In 2019, as one of Manduka’s four U.S. Sales Reps, I traveled all over the country to visit with hundreds of our bread-and-butter accounts—our studio partners. We have celebrated community milestones with you, practiced next to you, and seen your businesses (and your impact) grow.
We know that yoga studios have been deeply affected by COVID-19 closures. As we have continued our conversations with you, we are heartened (but not surprised) by your resilience and adaptation of online classes and virtual shopping experiences. We plan to be there with you on the other side of this, to celebrate your doors re-opening, and to do everything we can to make the transition back to in-studio classes as smooth as possible.
We are closely following the news as state governors announce phased reopening plans. Many of you have shared with us your considerations for eventual re-opening, and many more have asked us to identify any emerging best practices. We believe in the power of community and conversation as we navigate this unknown terrain together.
We here at Manduka are yogis, not medical professionals, and request that you adhere to local restrictions and health codes in all reopening plans. We respect your timeline—whatever that may be. We have gathered visions from studio interviews and owner conversations across every region, and we hope these ideas may be of service to you as you move forward:
1) How can you make your studio space as safe as possible?
a. Identify high-traffic areas of entrance and exit. If there is one door, create practices to minimize congestion and reduce bottlenecking (staggering entrance times, creating arrival reservations, directing traffic patterns, removing clutter from the door area, designating distanced areas for shoes and belongings).
b. Pre-identify “high touch points” like handles, credit card readers, doors, etc. and implement a plan for regular disinfectant or elimination of the touchpoint (like leaving certain doors open or encouraging/requiring class and retail pre-payment online).
c. Pre-identify and mark with tape social distance perimeters around each mat space in the studio so all students have sufficient space.
d. Follow a typical student’s journey from the front door through your studio to anticipate potential issues regarding social distancing, personal belonging storage, locker-room and bathroom use, and availability and location of public cleaning supplies like hand sanitizer, soap and water, or wipes.
e. Determine and make clear your business, or local, policy regarding face masks, student illness, employee sick-leave, and social distancing.
2) Create a studio specific phased reopening plan for yourself in accordance with your local government’s recommendations, and then prepare for it. Allow sufficient time after each phase is introduced to observe the effects and solve any procedural issues that arise. We know that all studios and communities are different, and you know yours best. Below is one possible example of this personal plan:
a. Phase 1: Retail space is open for limited or private shopping hours, with an enforced maximum of __ shoppers (according to space available). Staff is educated to implement new studio processes and cleaning procedures. Individual members may purchase private instruction. Procedural pain-points are identified and solved on a small scale. Online classes continue.
b. Phase 2: An abbreviated schedule of weekly classes is reintroduced, with sufficient time and resources reserved for deep cleaning before and after each class. Class reservations are required, and available to members only. Touchless check-in is implemented. Participant # is capped according to social distancing requirements and your available space. Outdoor spaces are utilized. Students bring their own yoga mats and props. Online classes continue.
c. Phase 3: Retail hours are expanded, with maximum of __ shoppers. Abbreviated class schedule is reassessed. Pre-paid drop-ins and non-members able to practice. Outdoor spaces utilized. Social distancing measures continue. Online classes options reduced as more in-studio offerings become available.
We’ve checked in with some studios who have re-opened, to see how these procedures feel in practice. Tim Huth, owner of One Love Yoga Boutique in Ohio, shares, “We have tight protocols in place, and I’ll be at every class to monitor how we are doing. We took it slow. It’s painful to do it right, but it’ll be more painful if we don’t. Right now, it is just me and two other teachers. We will slowly integrate more staff each week.”
Shannon Popham, Manager of Yoga Alive, Body Alive (pictured here), has clearly marked personal practice areas within the studio, in compliance with social distancing requirements. She also recommends adding any new studio guidelines to a permanent landing page, such your website or social media. She shares, “We sent our updated protocols to all of our members in advance, but we did not anticipate new students joining us for the first time.” In order to ensure that all guests are as prepared as possible, the studio immediately placed their COVID procedures front and center on all home pages.
Written by: Halle Miroglotta