Yoga Teacher Jobs: Pros And Cons Of Working For A Studio Or Gym
So, you have gained a yoga teacher qualification and now you’re looking for a yoga teacher job. The first flush of excitement is over: you’re back into your normal routine, and you’re not quite sure where to start.
There is good news – and bad news!
The good news is interest in yoga is growing. The pace of life today, and the ageing (and increasingly sicker older generations we are creating) means there are literally thousands of people for whom yoga would make a massive difference to their quality of life.
So, the good news is there are lots of potential students out there who could benefit from your teaching.
The bad news is yoga teacher training courses are literally pumping out thousands of yoga teachers, many of whom have the same aspiration as you: to make a living and a career from this passion which has changed their own lives.
So, the bad news is you have a lot of competition.
However - let’s put this into perspective. There’s lots of competition for most jobs these days isn’t there? I’m guessing whatever job you’re in now, you had to “hustle” a bit – you had to write a CV – you had to knock on a few doors and you had to “sell” yourself to your prospective employer.
Getting your foot on a first step in a yoga teacher career is no different.
You’ve done it once (at least!) you can do it again.
I’m also guessing that you researched which jobs you might like to apply for? You thought a little bit about what mattered to you and about the pros and cons of choosing to work for a particular company?
Getting started in yoga is no different – especially if it is your choice to work for someone else – like a yoga studio or a gym.Unless you’re already really clear you want to set up on your own, you know who your target market is, (see my article “How To Stand Out As A Yoga Teacher” to help you with this), and you’re fairly savvy and comfortable with doing a little marketing to get students to your classes, then the simplest way of starting out (and the least risky to your pocket and lifestyle), is to find a job teaching yoga at your local studios and/or gyms.
Teaching yoga at studios or gyms: the pros and cons.
1. It's a good way to build your confidence teaching yoga. Unless you’re from a profession which already has a large teaching component in it so you’re comfortable in front of an audience, chances are you may feel a little nervous about standing in front of a class. It’s early days – you perhaps haven’t quite got the confidence to find your own authentic approach, and this can be a good place to start to test this out and how students react to your teaching.
2. Yoga studios and gyms generally come with a built-in audience. You don’t have to hustle for students. You don’t have to market yourself. You just turn up and run the class. (Although, I’d think long and hard about what kind of classes/style you prefer to teach and negotiate with the studio or gym to offer those classes if you can. That way you can begin to attract a following for your style/approach – something which is really helpful for the following point).
Be aware though – regardless of which classes you teach, your employer will be looking at how many students you not only attract but retain! They may even pay you according to the size of the classes. (We’ll look at that in the cons section too). If you develop a style/approach which is attractive to students – clearly, you become far more attractive to the studio or gym!
3. They can provide a regular source of income. It may not be much (we’ll come to that in the cons!), but if you’re not planning on leaving your current main income earner any time soon then this can be useful additional extra income for you doing something you love.
4. There is no financial risk to you. A big one this! Unless you have a good, solid plan for starting out on your own, whether that be building your own classes in your own spaces or starting your own yoga studio, then building your following and slowly branching out on your own is a far less risky proposition. If you show up and there are only one or two students there, or worse, no one at all, you don’t have rent to pay and generally, studios or gyms pay a guaranteed flat rate, so you don’t lose out.
5. It's a great way of introducing people to yoga and begin to attract a following. Often members in gyms may have joined for reasons other than yoga, but just come along to your class to try it out – and find it’s something they actually really enjoy. Some studio members may want to try a different approach or be looking for a more suitable time – and if they like you – they will stay! All good!
6. It can be a good way to market any workshops or retreats you're planning. You might have to be careful with this. Asking the gym’s permission to tell your students about events you have planned is always a good idea. Maybe the studio or gym would actually help you host them? They would want a share of the proceeds, but again, could provide the premises and offer a less risky option than trying to set the whole event up on your own.
7. You might be able to approach other teachers you like at the studio and ask for mentoring/guidance. Getting involved in helping other studio teachers or asking for help and guidance may not only help you hone your own skills through watching other, more experienced teachers, it gets you noticed as an enthusiastic teacher. Always good!
1. The pay may be guaranteed at a yoga studio or gym, but it is often on the low side - especially if you're starting out. I’m not sure anyone who has a mortgage/rent to pay, possibly family to feed, could generate enough income to survive, yet alone thrive as a yoga teacher working for a studio or gym. Unless you have a big savings account, another income earner in the household, or you’re living with parents, it’s unlikely you’ll make enough income to earn a living teaching yoga in this way.
Some studios or gyms pay a flat rate no matter how many students you teach. Some offer a bonus if you exceed certain numbers in your class. But, unless you’re teaching more than 3 classes a day, 5 or 6 days a week, you’re probably not going to make anything like a living wage. Add to that, you probably have to still fork out for your own insurance, your petrol to the gym and the running around you’ll be doing as it’s unlikely you’ll be teaching at just one venue, and you could find out you’re running yourself ragged for less than the minimum wage.
This is no way for a yoga teacher to live and a frustrated, burnt out yoga teacher is the last thing a yoga student needs.
Seriously – unless you know you can command high fees at a yoga studio, see working for a studio or gym as either pin money to supplement your income, or a temporary step on your way to building your own following and a more sustainable career.
2. You could be working some really unsociable hours. Many of the most popular classes at gyms and studios are evenings and weekends (unless there’s a big push to attract the senior market – which is more amenable to daytime classes). So, ask yourself “Do I want to work in the evening – and if so, how many evenings am I prepared to give up on a regular basis? Do I want to tie myself to working at weekends?” Some gyms and studios expect you to try to find cover when you’re away too. I know some near where I live do because I’ve been asked to cover for them – and it’s a nightmare for those teachers.
3. Not all gyms or yoga studios are nice to work for! The truth is, the fitness industry, whether it’s general gyms or yoga studios, is a very, very competitive marketplace. You are a commodity – and with increasing numbers of teachers out there for them to choose from, it can be tempting to make the whole employer/employee relationship completely transactional. No sense of belonging. No sense of being valued for what you do. And easily “disposable” if they’re struggling to make a profit.
I’ve heard too many tales from other yoga teachers which sadden me. My advice to you is, unless teaching yoga is just a part-time hobby for you, if you actually want to make a sustainable yoga career, see this as a temporary step to gain confidence while planning how to set up on your own.
4. Gyms may not want to teach you anything other than the fitness/physical side of yoga. Unlike yoga studios where the audience are there because of the yoga, members at gyms may not necessarily be looking for toga – they just want to get fit. If you love teaching meditation or chanting, they may not be comfortable with you doing that – and maybe your audience won’t be either. So, are you happy to meet the needs of the gym and students rather than teach what you want?
5. Finding a yoga job at a yoga studio, especially a really successful one, can be more demanding than working for a gym. They are yoga specialists after all. Generally speaking, they know their yoga and are likely to be more choosy about who they employ. Some of the larger studios in bigger cities are actually also looking for teachers who they know can bring students with them because they already have a following. If you’ve literally just completed your yoga teacher training with no experience, you may find this a bit of a challenge.
So, there you have it.
My advice is if you are fresh out of teacher training, if you feel you need to gain confidence teaching and if you’ve absolutely no clear idea or plan of how to go about attracting a following on your own, then working for a yoga studio or gym is a good place to start.
But, see it as temporary if you’d like something more. Use this time to learn, to increase your confidence, to really find out your own style and authentic voice and attract your following.
Once you’ve done that – you’re ready for the next step!
Actions you can take:
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