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Meet the genius behind our new website!

Updated: Sep 16, 2021

Tracy Last Story: Tales of Support During Times Struggle

Thank you all for reading this post and allowing me to share a glimpse into some of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ goodness happening at CWY. As everyone is already painfully aware, this has been a difficult year involving many changes, restrictions, worries, and frustrations for our studio, and for all yoga studios in Canada. While many studios have already permanently closed their doors, those of us still standing have been financially devastated and left with little to no resources from which to rebuild. The yoga industry as a whole is standing on the brink of extinction. If you had asked me 18 months ago if I would believe a future could exist where I lost my right to work, earn a living, or have a voice, I would have laughed in disbelief. This is Canada! I certainly would have assumed that had such an event happened, I would in turn at least be released from the financial laws that held me personally accountable for lease and expense contracts which I had signed from the time prior to that loss of rights. Unprecedented times indeed.

Through hundreds of changes and months after months of challenge and struggle, friends and students have asked me all year how I am managing to still smile and show up in an authentic way to teach my classes? The answer is simple, I’m fueled by love and support from within the CWY community! Although this year has been filled with adversity and challenge, countless individuals have reached out to show their support through donations, needed services, and an outpouring of love and validation. Our community’s love and support have carried us through dark times and given us the motivation we need to stay inspired and capable of meeting these challenges!

One such story of support has been operating behind the scenes for over 8 months and is now ready to help CWY move into a new era of possibilities, opening up new ways of helping our studio survive and thrive after all that has happened. I’d like to share with you all how one long-time member of the CWY community came forward and offered a better future for our beloved studio!

Meet Tracy Last!

Tracy Last approached me after Virtual Class in December of 2020 while we were in the midst of one of our full mandated closures which have become so common. We were experiencing software issues, connectivity issues, video issues, registration issues, and website issues, and issues, and issues, and issues. My life was one giant tech nightmare which I couldn’t seem to escape. With a background in yoga therapy and anatomy, I was lacking the skills to cope with the demand of a new industry standard.

Tracy approached me online one day in December of 2020 to discuss the obvious issues we were experiencing. She is a Community Engagement Strategist with some pretty impressive website design skills and she had a risky and outlandish idea to throw away every system we had ever created and to start from scratch. The world has changed Tracy had a vision of new tools and new style of system which does not currently exist in the world of ‘professional’ yoga studios. With substantial monthly savings over our current set-up, this new system could help us lower our costs during lean times, while at the same time helping us to develop a new strategy to strengthen our community connection around our brand. Like many people, Tracy had lost employment and income due to the lockdowns and mandates and felt that she could pull off this conversion in a couple of months of dedicated work in her newfound spare time. Her ideas filled me with terror and uncertainty! We can’t do that! Think of how much work it will be? Think of all the things that could go wrong? What if the system was too simple to handle the volume of options our clients had grown accustomed to? How would we convert all this data? I mean, if such an option existed, surely other yoga studios would be doing it already, right? There is a reason why we all pay exuberant amounts of money for these yoga studio software programs, and I reasoned with Tracy that she was underestimating the complexity of what our systems need to be able to do. This project may be over both of our heads!

She enthusiastically assured me that no matter what the challenges were, we could overcome them together and find a better way to a future where our studio could once again flourish. What did I have to lose? She was offering these services to me for free with no hidden agenda or complications, and such opportunities rarely appear in the moments they’re needed the most. Although my mind was in a state of stress and anxiety over the thought of it, in my heart I knew she was right. If I didn’t do something soon, I would be facing a future that no longer included my studio or a life as a yoga teacher!

So, I took her up on the offer and we got to it right at the start of January. New year, new path! Much to my suspicion, and likely to Tracy’s dismay, she soon realized the reasoning behind my initial skepticism. How hard can it be to run a yoga studio? You have no idea until you try! I braced for the bad news, this was going to take more than a couple of months, and who in their right mind wants to open this can of worms! To my surprise, Tracy was fast to adapt and still committed to the project. She dove into learning all of the ins and outs of the various schedules, class pass options, client integrations, virtual components, payment processing, and accounting requirements needed to manage a yoga studio. Bit by bit, function by function, hour by painstaking hour, we worked through every option as Tracy created unique new ways to invent a system which not only offered all of the same conveniences we were used to but also had a more user-friendly flow with entirely new components designed us to increase community connection and support even in the event of future lockdowns. Her efforts were relentless and insanely creative! The final product took 8 months of dedicated work, hundreds of hours of troubleshooting, and what would have cost $40,000 in web design fees to a paying customer. This is an expense we would have struggled to consider in pre-covid times, and something which would never have been an option at this moment in our journey.

During this time as we continued to struggle, we were turned down for 5 government small-business grants, being ‘too small’ to be considered for support. With our maximum subsidy amount offered for lease relief only contributing around $250 per month, we had no idea that the situation would continue to worsen through the better part of 2021. You can imagine my joy at having one dedicated woman provide 20 times the value of government support into a program which could actually end up being the answer to saving our studio and preserving yoga therapy in Maple Ridge for years to come! I’m grateful for having listened to that deeper voice who knew it was time to act and change when the rest of the world was still opined that the crisis was near its end and we would all be back to ‘normal’ soon!

So, it is with heartfelt gratitude that CWY would like to officially recognize Tracy Last for all of her amazing contributions which have gifted us a bright new path towards a bright new future! It was an incredible amount of problem-solving and tedious work, and when I asked her why she was willing to give so much for so little in return, her answer was selfless and lovely. “The experience was what MY mind and body needed. I seem to have all of this creative ability festering inside of me. When the opportunity to serve in my community presented itself in this way, I wanted to contribute in a way I knew how. To create a community around a brand is a career move I’ve been dying to make for years, apparently at any cost. It’s the social entrepreneur in me. I identify societal issues that weigh heavily on people already struggling in trying times, and at any cost, I’ll develop a working solution to the problem. Even if it isn’t a moneymaker, morally it’s the right thing to do.”

Tracy is a Community Engagement Strategist with incredible web design skills who focuses in the medical cannabis industry, fire safety and education, and now, also in custom low-cost systems for yoga studio management! If you are or know someone who owns a yoga studio, we highly recommend you reach out to her to see how a system like this could help your studio. Through the creation of our website Tracy has been able to create a template from which other yoga studios could add their own information, images, and preferences and start enjoying all of the fabulous new systems that we are so grateful to have received! The best part, now that the template is set there is no $40k investment in custom development time, making a new affordable option to benefit yoga studios (fitness centers, dance studios, martial arts schools, etc.) anywhere in the world and help them find ways to create a better future and protect their business in the face of industry-wide challenges. If you care about the future of the yoga industry and keeping these services alive in your communities, please help me spread the word and the benefit of these solutions and introduce these business owners to the lady who just opened a new chapter for Centered Within Yoga: Tracy Last!

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