Yoga lessons in Suzhou’s SIP – Maggie gets a Web site

About a week and a half ago Maggie told me she was a bit worried because there was an unprecidented meeting of a large group of “business people” at her yoga studio when she arrived to teach her class.

Turns out her fears were not unfounded, and last week the whole business closed (it was one part yoga studio and one part female beautification factory).

Details of what exactly happened are sketchy, but best I’ve been able to piece together is that about six months ago the owner of the business realized the place was going down hill (the yoga side was the only side making money), so thinking that throwing money at the problem would solve things, she brought on some friends as partners.

The partners all invested a bunch of cash and suddenly things were back on track (a track the led nowhere good). As nothing management- or business-wise changed, sure enough once the newly infused funds ran out, the business started to tank again.

Now, knowing she couldn’t bring on more partners, the owner tried to cop out of the venture by saying she needed more time to spend with her daughter. She kindly offered to “give” the business to the partners. The partners, not being entirely clueless, realized that she was leaving behind a business that wasn’t making any money, had large debts and owed members a considerable sum of money/classes.

And things went to shit from there. There were vocal arguments, actual fist fights, hired thugs, police intervention, etc. All the while Maggie and the other girls that worked there kept asking “so, are we getting paid?”, as the company keeps one month of salary as “security” to stop employees from not giving notice and just ditching on payday (deterrent or not, it happened ALL the time).

After checking with a lawyer friend of mine and learning that there is actual legal recourse and labour laws here in the Middle Kingdom, Maggie and the girls went down to the labour office and filed a report. This scared the boss into paying them off that day, which essentially took Maggie out of the whole messy situation.

Her students, however, aren’t so lucky. As they’re owed their money back for 6-12 month memberships they’ve prepaid, they’re now taking Maggie’s former boss to court (and have even gotten the local TV station involved). As to whether or not they’ll ever see a jiao of their spent money is, I feel, pretty doubtful. Water from a rock, as the cliche goes.

ALL of that to say, Maggie went from gainfully employed to sans job in a blink. Fortunately for Maggie her skills are 100% transferable and in decent demand.

However, rather than jump back into working at a studio (that could again pull the proverbial yoga mat out from under her), she’s decided to take her private lessons full-time.

She’s been doing a decent amount of private lessons here in SIP for the last year or so, but is hoping that she’ll be able to rustle up enough business to not need to head back into the employ of idiot lao bans.

So, I know I’ve written about Maggie’s classes before, but if you are interested in English-language yoga classes in Suzhou/SIP be sure to check out her newly created Web site (designed by none other than yours truly).

And for those not in Suzhou, stay tuned to her site, as she’s planning to put together weekly instructional videos with a different yoga posture, and what it’s good for, each week.

Inner Light Yoga

8 Responses

  1. Good yoga site design but how come it’s only monolingual?:-)

    >Fortunately for Maggie her skills are 100% transferable

    Lucky she. I worked for my ex-company for 5 years and after I was let go I realized that the skills I have are related to proprietary technology of that company and are not in demand on the market.

  2. @維特利: We will likely put up a Chinese version eventually, but right now it is monolingual because she’s marketing herself to the somewhat under-serviced English-speaking expat niche here in SIP.

  3. How perfect! I’ve wanting to find English yoga classes here, and have just been too busy to look around yet. I’ve got to talk to hubby, but I think I may be in touch with Maggie soon!

  4. I’ve been reading a lot about business ethics in China in recent days. Maggie’s story doesn’t surprise me in the least.

    Good luck with the new venture and the website. If I’m in Suzhou and need a good stretch, I know where to go.

  5. >company keeps one month of salary as “security” to stop employees from not giving notice and just ditching on payday (deterrent or not, it happened ALL the time).

    Does it mean that employees forsake their one month salary? That’s quite a sum…

  6. @Gin: Just let myself or Maggie know. We all still need to meet for drinks.

    @Stuart: Yeah, I’d heard of it happening quite a lot as well, but you just always sort of assume it’ll happen to some shady business on the far side of town… but I guess when it comes to China and business, it’s all shady and all Farside™

    @維特利: Yep. The primary business of the studio where Maggie worked was selling and applying beauty products. As such they had a legion of young girls just waiting to make any woman that entered feel like she needed their help to feel beautiful. The girls were paid a small salary and made commissions on product sales (which, judging by the state of the business, wasn’t much). Every month on payday a bunch of the girls would bail because it was such a craptastic job. In doing so they’d lose the salary that the boss had been holding as “security”, but as it was the current month’s payday and their purses were flush, I guess they preferred to just cut their losses.

    As all these girls were working “illegally” (no contract, not a proper danwei, etc.) if they did give notice they’d run the (very real) risk of just being canned on the spot, no money at all.

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