Attracting students and customers: The benefits of holding yoga classes inside retail space

Lululemon gains customers and critical feedback on design through in-store yoga classes.

Yoga classes can be found in more than just studio space these days: they’re held in parks, beaches and even retail stores.

Lululemon Athletica is well known for its in-store yoga classes across North America. It started in Kitsilano, Vancouver, B.C., where the brand’s first store offered free yoga to customers. Inside, there weren’t just clothing racks on wheels. Designers actually worked on-site, and employees offered clothes for students to wear while practicing yoga. The intention was to obtain direct feedback for the designers.

From there, Lululemon spread in all directions. And although every store is different, a principle of the brand is to connect with the community. “We are really committed to listening and understanding what the community needs,” said Colleen Angeles, area community manager for Lululemon. “We try to see how we can help.”

Some locations offer classes in their stores, while some bring the students back into the studio. “It’s really up to the stores to decide what’s needed and how to support that,” Angeles said. It’s not uncommon to see a “studio of the month” in one location, where Lululemon will partner up with a local studio and offer a free community class every week at the studio itself. The type and style of studios differ; most of the classes are geared toward all ages, abilities, and levels.

Ambassadors — those who are passionate about the community and embody the Lululemon lifestyle — in each city help choose the teachers and studios. The best way for teachers to get their name out there? “We would love to meet you,” Angeles said. “Walk in and meet the stores’ teams. Get to know the local staff.”

No matter where the class is held, the goal is the same: to introduce students and customers to new teachers and students, and bring awareness back to the yoga and studios.