SUP yoga is one of the fastest growing sectors of paddle boarding. And for good reason.
It combines a beautiful water based environment, the ability to be present on a board, and a revitalizing yoga flow.
With this combination, it’s an activity people are naturally drawn to.
Even with this attraction, it can be difficult to get customers to repeat their attendance — or even try their first class at all.
This can be due to a whole host of factors, but there is always something we as outfitters can do to help alleviate the problem.
How do we know?
Before the Evolve team began producing boards, we broke into the SUP scene by running our own outfitter, and hosting classes of our own.
It was in these early days that we learned the ins and outs of customer service, what our classes needed to succeed, and of course, what boards worked for different classes.
These experiences led us to our current iteration — a board company that produces the best SUP boards built by real paddle fanatics. Including the perfect boards for SUP yoga classes.
If you’re interested in a few tips and tricks to help increase your SUP yoga retention rate or provide a class that will leave people looking for more, then check out these few tips we learned over the years that can help you succeed!
The Best Spot
The first mistake we made when we began running SUP yoga classes in the early days was not picking a spot that helped our students succeed.
At first, we thought as long as the class took place on the water, then our students would enjoy it.
After all, it was a novel experience in the early days — an activity none of them had done before. If it was new and exciting, by default everyone would have a great time.
This, of course, was false.
Our first classes were held on the open back bay in the middle of a channel. While this seemed like a great place since it was out in the open and under the sun, we didn’t take into account the wind (and a few other things as well).
As with all things SUP — always pay attention to the wind.
On a windy day, or a spot susceptible to the wind, even a 5 mph day can feel like a hurricane if you’re trying to balance on a board.
Most paddlers were beginners to SUP and SUP yoga, so this spot spelled disaster. It was full of falls, some laughter, and a little bit of frustration.
Don’t make the same mistake we did — always find the best spot available to your location.
The attributes you want:
- Protected from the wind — it’s much easier to balance on a board when there is less wind.
- In shade — It’s only natural to be hot when practicing yoga. No need to combine sweat with a bad case of sunburn!
- Wide enough to accommodate plenty of space in between paddlers in case of falls — Landing in water is not a big deal. But if your class is bunched together there is a possibility participants can land on another’s board. This can result in a domino effect, especially during balance poses, and even injury.
- Shallow — You spot should be shallow enough to drop an anchor (more on that in a bit) and allow people to stand in case falls do happen. This will make it easier to climb back on their board without any issues or disruptions to the class.
- Quiet — Yoga, while challenging, is supposed to also be relaxing. It’s not fun for an instructor to yell out yoga poses. And it’s not fun for participants to be yelled at for an hour. The quieter the better.
- Private — This one is not a necessity but it helps set the mood if it’s possible. What you should at least look for is a spot away from boat traffic. Boats produce wakes. Wakes produce falls. Better to stay away from everyone while conducting a class.
If you can find a spot with the above attributes you're on track for success!
The Best Instructor
SUP yoga combines two challenging activities — SUP and yoga.
But with two activities like this, you need someone who is intimately familiar with both.
Because without the proper background on both activities you won’t be able to adequately guide your class to success.
It takes knowledge on how to paddle in order to get a beginner to successfully stand and paddle. And do it with ease.
It takes serious knowledge and experience to guide a yoga class that will leave them feeling healthy and revitalized.
Without this combination you either have a great paddling class and a terrible yoga flow or a great yoga flow planned but no way of getting your class to be able to stand on a board and get to the class location with confidence.
In order to have a great SUP yoga class, you need the right instructor who has the knowledge and experience of both activities.
When hiring your SUP yoga instructor, have them run you through a beginner paddle lesson and a SUP yoga flow with your team before they teach a live class.
This will give you a great idea on what your customers will experience on the water.
Of course, it can be difficult to find someone with knowledge of both. If this is the case, you might need someone who can teach the beginner paddling portion of the class and a separate instructor to take over the class during the yoga portion once the class is set up.
This way, you’re guaranteed to have a fun and successful time on the water!
The Best Gear
Now for (maybe) the most important part…
The right gear.
As we’ve already stated, before the Evolve team began producing boards, we were heavily involved in testing different types of boards for our classes.
Through this testing, re-testing, and tweaking we learned what worked for our classes with an emphasis on SUP yoga.
Throughout the process, a couple of things became abundantly clear — SUP yoga boards were either great for yoga classes and terrible for paddling recreationally, or great for paddling recreationally and terrible for our SUP yoga classes.
As such, we aimed to create the perfect board for the activity. The result?
The Roots board combines the perfect SUP yoga platform — a flat deck, thick rail design for every yoga pose, with the shape of our 10’6’’ Paddilac — our most popular flat water board, perfect for cruising.
This isn't just the ultimate board for SUP yoga classes but one that outperforms other boards paddling recreationally. Just like in yoga, it emphasizes true balance.
Beyond that, we also decided to introduce great boards for outfitters like the ultra-durable Rhino and Brawny boards. These boards are built with materials designed to last even the toughest paddlers.
In addition, we combined these platforms with a full deck pad to accommodate yoga or pilates classes.
And provided two different sizes for paddlers of all types of sizes and athletic abilities.
Which leads us to our next point…
As you gain experience in conducting classes, you will become familiar with how to size up a person with the right board.
The bigger the paddler, or the more they struggle with balance, or if they are lacking in confidence…
The bigger board they will need to be successful and have fun.
This should always be at the top of your priority list when you begin your class. By matching up your participants with the right boards, they will be successful on the water…
And more likely to return for another class.
Make this an important priority when you conduct your classes. Allow your students to become comfortable standing and moving on their boards before the yoga portion of the class. This will allow you to assess their abilities and offer a change of board if it is needed.
By understanding this, you should have a great class.
But there is one last piece of advice we have for you…
Most SUP yoga outfitters will use a traditional metal anchor to keep their class participants in one spot for the duration of the flow.
These work well. But they can damage the board when being pulled back up and can come untethered, especially in a soft sandy or mud bottom.
To remedy this situation, we started using heavy sandbags instead of anchors. These worked much better. If the sandbag is heavy enough (you may need to test different weights in your location), it can be easily tossed over the side without damaging the board and doesn't need to be gripped by anything underneath the water.
Instead, they can be thrown anywhere shallow enough in the water and keep your class participants in one spot for the duration of the class.
We highly recommend the use of sandbags instead of grappling anchors.
However, if you're looking for the best way to conduct a class is on our Evolve Yoga Pod.
An inflatable Evolve yoga pod can be easily anchored where you want to conduct a class and either the Evolve Boom Boom inflatable or even a Flowmotion Fitt Mat can be tethered to the pod to conduct an entire class.
This gives an added layer of convenience for your SUP instructor and enables them a close proximity to the class so they can keep an eye on every participant as they guide them through the sequence.
If you want the best platform for your class, you might want to check out the Flowmotion Fitt Big Buddha yoga pod.
How to Send Them On Their Way
Okay, you’ve placed your class in the right spot out of the elements, you guided them through a great yoga sequence, they’re happy and paddling back to shore…
In short, your class was a huge success!
Time to clean up your boards, store them away, and wish everyone well as they had out.
Well, not quite.
If you want to retain your customers, you want them to know everything about your business.
As the class is preparing to go, you should provide them with a print out of your class schedules as well as an incentive to either come back for an additional class or bring one of their friends.
This can include a small discount, or a free class incentive for their friends. The details don’t matter. What you want is to eliminate a degree of separation between you and your customer.
If you present them with the proper information as well as an incentive to visit you again, you’re more likely to retain a customer over the duration of your paddling season, and expand your circle.
In addition, pictures are the new norm these days — so take as many as you can while your class is on the water! Everyone loves to see themselves and more importantly share their experiences with others. Take pics and tag everyone!
Word about your business will spread all over social media. These days — it's a must!
Your Next Class
We hope these tips will help your next class. In fact, we know if you implement them as the paddling season gears up, you’ll have the best season yet.
How do we know? Through experience.
As with all things in life, our knowledge expands through the successes and failures. And while we’ve had a few big successes over the years, it was the mistakes that led us to truly learn.
Of course, if you have any questions, need any additional advice, or if you’re interested in using Evolve boards for your summer classes, feel free to send us a message! We’re more than happy to help your outfitter succeed in 2022!