Photo: Baylee Cocagne/Courtesy of Amanda Gloria Valdes
The Cut is asking readers to share what they’re doing with their money — or lack thereof — in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. This week we spoke to Amanda Gloria Valdes, a 38-year-old yoga instructor who spent eight years building her niche in New York’s competitive industry. In March, she was suddenly unemployed for the first time in her life, and found herself jockeying for clients online. She spoke with the Cut about what it’s like teaching from her parents’ living room in New Jersey, and why the yoga studio business model was never sustainable in the first place.
It can be really tough to make it as a yoga instructor in New York. What was your career trajectory before now?
Before all this started, I was teaching 15 to 16 classes a week at different studios. I was also doing teacher training and a mentoring program for yoga teachers who were developing their careers. So I was working seven days a week — not all day, but every day. It probably wasn’t the healthiest. But that’s what I needed to do to afford living in New York City, unfortunately. I’m 38 and I had three roommates in Bed-Stuy. You know how these rents are; it’s astronomical if you want a nice apartment. I worked really hard just to be able to pay to live, buy nutritious food, and sustain myself. And there was nothing left for savings, zero. You spend it all. And once you get used to working at that pace, you just keep doing it.
How long did it take you to get to that level, professionally?
It took a long time. I’ve been teaching since 2012, and I was an actor before that. It took me a good two or three years to get a strong schedule together, and about five years to get to the point where I was flat-out busy. Now that I’m in my eighth year of teaching, I’m more of a leader in teacher training. It helps that I’m not shy about marketing myself. But the way many teachers are paid, it’s not a sustainable business model. That’s why so many teachers are freaking out. People see us teaching online, but because payment is often a suggested donation or a sliding scale, we’re not making an income. It’s minimal compared to a living wage. Most of us are technically unemployed, and many of us have been displaced, including me.
What’s your living situation right now?
I’m in New Jersey with my parents. To pay an exorbitant amount to live in a small space with a virus going…
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