March 31, 2013

The Price Of Yoga. ~ Charles Terhune

Recently we received a piece of feedback that we feel merited wider exposure:

“The quality of the work out is great, and the instructors are awesome. However, I find that the price of classes is out of my league and it’s disappointing that the more affordable community classes are always during normal working hours. It’s a shame because I don’t make enough money to afford to work out more at ppy. I feel that you’ve created somewhat of an elitist yoga community. [Other yoga studio name] is sub par but they offer community class at other times so I have switched my business to go there. The only time I come to PPY now is on free yoga day I’m sorry to say that. And I wish I could come more because I do prefer PPY. The only other piece of feedback I have is that it would be nice if there were more showers.” ~ Gina B.

Dear Gina,

Thank you for your direct and honest communication and thanks for coming to Free Yoga Day! I’m glad you enjoy our classes and instructors. I’d like to address your other great comments if I may.

When we started PPY in 2006, there were six studios in Portland and no one else was doing a heated Vinyasa practice. After seven years of bringing yoga to over 10,000 people, we’ve learned a lot. One of these is how to price our classes to make them as affordable as we can for everyone. I appreciate your candor about other studios and their own class schedules and prices.

I cannot speak to what other studios do nor their methodology as I am entirely focused on running my studio.

What I can speak to is our teaching methodology.

In the seven years of teaching yoga in Portland, we’ve found that the 3:30 time slot works best for the community classes. Since you mentioned you switched your business to take [Other Yoga Studio]’s community classes, is it possible to switch it to take our 3:30 classes? I’m sure you’ve already considered this and I just wanted to throw that out there.

As for teachers: we are often approached by new teachers, either recent graduates of other training programs or new to our area who have taught elsewhere. None of them have had the necessary requirements as we are very specific about what we look for. Our dedication to proper training is what determines the number of community classes a week: through mentorship, the community classes come as close to what you experience in all of our other classes as a result of our commitment to training. We will not put a teacher into any class before they are ready. With more community classes, mentorship would not be possible and as a result the standards would lower. It’s that devotion to nurturing strong teachers that’s made us what we are today.

Now as for pricing, since you were honest with me I will be honest with you: it’s expensive to run a yoga studio!

The appearance of full classes may give the impression that we are making money hand over fist off the backs of many sweaty yogis. The reality is that for the studio to function, it costs quite a lot, even an efficient studio like ours. You know what the cost of living is for you on a monthly basis; running our studio costs anywhere from five to maybe even ten times that and other studios have even higher expenses than ours! To truly meet our  financial needs (just a small list of these are: rent, payroll, electricity, gas, water, beverages, advertising) we should actually be charging more—a lot more—per person. So more classes at a cheaper rate is simply not a feasible option for us if we are to remain dedicated to our principals as we are. Despite our success, we do not make millions running our studio and not many thousands either. We make enough to provide what you so aptly said “is great, and the instructors are awesome.”

Since you mentioned [Other Yoga Studio] I’ll say this: If you look at our prices and other studios, on average ours are the same or even cheaper.

While we have to keep our pricing competitive (as we are a business after all) we also know that we need to keep it as affordable as we can. We know that everyone is watching their dollars just like we are. We also know that without your health it doesn’t matter if you have a million dollars or a hundred dollars in the bank. That’s why we call our studio “your affordable health insurance”—the money you put into classes is an investment not in a workout but in your health and well-being.

Aren’t you worth an investment like that?

I firmly believe you are. A $16 class taught by an experienced teacher could save you ten times that in doctor’s visits and therapy alone!

In addition to our standard offering of class packages, we regularly offer specials and deals. In looking over your visits and account with us I noticed that while you never got a Newcomer’s Package with us, you did get a 5 for $50 package back in 2011. We offer those every winter and run similar offers just about every quarter or three months. In addition we offer “autopay” plans that are extremely affordable and allow for unlimited visits to fit your busy schedule.

So you see, we do actually work very hard to make this practice available to all who walk through our doors regardless of income.

Finally, I’d like to address your comment: “I feel that you’ve created somewhat of an elitist yoga community.”

I have to strongly disagree with you on that comment. When used as an adjective, elitist is defined as “Favoring, advocating or restricted to an elite.” Firstly, I believe I’ve gone on exhaustively to show you the various payment options we have available to help people find their practice. We have people from all incomes, all ages and all walks of life practicing: students, waitstaff, plumbers, fishermen, taxi drivers, teachers, lawyers, moms, dads and kids and everything in between.

When yoga was developed thousands of years ago, it was practice only by Brahmin, the elite upper class—and men only, at that!

What we’ve created is an inclusive community of people from all walks of life and given them the opportunity to make this practice a regular part of their daily life—and I believe we have achieved that



Charles Terhune has been teaching yoga for ten years and practicing yoga for twelve.  His first yoga class he thought his wife brought him there to kill him but little did he know yoga would actually bring him to life! He is the co-owner of Portland Power Yoga in Portland, Maine, with his wife Alice Riccardi.  Since 2006, in the first power vinyasa yoga studio in Maine, Charles has taught over 10,000 people.  Charles has trained with Baron Baptiste and Ana Forrest.  In addition to yoga, Charles is an avid gamer playing on both Xbox and PS3 (not simultaneously), a writer of science fiction and other stories, and a musician.  He is currently at work on a book about yoga entitled The Accidental Yogi.  He lives in Portland, Maine with his wife Alice, his wonderful daughter Sophia, his dog Sparky and his master, George Foreman-Terhune, a cat.  You can find him on the web at http://www.portlandpoweryoga.com and also http://www.crtdot.com.

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Assistant Editor: Lacy Ramunno/Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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