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THE SLUT PASS IS KILLING ME

Updated: Dec 1, 2019


Today is the last day of the month November. I just looked at how many so called check-ins I had from members of a certain platform capitalist venture. It guess that it was a medium/good month (honestly I haven't been tracking it that closely), but the sad truth is that what revenue (still pre-taxes, but after VAT) that remained after paying rent at the studios where I teach (but before paying for things like incense, candles, massage lotion, music via Spotify) is €452. That certainly doesn't cover even the rent of my apartment and my health insurance. It also doesn't cover my student loans and the credit card debt I'm trying to pay off.


Luckily I still have some other income too, from a corporate class, from the rapidly shrinking number of students who pay for drop-ins (€14) or who buy 10-class cards (€110) or monthly passes (€75/65). And I get a tiny bit of money from a few but very generous yogis who donate for the video content I create. And I get income from retreats. But in the last few weeks I've seriously been thinking about finding a side hustle, because this isn't ending well.

Could I maybe be cleaning houses, or doing some translating work or dog-walking?

Or finally getting the fuck out of town?!


I started teaching yoga in 2007, so I've been in this game for almost 13 years at this point. It quickly became my main source of income, but until about 2012 I also did freelance writing/translation and the occasional catering gig to supplement the meager yoga teacher income.


Every week I see regular students switch to SLUT PASS. And why shouldn't they? I mean, it's an offer 'too good to be true'? For €59 a month (or even half of that with special deals etc), you can get all the yoga, pilates, gym, swimming and maybe even some sauna visits that you need. The only catch is that you can't go to the same studio more than 4 times a month. But still, really awesome way to save money and still get your yoga fix and stay fit, oder?


Over at your local FAST FASHION purveyor you can get a sparkly party dress for €20. Pretty awesome, right? You can just wear it once, for that one party and then chuck it. But is that dress made in a sustainable, earth-friendly way, by people who are getting paid living wages? No, it's most likely made by Bangladeshi women working long shifts, 6 or 7 days a week, getting treated like animals, having zero creativity or craftsmanship to be proud of, because they are forced to rapidly make that one seam over and over and over again. The dress is most likely made of plastic (polyester, acrylic) A.K.A oil. Most likely it's being dyed using toxins that pollute rivers where poor people are supposed to bathe and somehow live by. It's most likely shipped around the globe a few times.


OK, so the SLUTPASS is awesome for the consumer but not for the middle man (AKA your yoga/pilates/pole dancing teacher/studio). Well, I'm not even so sure anymore that it's all that good for the consumer. It's well-documented that the perceived benefit that you get from an activity or thing is very much attached to the price you pay. Let's say Sandy and Cindy go away on the same yoga holiday. But Sandy pay €1500 for hers and Cindy gets her for free. Sandy will feel like hers was better.


Also, the SLUT PASS is making it hard to go deep, if you are bouncing around the whole time, going from studio to studio, teacher to teacher, style to style, how are you ever gonna reach any depth? Also, the benefits of yoga very much depend on discipline (tapas), dedication and devotion (isvara-pranidad) and commitment.


SLUTPASS is also eroding the sense of community, the sense of camaraderie, and the sense of caring for a place. Since the victory march of SLUTPASS, studios report more thefts, more shitty behaviour. At the Shala recently, parts of the interior design has started going missing. First a lamp, then a rug. Also a yogini's shoes were stolen, so she came out of class only to find that she had no footwear to walk home in the damp Berlin autumn. I also see (and hear about) more students looking at the yoga class as a service being provided, and not like an opportunity for growth and self-study.


SLUTPASS is also aggressively moving into the market of corporate yoga and of privates, robbing teachers of this valuable source of income.


If you can afford to, please think about whether it's truly ethical to use this, or at least, if there's another way you can compensate your favourite teachers/studios for the loss of income incurred. You shop at Bio Company right? And look for the Fairtrade label?

If you can't afford to, well, you can't afford to and I have nothing to say about it. I certainly want yoga to be accessible to all.


The problem is, in all my years teaching in Berlin, I feel that the yoga crowd is pretty homogeneous, read white or at the very least middle-class.


I've always felt that as a yoga teacher, it's important to give back, hence charity events, hence lower prices for Hartz IV receivers. Also, if someone explains their financial situation to me, I always try to work something out, which may include letting them come to class for free.


But at this point I truly fear for my own existence. I'm getting closer to fifty. I have a master's degree (and student loans to match). I have 500 + hours of teacher training and thousands of hours of self-practice, self-study and experience. I think I'm good at what I do. I have lots of emails, thank you notes and cards to 'prove' it.


I'm probably shooting myself in the foot by even openly talking about this. Both by potentially alienating SLUTPASS users, but also, perhaps, by pissing the venture off to such a degree that they cut me off. And now I need those check-ins, all teachers/studios do. We're all in bed with the devil getting fucked in the ass against our will.


I'm super-curious to receive feedback, push-back, comments etc.


I'm also forever grateful to those of you who, somehow, against all (financial) sense, keep supporting me and all other teachers/studios by forgoing the middle man, and the 'groupon bargain basement price dumping.'


For more info, read this eloquent post by Berlin Yoga Conference by Anastasia Shervenko

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© 2020 Victoria Larsson