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‘We baked a great big lemon cake’: Yoga Movement on remaining flexible amid Covid-19

Yoga Movement recently opened its 6,000 square foot flagship location on Singapore’s shopping district Orchard Road.

Personal health is becoming increasingly important amid Covid-19, but how are the fitness operators coping with the pandemic? The Drum speaks to Yoga Movement to understand how the boutique fitness studio is navigating the pandemic.

Singapore-based boutique fitness studio Yoga Movement had big plans in the pipeline that were ready to go in 2020, and then the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Due to the current state of the world and travel restrictions, the almost-decade old studio’s plans were not able to come to fruition.

However, adversity is nothing new to Alicia Pan, the director and co-founder at Yoga Movement, who points out that Yoga Movement evolved from a low-budget and one studio location back in 2012 into a proper business.

The studio has grown to a stage where it needs a centralised team running six studios, backed by a team of over 100 employees, including part-timers. It claims to have over 100,000 members and 25,000 people on the studio’s mats each month.

“These challenges have reinforced my mindset about jumping into opportunities while dealing with speed bumps, as those speed bumps are never going to disappear. You know how the saying goes, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. I would like to think that we baked a great big lemon cake out of them,” Pan explains.

It is with this same spirit, that when Singapore went into lockdown, officially termed as “circuit breaker” in March 2020, Pan decided to create YM Live so that the studio’s community could remain connected.

YM Live classes are online classes that give our clients the same personal experience they would get in the studios like face time with their favourite teachers, verbal adjustments and real-time motivation.

“It was difficult for the business during that time because even as we pivoted and filled our online classes, we had commitments to 6 locations and a huge team of staff,” she explains.

“While our online classes were filling, they were not enough to cater to the demands of both our internal and external structure. Fortunately, with good planning and management, we were able to thrive through that difficult period.”

The circuit breaker measures meant that many began working out at home amid hybrid home office set-ups. Even though restrictions are gradually being lifted in Singapore, which has entered Phase 3 of its coronavirus response, fewer fitness enthusiasts have returned to gyms.

For example, gym brand Fitness First has seen a drop in check-ins to its clubs in the central business district, while witnessing an increase in some of its clubs in the suburbs, such as Westgate, Paya Lebar and Ang Mo Kio.

Pan understands people would have felt that way because of the uncertainty of everything during that time, which meant subscription memberships were the first to lose client confidence as people did not know when or if things would start to improve.

Considering things were so fluid and day to day, she notes any fitness business would have found it extremely tiring to try and change what they have built, all for no guarantee of success.

“It took us much deliberation to finally launch YM Live, as we did not believe in it is a permanent solution to replace in-studio classes, nor was it the direction our business wanted to dive into. Since the start of phase 2, though capacities were limited, our classes were full and we could see the number of people itching to get back to the studios,” explains Pan.

“Much as getting sweaty at home might have been an enjoyable thing for a while, I think most people would still have preferred to separate daily activities from their rest and workspaces, considering work from home is going to be a thing for a while.”

She adds: “As an avid gym-goer myself, the experience of working out with a community of people as opposed to trying to get yourself motivated alone, in the comfort of your home, is worlds apart.”

Things are looking up for the studio in 2021. Yoga Movement recently opened its 6,000 square foot flagship location on Singapore’s shopping district Orchard Road, with the studio intentionally designed to reflect our idea of what a good day could look like.

“We have just taken it up a notch with our flagship, through working with Common Man Coffee Roasters to build out our own coffee bar concept within the space. You will be able to sweat out a week’s worth of stress in any of our 3 spacious practice rooms before freshening up in our overly-huge luxury change rooms,” says Pan.

“After that, you grab a delicious cup of coffee and snack at our coffee bar before choosing a comfy spot at our chill-out patio to enjoy your day at. The names of our practice rooms are always inspired by hip hop music, and our playlists are always carefully curated.”

The Drum previously spoke to Fitness First on how it adapted to keep its members engaged.