If you’ve been to Goodyoga, you know they’re doing something right. Their app makes class sign-up easy, their down-to-earth teachers blend alignment with humor, and their prices beat everywhere else. What you may not know is that Goodyoga is promoting physical and emotional health for instructors by changing their business model.
As of the first of the year, they’re offering full-time employment with benefits to their yoga teachers. This may signal a new direction for the yoga industry, with concerned teachers and studio owners who see the current industry standard of employing teachers as Independent Contractors as broken. Meanwhile, more than one yoga studio has been audited by the Department of Labor over the practice.
Under the Independent Contractor model, studios cannot tell teachers what style, or even what level of class to teach (although of course many of them do). Studios are not required to offer health benefits, sick days, or any other benefits associated with full time employment. Flannery Foster, founder of Goodyoga wrote in an email to students explaining the changes, “Teachers have learned to adapt to the do-or-die hustle out of necessity, and most studios, whether conscious of it or not, are taking advantage of this.”
While the Independent Contractor system allows a lot of—flexibility let’s say—it can take a toll on teachers and students alike. If you’ve ever been disappointed to show up to class with your favorite teacher and find a substitute who just wasn’t as good, and then learn your favorite teacher wasn’t coming back, you know what I mean. Most teachers don’t get paid if they take a sick day, injure themselves, or want a vacation. The Independent Contractor system seems especially out of place in an industry that promotes physical and spiritual health.
Goodyoga’s decision to offer full-time employment was made as they continue to grow and seek to marry their values with a strong business model (there are currently four studios spread between Greenpoint and Bushwick as well as a newly opened retreat center upstate). In addition to health benefits, sick days, and vacation time, teachers at Goodyoga not already certified at the 500-hour level are given incentive to meet this standard, and all are encouraged to continue study with advanced teachers and return that knowledge to their students.
Not all Goodyoga teachers were happy about the changes, and some longtime teachers chose to part ways with the studio. Hard-won success as an Independent Contractor gives teachers the freedom to work when, where, and how they want. While difficult to say goodbye to longtime teachers, Foster notes the changes will provide students with consistent, highly qualified teachers and streamline the growth of the business.
Goodyoga is located at 67 West street and 114 Greenpoint Avenue in Greenpoint.