DONE DONE DONE DONE

Finals are horrible.  This really nice girl from one of my classes sent a super nice note this morning to congratulate everyone on being done with the semester and I’m like, “Dude, ouch.  Not even close.”  Because today was only day one of the brutality.  Three papers in two days is so mean.  I don’t recommend 9 credits to anyone.  EVER.  Under ANY circumstances.

Anyway!  Here’s a summary of my paper:

TRUE Studio, Yoga Branding, Marketing, and Advertising: What Works and What Doesn’t?

Introduction

As many people may know, the practice of yoga dates back thousands of years to ancient Asia and specifically to India.  The art of yoga itself contains more than just the postures many of us are familiar with today; yoga includes the mental practice including meditation, a spiritual philosophy, a particular lifestyle, using essential oils, and many other “arms” of the practice.  Many yoga practitioners believe that doing yoga, such as going through the postures and poses, is the least important part of yoga and in fact was developed to help young Indian scholars use their energy while in meditation so as to be less distracting to the mental practice.

Yoga was introduced to western society as early as the 1800’s, but gained popularity more throughout the latter half of the 20th century, enjoying a more drastic uptick in popularity since the 1980’s and again in the first part of the 21st century.  While some yoga “essentialists” or “fundamentalists” might disagree with using yoga as simply a form of physical exercise, it is increasingly being used as such and is continually made popular by well-known fitness coaches and professionals, as well as celebrities.  Some “famous yogis” include: Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, Christy Turlington, Jessica Biel, Hilaria Thomas Baldwin, Reese Witherspoon, Kaley Cuoco, and Miley Cyrus.

In Western culture, the focus tends to be on the yoga poses and postures, also called asanas, themselves rather than yoga and its additional “arms.”  For this reason, yoga fundamentalists disregard modern yoga in western society as true yoga.  But the practice continues to gain speed regardless.

From a technical and professional communication standpoint, it is of interest to communication scholars to study how branding, marketing, and communication is being used to bolster the business of yoga and boost its popularity in this part of the world.  I drew from published research material to bolster my research.  For example, in Branding Yoga: The Cases of Iyengar Yoga, Siddha Yoga and Anusara Yoga (2012), author Andrea Jain attempts to discover why the style Anusara Yoga, developed by an American named John Friend, became so popular in Western culture.  Anusara Yoga is a more modern, contemporary style of yoga than compared to yoga styles that have prevailed in Asia for hundreds of years or more.  In Jain’s study, she “evaluates the context in which yoga became subject to a sequential branding process: selection, introduction, elaboration, and fortification” (p. 4).  She focuses on Friend’s ability to not only brand his style of yoga, but also how he used himself as part of the branding process.

As with many or most businesses in America today, many yoga and fitness studios use a plethora of social media platforms, electronic communication, and other modes of mass communication including, but not limited to, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  While we study the constant onslaught of new means and modes to communicate digitally, on the internet, or with smartphones, businesses must understand and anticipate that onslaught and be ready when it arrives.  The question I would like to answer in my final paper is the following:  When it comes to branding, marketing, and advertising for yoga studios, what works and what doesn’t?  I intend to study different forms of digital and electronic communications for yoga studios in the Janesville and Verona, Wisconsin areas to best understand their methods.  I will observe and record their methods and also observe their online communities and how they interact respectively.  The utility for this topic is to determine the effectiveness of social media in the field of technical communication.  There is also a vast amount of professional research on the subject that have aided me in my research and observation.

TRUE Studio Background

In order to provide a better understanding of the purpose of this research project, it is important to illustrate the type of business TRUE Studio.  This information outlines key elements of True Studio, a unique group-exercise, multi-functional studio featuring indoor cycling (Spinning®), yoga (heated), and core strength (TRX) classes.  This specialized niche business will be conveniently located in a vibrant, active area with optimal population density and high household income.  TRUE Studio will be the first boutique of its kind in the area and will provide classes taught by superior instructors, iconic design, intimacy, convenience and exceptional customer service.  TRUE Studio will also feature a café for nutrition-conscious consumers, childcare, and a friendly, community-oriented environment.

Over the past 3 years, the appeal of boutique fitness studios has increased dramatically as evidenced by the rapid spread of independent group exercise studio businesses across North

America and around the world. Planning to launch in early 2017, TRUE Studio will target cycling

and fitness consumers seeking to improve physical fitness, reduce stress, lower blood pressure,

lose weight, and live a healthier, more abundant lifestyle.  Clients will be largely repeat

customers who develop a regular workout routine.

The health and fitness industry in the United States and globally is growing as a whole.  In Wisconsin, the majority of people exercise at large, franchised gyms/health clubs.  However, there is a demand for a premium boutique experience that is not currently being met.  TRUE Studio looks to capitalize on this growth with its unique health and wellness offering.  Indoor Cycling is a popular and effective group exercise that has been around in various forms since 1987.  Participants pedal sophisticated stationary cycles and are coached by an instructor who leads various “rides” set to motivational music.  Today, roughly 5 million people participate in indoor cycling in North America making it one of the most popular group exercises of all time.  This low-impact, high cardio exercise is recommended for people of all ages and fitness levels because the student controls the speed and intensity.  This is an increase of 74% in the past 5 years. (2016, IHRSA).  An increasing percentage of riders cycle at dedicated studios such Soul Cycle and Flywheel, two high-profile New York-based studios.  Reality TV shows have featured indoor cycling instructors, and Hollywood Cycle airs each Tuesday night on E! Channel.

TRX Strength The TRX Suspension Trainer was developed by former US Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick, as he and his fellow SEALS searched for ways to stay in peak physical condition with limited access to training implements and/or space. Starting as parachute webbing, it has developed into a well-made, portable training system that is affordable and user friendly. It’s harness system allows you to use your own body weight for strength training. It allows for the explosive movement of plyometrics without the same stress upon landing. The exercises performed on the TRX are multiplaner, which more closely mimics real life situations that require strength. By adjusting body position, the level of difficulty of a particular exercise changes as well, making it appropriate for people at all fitness levels.

TRUE Studio’s hot yoga class is an invigorating sequence of postures that works the entire body and is appropriate for all levels of experience. The class is led in a heated room with 40% humidity. The heat warms and opens the body, enhances flexibility, releases toxins, and naturally focuses the mind to a single point of concentration.  Within this environment, a truly complete sequence of postures is practiced at a deliberate pace and with thorough instruction from the teacher.  Modifications and advanced variations will be introduced.  With the aid of the heat, the postures will gradually optimize every facet of the body and mind.  Traditional yoga classes including Vinyasa Flow, Meditative, Ashtanga, and Yin will also be offered.

truestudio1

Differentiation

                The idea of a dedicated boutique studio model is not new.  It has thrived for years unique to exercise activities such as yoga, Pilates, and boot camp, even though those activities are widely available in large gym settings.  TRUE Studio offers 3 unique studio environments under one luxurious roof.  Below are 7 keys that will differentiate the business:

Dedicated boutique: By definition, a studio with niche offerings is more focused on the quality of that service than a large gym providing dozens.

Complementary workouts: Indoor cycling is an extremely effective cardio workout and participants can complement that exercise with a strength or yoga class.

Expert instruction: High energy, charismatic instructors will be selected and trained for their ability to attract and retain class attendees.

Pricing convenience and flexibility: Contract memberships or “pay-per-class” options will be available. Pre-paid ride card fees, or monthly passes are purchased online and class credits are debited as customers attend.

Online scheduling: The studio will deploy a unique online sales and scheduling system that users can also access via mobile device. The system vastly simplifies class dynamics for the studio and is a major convenience for customers.

Intimacy and community: The studio atmosphere is markedly different from the feeling at “big box” gyms. Instructors and class attendees interact more directly and the vibe is fun, friendly and supportive. Appeals to all ages, fitness levels.

Convenience and amenities: Clients can get in and out quickly for an efficient workout. Amenities will include towels, filtered water, spa-grade shower products, hair styling tools, lockers with USB charging stations, cycling shoes, environment-friendly yoga mats, complimentary wi-fi, childcare and expansive social area.

That’s the set up.  Essentially what I did afterwards was break down my findings based on my observations of each company I targeted.

Facebook: Anytime Fitness, Capital Fitness, Cyc Fitness, Dragonfly, Fit Moms Transformation Center, Flyght Cycle, Harbor Wellness, Orange Shoe, Orange Theory, Planet Fitness, Princeton Club

Instagram: Anytime Fitness, Capital Fitness, Cyc Fitness, Dragonfly, Harbor Wellness, iGo, Orange Shoe, Orange Theory, Planet Fitness, Princeton Club

Twitter: Anytime Fitness, Capital Fitness, Cyc Fitness, Dragonfly, Harbor Wellness, Orange Shoe, Orange Theory, Planet Fitness, Princeton Club

The commonplace of these organizations having social media platforms go by how they are listed:  Every target studio has one or more Facebook accounts.  The second most was Instagram, followed by Twitter, LinkedIn, and lastly was newsletters.  It was noticed that many organizations also had Pinterest accounts, but my research did not include information about Pinterest.  I observed how often each company posted on each respective platform noting content and consistency.

Planet Fitness: Facebook—at least once a day to every other day; Instagram—approximately four times a week; Twitter—at least once every two days.

Orange Theory Fitness:  Facebook—once a day; Instagram—at least three times a week; Twitter—one to three times a day.

Orange Shoe: Facebook—few times a month, three times a year; Twitter—once a month to a few times a year

iGo Fitness: Facebook—once since July 2016; Instagram—one post 94 weeks ago.

Harbor Wellness Studios:  Facebook—at least twice a week; Instagram—once per week; Twitter—up to three times a day.

Flyght Cycle Fitness:  Facebook—once a day; Instagram—three times a week.

Fit Moms Transformation Center: Facebook—approximately twice a week

Dragonfly Hot Yoga:  Facebook—up to twice a day; Instagram—once or twice a day; Twitter—up to three times a day.

Cyc Fitness:  Facebook—up to three times a week; Instagram—up to three times a week; Twitter—approximately once a day.

Capital Fitness:  Facebook—up to four times a day; Instagram—once a day; Twitter—up to three times a day.

Anytime Fitness:  Facebook—up to twice a day; Instagram—several times a year; Twitter—up to four times a day.

Princeton Club:  Facebook—once a day; Instagram—once a week; Twitter—up to twice a month.

From these observations, and in combination with the scholarly articles I researched, I tried to analyze what was most commonplace and what TRUE Studio could take from that.

Conclusion

Contemporary versus ancient views of yoga branding absolutely stress the importance of understanding the audience and considering which content and imagery to use to send a certain message.  It’s also important to be cognizant of the appropriate amount of posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Lastly, it’s highly important to consider brand consistency among posts on Facebook in addition to how consistent posts are across all social media platforms.  Considering all of these items creates content that consistently meets the needs of each respective audience. As mentioned before, businesses have to understand what technology exists, how to best use that existing technology and appropriately capitalize on that technology, and anticipate up and coming technology and modes of communication.

As modes of communication and technology evolve at an exponential rate, people and companies, fitness or otherwise, would do well to anticipate such changes as quickly as they come.  TRUE Studio anticipates doing just that to create an advantage and improve the potential for success.

Good luck to you all the rest of this semester and into the next.  It was nice to work with all of you this year.  Cheers and Happy Holidays.  I’ma go find a glass of wine.

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About mollynolte

MSTPC grad student scheduled to graduate in May 2017. Lover of the outdoors, my dogs, autumn, yoga, and travel.

Posted on December 13, 2016, in Social Media. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Great report! The end is near, I can see the light. Good luck with your finals, from the “nice girl.” 🙂

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