Q&A: Stretching the limits of possibility to build a family yoga business

This week we chat to yoga teacher Trudy Vains, who took up the practice initially to ease her own discomfort that stemmed from a series of car accidents Having started out running just two classes a week, Trudy now employs four contract yoga teachers and her whole family is involved in running the business.

ISB: What was the inspiration behind you starting your own yoga studio?

TV: It was quite a surprise to myself, but not a surprise to my family when I said that wanted to teach. I needed to change things within me, and this was my inspiration to move forward as I was not in a good place. Training set me up to be the person that I am today and keep bettering my life, as well as helping others. My reason for changing from mainstream job to teaching yoga was health related.

ISB: What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting the enterprise off the ground?

TV: Where was I going to get the clientele? There were yoga teachers everywhere and we had only a small budget to begin with. During my 12 months of training, I had no idea what I was going to do after that. I just decided that it was time to remove some bad habits – I was an alcoholic and a chain smoker, and at that time I also needed to use a walking stick after an accident that had left me in a wheelchair for nine months.

ISB: And please tell us briefly about the progression of the business from a one-off class in a hired space to the comprehensive services you offer today.

TV: I started out hiring a local community hall with two classes per week. Twelve months later I needed more room and found a great little studio that had lots of foot traffic, and classes increased to 10 per week. I needed teachers and found some good ones that matched our style.

We grew further and moved again to a bigger space, our daughter Emily became a yoga teacher and my husband Craig is always working behind the scenes, making sure all is well. We now have a home-based studio with small but frequent classes.

ISB: What makes your offering stand out from other yoga studios?

TV: Our niche is beginner, pregnancy, post natal and back care yoga. These are specialised classes and we are the only studio in the area that teach them. I have personal experience with back pain, and the way I teach within the confines of how my body is able to move on that day.

We have a small amount of students per class so we can make sure they are following instructions with comfort and ease. We are a community and laugh a lot.

ISB: To what extent did COVID impact operations, and how did you keep the business going?

TV: We were able to teach online. Not all of our teachers felt comfortable teaching like that and I applaud them for standing up and saying that. About 80 per cent of our clientele were comfortable to learn online, but there were some who don’t understand how to use technology, so I gave them a DVD to use at home.

Our business income was not heavily affected but our hearts were, as yoga is about community. We forged on as we could see and talk to each other online. I had spine fusion surgery last year, so Emily was my main teacher and Craig was my carer.

ISB: And, finally, what is your vision for the development of the business in the next couple of years?

TV: Ideally, I would like to help more teachers to be adept in instructing specialised classes. We are not a school, but we pay for their education and guide them along the way With the right people, we’ll be able to increase the number of classes we run and help more people who live with back pain. I am currently creating an app with poses and loads of information on how to reduce and ease daily back pain, and also during pregnancy.

Who knows what the future holds, but it will be met with love, fun and lots of laughter.