Squirrel Hill Neighborhood, Pittsburgh
Heated & Non-heated Bikram, Vinyasa, Yin Yoga, Hot Pilates
Most values fitDEGREE feature:
Seamless student check-in so there's no administrative hold-up and we can all get down to yoga
"It's really important to me that all of the teachers know the students names. We really take the time to be very welcoming and invested in each person."
Owner and founder of Peaceful Warrior Yoga, Dawn Stidd struggled with anxiety in her early 20’s while performing as a classical musician.
“I was doing yoga as kind of just a performance anxiety remedy. Basically, just an overall helper to what I was doing as far as classical music and performing”
As she began to practice more often, Dawn found a passion for healing through yoga that she had to bring to her community as there weren’t a ton of yoga studios where she lived. Dawn opened Peaceful Warrior Yoga a decade ago to provide a place where people could learn traditional yoga in a small, comforting environment.
Dawn says the new studio was exciting, and it was pretty successful right away. Being a trailblazer in her community paid off quickly as students began pouring in eager to utilize the town’s first facility of its kind.
“I built pretty minimal in the beginning. It was really just a 200sq ft building with a lobby, one studio and two bathrooms, and that was pretty much it.”
Conveniently, this was at the same time Facebook was first introduced.
“I made a Facebook page, and it got word out so quick because back then, it was new! So, everybody was all about it. And I was new too, so it was really organic and really nice how it all came together.”
With plenty of new students, Dawn began to adapt her business mindset to coincide with her yoga-teacher mindset. (Two hats she now switches between multiple times everyday.) However, Dawn has always put her students and customers first emphasizing that their satisfaction is her number one priority.
“We really are geared towards very traditional yoga. We still do a lot of stuff with sequencing and making it cutting-edge. But those basic concepts of yoga and yoga-off-the-mat are present.”
Knowing your audience is key and Dawn found that her students loved sticking to traditional yoga without too much repetition. She noticed that changing up sequencing and adding new concepts kept her classes fun, challenging, and engaging.
Dawn doesn’t sweat the small stuff because as long as customers are happy and returning, business will move forward. In securing this portion of her community’s market share, Dawn learned the importance of developing classes to have a deeper meaning that speaks to the mind and soul as well as the body.
“Our classes are not just poses thrown together. Instead, everything is there for a purpose. And whether it’s that we’re doing a scene which could be something that’s a concept or we’re really working on one part of the body or one physical concept that then shows up in multiple different places.”
Even in such growth, Dawn came across some obstacles. With a growing studio comes a growing staff.
“I want teachers that are there for themselves and to fulfill their brand, but also I want everybody coming in for our studio’s common purpose.”
She also found that her growth was inspiring to other instructors as new studios began to pop up. It became apparent that Dawn’s studio needed to stay ahead of the game and continue to offer new and exciting classes and retreats that would pull in new students.
“I first started teaching when there were three yoga studios on the entire island we live on. Now, there are three within a five-minute drive from mine.”
Originally, Dawn struggled with this. It’s hard to continue to maintain a competitive advantage time and time again. However, Dawn manages to pull forward each time by offering new services that have grown her business into a place where you can refocus your lifestyle towards wellness instead of only taking yoga classes.
“We’re always growing, it’s a little bananas. We’re going to be opening a treatment room soon which will hopefully have a little more than just massages. We’re opening a whole outdoor area for the Summer.”
Dawn found it difficult to find studio management software that compiled everything she needed into one, user-friendly software. She needed something that was simple to use, yet robust enough that she wouldn’t have to sacrifice any essential business functions, like payroll.
After using other softwares for years, Dawn came to fitDEGREE where she found the ease and simplicity of the platform to be helpful while still offering the more complex reports and features she cherishes.
“fitDEGREE was the first one that had the full checklist of essentials for me, and I liked that it was so easy. If something was up, I have someone that I can call without waiting on hold for an hour.”
Other than payroll, Dawn’s must-have checklist included a front desk kiosk for easy check in. This way, she wasn’t worried about making sure the front desk was staffed for every class or that her instructor had time to check in all the members of a large class. With as many as 40 students registered for any given class, having an easy check-in process was beyond necessary. Plus, it made coming into the studio much more pleasant for students as well.
“The students have come to appreciate being able to come in and check in. Maybe they can say hello but they don’t have to say their name a million times or spell their last name a million times which just makes it really easy and smooth.”
Peaceful Warrior Yoga’s students seem to really enjoy how their community has evolved with the social features on their custom app, too. Building a community of friends has helped Dawn’s studio continue to grow and become a tight-knit community where yoga practitioners can flourish despite their level of skill, age, gender.