the future of yoga: all-inclusive yoga+wellness condo developments

Downtown Vancouver: some strategically placed yoga studios & wellness centres will make this land of condos so much more livable (image via rabble.ca)

So y’all know that I’m convinced Vancouver, Canada is the epicentre of industrialized yoga, right? It’s the birthplace of Lululemon, the headquarters for Deepak’s Chopra Yoga empire and has more yoga studios per capita than any other North American city.*

Terry McBride is a Vancouver-based businessman and founder of Nettwork Records (which gave the world Sarah McLachlan, along with Avril Lavigne, Barenaked Ladies and a few other Canadian musical embarrassments) discovered yoga a few years ago and went on to found YYoga, a chain of yoga studios. Now, according to the Globe & Mail, McBride is setting his sights on a new business model: he “plans to grow part of the yoga chain from a studio operation to wellness centres within residential developments.”

McBride has paired up with condo developer Ian Gillespie and they’ll open a 40-unit residence with a YYoga studio in Vancouver’s chic Kitsilano neighbourhood next year. Also in development is the massive Telus Garden complex (named after a major Canadian telecommunications corporation) in downtown Vancouver, which includes offices, condos and a “wellness centre” with a YYoga studio, full gym and pool. Similar units are in the works for Toronto and Calgary.

The article goes on to illuminate the genesis of the idea, which apparently came about after McBride and Gillespie discussed the drab common spaces in most condo developments and the under-utilized and kind of lame exercise facilities.

“I said, ‘What happens if you put in a wellness facility?’ Chances are they will go two or three times a week, it will be quiet, it will give them really good value because of the fact they live in that building, and for you as a developer, I think it’s a better hook to get people to buy in your building than someone else’s building,” said Mr. McBride.

Mr. Gillespie had already thought about generating a community vibe within his projects, and he saw that friendly yoga types could help with that…

“That’s one thing that residential developers fall short of,” says Mr. Gillespie. “It isn’t necessarily about what does the building do when you turn over the keys, but how you have positioned the building for success in the long term.”

By collaborating with Mr. Gillespie, Mr. McBride has the opportunity to build studios from the ground up, as opposed to leasing and renovating pre-existing buildings. They also share an overlapping demographic – a lot of 20-to-50-year-old females, says Mr. McBride. Women love yoga and condo life. [via The Globe & Mail]

I can’t believe that last sentence showed up in a national newspaper in 2012, but whatever.

A yoga studio chain and condo development may seem like strange bedfellows. While I’m all for more livable urban design and functional community spaces, it’s depressing to see yoga embedded in such obvious gentrification efforts.

Nevertheless, Gillespie and McBride seem pleased with their “gamechanging” business model and are congratulating themselves for “not going corporate.”

* Not a real stat – I made it up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s true. It sure feels that way.

  1. this article says austin has the most yoga studios and teachers per capita. not sure where they got their data, but i’ve heard this on twitter before. (i know. very reliable sources of information.)

    http://austin.culturemap.com/newsdetail/08-11-12-10-59-not-your-everyday-yoga-groovy-new-happenings-are-hitting-the-austin-yoga-scene/

    • well, as i pointed out, i made up that “statistic.”

      however, i will bet that wherever culturemap.com got their data, it was for US cities only. yoga is hip in austin, but i think yoga in vancouver is much more embedded in the cultural fabric of the city. no matter how many yoga studios there are per capita.