Valparaiso, IndianaStaff:3 people
"I ran with your Zoom recommendation and its working beautifully. We had an international class for the first attempt - people from the Midwest, California, Sweden and Italy!"
The coronavirus pushed Dana Darr into uncharted territory as she decided to keep going and offer classes online for the first time. But the leap has paid off in unexpected ways — it's given her business an unexpected boost and garnered interest from far beyond the boundaries of her small community.
Dana has owned the Asana Yoga Center in Valparaiso, Indiana for 15 years. But recently, increased competition in her area has meant dwindling numbers. "Within the past three years, six more yoga studios opened up in our little teeny tiny town of 35,000 people." Attendance had gone down too, and sometimes only six people would show up at the studio for class.
But in her very first online class, she had people join in from Sweden, Italy, France, California, and Mexico. And now their friends have started to join in, including a group of Italians who can speak almost no English at all. One new Italian customer boasted to her friends that "it's impossible to travel anywhere right now, but I just traveled to the United States and took a yoga class near Chicago, Illinois." Dana's online classes have been averaging 20 students.
"It's so unexpected which makes it fun and exciting in what otherwise would be just a really rough time."
Dana's online classes have provided a sense of connection among her students as well. She makes the zoom class live 20 minutes ahead of time. "It's cute. I hear them chatting with each other when I'm in the other room. It has become a little bit more involved every time I've had a class."
She also makes it a point to connect with each student individually. "I say hello to every person just like I would if they were at the studio. I think that people appreciate that too." She has even continued to give feedback to her students throughout class. "I'll set people up into a pose and I flip through the screen so I can see everyone — it's very quick to see who's out of alignment."
In this new set of circumstances, Dana's skills as a teacher have benefited unexpectedly. "I'm teaching way better than I used to. I have to do an actual plan. I'm really knuckling down."
She thinks that online classes could be the key to keeping her business around for the long-haul. "People who value it don't seem to mind paying for it. I might be able to make a profit this year!"
Even after the COVID-19 crisis has passed, Dana has decided that she'll keep offering classes online. "I'm realizing that this is a tool I will use afterward as well. I can see that it has a place. All of these students that I used to have who have moved away now are excited that they can study with me again."
Dana's advice for other instructors who are deciding whether to teach online? "Just do it. Because people want it."