Gym Yoga or Studio Yoga

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Gym Yoga or Studio Yoga

500-hour hatha yoga teacher training courseBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Around the world, Yoga has moved from private studios to large, mainstream gyms as its stress-relieving body benefits become known to the general public. Is the move to the mainstream good for Yoga? How does gym Yoga compare to Yoga practiced in a Yoga studio?

Entering the world of “24 Hour Fitness” and some fitness clubs have made some changes to this age old practice. Among them, some of the most striking are:

1) A strictly limited time period for Yoga sessions. Most gyms have a tightly packed schedule for their group fitness areas, and squeezing in a Yoga class usually means a one-hour maximum time slot. Savasana may be sacrificed in the name of putting away props before the next step class starts.

2) Emphasis on “Yoga for fitness,” to the exclusion of all other benefits. Practitioners are encouraged to attend for the purposes of elevating heart rates, or stretching muscles; focus and clarity of mind may be ignored altogether.

3) Atmosphere: Unlike traditional Yoga studios, which are quiet, dimly lit and typically feature cloth wall hangings or inspiring prints, the gym studio most often has mirrored walls. Brightly lit, music from neighboring classes or noise from nearby fitness equipment may be clearly audible. In many cases, the lights cannot be dimmed.

4) Teacher/student relationship: In classic Yoga studios, students mesh well with a Yoga teacher and return for ongoing, progressive instruction. In a gym setting, members choose from a potpourri of fitness classes and change options frequently.

Despite these drawbacks, the influx of Yoga to sports complexes is not without benefits. First and foremost, the availability of Yoga in gyms means that more Americans are familiar with the practice. According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) report of 2009, there are 45.3 million gym members in 29,750 health clubs across the U.S. Many of these individuals may have been unfamiliar with Yoga before seeing it on the group fitness schedule. Many of those who enjoy Yoga in a gym setting move on to take a class at a neighborhood studio.

Teaching Yoga at a gym may also offer instructors a predictable weekly source of income and supplement a private studio. Gyms typically pay instructors per class, rather than per student, making budgeting easier. Teaching at a gym can also be a good way for a new Yoga instructor to get established in a new city or area. Yoga mats and props are usually provided by the facility, so no start-up costs are involved.

Gym Yoga classes may also be the ideal place to test new styles or fusions of interest. Attracting new students and keeping interest levels high can drive an instructor to continue professional development. Competition for class enrollment levels may keep you on your toes as an instructor, which is never a bad thing.

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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5 responses to “Gym Yoga or Studio Yoga”

  1. Well written, Dr. Jerard! Gyms have definitely influenced more people to try yoga and hopefully they will find the right class type / instructor after being introduced to yoga at a gym. I find most yoga studios so much more relaxing and inviting than the bright, mirrored gyms, though. My hopes are that the students will be more likely to visit a yoga studio after the intro to yoga in a gym. It would be hard for them to gravitate back to a gym yoga setting after experiencing the setting of a yoga studio. Great article!

    • Susan says:

      I instruct a weekly yoga class of my own at a local church. Recently, I was asked to substitute for a fellow yogini at at Fitness Facility. Paul, you hit it right on! The noise level was high, with music blasting from outside the room, made it a little difficult to let go and really get into the yoga. Big windows allowed view of the machines and people working out, and allowed for them to peer in while class was in session. Luckily the lights could be dimmed, and the music system was nice. We were surrounded by mirrors, basketball nets, and piled up steps, & weights.
      Time was an issue, as it was an hour class, absolutely effecting savasana. At the end of class, a few did stay to chat, but outside people are anxious to get in and start playing basketball, quickly changing that relaxed atmosphere we just finished up in. Because the class is included in membership, people have a more “entitled” attitude instead of “grateful” attitude, sometimes arriving late or leaving early. On the other hand, people are more likely to give it a try, and it does make yoga more affordable, as individual classes, done at least 3 times per week, at a cost of only $5.00/class would cost $780, and I challenge you to find a yoga class for $5.00/class.
      I agree with you there are definite Pros & Cons. I’d like to see the fitness centers create a separate room dedicated to just Yoga.
      Thanks for the article!

  2. Masud Parvez says:

    Teaching yoga at a gym can be a good way for a new yoga instructor to get established in a new city or area. Nice comparative article.

  3. Marry Wilson says:

    In present, Yoga has moved from private studios to large, mainstream gyms and Gym Yoga classes may be the ideal place to test new styles or fusions of interest. Nice sharing!

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