Features Cat Morrison of The Sweaty Buddha
Since the Stay At Home order went into place, yoga studios and gyms have closed their doors for the foreseeable future. Many, like The Sweaty Buddha in Durango, are moving their classes online to connect with their community of members. The transition isn’t as easy as turning on the camera and pressing record, so we wanted to know how they’re making it happen.
“It’s definitely a different skill set to teach to a virtual class versus teaching to a live, you know, in person class.”
Margaret: This is Startup Colorado. We work with change agents across the state who are dedicated to building for rural Colorado. The communities are small but their stories are big. I’m Margaret Hedderman and today we’re gonna limber up, get some endorphins going, maybe even break a sweat. Because we’re chatting with Cat Morrison, a hot yoga studio in Durango called The Sweaty Buddha. As we are all aware at this point, yoga studios and gyms are closed due to the Stay At Home order. Of course, transitioning an in-person business to 100% online, isn’t as simple as turning on the camera and pressing record.
Cat: Because I’m like, I don’t want to do this thing. Like it is not my forte… But honestly, it’s been great because it’s like everything is an opportunity, right? So making this change has been just quite the learning experience and community members the ones that have continued to support us while we support them have been just so you know they have just outboard their gratitude and appreciation for what we’re doing. And it’s just been such a great venue to connect with people.
Margaret: Home exercise videos have been a thing since Jane Fonda wore leg warmers. But livestreaming a yoga or fitness class to a closed member group, stuck at home, during a pandemic is a unique challenge. Before the Virus That Shall Not Be Named, Cat shied away from offering online classes, but that changed on March 26. Cat’s yoga instructors rallied and helped her setup a Zoom account shortly after the order went into effect.
Cat: We purchased a laptop for the studio and a microphone so that the teachers could teach from here in the studio by themselves but have the right equipment.
Margaret: As anyone who has ever been asked to speak on camera knows, the experience is a totally different form of public speaking.
Cat: On Sunday, I taught my first virtual class and I had been kind of talking to the teachers about it and every time I taught the teacher or set them up, and I’m so nervous, and I’m like, you’re just teaching to talk, you know, it’s the same and I got up there to Sunday and thought, Oh my gosh, my heart is racing. Why am I so nervous? So there’s a lot, it’s just a different thing. But it’s like doing something for the first time you’re nervous, and then you start doing it.
Margaret: Before this crisis, The Sweaty Buddha hosted 4-5 classes a day. Now they’re down to two. Cat cut the monthly membership rate in half and while the margins are significantly smaller, she is still able to pay her instructors their normal rate. She rotates daily classes between instructors so they each get an equal number of hours per week. While some of students have suspended their memberships, Cat says numerous others have come together to support The Sweaty Buddha online.
Cat: We’re all about community. And we have a family here, you know, and I feel really lucky because we’ve had an outpouring of support and gratitude, like I said, and my teachers are amazing. And everyone’s really coming together.
Margaret: For many of us here in Colorado, exercise is a big part of our lives, keeping us physically and emotionally healthy. For yoga practitioners like Cat, maintaining that regular practice is important for getting through these rough times.
Cat: It brings down your levels of stress hormones in the body like cortisol, which can cause inflammation and more stress and more inflammation and more stress. It’s kind of like, you know, vicious cycle. So when we do yoga, and when we when we practice yoga, I should say, and we work on the breath and calming the mind and spirit, we enhance the body’s ability to heal and we strengthen our body’s immunity.
Margaret: So, take a moment today and pause. Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. And, of course, continue supporting your local yoga studio or gym because, seriously people, we’re gonna need to burn off some steam and calories when this is all said and done.
If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to the Startup Colorado podcast. We’ll continue bringing you stories of rural entrepreneurs and small business owners tackling this crazy, ever-changing situation. Next week, we’ll discuss design thinking in moments of crisis and how one makerspace is transforming their operation to produce much needed medical equipment.
As always, we encourage you to submit your stories. If you know of an entrepreneur who is responding to this challenge in an unexpected and creative way, let us know. We’d love to tell their story. Email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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