5 Things I Will Do Differently With My Next Wellness Business

Part I: Story of a Reluctant Entrepreneur

I remember sitting at my friend Lahna’s kitchen table working on math problems in 2005 thinking, “I’d much rather be working in a yoga studio right now, but yeah right, that’s not a job”.

SDY TreeCut to 2018.  I have somehow found that job. Kinda.

Maybe my story really begins when I walked up to my mentor and friend, Lisa P., and said “I just want you to know I’m going to own a yoga studio one day.”  Or maybe when I put in the work to write a business plan and convince a bank to give me a loan with zero personal collateral, all while working full-time saving my nickels and dimes.  Or maybe when I was willing to quit my day job (kinda) to make it happen.

My first yoga teacher trainees. I miss them so!

What do I wish I had known?  What could I have done better at the beginning?

  1. Budget.  Pay close attention to expenses right away – retail inventory, studio supplies.  Spend money where it counts, with marketing, graphic designers, and management staff.  There are always certain expenses that seem to take infinite cash.  Don’t overspend unnecessarily.
  2. Staff.  Rip that bandaid off right away. Don’t be afraid to end relationships.  How you cultivate existing and new ones is what matters.
  3. Get the Right Partners.  Rip those bigger bandaids off too.  Up front.  Have enough money set aside so that’s ok.  Don’t accept any partner relationship that really doesn’t make sense to your bottom line.  It’s not personal!  I was so overwhelmed I avoided some of these things.
  4. Lease.  I wish I would have negotiated the rent down or the purchase price if the landlord wouldn’t give on the rent, for the first 1-2 years at least.  Although the space is reasonable in SLO compared commercially, that doesn’t mean it works for my business potential and I can’t know that until I’m in it.  Even with all the books shared with me, I didn’t really know what it took until I was doing it or what the market was like until I was working it in this way.
  5. Savings.  If we should have 6 months to a year of savings as individuals, we should have that as businesses.  That means I should have had $100-$200k set aside for hard times.  I had NOWHERE near that and regret that some of my tribe could tell I was stressed financially.  Sorry about that, guys.

This post is part of a series I’m sharing on my experience owning and operating my own yoga studio in SLO, CA from 2011-2016.  We shall see how this unfolds.  Next time, I’ll be writing on What I Did Right and would do again!  Let me know if you have any thing you’d like to hear more about!

Posted in story of a reluctant yogi entrepreneur, studio ownership | 2 Comments

Start With Why

I believe so deep in my soul that all we need is to slow the fuck down, breath, learn to relax and meditate in some form, and All Else will follow.  Yoga, wellness, The Power of Now, and The Power of Enough.  What has sparked you?  We can be happier.  We can save our majestic and suffering planet home.   The spark energy is available to each and every one of us to transform ourselves and everything we touch. We will change our lives without needing to be richer, skinnier, or prettier.  We shall make each moment count 110%.  My mission in life.  Boo. Ya.

This time of year where we experiencing the shortest days of the year, perhaps (cough, cough) indulging in more holiday goodies than we mean to, we are inundated with media asking us…

“5 Steps to Actually Achieve Your New Years Resolutions!”
“How to Energetically open ourselves for Goodness & Possibility in 2018”
“10 New Year’s Resolutions the Buddha (probably) would have Made”
“Screw last year”

Blah, freaking blah.

Can we let go of the idea of trying to achieve levels of fitness that aren’t really helpful or necessary to day-to-day life?  I mean, where are we running to?  Why do we need to be permanent triathletes?  Why are we obsessed with conquering our bodies?  There are times in life where we get to exercise excessively and try to achieve optimal levels of fitness for the fun of it.  Those times maybe aren’t when you are in the parenting toddler phase or middle aged phase of life or when you can’t stop injuring yourself.

Can we let go of the idea that physical wellness looks a certain way?  It’s an internal feeling as much as it is a look.  What the media shoves down our throats is not physical health.  It’s a distorted idealization of youth.  It looks like you when you’ve made yourself a priority.  I remember the first time I really saw it.  It was someone’s aunt.  She was so radiant and “old” compared to me, my parents age perhaps.  Her face was kind of wrinkly from living a good life.  Deep smile lines all over the place.  She was so beautiful.  I realized that I could only hope to look like her one day.  The sparkle in her eyes.  They way she was so deeply present to the people around her.  She listened better than anyone I had ever met and was so genuine and enthusiastic to hear about who I was.

This post is the first of a series of posts where we’ll discuss all things health, wellness, business in the new year.  I’ll use the 7 pillars of wellness as shared by MINDBODY, UC Riverside, and infinite others as a backbone and source of inspiration.  We recognize that being a healthy, functional person is so much more than just the physical.  It is the full integration of states of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. It includes social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual and physical wellness. 

7 pillars of wellness image

7 pillars of wellness

Your read My Why above.  To help people become healthier, happier versions of themselves.  To spread the spark energy.  To help those who want to stop living in coulda, shoulda, woulda.  To be the best version I can be for my Lucy and every person I get to dance with.

As we delve into each piece of this pie you will hear my thoughts and experiences and resources that I’ve found helpful in my quest to become a better version of myself every damn day.  One big piece of this blog project for me is to tie this back to my yoga studio ownership experience and experience helping wellness businesses survive and thrive since 2005.  These experiences have so shaped who I am, and are somewhat unique in the world, so I am going to share some of my thoughts and experiences from that in hopes I don’t forget and that they can help you and your business do better than I did.

Happy 2018 Folks.  Lets make this one a good one.

Inspiration from Simon Sinek that inspired this post:

Posted in 7 pillars, health and wellness, studio ownership | Leave a comment

The Day I Realized I’m The Customer At Work

Larger employers and companies want to keep people in salaried positions – locked down and dedicated – it benefits them on many levels, but I propose it doesn’t always benefit the employees as much as it seems.

This isn’t very different than the challenge that the wellness industry is already facing. Old school, large gyms used to force customers to become members. You could either become a member, pay a sign up fee, and sign up for a whole year, or don’t join at all. They hard sold you and didn’t take no for an answer. They didn’t give options for drop-in visits or 10-packs of sessions, maybe some would if you threatened to quit. Until the boutique fitness industry started getting more and more customers.

The gyms didn’t concede and offer what the customer really wanted until their revenue was affected and they had no choice.

So, I wonder, can we change this paradigm, is it already shifting? It is in my world at least.

Thoughts from a lifetime worker who took the plunge to be self employed and can’t forget all I learned.

I wonder how much a mix of dedicated, salaried people and highly specialized contractors could work for different organizations.

I better get back to my salaried work. xoxox.


Posted in life | Leave a comment

40 Things by 40th Birthday

40 year birthday sign

Who, me?



I have a big birthday looming on my horizon and I’m feeling all the feels over it.  I am analyzing my life from every angle, smiling a lot, working hard, and planning all kinds of fun to ring it in right.

My list of things to do before The Big 4-0.

  1. Dance with fire poi!
  2. Eat cheesecake
  3. Make an easy checklist and check everything off of it
  4. Wear a favorite outfit for no reason or to run errands
  5. Text solely in gif’s with a friend
  6. Peel an orange or clementine in one peel
  7. Roll down a hill
  8. Face a fear
  9. Play a good game of euchre
  10. Go dancing as much as possible
  11. Sing a (new) song at karaoke
  12. Forgive someone (everyone) who has hurt me
  13. Wake up an hour earlier than usual
  14. Hug as many people as possible in one single day
  15. Give as many genuine compliments as possible in one single day
  16. Sit in silence for 1 hour each day for 3 days straight
  17. Draw on a steamy mirror
  18. Enjoy a good, spontaneous stretch & deep breath every time you read this list
  19. Text someone and ask them to tell a funny joke
  20. Eat a long, luxurious meal with friends
  21. Turn off my phone for one full day, maybe 3 or 5 days actually
  22. Rearrange furniture
  23. Paint my bedroom
  24. Watch movies that remind me of childhood
  25. Fake a smile on a grumpy day
  26. Snuggle with an animal
  27. Go skinny dipping (preferably in a lake)
  28. Ride a horse!
  29. Watch a sad movie and get a good cry out
  30. Write love notes in cursive and send them in snail mail
  31. Learn the meaning of a new word and use it for a week
  32. Take a day off just to have a movie marathon
  33. Go to a drive in movie
  34. Take a nap in a park
  35. Ride my bike 40 miles and enjoy a picnic with wine in the middle of it
  36. Do a 2 hour yoga practice with 40 surya namaskars to my favorite dance songs
  37. Hike Bishop Peak with Lucy in carrier
  38. Spend an entire day spoiling Lucy & Mike 110%
  39. Start learning to play guitar
  40. Have a proper Sunday Funday which starts and coffee and migrates to Gus’s.  Maybe even an Elks pitstop?

What else should I add to this list?

Posted in random | 3 Comments

Teaching Update

Prenatal Yoga

Remember when I was pregnant and teaching?

This week is my last week teaching a weekly class at Smiling Dog for a while! I am taking a self care break and will be subbing when I can.  I will keep my schedule up to date on this blog and on social media.

I am excited to be taking more classes, writing on my blog, working on my own teacher training certs, and plotting my next teaching / business steps. Bittersweet. Come practice with me this week!

Today M 2/27 @ 7pm Vin I

Weds 3/1 @ 4pm Hatha

Fri 3/3 @ 12pm Vin II

(Sign up online if ya want…)

I’m hopeful I’ll be back soon and would love to stay connected to my  yoga friends.  I would love to plan yoga dates with you where we take together, hike, coffee, whatever.  Please stay in touch!


Posted in yoga teaching | Leave a comment

Yoga Studio Announcement!

This week I sold my yoga studio baby after owning and operating it for 5+ years! I am super excited to announce that effective immediately my good friends and colleagues, Stephanie Jennings and Andres Moran, are taking over as the owners of Smiling Dog Yoga!

I couldn’t be more excited to have Stephanie and Andres on board. Stephanie’s extensive experience with Sales at MINDBODY & as a long time fitness instructor of over 13 years will bring new energy to our studio home to help it continue to evolve and serve each of us. Andres has an extensive background in technology in the yoga and fitness space and the two of them have always dreamed of owning a studio in San Luis Obispo and are extremely excited about SDY! I can’t wait to see how they help evolve our studio oasis.

We celebrate!

We celebrate!

It’s  a very strange feeling.  Coming to the realization that one of your great loves, isn’t really that good for you at the current moment.  Over the course of the last year I decided I was in need of a break from the owner role.  I’m hoping this isn’t a forever breakup, just a small “lets take a break” moment.  I’m wavering between excitement and sadness.  And plotting my next steps, of course.

I wanted to document some of my learning lessons, thoughts, next steps, things to remember.  Some moments I’m not sure what I really have to say other than “sighhhh”.  It’s been a big year of change.

I have always believed in the importance of timing.  It’s either on your side or it isn’t.  It can’t be forced.  I believe this even more today.

Our office

Our office

I thought at the beginning of this year, “Is it time for change?”.  In many ways I was feeling stagnant & not engaged in the right ways with my work – both at the studio and as a consultant – and I was starting to research and explore what my next step might be.  I talked to people, looked at school programs, pondered what I thought the universe was saying, considered so many fun and great options.  (Side note:  Be careful what you think my friends, those thoughts make things happen sometimes.)  Long story short:  I got re-hired at MINDBODY and am working on some great things there and although I REALLY wanted to keep involved with the studio in an owner capacity, I finally came to the conclusion that wasn’t really possible for me at this moment.  I care so much!  Don’t you need me, studio?!  But my baby is growing so fast!  After operating it with a great team* for the last 5 years, I really didn’t believe that I could step back as much as l needed to.  So, here I am.

The most predominant thought I have right now is gratitude.  So many stars aligned to give me this experience.  This life.  So many people have supported me in ways small and big and are continuing to do so.  The universe gave me what I needed in this studio project.  I am a better person for having owned the studio – how many can say that about a job?  I grew in ways that I wouldn’t have.  I was challenged in ways I wouldn’t have asked for.  I’m better at working with a team.  Letting things go.  Prioritizing what really matters.  I’m scrappier and more creative.  I see the spirit of the law versus the letter of the law in every decision.  I learned that I tend to give too much, to my own detriment.  Sometimes fearlessness can go too far and be a bit reckless.  Finances were stressful, whew what a learning curve!  I have context and understanding of the wellness world that I love, didn’t have before, and couldn’t have had without stepping into the owner role.  I feel stronger for the experience.

Our banker making magic happen while on a conference call!

Our banker making magic happen while on a conference call!

It has really been such a special journey and project for me.

If and when 🙂 I own and or take on a studio leadership role again, I will remember that my partners and team are so important.  I will make better financial decisions that will help me stay less stressed.  I will give myself and those around me more clearly defined roles and responsibilities.  I will delegate more than I’m comfortable with.  I will focus more on cultivating and evolving my team and creating new programming.  I will not work too hard!

What were my biggest learning lessons?  You don’t really know something until you’ve done it yourself.  For a while.   Being organized is critical for me to thrive.  It’s so hard to focus on the important and not urgent each day!  The market you are in and your competition both matter, but how much, I’m not exactly sure. We have to force ourselves to do the work that isn’t easy.  We have to make big decisions sometimes, operate in a state of discomfort and cognitive dissonance, and relax into the faith that sometimes we must take leaps into the unknown.

What could I have done better?  I struggled with keeping work-life balance while ensuring the studio was doing new, exciting things. It was hard for me to find the balance between encouraging my team to be independent, yet also creating consistency on our schedule.   I’m not that great at delegating to people. It was hard for me to continually carve out enough time to create new programming and keep the studio evolving; to stay on top with fresh and new marketing.

What about some wins?  Smiling Dog is such a great space, it always has been, and will continue to be! We have great classes, teachers, so many unique and juicy offerings, and a team of collaborators and friends that make magic happen each day. I’m grateful for each of you and proud of the space we’ve created together. Our government won’t save us.  Nor will our healthcare system.  It’s what we do each day of the week that matters.

As I sign off as your yoga mamma, I want to thank you for being part of my yogic journey. I hope those of you who love Smiling Dog can be excited about the future of it with our evolving tribe (Welcome Steph & Andres!). Each day that passes since the papers were signed I get more excited about what the future holds. I’m grateful for the space to enjoy more time with my family.

I am going to stay involved as an instructor and creative consultant, so don’t worry, I’m not going away. Laura & Chandra will continue to evolve into their roles as leaders of the studio.

I’m not exactly sure what to do with all this time though!  Seriously, I really feel like an empty nester!

Posted in studio ownership | 3 Comments

Oh, Life. You’re Funny.

Just checking in regarding my Eat The Greens summer mission 2016.  After a very successful first week where I ate not one, but TWO bunches of steamed swiss chard (my baby even ate it!), I found myself feeling great.  I think I ate vegan / no wheat for like 5 days!  Then…the inevitable…I ate all the cheese and drank all the wines for a bit!  I failed at meal planning and shopping and sleeping enough.  I was a walking zombie for a few days shoveling pizza in my mouth.  It was pretty fun.

They actually smiled?

They actually smiled?

Do you need the details?  Probably not.  I just thought I’d try to keep it real.  No, I don’t want to get cancer again, but dang, busy life makes it hard sometimes to be balanced, doesn’t it?  What is true balance, for me, in all reality?  I was reminded not to get too crazy in either direction – too healthy or too much fun.  I ate the greens when I could.  I let my to-do list simmer away a little neglected and didn’t let it keep me up at night.  Guess what, that to-do list is not going to kill anyone!  The undone work doesn’t go anywhere or cause a catastrophe (most of the time)!   I like the wine and cheeses.  I have recovered pretty darn well from having a baby a year ago.  I feel strong and fit lately.  My soul is smiling.  I will take a wellness blood test soon after breastfeeding ends and see where some other health markers are, out of curiosity.  Have you heard of wellness fx before?  It’s pretty cool.

My formula for the moment:  Eat some greens, beans, berries when you can. Try not to only eat cheese, wine, and chocolate, oh and bread for every single meal.  Love in all ways.  Work hard.  Find work you can love.  Chill sometimes too.  Find the spirit of Esalen at least once per week in normal life.  Surround yourself with good peeps.

Have you guys tried any new activities you’ve loved lately?  I have re-found my love of hiking and I LOVE our new YoBarre classes at Smiling Dog!  It’s really just circuit training with a barre and some yoga, but I love it!

Keep it real my friends, keep it real.  Have you seen my baby walk yet?  This ain’t the best video, but it’s real!

Posted in fitness, health and wellness, life, lucy | Leave a comment

Because, Cancer

I have recently started being a little more focused on healthy eating lately because, well, cancer.  No, don’t panic, I’m fine.  It’s just that this year I feel like the universe gave me a little gift of a wake up call.  It said, “Roxy, I can see you’re pretty healthful in many ways, but girl, you gotta kick it up a notch.”  I have to admit that finding that little renegade mole on my rib cage, finding out it was melanoma, getting it removed, was the most mild cancer scare as a person can have.  Really.  I am so lucky because I know sooooooo many people who have in the past and are currently dealing with so much worse.  By the way, I’m also doing this for you, so I can love you better.  And total disclaimer, I truly believe we only have so much control over the health of this body we’ve been given.  I recognize I might eat greens every day and still get cancer.  That’s life, so it seems.  Kinda harsh, kinda true.

So anyway, back to my current mission.  I decided the universe was really being nice to me in giving me that little cancer scare and now it’s my turn and opportunity to learn from that challenge.  To try, perhaps.  It’s all cliche, but I really do want to drive my baby girl to college some day.  I want to be an old lady with my hubs on a rocker on a porch.  I want to be the random old lady singing at karaoke.  I want to teach yoga when I’m 80.  All these things will not happen miraculously or by default.  I like to see what I can do.  I like a challenge.  I feel like I got kind of lazy with my self care in some ways with all my life changes the last couple years.

This quote inspired me.

“Psychologists have long observed that we all subconsciously dim awareness to things that raise our anxiety or make us uncomfortable.  Our self deceptions often lead us into absurd situations that are completely obvious to outside observers.  Many people blame the media and big business for the current state of the American diet.  The truth, however, is that Americans are self deceived.  There is nothing that prohibits us from choosing healthful foods, but contradictions often arise between the subconscious and rational parts of our minds.  We are prone to believe what we want to, regardless of evidence.  Our brains are masters at suppressing facts.  Changing ingrained habits requires us to operate for a period of time with cognitive dissonance.”

It’s kinda harsh, but kinda true.  It reminds me of that speech from V for Vendetta.  Love that movie.  (Listen to it!)

scrambled tofu is good

scrambled tofu is good

So, this week, I ate A LOT of green things.  I’m trying to focus on eating more of what’s good for me rather than focusing on what I am trying to minimize.  I mostly (cough, cough) didn’t eat all the cheese.  I ate like 10 avocados. Don’t you love avocado season!  And every time I wanted to eat all the cheese, I said to myself “because, cancer”.  Again, it’s kinda harsh, but kinda true.  And it helped.  We have 4 farmers markets within a few miles of my house every week!  I also decided this time I’m going for 6 weeks initially.  I have tons of travel and fun planned during this time but when is the right time?  I’m not alienating any specific food or food group forever.  That just never works.  I really wanted a burrito this morning and damn it was good.  So I’ll eat my greens for lunch and dinner.

I am doing this because my little scare with cancer was a lucky one.  What if I can heal my knee and foot pain without surgery or without them getting worse as I age?  What if we can postpone or prevent degenerative disease?  My baby girl ate tons of swiss chard and fresh fruit this week and what if she continues to pick up just like 5% of what I’m doing?

So, I share this because accountability.  I share this because I want to enjoy this thing called life until the end with a good quality of life right up until the moment it’s over and I only have so much in my power to make that happen.  What I ingest is possibly? likely? one of those things. I’ll keep ya posted on my success. 6 weeks is a hella long time! Xo.

Posted in ayurveda, health and wellness, lemons | Tagged , | 1 Comment

A Letter to the Mammas

Swoosh, swoosh, swipe, cough, cough…That’s me dusting off this bloggy blog to send a letter to my mamma friends.  Lets hope I can get this thing posted before my napping baby wakes up.

This is a list of my favorite, go-to yoga moves that can be done while pregnant and beyond to help mammas deal with the enormous physical challenges of growing babies (and to help you recover too).  These poses have literally saved me.  While pregnant, I turned to these when I couldn’t really do much yoga because I kept straining muscles, I was exhausted, and dealing with carpal tunnel and adema and too much work in preparation for my little one.  In my recovery phase they have helped me alleviate the various aches and pains that creep up due to the hard physical and mental work of feeding, carrrying, and caring for my little one.  I am here to remind you that all it takes is one breath, one pose, and one moment to get your center and help you rejuvenate.  Stop trying to do it all.  Stop pretending you don’t need more rest than you usually do.  Stop holding yourself to some unrealistic standard of fitness that now is not the time for.  Do one of these poses. Take a breath.  Perhaps go to bed if you can.  You got this.

Reclined Butterfly

Neck Stretches

Door Shoulder Stretches


High and/or Low Yogi Squats

Wide Forward Fold & Twisted Variation

5 Minute Meditation

I have taken a prenatal yoga teacher training, have worked with a post natal physical therapist, and am now attempting to get back to being a yoga teacher bad ass.  If you think I can help you in any way, just let me know.  I’m sorry I can’t add images at the time of posting this, baby is waking up, but these all have links so you can get more details.  xoxoxox.


Posted in prenatal | Leave a comment

Welcome Lucy!

The following are links to some “stories” I’ve created with the images and videos of little Lucy’s life so far.  Enjoy!

Here are some pics from Lucy’s Birth

Here are some pics of Lucy’s First Month

Posted in lucy | Leave a comment