Rosanna McCollough joined YogaWorks in February 2015 as President and Chief Operating Officer, initially managing studio operations, marketing, teacher training, MyYogaWorks.com, human resources and IT, before being promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer in June 2016. Before joining YogaWorks, Ms. McCollough was Chief Operating Officer of Merle Norman Cosmetics, where she was primarily responsible for managing the company’s operations, advertising, product innovation, training and merchandising. Previously, Ms. McCollough worked as General Manager of Evite.com, where she managed all areas of the business. Prior to that, Ms. McCollough was the Senior Vice President of WeddingChannel.com, in charge of various aspects of the business from product development and editorial to profit and loss responsibilities of their registry, local advertising and e-commerce business units. Ms. McCollough also has worked in marketing and product development roles with Neutrogena Corporation, Max Factor, and Twentieth Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising. Ms. McCollough is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles with a B.A. in English.
How did you get into the industry?
I took my first yoga class (which happen to be at a YogaWorks studio near my house!) almost 12 years ago when I was pregnant and needing some relief from terrible back pain. My husband suggested that I try yoga to help, and I’m so glad that it did because it ended up changing my thinking, and ultimately, the course of my career.
Like many people, I sought out the practice of yoga to achieve a physical goal, but I ended up gaining a much larger appreciation for the impactful, mindful component of yoga as well. I chose to join YogaWorks to help bring the mind-body balance that I found in my own practice to more people on a national scale, and to help others reduce stress in the busy lives we lead.
Any emerging industry trends?
This is an exciting time for our industry, as the practice of yoga in the United States is gaining popularity. Approximately 37 million Americans practiced yoga in 2016, up from approximately 20 million in 2012, representing 80% growth. What’s even more compelling is the number of yoga practitioners is expected to grow to 55.1 million Americans in 2020, representing 50% more participants than 2016.
Also, over 40% of yoga practitioners are “Millennials,” who are increasingly focused on wellness and are generally willing to spend more on personal enrichment and authentic and meaningful experiences. Furthermore, 37% of Americans under the age of 18 have already tried yoga, which means an entire generation is exposed to the benefits of yoga - with penetration to both men and women becoming even more equal in years to come.
YogaWorks is well positioned to reach this millennial audience and a broad population of consumer demographics due to our inclusive, multi-discipline and comprehensive program offerings. We are known for our diverse classes that challenge practitioners of all levels and abilities, ranging from beginners and casual practitioners to seasoned yogis and professional athletes.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
As the number of yoga practitioners continues to rise, with 37 million yogis practicing in more than 33,000 yoga and Pilates studios across the United States (the vast majority of which are owned by small independent operators), we believe YogaWorks has significant opportunities to enhance our leadership in the yoga studio industry through strategic studio acquisitions and organic growth. This growth will fuel our ability to continue to make high-quality yoga accessible to everyone—dedicated yogis and beginners alike.
Another industry opportunity is the use of technology to improve the yoga consumer experience. While technology doesn’t play an important role in physical yoga classes (which are focused on being present in the moment and connecting your breath with movement), I do think there’s opportunity to improve back-end functions and search capabilities across the industry. With the right technology, consumers can more easily find the classes that work best for them, keep track of their favorite teachers, and check into a studio with greater ease and speed.
In terms of industry changes and challenges, we see healthy competition in the space with new brands, boutique style fitness and class offerings that cater to different consumer interests and trends. With this competition, it’s important to stay on top of your game and continue to offer high-quality classes and offerings that are true to your craft.
YogaWorks’ 30-year heritage in the space and our Gold Standard in Teacher Training continues to separate the quality of our instruction, studios and class offerings.
Also, what’s great about yoga is that it’s a 5,000 year-old tradition that continues to grow and is not a fitness fad. Yoga is complementary to all other forms of exercise and is often used in conjunction to athlete’s workout routines, to increase flexibility and tone, so they can achieve even greater levels of performance in their sport.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
YogaWorks was founded in 1987 with a simple mission, to help people lead healthier and less stressful lives in an inclusive and supportive environment. We strive to make yoga accessible to everyone and offer a lifestyle approach that can be applied on and off the mat, while empowering our students’ journey toward personal growth.
We are differentiated from other fitness concepts in that we add the dimension of mindfulness and see continued opportunities to help enrich and transform lives through yoga.
2017 has been a transformational year for our company. This summer we completed our initial public offering and have begun to capitalize on our robust acquisition pipeline. We are extremely pleased with the progress we have been making in both our base business and acquisition strategy and are excited about our pipeline for growth.
As the Gold Standard of Teacher Training and the second largest yoga studio operator in the U.S., YogaWorks has an enormous opportunity to continue to grow market share. We are extremely grateful to be viewed by studio owners as their trusted partner who will take care of their teachers and students with our shared mission.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
Our market-leading position is due to a number of factors. First and foremost, our brand is known worldwide as a leading center of learning for yoga, and we operate one of the most respected training programs in the industry. We have graduated more than 11,000 alumni from our teacher training program over the last 27 years. Last year, we conducted 100 trainings in 18 countries. We believe this legacy of excellence in training enables our reputation and impact to transcend beyond our studio footprint.
Second, we are known for our broad range of yoga programming that appeals to people of all ages and abilities. And it enables us to deliver on our belief that yoga works for everybody. Our inclusive programming is paired with multiple pricing options to attract a broad range of students from casual yogis to the most dedicated practitioners. And, our team is dedicated to providing an authentic, mindful experience that begins when you walk into our doors through the last blissful moments of class when you are resting and grateful you went to class to achieve some balance in the day.
Third, to complement our in-studio offerings, we launched the myyogaworks.com on-demand video platform, which provides users access to high-quality yoga classes anytime, anywhere. For $15 or less per month, students have unlimited access to our library of over 1,000 yoga and meditation videos to find the right class for their needs.
Fourth, we became the second largest operator of yoga studios in the U.S. primarily through acquisitions. We have successfully acquired and integrated studios since 2003 and now have
66 studios in nine markets including Los Angeles, Orange County, Northern California, New York City, Boston, Baltimore, the Washington D.C. area, Houston and Atlanta. Our broad range of yoga programming also allows us the flexibility to seamlessly acquire studios that teach nearly any style of yoga.
Also, it’s key to note that our integration approach is important to our acquisition success. We care deeply about each local community that we enter and are committed to maintaining continuity at each studio. This means retaining existing staff, teachers, and class schedules and working closely with each studio to provide them with the appropriate tools and best practices to enhance referrals, drive conversions and further grow their community. Local marketing outreach and hosting local events like our recent San Francisco Yoga Day are essential parts to connecting with our practitioners on a personal level while also building our larger YogaWorks community.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
Looking ahead, we are excited about our future and believe that we are uniquely positioned to gain market share within this growing and highly fragmented market. As we continue to expand nationally, our focus is on acquiring well-established studios with high-quality teachers and a vibrant community. Our goal is to welcome these studios into our family and work with local staff to grow the communities, leveraging our team and expertise.
We have a robust acquisition pipeline which we have built through our focus on identifying the best possible partners in new and existing markets through disciplined selection criteria.
We are focused on deepening our engagement with existing students while expanding our reach to new practitioners and are excited about the opportunities ahead of us as we further build our market leadership position within the yoga industry.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
In 2015, many of our studios were membership-only locations with a sales driven culture. If a prospective student wanted to find out how much it cost to join YogaWorks, the person was forced to come into the studio to take a tour before sitting down with a Yoga Advisor to be told the price. This process didn’t seem to align with the Company’s core values of transparency and simplicity, nor did it resonate with consumers who are busy and simply want to have information at their fingertips. The challenge was to shift the Company to a consumer-focused model and make the necessary organizational changes necessary to keep everyone motivated and aligned with the new direction. We made the adjustments necessary (i.e. we listed the pricing on our website, enabled e-commerce and added class packages to all studios for more options). They key learning was, no matter how clear the vision is, it requires extremely strong communication skills to share that vision and lead the organization toward the new goal in a supportive environment. There’s no such thing as over communication, and the consumer should always come first.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
We strongly believe in our mission to make yoga accessible to everyone and are committed to transformation on and off the mat. That means that no matter where you join us or what your age or fitness level is, YogaWorks will always strive to create a welcoming and inclusive environment where everyone has the opportunity to practice and grow.
Each of our classes shares a common theme—an excellence in teaching that has upheld YogaWorks as the gold standard of yoga studios. We infuse our yoga classes and teacher training with quality, integrity and a sense of humor.
More specifically, our signature YogaWorks classes deliver precise instruction to align your breath with fluid movement. We place an emphasis on meditation, thoughtful sequencing and offer modifications so you can customize your practice along the way.
So no matter who you are, where you live, how long you’ve practiced, where you need to begin or where you’re looking to go, we welcome everyone to join us to be part of your transformative growth.
How do you motivate others?
I think it’s important for a leader to clearly communicate the vision, goals and values of their organization. Be responsible for living up to the standards you set forth, lead by example, and empower your team members to set and reach their individuals goals as well.
It’s also important to remember that regardless of the size of your organization or industry in which you operate, in order to motivate others, you need to invest in your team and let them know they are valued. Take the time to forge strong relationships and support your culture through communication and appreciation – a call, email or even short “thank you” text message means a lot and can go a long way.
Career advice to those in your industry?
At the end of the day, there are a ton of really bright and capable people. The real differentiator is working with people you genuinely like and who are strong team players. Developing your people skills may ultimately make you more successful and your team more successful.