We chatted with Jennifer Lobo, co-owner of Bikram Yoga NYC, about how they continue to grow the Bikram community as one of the first boutique studios in New York City.
What makes Bikram Yoga NYC unique?
We were the first Bikram yoga studio in New York – the term boutique fitness wasn’t even around then – and have been in the business now for 17 years. Our goal was to offer the same class at any time of day. We now have four locations and offer 300 classes per week from 6 am to 10 pm. Other businesses may close between 12 and 4 pm, so we wanted to offer a space that catered to everyone in NYC, especially those working odd hours in the restaurant or theater industry, so they could come at a time that worked for them.
You’ve recently added a few classes such as Hot HIIT and Yin Yoga to your offerings. How did you decide what new classes you wanted to offer?
It was important to add classes that we felt complimented a Bikram practice. With ClassPass and a younger generation of students, we’ve found they seek the variety of going to different places for their cardio or their stretching. But we thought we could offer those same exercises and focuses in a Bikram setting. The Hot HIIT classes focus on cardio and interval training while Yin Yoga is more calming with deeper stretching and a more passive experience than a typical Bikram class. We find these classes offer a nice balance to a Bikram practice and our students have really enjoyed them. We’ve also recently added some shorter classes, ranging from 60-75 minutes, that help introduce a lot of new people to the practice. Even with a shorter class, they’re designed to help students get the most out of it and are very efficient.
How did you communicate these offerings to your members? What has the response been like?
It really spread organically through our teachers announcing them in class, as well as on social media and in our newsletter. These classes might be good for those who are nervous to try Bikram, or for those looking for less heat or a core workout. We’re looking to draw other people in who would be turned on to Bikram by these classes.
How do you foster a sense of community at your studio?
The community happens naturally—people hang around after class and it’s great to see friendships and connections blossom between people who may have never met otherwise. Beyond that, we also host a series of master classes, posture clinics, open houses and even quarterly cabaret shows that bring our teachers and our students together to collaborate through music and common interests.
You’ve done a lot of great work with your blog and on social media, especially with your Yoga Shorts videos. How do you feel these fit into your brand identity?
There’s a bit of a preconceived notion about what Bikram yoga is and people are sometimes apprehensive to try it, even though it is one of the most basic yoga practices. With the Yoga Shorts videos, where we take pop culture scenes and dub them with Bikram yoga references, it’s meant to incorporate a little playfulness for our members or potential members who may not have tried us out yet. We don’t want to take it too seriously, so they’re just a fun, approachable way to learn more about the practice and hopefully encourage people to try it. We believe anyone can do Bikram, regardless of age or weight or whether you might have an injury, and so we wanted to create a space where anyone can practice at their own pace and feel the physical and emotional benefits of Bikram.