LONDON, United Kingdom – Yoga studio franchise Hotpod Yoga is set to open five new UK studios in the coming months, bringing its total number to 60 within ten years of launching, as the company announced revenues approaching pre-pandemic levels across most sites.
The new studios in Sheffield, Ribble Valley, Eastbourne, Norwich and Warrington – each featuring Hotpod Yoga’s unique inflatable heated pods – follow five other recently opened sites in Chester, Gateshead, Dulwich, Notting Hill and South Wimbledon.
Signalling a return to pre-pandemic trading conditions, the company also announced that over 20,000 customers have booked into a pod already in 2022, adding up to more than 67,000 mats reserved between 1 January and 14 February.
Commenting on the new studio openings, Co-founder Henderson said: “It’s a huge privilege to see the business go from strength to strength after such a tough few years. To see more studio owners come on board, successfully launch and begin to see their lives transformed is amazing to see, given the context.”
Founded in 2013 by two friends, former strategy consultant Max Henderson and yoga teacher Nick Higgins, Hotpod Yoga began with a series of pop-up classes around London, before expanding to launch its first franchise in Swansea, Wales, later that year.
Now with over 60 locations across eight countries, Hotpod Yoga has grown into one of the world’s largest yoga businesses. It’s also the only one in the UK where people can attend classes, complete their yoga teacher training, develop their career and ultimately, become a studio owner.
“Having been there ourselves, we set out to create a business model that not only enables more people to experience yoga in this immersive way, but that also enables people who have a passion for yoga to make it their career and earn a great income from it. And we’ve achieved that, which I am incredibly proud of,” Henderson added.
“We offer support and advice every step of the way and you only need to look at the sold-out launch weekends we have coming up to see that we know what works. People want an escape from the everyday and Hotpod Yoga is a million miles from the everyday.”
‘Resilient business model’
With these new openings, Henderson is hoping 2022 will mark a significant change in fortunes for the broader fitness industry, which has been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to the harsh restrictions imposed on gyms and fitness studios in March 2020, Hotpod Yoga was forced to shutter all its studios until late August that year.
The limited capacity rules forced the company to innovate with the launch of individual “Minipods” for safe, socially-distant hot yoga practice. At the time, Henderson told Welltodo he believed the fitness sector would “emerge leaner, more agile and more innovative in the long run”.
“Coming through the pandemic in one piece was tough, but a combination of effective pivoting to digital, a franchise setup focussed on support and a fundamentally resilient business model all helped us hugely,” Henderson told Welltodo.
“The Government also stepped in at important times – with retail grants at the beginning of the pandemic being particularly valuable, alongside furlough. That said, the failure to support the sector towards the back end, particularly through the Omicron wave, was really baffling and clearly cost a lot of great businesses in our space dearly.”
Despite those hurdles, these new studio openings – following the recent lead of boutique fitness brands such as Barry’s and GRNDHOUSE – suggest the industry is starting to bounce back strongly and that the appeal of owning a physical brick-and-mortar fitness franchise is still as attractive as ever.