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Hot Yoga Burlington

When the Coronavirus forced his hot yoga studio to shut down, Bill O'Connor immediately started offering classes online to keep his community connected and thriving.
Bill O'Connor, Founder

Business:

Hot Yoga Studio

Location:

Burlington, VermontStaff:9 people

“I could not run my business without Punchpass. PERIOD. I could not do this without you.”

The Coronavirus forced Bill O'Connor to close his Burlington, VT hot yoga studio on a Monday morning. Sweaty, packed classes were out of the question as the viral outbreak reached pandemic proportions.

Online classes helped his business survive COVID-19

By Monday night at 5 PM, O'Connor was hosting his first live, online class to forty grateful students. By Wednesday, more than 500 people, including new and former students, and strangers from out of state, had taken O'Connor’s classes. Within a week, his average online class size was hitting sixty – a huge number considering that Hot Yoga Burlington’s practice room only holds 32 mats, and the studio’s typical student attendance was 100 per day. 

“My first thought was to stay in front of the customers, just to stay in people’s minds,” said O'Connor.  “Then, after just the first class, there was this tremendous response. The feedback has been extremely positive. The emails and texts and social media that's been coming in has been so positive.” 

Using Punchpass studio management software, which includes integration with Zoom video conferencing, O'Connor can post and promote online classes through his official class schedule. The software automatically sends students the link to Zoom ahead of time so they can join in the live class. Hot Yoga Burlington started out offering the classes for free, but now is charging a special $25/month unlimited package to access all of the video classes. The studio is currently offering two online classes a day – one in the morning and one in the evening. 

Hot Yoga Burlington has been promoting the classes through email, and Facebook and Instagram. 

O'Connor said he wanted to let his students try the classes for free to gain comfort and trust with the technology. Once everyone saw how easy it was to use, and classes started filling up, he transitioned to a paid model. The studio is charging far less than it normally would for a monthly membership, but using the revenue from the discounted online memberships, O'Connor’s goal is to be able to pay rent while the studio is closed. 

“Now there’s traction, and I’ve got a way to monetize this,” said O'Connor. “I need to make a living.”

Bill's successful transition to online classes was even featured on the local TV news :)

Tips for Hosting Online Video from O'Connor:

  • Upgrade to Zoom’s “Pro” plan for the best features and quality of experience.
  • Film with an iPad or laptop, not a phone. It was too easy to accidentally push the wrong buttons when using the phone. 
  • Make sure participants turn off the sound on their end to avoid interference. 
  • Students can opt to either be seen on the instructor’s screen, or turn off their cameras for privacy while practicing. You may want to let them know how to do this. 
  • Turn on chat and messaging, and verbally respond and interact with the students during class. 
  • If possible, film the classes at your studio and put a sign or other branding in the background. Have the set up ready to go for your instructors. 
  • If possible, have a volunteer be your student so that you have someone to teach to, and model the poses.
  • Test your sound and lighting ahead of time. Setting up screens in the room can help bring down hollow or echoing sound. 
  • Be careful with music or avoid it altogether, because it can overpower your voice. 
  • Make sure that the device you are using to film is plugged into a power source. Don’t rely on battery power alone.