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Yoga Studio Classes vs. Gym Yoga Classes

Yoga Class: Studio vs. Gym

With all the New Year's resolutions floating around, if "trying yoga" is on your list, you're probably wondering where the best place to practice is. With yoga's increased popularity, just about every gym offers yoga classes on their schedule in between Body Pump and Spinning, but there are also studios on every corner that teach yoga exclusively. Keep reading to find out which place you'd prefer getting your Down Dog on.

Price

  • Studio: Purchase single classes at a drop-in rate that's about $12 to $25 per class (depending on the length of the class), or you can buy a group of classes at a slightly cheaper rate. Some studios also offer monthly or yearly memberships, so classes are even cheaper, but this only pays off if you go a lot.
  • Gym: Many gym memberships include classes in the monthly or yearly fee, so yoga classes at gyms might be significantly less expensive than at a studio.

Continue reading to learn how studio's and gym's compare when it comes to atmosphere, convenience, and teacher qualifications.

Atmosphere

  • Studio: Heated bamboo floors, white linen drapes, lotus green walls, dim lighting, big windows, scented candles, and burning incense are common at yoga studios, so as soon as you set foot into the space, you instantly feel a wave of serenity wash over you. Both the people who work there and those who attend classes tend to be calm and pleasant.
  • Gym: Mirrors, carpeted or linoleum floors, fluorescent lights, stationary bikes or other equipment piled on the edge of the room, and the scent of sweat and metal might welcome you when you step into a yoga class at your gym. Since the space is shared by all fitness classes, and used by fellow gym goers when classes aren't in session, they tend to look and feel very gym-like. You might also notice the people in your class are more interested in getting a good workout than about relaxing.

Types of classes

  • Studio: With all the different types of yoga, there's a studio out there to teach it. That means once you try out a few styles, you can go to the studio that offers the specific one you prefer, be it Ashtanga, Jivamukti, or Bikram. This is a great option if you're really into the spiritual aspect of yoga and want to go deeper into a certain practice.
  • Gym: On the schedule, there isn't a whole lot of variation aside from Yoga Level 1 or Yoga Level Two. I'm not saying all gyms are like this, but most are. When it comes to types of classes, you get whatever is offered, which means not much variety. They're usually very physical, with no discussion of chakras, bandhas, or teachers speaking in Sanskrit.

Convenience

  • Studio: With studios cropping up all over the place, you're bound to have one within 15 minutes of your home or office. You can only do yoga there though, so if you want to run on the treadmill, take a Zumba class, or swim laps, you'll have to make a special trip to the gym.
  • Gym: It's a one-stop shop, meaning you can get your cardio in on the elliptical beforehand, and then hit up a yoga class right afterward without leaving the building. If you're pressed for time, this might be a great option for you.

Instructor Qualifications

  • Studio: If it's a reputable studio, the instructors are required to go through a teacher training, although that's not saying much since there's no standardized qualification in regards to certification. Some teachers may have taken a 40-hour weeklong workshop, while others study extensively for 200 hours or more. Regardless of training time, teachers at studios tend to have more experience than those at gyms.
  • Gym: It can be difficult to get a job teaching at a studio, so many yoga instructors start off at a gym. That means the yoga classes you take may be taught by less experienced teachers who are fresh out of training.

Do you prefer taking yoga classes at a studio or gym?

Source: Flickr User giena.lt

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Join The Conversation
YogaTwistOnLife YogaTwistOnLife 4 years
Hello, I would have to agree with some of the other posts as well. I am a 200 hour certified yoga teacher in the Washington DC region. I trained at a yoga studio, and continue to recieve advanced teacher training working towards my 500 hour cerficiation....but I did get my start in a gym (and continue to work at the gym). Working at gym (sport and health), I have the freedome within my 'yoga' class to teach to various students, various poses, sequences, etc in any format I choose or the students prefer. I would recommend if you are interested in more from your gym yoga class....reach out to the yoga teacher after class, talk about wanting more sanskrit, chanting, a certain kind of music, assists, etc. It could be the teacher is 'backing off' because it is a gym. Not to say teachers can accomadate every students requests....and sometimes certain requests may not be in aligmentment with that teachers style...but I love hearing feedback from students...sometimes I incorporate, sometimes I don't. Another point...is a lot of the teachers I know that teach at studios, also teach at gyms to supplement their income (including myself)...and just because we love to teach yoga! :) One more thing...as I teacher, I feel that I have more of an impact on a student at a gym...becuase they tpically do not have significant yoga experience, so I can truly be a 'teacher'...whereas sometimes at a studio seeing 'progress' is not as noticeable because many of the students are already so experienced. ~www.yogatwistonlife.blogspot.com
VeeKeeTee VeeKeeTee 4 years
definitely prefer studio. the teachers are usually more personable, understand your body more and take better notice of your progress
BubbleSpice BubbleSpice 4 years
These are great to consider, I have been spoiled by my Equinox yoga experience and will have to find a new studio or gym to continue my practice after my husband and I move in a few months.
nwfotobug nwfotobug 4 years
I agree with a lot of your comparisons, but I also agree with Renee, it really depends on the Gym. I teach at a gym, and I have more than 200 hours of training. I also use sanskrit, discuss Chakras, and the 8limbs in class. Its more than just a workout. Matter of fact, I rarely ever teach a power style class. I make my classes accessible to everyone from seniors to teenagers. Stiffy's and flexy's. There is always something for everyone. Though i agree alot of the bigger nationwide gyms do have a lot of restrictions on the way the classes are taught. I know from experience that LA Fitness does not allow adjusting, sanskrit or philosophy allowed in their classes. So its always best to do your research before signing up for any kind of membership. Also, here in the Pacific Northwest, we are starting to see a trend of Yoga studios branching out into more. For example Zumba classes and TRX is starting to show up in yoga studios. As well as cycling classes. I think its great and gives their members more to chose from. By the way, this is a great article, especially for those looking for the differences and where they can get their classes. Though, it depends on the area, and the gyms, the comparisons are not far off. Thank you for the great read.
Renee3327 Renee3327 4 years
I think it really depends on the gym. While I agree with the above comparison when it comes to lower and mid-priced gyms, there are gyms like Equinox and Sports Club/LA that offer facilities very similar to studios. The Equinox that I go to has a yoga studio that is used only for yoga, is temp regulated, has bamboo floors and is perfectly dimly lit. It all depends on what gym you go to and what they specialize in but I wouldn't lump all gyms together.
curlykat curlykat 4 years
Great comparative article, Jenny! I teach in a gym setting and have over 150 hours towards my 200RYT certification, but get frustrated that there are other instructors that may have done a home-study or taken one BodyBalance class, but because they're personal trainers, they are allowed to teach yoga. One thing I would recommend to your readers is to shop around. Try as many different classes and teachers as you can. It may take a while to find one whose styles (of yoga, of teaching and of personality) are a good fit. Don't get discouraged! There really is a yoga class out there for everyone.
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