Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Any young/new yoga teacher will tell you that one of the biggest hurdles in kicking off your career is finding somewhere to teach.   Many studios give preference to teachers who have completed their yoga teacher training at that studio.  Studios also look for teachers with good experience and good references.  It’s also easy to get trapped in situations where you’re expected to teach for free for the sake of building up your experience.  Ultimately, finding and hiring your own space to teach is one of the best ways to start building up your business. 
Just before I left Vancouver, my favourite YTT mat buddy Yogi C started hiring space at a beautiful studio in Kitsilano.  This was exactly the kind of space I had in mind when I put on my searching cap in Perth.

I’d noticed a ‘yoga space’ advertised online which sounded promising. The price tag of $50 for 1.5 hours didn’t sound too extravagant and the woman I spoke to on the phone was friendly.   When I parked in front of the building yesterday morning, I instantly had a bad feeling.  The front area before the building was littered with chairs and tables, covered with used coffee mugs, milk cartons and biscuit packets.  I tried not to judge – maybe it wasn’t like this all the time…

My host arrived and showed me inside.  She was incredibly friendly and enthusiastic but obviously completely oblivious to the business of hiring out a space.  I asked who else was hiring it and admitted that only one other yoga teacher had tried teaching there and recently given up because she wasn’t getting in enough students.  I could see why.  The main, front area of the building, although very light and a good size, was filthy; the concrete floor was dirty, there were blankets piled up in the corner between old pieces of furniture, and files were lying outside the equally messy office space.  The building was also home to the owner whose bedroom could be seen through the glass doors at one end of the front room.  I was then led down very rickety wooden stairs to the outside area which was covered in piles of stone slabs which would be used to floor a building out the back (I was already imagining all the ways I’d be claiming on my public indemnity insurance).  The kitchen and toilets were also downstairs; my grandparents’ abandoned asbestos beach shack would be a better model of cleanliness.  Heading back upstairs, the woman revealed that there was no air-conditioning or heating, but didn’t seem to think this would be a problem.  Concrete floors in the middle of winter?  No, not appealing.  The final straw though, was when she mentioned that she thought that $50 was a good price that wouldn’t break my bank while I was trying to attract students, but obviously they’d want to look at the price again if I started to do well…. What?  If I’m successful and get lots of students you’ll want to charge me more? 

I told the woman I’d be in touch.  I’ll email her today to say thanks but no thanks. 

Recounting this story to my father afterwards, he asked me what you need for a good yoga space.  You don’t really need that much; it needs to be clean and ideally wooden flooring is great, and enough space for a dozen people or so to move comfortably (I’m being realistic here!).  Obviously temperature control of some kind is great, even if it’s fans and basic heaters, but air-conditioning is very useful.  That’s it, really.  Clean, dry and cool/warm.  Fortunately, I’ve found what I was looking for in Willagee, not too far away.  THIS is what my teaching space will look like!  

Teaching dates for classes in Willagee will be up soon - watch this space!

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