We talked to Leslie Glickman of Yoga Journey about health and wellness.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Leslie Glickman: Thank you for asking, we are doing OK. There have been many challenges as well as many beautiful lessons during the Covid 19 Pandemic.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Yoga Journey.
Leslie Glickman: I have been teaching yoga for almost 30 years. All of the chapters in my career have led me exactly where I am today. I started out in Fitness and Physical Therapy and owned and operated a full-service fitness center and two Physical Therapy Clinics for about 15 years. During that time, I really enjoyed being in health and wellness. I learned so much being a small business owner and finally decided to turn my passion into my business. At the end of 2012, I open Yoga Journey Studio, and we have been growing and serving the community of South Florida ever since.
How does Yoga Journey innovate?
Leslie Glickman: I have always stayed at the cutting edge of the Health and Wellness Industry and strive to deliver the best quality service and experience possible. As the needs of my customer change, so do we without ever straying from our core values.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Leslie Glickman: We offer in-person yoga classes teacher training and continuing education workshops. Our space can hold up to 40 people at max capacity. With the limitations for in-person experiences, social distancing guidelines and the fear lurking in the community, we have seen a dramatic drop in business. My first instincts were to protect my team and make sure that they felt supported, so we continued to pay them through the first month. Knowing that live and in-person classes would not happen for months, we quickly converted our business model to an online studio. It took us about two weeks to figure out the technology (music, lighting, microphones etc.) and switched over to zoom to deliver our classes live daily. Over the next weeks and months, we got our full schedule online, keeping our team employed and our customers engaged.
Even with this big and swift shift, we saw a 40% decrease in business. After about 5 months, we started introducing in-studio options for the students that didn’t engage with us on zoom, and we are seeing that piece of the business starting to grow.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Leslie Glickman: Yes, there were many difficult choices to be made. I had to adjust the way we created our customer experience, and that meant retraining my team. Some got right on board and others not so much. We had to shift around the amount of hours I gave them to work, adjust the schedule of classes and do my best to take into consideration if any of them had at-risk family members or high risk themselves for getting sick that would keep them from coming back into the studio when needed.
I personally have had to make some serious changes in my lifestyle to be able to keep the doors open. I am hopeful that we were strong before and that we will be stronger after this experience, so I am willing to tighten my belt and support my passion and my community.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Yoga Journey in the future?
Leslie Glickman: Thank goodness I am in the health and wellness business, so I have the tools to maintain my levels of stress and anxiety. Practicing yoga and meditation daily and continuing to offer this much-needed service to the community has been a privilege and has kept me healthy and able to weather life’s storms, not just Covid-19 but the many ups and downs of owning a small business. I project a prosperous future for us. I have seen many other studio’s closing down, and I know that if we can sustain ourselves then the added element of digital classes, teacher training and workshops will be additional revenue once we are able to re-open at full capacity.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Leslie Glickman: There are many yoga studios and other fitness businesses that offer yoga classes. One of the most amazing things that have come out of this experience is the ways in which we have supported each other. One Studio owner in South Florida created a zoom call for any studio owner to attend. From the beginning, we have been sharing ideas and information and a sense of community. Unfortunately, some have had to close their doors, some have gone fully digital, and I have chosen to do both. I am grateful for a loyal team of talented teachers, staff and management, and we are delivering a great experience. We will stay in the game by being financially smart, patient and paying attention to the needs of our devoted students and customer in the community. We will get through this together.
Your final thoughts?
Leslie Glickman: As challenging as this has been and I would never wish this on anyone, I do feel like it taught me so many things about priorities, and sticking to my core values and my mission. I believe in my work, my team and my community. Yoga is about connection and union… it is playing out before my eyes every day. We have lost some dear friends and family members, and we have seen each other through many celebrations, weddings, births and so much more. It is the relationships that we have developed over the years that give us strength and will carry us through anything.
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