Today we’d like to introduce you to Dana Short.
Hi Dana, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
My husband Torrey & I were always fitness enthusiasts. While I had taught yoga years ago and in recent years instructed ballet barre, Torrey is an avid runner and enjoys ultramarathons. Because we have always been a long-distance couple, with Torrey working as a wildland firefighter in Alaska for 4-6 months out of the year and our home base here in San Diego (where I manage a veterinary hospital), a fitness studio appealed to us as something we could do together. And so, on March 1st, 2020, we purchased Spirit Yoga, completely unaware that just 16 days later, the world would come to a screeching halt as the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world. Our excitement in purchasing the studio stemmed from the desire to be part of an inclusive and welcoming community, which was Spirit Yoga’s hallmark. While COVID dampened our enthusiasm, we were able to survive a challenging first year navigating ever-changing regulations. Finally, the world began to return to normalcy this spring.
Unfortunately, many small businesses were unable to survive the terrible strain and the barre studio next door to Spirit Yoga was among those to close. As this studio, known as BarreBody, was the location at which I had received my certification and had taught for years both the practice of barre and the studio location was near to my heart. The crazy idea of expanding Spirit to offer barre & Pilates at the adjacent studio was born. Spirit Barre officially opened on May 22nd, 2021, with limited capacity due to COVID and with mask mandates still in place. So, while the situation was improving, it still wasn’t ideal. As we modeled Spirit Barre after Spirit Yoga’s community environment, we decided to introduce the studio by offering a week of free classes for all. Because barre is not an extremely common style of workout, it was difficult to describe it to people who may not have familiarity, so we chose to invite them in to experience it themselves! Our mission is to have the same inclusive, friendly community at Spirit Barre as we do at Spirit Yoga and to welcome all to practice with us!
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
It has been anything but a smooth road. In fact, it has been more like running the gauntlet as COVID kept throwing more and more obstacles in our way. Only 16 days after purchasing the yoga studio, we had to close entirely, adapt to an online class delivery system, and then, eventually, to a makeshift outdoor yoga studio we constructed in our back parking lot. In addition to the ever-changing ways of class delivery and capacity, we had to navigate all of the regulations, completing multitudes of paperwork, permits, and endless loan & grant applications to keep us afloat.
It was an extremely challenging first year. Once we started seeing light at the end of the tunnel in the Spring of 2021, we started looking at the struggles as opportunities and thought that maybe this was the universe’s way of telling us to use this as a way to grow. Because the space in which Spirit Barre is housed was left vacant for about 6 months, we had to do a lot of renovations to get it ready and with virtually no budget, we turned to our family and friends for their help in giving it a nice facelift. Once the physical space was ready, we found it very challenging to recruit staff members, as many people made lots of life changes during COVID and some were simply not ready to get back to work, so even recruiting instructors during this time proved difficult. We also found that some prospective clients might not be ready to go outside the home for fitness just yet. So, it’s been a slower start than we had hoped, but now that we have been open for a little over a month, we are finally starting to see people trickle in and are hopeful that as we turn the corner from summer to fall, we will finally be on the road to a successful studio.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
The mission of Spirit Yoga & Spirit Barre is all about community. We are welcoming, friendly and inclusive and want to practice together in a spirit of community. We are committed to benefit classes for local nonprofits (we currently have benefit classes running at Spirit Yoga taught by our recent Yoga Teacher Training graduates and all proceeds go to Pups’N Boots/Mission Bay Puppy Rescue, non-profit sister organizations that rescue homeless pets from Mexico and adopt them to loving families…our mascot Armani is from this rescue so it is a cause we love to support), which has been successful at Spirit Yoga and which we will also be implementing at Spirit Barre as we build our clientele. We also love bringing our offerings to communities, so we have offered some Barre in the Park classes for free within the community, and really enjoy partnering with other local businesses to collaborate on events & projects.
At Spirit, it is of paramount importance that we have quality instructors to serve our clients well. We try to have instructors with diverse styles so that classes are varied and always interesting. We work hard to ensure that our instructors have opportunities to express their creativity, offering many inspiring workshops to our clients based on the instructor’s area of expertise, and make sure that they are fairly compensated for their hard work and dedication. We want to provide the best possible experience for both our staff members and our clients and want all to feel a part of the Spirit community.
Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
The importance of partnering with other businesses in the community cannot be stressed enough. Especially during COVID, it was not only comforting to be able to support each other and discuss hardships & come up with solutions together, but it was imperative to work together to help each other. We had a clothing store (Lotus & Luna) across the street from the studio and they were in need of some storage space during COVID; our yoga studio had plenty of unused space during closure, so we were able to provide them with some space as they helped us with a tiny bit of revenue as we were really struggling. Now that things are back up & running, we have Lotus & Luna clothing available for sale at our studios, so it has been a wonderful partnership.
We have worked with restaurants in the area of our studios to cross-promote at events. A recent example is with Powerhaus Pizza. They kindly provided samples for attendees of the Spirit Barre grand opening event in May. Recently, they hosted a fundraiser for a PRIDE organization and we promoted it to our clients through the Spirit Yoga & Spirit Barre social media sites.
Networking and building partnerships is pivotal in the business community. We should all be rooting for each other’s success.
- $39 – 3 Weeks of Unlimited Spirit Barre Classes (NEW STUDENTS ONLY)
- $59 – 3 Weeks of Unlimited Classes at BOTH Spirit Barre & Spirit Yoga (NEW STUDENTS ONLY)
- $99/month – Unlimited Spirit Barre Classes – FOR A LIMITED TIME – “FOUNDING MEMBERSHIP”
- $149/month – DUAL Spirit Membership (Unlimited Classes at BOTH Spirit Barre & Spirit Yoga)
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