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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

getting it off my chest

i haven't been writing much lately. and it's not because i don't have anything to say. on the contrary, it's because i've been trying to keep myself from talking about something that's been bothering me. and because i've been suppressing myself from writing about it, i can't seem to write about anything else. sigh.

anyway, after giving myself some time to think things over and/or for things to change -- which, by the way, have not -- i've decided to go ahead and get it off my chest. you may agree with me, but then again, you're more than welcome to disagree. either way, i'd love to hear what you all think.

so here goes...

there's a new yoga studio in the works. it's scheduled to open in mid- to late-april and promises to be an exquisite experience for all those who enter its portals.

located in a newly-developed area in el segundo, just minutes from LAX and the upscale communities of westchester, playa del rey, manhattan beach, hermosa beach, and redondo beach, it will feature:

~ energy efficient and eco-friendly construction with sustainable woods, recycled board and natural tiles
~ relaxing organic tea and juice lounge
~ spacious locker rooms with full showers and complimentary towel service
~ lifestyle yoga boutique featuring the latest in yoga equipment and activewear
~ tranquil library with educational audio and visual yoga media.

this beautiful space will offer a diverse selection of classes taught by highly-trained instructors:

~ beginner's intros and series
~ specialty classes for children, seniors, prenatal, athletes
~ sculptworks and cardioworks fitness hybrids
~ hundreds of weekly classes at convenient times
~ private yoga and pilates sessions
~ programs geared toward therapeutics, stress reduction, and weight loss

honestly, it's everything a yoga student could want. it's nestled within the new plaza el segundo shopping center and is surrounded by restaurants and boutiques, as well as larger chain stores such as borders, best buy, cost plus, linens-n-things, and even a whole foods market. as an added bonus, there's also a lululemon and a pinkberry in the complex... and best of all, there's unlimited FREE PARKING!

so picture this: you have a few hours at your disposal. in that short time, you can pick up the book you've been meaning to read, buy a pair of shoes for the outfit you're going to wear that weekend, and maybe track down a doo-dad that you need for the house. you might have a leisurely meal at one of the cafes or pick up something to-go from the hot food bar at whole foods. and once you've gotten all your errands done, you decide to squeeze in a delicious yoga class.

there's one catch, though. when you get to the yoga studio, you're told that you can't just drop in and take a class. why not? the receptionist smiles sweetly and says: this is a members-only studio, and you're not a member. but if you register now and pay your membership dues, you'll still have time to make the next vinyasa flow class...

and this is where i have a problem. a BIG problem.

since when does one have to fork over a wad of money before taking a yoga class??!??! we're not talking about a high-end gym here. this is not a sports club LA. or a spectrum. or an equinox. this is the new yoga works south bay location. this is the same yoga works whose founders "... honor the tradition of the great yoga masters by passing their knowledge from teacher to student... and have combined their individual passions to pursue a common goal: bringing yoga to more people..."

to more people? you mean to more affluent people?

after speaking with the staff during my recent visit to their "pre-sale" office, i found out that to become a member, i'd have to first pay an initiation fee of $50. then depending on whether i plan on practicing solely at the south bay location or at all of the LA locations, i'd be paying either a $80 or $130 monthly membership fee. and in order to seal the deal, i'd have to prepay the first and last months' dues. so let's see... if i chose the more restricted (and less expensive) option, i'd have to pay $50 plus $80 twice. that's $210 just to take my first class!! there are no drop-in rates, no introductory specials. i can't even use a class from my yogaworks series pass to get in the door when they finally open.

what about visitors from out of town? sorry. what if you're a local like me who wants to try out a class with the teacher you've heard so much about? sorry. what if you're out of work, living from unemployment check to unemployment check, and want to take a class that might help relieve some of your stress (and yes, i've been there)? sorry.

i later called yoga works westlake village, which also happens to be a members-only location, to see if they had the same set-up. but unlike their south bay counterpart, they offer $10 community classes as well as $18 drop-in classes to non-members. if after some time, however, they notice that a student has become a frequent visitor, they'll suggest that he/she take advantage of the more cost-effective membership plan. fair enough.

so why is yoga works south bay insisting on restricting class participation to members only?

is it to keep classes small? i doubt it, because they can always close a class when it's reached its maximum size.

is it to make it more exclusive, and therefore more desirable? since when did taking a yoga class become a status symbol?

or could it be... about the money? if that's it, that's just plain wrong!

there are other equally fantastic yoga studios nearby, like yoga loft in manhattan beach, lyfe yoga center in hermosa beach, and many others. so until yoga works opens its doors to those of us who can't afford to pay the required dues, you know where i'll be practicing whenever i find myself in the south bay...

postscript: in all fairness, i should point out that the other LA region yoga works locations -- center for yoga (larchmont), main street, montana, pacific palisades, and westwood -- still accept drop-ins. so far, i haven't heard anything about their going members-only. and i'm keeping my fingers crossed that it stays that way!


Blogger Meg said...

I know the Westlake Village studio was orginally "members only", I practice at the huntington beach studio, but my boyfriend's parents live up near westlake. I called to see if I could take a class and was (snippily) informed I needed to be a member.

10:01 AM  
Blogger joni said...

hi meg --

could it be they opened up the classes to "outsiders" because they finally realized that yoga was supposed to be inclusive rather than exclusive? or was it because they couldn't get enough members to sign up?

11:31 AM  
Blogger Meg said...

Probably because they couldn't get enough members! Their attitude really suprised me, it wasn't very "yoga-like".

11:38 AM  
Blogger Leigh said...

I stumbled on your site a few weeks ago, and just happened to read this post now. I acutally bought a yearly for the YogaWorks South Bay location for $750 because I thought the price was a steal for a yearly, the location is super convenient for me, and because I know some of the teachers that will be there and several of the students that signed up as well. But I will say, it is a turn off that it is membership only. I don't know why they are doing that, and I actually wasn't aware until after I bought the yearly. I hope that they will open it up to others after some time, but it was packed at the 'Open House' like party on Thursday so it has obviously caught on.

4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been looking for information on YogaWorks pricing. Thanks so much for posting!!!

8:43 PM  
Blogger joni said...

the members-only concept must be making them some money; there's a new location in valencia that'll be opening soon. it looks like i'll have to pay a visit to the studios in the area before their top instructors are lured away by yogaworks...

2:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty nice site you've got here. Thanx for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read a bit more on that blog soon.

3:55 AM  
Blogger joni said...

i hope you keep reading... and sending in your comments, too!

1:34 PM  

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