Note: This story was originally published in the publication “Ithaca Week.”
By Sam Kuperman, Elizabeth Morris and Katelyn Harrop
In an effort to meet the rising demand for yoga classes in Tompkins County, Lansing’s Yoga Farm has hired new staff and offered two weeks of free classes to expand its business, which opened a new studio space this summer.
July and August are slow times for yoga centers, due to good weather, but September’s cooler temperatures attract customers, said Christopher Grant, owner of the Yoga Farm.
In anticipation of these customers, the Yoga Farm opened a new set of classes in early Sept., featuring 10 teachers and 13 different kinds of classes. In addition to yoga classes, the new schedule also features other wellness courses including dance, Chi Gong and Tai Chi.
“The goal was to expose the new teachers,” Grant said. “You go to our website and there are a lot of classes, so how would you know which ones are right for you? The goal really is to open it up so people could sample without any risk.”
Instructor Emily Healy, who joined the Yoga Farm staff in June, said she has noticed an increase in class participation since the promotion began.
The first week of the promotion six to eight people averaged per class and, the second week, an average of 10 to 12 people attended, said Grant.
“When I started teaching there I’d have 2 or 3 students each week, and with the promotion, my classes have had up to 10 students these past 2 weeks-even between last week and this week there’s been an overall increase in attendance,” said Healy in an email.
Grant said these customers are mainly new clients looking for a chance to try yoga for the first time, which makes the introductory classes the most popular. During the second week of the promotion, the Yoga Farm saw an increase in customers, with two different classes bringing in 16 and 17 customers respectively.
Healy said the two-week offering period was designed to remove barriers preventing potential students from exploring new opportunities.
“The promotion was meant to really celebrate all these offerings and to allow people to sample all the different classes, and also just to get people out there to see how beautiful and inviting the space is,” Healy said. “We were hoping that, by making these two weeks very inviting, it would encourage people to keep coming back.”
Grant started the Yoga Farm in summer of 2014 in a small room over his garage with one class a week. Because of demand, Grant added a few more classes and in November 2014 he rolled out an 11 class schedule. At first he taught small classes but, as demand started to grow throughout the winter, Grant decided to renovate his barn into a studio. He opened the barn for classes June 19, 2015, with roughly 200 people attending the grand opening.
“I started asking a few other yoga teachers I know to teach classes, because I see this as being bigger than just me,” Grant said.
Yoga Farm instructor Neko Three Sixty said she first saw the Yoga Farm at the open house in June and immediately wanted to be a part of the Yoga Farm. She now lives at the Yoga Farm and teaches classes.
“It was like a vision I had seen in my mind for years, and even the color of the house and the whole thing, and I’m such a visual person,” Three Sixty said.
To follow the promotion’s momentum, Yoga Farm will be offering more permanent discounts, including discounted class passes, Healy said.
“With the growth I’ve witnessed at the Yoga Farm since I got involved, and especially in the last couple weeks, I have really high hopes of how the farm will grow and expand in the future,” Healy said. “Christopher, the owner, has an amazing vision for the place and has made it a reality. I think the vision has so much support and such a strong community of people who want to see it succeed that it’s in a really great position to keep on growing.”