Like many other businesses, Grassroots Yoga in Ventura has gone through a few rounds of closing, reopening, reclosing and pivoting during the coronavirus pandemic.
In March, studio owner Sarah Ingram closed Grassroots completely, hired an audio and visual specialist and started recording yoga videos to post online.
When she realized that the closure would be indefinite, she started hosting livestreamed classes. She also had a baby on June 2, which delayed the studio’s reopening when fitness centers were allowed to reopen in June.
Grassroots reopened for indoor classes on July 1, but closed 12 days later when a second round of business closures took effect. Grassroots began “park-hopping,” hosting six or seven classes a day at different Ventura parks. But with all the city’s fitness studios competing for park space, it became a “territory war.”
Local businesses hit hard by the pandemic
In October, Ingram got a permit for a semi-permanent park space at Camino Real Park. In November, they again were allowed to briefly reopen for indoor classes but closed for the third time shortly after.
“It has been really rough. I think that is obvious and that is probably the same across the board. It doesn’t make a difference if you’re a yoga studio, a hair salon or a restaurant,” said Ingram.
Yoga studios and fitness centers are among the local businesses hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and the future of yoga studios in the county may change post-pandemic as some studios are forced to close.
According to the U.S. Census, there were 15 instruction studios in Ventura County as of 2018, a category that also includes businesses like first-aid instruction and lifeguard training, among others. There are a total of 98 gyms in the county.
The impact of COVID-19 on gyms and fitness centers has been “truly devastating,” according to Bruce Stenslie, president and CEO of the Economic Development Collaborative.
“With the pending new governor’s orders the impact appears to be getting even worse. Compared to most types of businesses and industry sectors, there are very few work-arounds. Outdoor exercising takes a lot of space, which most of these businesses don’t control, so their options are very limited,” Stenslie wrote in an email.
Being grouped with big box gyms presents big problems for the studio
Ingram says revenue dropped by 70 to 75% between April and and September, but she’s seen an uptick in revenue since launching outdoor classes. However, many students came to the studio for its infrared heating, which can’t be replicated outdoors.
Ingram is frustrated that her studio and others were grouped into the larger gym category for the public health orders, noting that her studio also offers chiropractors, physical therapists and nutritionists. She says her studio is more like a…