So, we decided that it was about time that we pulled back the curtain and cut right to the heart of Semperviva Yoga’s reason-for-being.
To do that, we sat down with with Gloria Latham, co-founder of Semperviva Yoga, to talk about a number of things Vancouverites (and yogis), like you and me, should know, including:
1) how they got to be who they now happen to be (and why);
2) if there’s something different about how they treat their customers and the service they give them;
3) what their plans are for tomorrow, next Tuesday, and five years into the future; and
4) why people looking to do Yoga in Vancouver should be choosing Semperviva
T&D: State your name, rank and serial number. If you don’t have one, surprise us.
GL: Gloria Latham, cofounder of Semperviva Yoga (with my husband Scott Latham) and director of Yoga Teacher Training
T&D: How (and why) did Semperviva come to be?
GL: Semperviva came out of my frustration of working as a pharmacist. I wanted to be in the health field but my job felt very disconnected from true health.
T&D: In simple terms, perhaps to someone who isn’t familiar with Yoga or the ‘West coast vibe’ at all, explain what Semperviva does (and why they do it better than the rest).
GL: Semperviva is committed to offering the best Yoga experiences possible. We provide our students with the most knowledgeable, inspiring teachers, and our studios and staff are warm and welcoming.
Semperviva Yoga provides Yoga for Every Body, all ages and all abilities. It is important to us that no one feels intimidated in starting a yoga practice and that they are able to continue to learn, grow and be challenged as their practice progresses.
T&D: Explain a typical day for you (and the staff) at Semperviva, if there is such a thing.
GL: Our first class at Semperviva starts at 7:00am; our last classes end at 9:00pm and our Yoga Teacher Trainings end even later. The days are long but the work is soooooooooooooo fulfilling.
We get to turn people onto yoga every day and this is very rewarding. We get to share in people’s success stories. We are blessed with an amazing community of students.
The day includes everything from daily maintenance and cleaning, to working with our amazing web team, to teaching Yoga Teacher Training. There is never a dull moment. We have a beautiful base of students here in Vancouver and through our programs in Greece, we are able to connect to students internationally.
T&D: We’ve seen a groundswell in the Yoga scene over the past few years, including some serious ‘swanky’ competition on the local scene. Do you have any thoughts on this?
GL: The demand for yoga is definitely growing because people understand its value as a system of complete mind body fitness. It is the perfect antidote for these stressful times.
Our focus at Semperviva is to provide the best classes possible with Vancouver’s most experienced teachers, in the most welcoming environments. This is our ongoing commitment to our community of students.
T&D: Why should people consider Semperviva as their Yoga provider?
GL: (T&D: she is now speaking in bullet point form, and we like it)
T&D: Is yoga a trend? What would your advice be to the non-Yoga masses (who have embraced phrases like ‘downward dog’ and the benefits of stretchy yoga wear) as they wrestle with this?
GL: That would make yoga the longest lasting trend in history (well over 5,000 years)!
Yoga is not something you do. It is a way of life. It starts out as something you explore in a yoga studio, on your mat but then it seeps out into your life. You will find yourself calmer and less reactive, you will sleep better, eat better and feel better than you ever have before, and you’ll be in great physical shape on top of all of that! I can’t think of one valid excuse to not start a yoga practice and keep it going for the rest of your life.
T&D: How do you focus on your customer and make them feel like they’re important to you?
GL: Our students mean everything to us. They are our entire reason for being. Being able to teach is a great gift and we will do everything we can to provide the best yoga experiences possible for our students.
We offer lots of free community events at Semperviva such as free classes on Christmas Day Class, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day. It’s a great way to bring people together, build community and make new friends.
T&D: What have some of your criticisms been (either as an owner or as a business)? What’s changed because of it?
GL: Our classes are always full. In response we keep adding more classes and have opened new locations (T&D: like the one we’re sitting in)
T&D: Part of the customer experience, we think, is getting something ‘when’ you want it and ‘how’ you want it. How does Semperviva satisfy this equation?
GL: We offer a full range of styles of yoga, throughout the day. The only day we ever close fully is New Year’s Day.
We provide a tremendous range of teaching styles in our schedule in order to accommodate all students regardless of their abilities.
T&D: Describe the best and the worst customer experience with Semperviva that you are aware of.
GL: I honestly can’t think of anything that negative (THANKFULLY). The most positive customer experience for me has been our Christmas morning class, and our Yoga Teacher Trainings. I teach a free class every year on Christmas morning and then my family and I serve breakfast to the class.
Our Yoga Teacher Trainings are such rewarding experiences. I believe that yoga training is the most empowering personal development program there is.
T&D: The new space on West 4th Avenue (former home of Coast Mountain Sports at the corner of Yew Street) is very well put together. How long had you been contemplating an expansion and how did it come about?
GL: We have always wanted a location on West 4th. Our presence in Kitsilano felt incomplete without it. My husband contacted the landlords of the building 5 years ago, and the opportunity finally opened up just before Christmas.
T&D: What’s your five year plan for Semperviva? How does the new space advance this?
GL: In five years we hope to continue to be the strongest member of the Vancouver Yoga Community, and continue to be internationally recognized as a leader in Yoga Teacher Training.
Our new space provides us with great visibility which helps increase awareness of all our studios, retreats and Yoga Teacher Training.
T&D: Who has been your role model or inspiration in life and/or business?
GL: A great inspiration for me has been Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa. She is an amazing teacher, and has touched so many peoples’ lives. She works tirelessly, travelling and teaching all over the globe while still maintaining the largest yoga studio in North America, Golden Bridge Yoga, with her husband Gurushabd Khalsa.
T&D: In 30 words or less, put the following words into a cohesive sentence: chipmunk, public transit, live music, and salad bar.
GL: While riding on public transit to a great salad bar I know that plays live music, I spotted a chipmunk in a tree. (T&D: she used 23)
T&D: Finally, what would you like to know of our readers (to be answered in the comments section)? Ask away!
GL: What’s keeping you from making a commitment to a yoga practice?
So there you have it, Semperviva Yoga’s story and commitment to customer service in a Yoga context!
Thanks to Gloria and the Semperviva team for taking the time (and effort) to speak with us.