They went from selling out classes several times a day, to having one person in a class.
Coco Teodoro, owner of Miller Place and Patchogue-based Cocomotion Yoga + Movement Space, said that the virus has hit his industry just as hard as others.
“Our business, just like rock concerts, musicals, they’re in the business of bringing people together,” he said. “And that’s the one thing we can’t do. So, our entire business model is toast because if you’re good at bringing people together, then what are you good at after that?”
Teodoro said that because of the pandemic, he has lost 90% of his business — just one of many things that hit him hard in 2020.
“I kept telling everybody that this is the year of loss for me,” he said. “I lost my mom just a few months ago, then lost my job [at an advertising firm in Manhattan] of 17 years, and then I could end up losing my business.”
But Teodoro tries not to be negative. There’s hope and he sees a silver lining, despite the hardships he and his colleagues are facing because of the coronavirus.
“I always felt that as long as I can teach, I can always make it in this world,” he said.
Teodoro, a certified instructor, has been practicing yoga for more than 20 years. He opened his first location in Miller Place five years ago and added a second space on the South Shore in 2017.
In March 2020, he was all ready to open up his third location on top of that in East Setauket. He took over the second floor of the Country Corner Bar on Route 25A and then the virus hit.
While they are still renting out the other two locations, they haven’t been able to use their Patchogue and new Setauket spaces yet.
Teodoro said they are focusing on maintaining their flagship spot in Miller Place because it’s the largest out of the three. They just recently opened up to in-person classes, where they marked spots on the floor six-feet apart. A class that once held nearly three-dozen people can now only hold eight.
“We feel like this is the safest place to practice,” he said.
And it’s been hard, he said. Early on in the pandemic, Teodoro had more than 20 instructors on his payroll, now he has just two — who are doing their classes for free. Since March, he and partner Jane Irvine were putting out over 500 yoga classes online for no charge.
“We’re actually going out of business and working at the same time,” he said. “We’re literally staying here so we can hold on to the community that we built.”
And that community has become their family.
“We know every single person,” Irvine said. “We know what’s going on in their lives. We know their children, we know what’s happening. So, we’re here, and we say that we love this family. This is our family.”
Irvine said the community has been as supportive as they could be during this difficult time, and while the business is struggling, the teachers at Cocomotion just want to make others feel better because they know of the impacts stress can cause someone.
“Pre-COVID, people would have multiple memberships,” Teodoro said. “They’d have a membership at the local gym, then they’d have a membership at the yoga studio, and then they might have a psychiatrist, as well.”
That’s how this studio is different than the rest, adding, “We decided to squeeze all three of those in.”
Irvine said that now more than ever, people need a ritual.
“People need something to devote their time to, otherwise the mind is just going to go crazy,” she said. “It gives you a focus, a point in your day to do something to take care of yourself.”
Cocomotion’s free classes are still available on their social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, but he’s encouraging people to take advantage of the sacred space he worked half a decade on in Miller Place.
“Everything that we’ve built is our dream,” he said. “So yes, we’re going to struggle — everybody’s struggling at this moment in time. But ultimately, we still get to wake up and have this community that we love and do what we love to do.”