you choose to do things manually, ensure you have basic automation set-up for your yoga studio. This process can significantly reduce your churn. 

Conclusion

Retaining yoga students is an essential part of running a successful yoga studio. Fortunately, improving retention rates is pretty straightforward – you just need to know what to do. 

To recap, here are the best ways to improve student retention at your yoga studio:

  1. Reinvent your studio identity.
  2. Develop personal relationships with students. 
  3. Create enticing renewal plans. 
  4. Spice up your classes.
  5. Enable automation.

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About the author


Naz Ahm is the founder of StudioGrowth and has spent a decade growing start-ups and venture-backed companies. He writes about sales, marketing, and growth, especially in the yoga, fitness and wellness industry.

Naz has an MBA from IESE Business School and started his journey in the wellness industry when he set-up an on-demand wellness business. Naz currently resides in London, U.K.