As a certified yoga instructor and former yoga studio owner who started out teaching at a local gym, I can attest to the many differences between yoga classes taught at a gym or fitness center and yoga studio. Someone looking to begin or continue taking yoga classes should consider the following factors when choosing the ideal location.
One of the circumstances that prompted me to open my yoga studio was the noise factor during the classes I taught at the gym. There I was with my relaxing music and suggestions to “center” and “focus within,” while other gym members (just outside the classroom door) proceeded to grunt and bang together dumbbells to the sound of thumping dance music.
Bottom line: If you are seeking a yoga class in order to relax, you will be more likely to find your peace at a yoga studio. If fitness is your primary motivation, a gym setting may be more appropriate.
My yoga teaching career started when an acquaintance asked me out of the blue if I would teach a class at her gym. Having practiced yoga for nearly a decade, I felt qualified to teach a beginner’s yoga class. Soon after, I decided to pursue formal training in order to obtain my certification and feel more comfortable teaching more advanced classes.
Bottom line: Be aware that many gyms and fitness centers do not require their yoga instructors to be certified, which could limit the variety of poses taught as well as the overall flow and safety of the routine. Since most yoga studios offer yoga teacher training as well as multi-level classes, this is where you will likely find the most qualified instructors.
While teaching yoga at the gym, I did not feel comfortable sharing my knowledge of yoga beyond the physical mechanics of each pose. When I opened my own yoga studio, I was delighted at the freedom I had to cross this boundary into the more spiritual side of yoga practice.
Bottom line: Classes at a yoga studio are usually taught within a framework that includes meditation, breathing exercises, philosophy, and other traditional aspects of yoga. If you are looking to yoga solely for variety in your fitness program, classes at the gym tend to be more in line with this goal.
Whereas yoga studios typically charge anywhere from $10 to $20 for a single class session, yoga classes at a gym or fitness center are usually free to members. Also, yoga studios will be more likely to advertise for specialized yoga retreats and workshops.
Bottom line: If you would like to connect with others within your local yoga community or go beyond the basics, it may be worth it to pay a little extra for classes at a yoga studio. If you want more of a no frills approach to your yoga practice, classes at a gym may be the way to go.
When deciding where to attend yoga classes, I encourage you to sample what is being offered at different locations. You may love the classes in one setting and hate them at another, so don’t let one negative experience discourage you. In time, you will find the best fit for your unique needs.
Sources: Personal experience.