Flow Room Yoga Studio in Seoul, South Korea, has re-opened after lock-down. We asked owner Isabel Kwak what it’s like.
Romi: How did you manage your studio during lock-down?
Isabel: There were various stages of lock-down here. It was never as extreme as it has been in other countries, but there were a few times we had to close the studio.
At first we did Instagram live classes. Later we were able to open the studio for another 10 days or so. But after that, there were stricter regulations placed on studios so we closed for 2 weeks. During that time we switched to Zoom. We also did a couple of park yoga classes.
Romi: What were some of the biggest struggles you faced?
Isabel: For us it was the uncertainty of how long it was going to last, and how far we should take it.
Questions we struggled with were, how many classes to offer and what kind of equipment to invest in? Not to mention, how much to charge students, how many teachers to involve and whether we would need to continue online classes in addition to studio classes after lock-down?
For example, we didn’t want to charge regular rates, as we consider the studio classes to be a superior experience. Plus we didn’t want to introduce fixed rates (weekly/monthly etc) when we might be given the green light to reopen the studio the next week.
Another thing we learned was just how much space you need in a room for the camera to cover the whole body – but moving furniture around every class was a good workout 🙂
Romi: What feedback did your students give regarding online classes?
Isabel: Positive and supportive! Our studio has a very strong community so it was really important for us to have a platform to keep that going during the lock-down. Having a little time before and after class for us to chat and see familiar faces was a real blessing.
In particular, we had a lot of people who were in quarantine overseas and unable to return to Seoul at that time. I think the online options really helped them.
Another good aspect was that it gave new people to Seoul a chance to connect with others during the lock-down. March is the time of year when a lot of people move to Seoul looking for a community to join. That’s something we are proud to provide, and happy we could still do that online.
We have some lovely new members now who we met through the online classes. By the way, the live broadcast link option on Bookamat was really useful!
Romi: You’re back open and it must be exciting! How are you managing your classes and students now?
Isabel: Well it was very exciting when we reopened. It really made us realise just how important the studio experience is for our community.
For the first two weeks we had a reduced timetable and still kept some online classes going. These were mainly for people who weren’t back in Seoul, or who were not allowed or not comfortable to visit the studio.
We followed government regulations such as reducing class sizes to keep distance between mats, introducing temperature checks, etc. We are still following these measures now, and I imagine we will be for a long time.
Romi: What are your biggest challenges with re-opening after lock-down?
Isabel: The uncertainty. We just really don’t know what’s going to happen and if another lockdown is going to be around the corner.
In fact, at the time of writing this, there has just been another outbreak in a nightclub in the same district as our studio, which has raised fresh concerns as they are still trying to contact everyone who visited the clubs for tests.
That said, testing has been widely available in Korea and the government response has been thorough, so let’s hope for the best.
We are following government guidelines and monitoring the situation carefully. But who knows, by the time this blog is published, we could all be back online again! But we’ll be here for our community whatever happens 🙂
Romi: Are you planning more online classes or to stick to studio classes?
Isabel: Studio classes will always be the priority. We’ll see how things go, but at this stage we are focusing more on studio classes and outdoor events as they provide the experience and connection most people are looking for.
But we’ll have to see what the future holds! It’s an interesting experience having so much global interest in how Korea copes with the crisis. Hopefully our experience can give some encouragement to everyone still in lock-down – including us if we have a second wave!