Kelowna Women in Business: Flexibility key to getting ahead
Lynn Roberts took her first yoga lesson 12 years ago while living in Edmonton.
She was interested in yoga but had no idea what she was doing in the first class and had a hard time understanding the accent of her instructor.
“I played along with it back then but even at that time, I started to feel how stretching my body through yoga left me feeling good,” Roberts recalled.
She moved from Edmonton to Vancouver, signed up for a yoga class there and fell in love both with the exercise form and received positive reinforcement from her teacher.
That reinforcement has since led Roberts to start up her own teaching program for yoga instructors who offer mobile yoga instruction and the franchising of Innergy Corporate Yoga.
Roberts relocated to Kamloops with her husband five years ago but it hasn’t stopped her vision for growing her business on a national scale.
“My home office is here and it works well. With technology today, I can deal with people across the country very easily,” Roberts said.
“I can Skype or talk to other instructors in our program on the phone or via email. I don’t really need to travel that much in this day and age.”
She has recently hooked up with a yoga instructor in Kelowna, Quentin Little, who is now offering a mobile yoga class service here.
Roberts said while she recognized her passion for yoga as she initially began to learn more about it, she saw a potential business opportunity. But she also had in the back of her mind the desire to start a family, and to find a balance between work and home.
“I didn’t have my daughter until I was two years into my business but I knew kids was part of my future plan.”
Roberts had the initial business idea to open her own yoga studio, but asking for advice from other yoga instructors who had followed that path offered her some invaluable advice.
The lesson she learned is that operating your own studio means an additional business overhead expense which can be become a massive commitment of your time to meet that cost.
“So instead of a situation of having to have classes day and night to pay for operating a studio, I thought about the mobile aspect of taking lessons directly to clients. Yoga is something you can do just about anywhere, you don’t necessarily need a studio,” she said. “You can do it in a park, you can do it in a backyard or in a boardroom.”
So Roberts embarked on her mobile yoga instruction business plan, with the idea of encouraging employers to hire, pay for, or cover some of the cost for Roberts to bring her lessons directly into the workplace.
“My thought was people sit in their offices all day and the only time they get away from that is to go for lunch. So my thought was to offer a 45-minute yoga lesson in the workplace,” Roberts said.
“Some employers in Vancouver when we started were willing to pay for it, to give their employees a bit longer lunch for the lesson, and some weren’t.
“I think some of the employers kind of wondered about the benefits of it at first but that changes when they begin to see a change in the attitude of their employees, that they didn’t seem as stressed out.”
She added the other interesting aspect of yoga classes in the workplace, she said, was particularly with larger office staffs, many people come for the lesson and meet other co-workers they had never met before, even though they work in the same office for the same employer.
As well, Roberts said not everyone who likes yoga wants to go to a yoga studio, in the same way people who like to workout don’t necessarily want to go to a fitness gym.
“I think the big attraction for our program is the convenience,” she said.
Roberts said her early years were a struggle, and that she had to rely on her heart and passion for yoga to keep the business going.
“We weren’t making any money in those first years, and you are pouring money into things like developing a website and marketing in general,” she recalled.
“I didn’t have a studio overhead but there are definitely still some expenses there to deal with.
“But I worked hard and persisted with it. I believe if you really love what you are doing, you will find a way to make it work. It just takes a little elbow grease to work it. You wake up everyday ready to go and believe in what you’re doing.”
Today, Roberts said she has found that balance between raising her 5 and 7 year-old kids, juggling work and her home life, and is trying to help others to do the same thing through her yoga instructor training program.
“I have a business now that doesn’t require me to work 70 hours a week to make it work, and I have the added benefit of practicing yoga myself along with my family to help keep me grounded.
“I am excited by the opportunity to extend that opportunity to others.”