With yoga classes and spas for dogs popping up across the country, it makes sense that parents would be splurging on these services and related products for their children as well. Sure, some may roll their eyes at the notion of today's youngsters, who have been spoon-fed luxuries such as cell phones and iPods from an early age, needing stress relief. But in pursuit of good parenting, tales of adults over-scheduling their kids with activities to "enrich" and "improve" them have become common.
"The intentions are honorable," says Paul Kurnit, clinical professor of marketing at Pace University's Lubin School of Business in New York City and founder and president of Kurnit Communications and KidShop. "But the results are often stressful. Kids want more time to hang out, do nothing and just plain chill."
That's where these hot kid-centric businesses come in. We found companies both large and small giving overwhelmed youngsters the chance to unwind and de-stress with friends in fun, comfortable settings. "This [trend] is likely to continue, grow and morph into more and more kid-specific versions of adult comfort, relaxation and pampering," Kurnit predicts. And with children and teens influencing $600 billion a year of their parents' money, according to a retail analyst with Kizer & Bender Speaking, it's a market worth considering.
Next Generation of Yogis
Some flexible entrepreneurs have discovered that it's never too early for kids to start practicing yoga. "When a child learns to meditate at an early age, they have an extraordinarily valuable tool for life," says Shana Meyerson, founder of Los Angeles-based mini yogis. "Yoga teaches children how to step back from stress, put things in perspective, take some deep breaths and re-enter life from a calmer, more open perspective." Her studio, which offers yoga instruction for both children and adults, generated more than $100,000 in gross sales last year and continues to grow by about 20 to 30 percent each year.
Expanding beyond studio classes, YogaKids International, founded in 1991 by Marsha and Don Wenig in Michigan City, Indiana, sells DVDs and how-to books for young yogis, in addition to the classes, programs and training it provides to communities and schools around the world through a network of facilitators. YogaKids also recently began offering YogaKids Tools for Schools, in-school yoga education programs.
Marsha says the company has sold more than 500,000 DVDs for children ages three to six. "The sales of our products and trainings continue to grow as the value of the market becomes better understood and more widely accessible," she adds. Caryn and Monte Harrell, the owners of Fitness Beginnings in Happy Valley, Oregon, an online retailer of fitness videos for kids, have noticed the same trend. Though the site originally offered more traditional work-out videos, Monte says once they added yoga videos and products for kids, such as kits and mats, to their site, yoga became one of their best-selling categories.
Buddhaful Kids Yoga, based in Wellesley, Massachusetts, has found another way to expand yoga beyond the studio: yoga birthday parties. "They are the rage," says Mary Kaye Chryssicas, the company's owner and author of Breathe: Yoga for Teens, who performs two to three yoga parties a week. "Kid and teen yoga is booming." She says her classes are always full several months before a sessions starts, with a wait list of about 10 to 15 eager yogis per session. Her average student is about 10 years old, though she teaches children from age five to 17.