Zoe fell in love with yoga after it helped her recover from a bout of anxiety. She launched her own studio to share yoga with others. She says commitment is the key to a successful career - find a creative, unique way to show employers how dedicated you are.
Name: Zoe Bertali
Company: The Refinery
What is your job? Yoga teacher and studio owner
How long have you been doing this job? Teaching yoga for 5 years, running studio for 3
University: Liverpool John Moores University
Degree Subject: French, Spanish & International Relations
Qualifications: French, German and history A-levels; Yoga Teacher Training 200 Hour E-RYT
1. What was your very first job?
I worked in a bakery selling and serving sandwiches and cakes.
2. What did you want to do when you were at school?
I wanted to be a lawyer or a pop star!
3. How did you find out about the industry?
I have always been interested in health and nutrition to balance out my love of partying. I used to go to the gym a lot but found it pretty boring working out by myself. I read a lot of books about nutrition and then also started practising yoga which had amazing health benefits...I lost weight, felt less stressed and found strength.
4. How did you get there?
I worked for a long time in various sales and marketing roles. That gave me a lot of experience in how to sell, how to handle customers, finding solutions to problems, learning about products and project management.
The application process for some of these roles was the most important - there were thousands of applicants so standing out was hard! Think about things that show you are disciplined (do you play an instrument or a sport?). Tell them about how you are creative, say things in a different way that ensures someone sits up and looks at your CV first! What are your interests and work experience? How do they show you are dedicated and stick to things?
I fell in love with yoga after a bout of anxiety. I found that yoga really helped me, so I decided that I wanted to teach. I started my 200-hour teacher training with Yoga London. The course was hard and there was a lot of study involved while I was still working full time, but the end result was always in sight: I wanted to work for myself. I worked very hard in my jobs to save the money in order to find a studio that I could then set up my yoga and fitness business.
5. What is a typical day like?
I get up at around 5.30/6am every day, as I teach at 7am. I like to be in the studio to warm up and have a little time to myself before having to speak to anyone! I have a team of around 50 teachers that work for me, so I then have to check that the timetable for the studio is managed and if anyone can’t make it for some reason then we cover their classes.
I deal with customers all day, making sure that they have an amazing experience at the studio, introducing them to other people so they feel part of a community rather than just taking a yoga or fitness class. I also manage our website and any promotions that we are doing. I will have meetings with prospective new teachers, then we will audition them to see whether they will fit with our brand and our approach. I am responsible for overseeing our social media and newsletters — this is the fun part as it is a way of getting across the personality of our organisation.
6. What’s the best thing about your job?
The people I meet. There are so many different backgrounds and interests, you’re always inspired.
7. What is the most challenging thing about your job?
Also people! Managing the schedule to make sure teachers turn up and don’t let you or your customers down.
8. What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?
You need to be a caring, sociable and adaptable person to do this kind of role. Many people who come in to class may have anxiety or expectations about what they may encounter, so you must be able to put people at ease. You must have practised yoga a lot for you to be able to safely guide others in their own bodies. Do some workshops, or immerse yourself in a course to see whether it is something that really resonates with you.
9. What things do you wish you’d known before starting your career?
I wish I’d started this career sooner as I spent quite a few years thinking about doing it, but didn’t take the leap. Believe in yourself and do what you’re good at!
10. Where would you like to be in 5 years?
I would like to have studios all over the country… however I’d also like to be living on a beach!