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March 1, 2024 18 mins

Today's guest said it best himself: "You can watch thousands of millions of hours yoga and Pilates classes on YouTube, but you can't watch a class on community."

Sonja Crystal Williams sits down to talk about the inception, growth, and community-building of M3 Yoga & Hot Pilates studio with its co-owner Matt Chambers!

In this episode, Matt and Sonja discuss how he's cultivated a vibrant yoga community both online and offline, and how strategic marketing plays a crucial role in the studio's success story. As the marketing leader behind the studio's growth in Athens and Atlanta, Matt imparts wisdom on the true power of social media and the subtle dance between paid advertising and organic, heartfelt engagement.

From seizing unexpected opportunities that lead to studio ownership, to exploring the contrast between the energetic teaching environment and the meticulous nature of marketing efforts,  to carving out a distinct space in a crowded online fitness realm, Matt's journey is a testament to the magic that happens when passion aligns with profession.

About Matt Chambers and M3 Yoga & Hot Pilates
Matt is the co-owner of M3Yoga in Athens, GA and an avid advocate for making movement more accessible and approachable. After originally finding yoga through his partner Nick, Matt’s love for the practice came from Sound Baths and meditations at first, but grew over time to include classes for all levels and bodies.

Matt’s trainings vary wildly from Hatha Yoga training with Darren Rhodes, Brigette Finley, Sam Rice, and Neda Draupadi Honarvar, Sound Bath training with Danielle Hall, and Inferno Hot Pilates Training with Gabi Walters. Expect a gentle guiding hand as Matt’s class experiences lead you to challenge yourself inside and out. And definitely a few jokes to make you laugh along the way.

Matt also manages the marketing, branding, website and studio operations. Don’t be surprised to see him at the front desk, taking out trash or even on the mat next to you!

Learn more about M3 Yoga & Hot Pilates, and follow their Atlanta and Athens locations on Instagram.
Follow Matt on Instagram.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Sonja Crystal Williams (00:12):
Welcome to today's episode of 10 Minute
I'm your host, Sonja CrystalWilliams, and today our special
guest joining us is MattChambers of M3 Yoga and Pilates,
which is for all of you thatare listening.
Chances are you're engaged insome type of online community.
There's tons of communitiesthat exist out there.

You're probably in some groupson Facebook.
You might be in little podsthat exist on Instagram, maybe
with your close friends andusing tools like that, or even
beyond some of those toolsTelegram and what's that other
one GroupMe.
There's a lot of tools outthere that people use to
communicate one-on-one withtheir friends or people they

know or people who have similarinterests right, and that exists
But the reason I brought Matttoday is because Matt has been
growing a community, and thatcommunity has grown in person,
but it's been through differentonline ways that he's been able
to facilitate the growth of thatcommunity, and that is a
community of people who enjoyyoga and hot Pilates, which I am

a part of that community, I'mproud to say so.
Thanks for being here, Matt.

Matt Chambers (01:24):
Yeah, thanks for having me.
I'm excited to talk aboutcommunities in person and

Sonja Crystal Williams (01:31):
So let's back up a little bit, because
you and your partner, Nick, havea yoga studio, and how long
have you all had that yogastudio?

Matt Chambers (01:41):
Yeah, that's great questions.
We've had the one that startedin Athens, Georgia, and so we
started that one.
It actually started with Nickin April of 2017.
So math is not my thing,marketing is, and so it started
small as like a small privatestudio we're doing private

classes and lessons, and then inAugust of 2017, it became
public and so that's where Ikind of came in to bring some of
like the marketing backgroundand work there, and so really,
it's been since then and we'vebeen in Atlanta now for a year,
and so, yeah, we have both ofthem.
It's great.

Sonja Crystal Williams (02:21):
Yeah, so two studio locations, one in
Athens, one in Atlanta, so youhave a marketing background.
Tell us a little bit more aboutthat marketing background and
how you were able to bridge thatinto using it to really launch
the studio.

Matt Chambers (02:36):
Yeah for sure.
So I went to school forjournalism and advertising, went
through journalism, got burntout and was done and so I
switched over to marketing,specifically at the University
of Georgia and their marketingdepartment.
So marketing the school andit's kind of brand, and I was a
marketing project manager there.
So just touching every aspectof marketing, you know, like

getting the creative to talk tothe writers, to talk to the
photographers, to talk to youknow strategists and everything,
and so like just really helpingset everything in motion and a
lot of those same toolsseamlessly carried over into,
you know, M3's inception andmarketing creation.
And I also feel very lucky that, like I had free consultants

that were my friends, that Iworked with, that were like hey
here's what you can do, yeah.
I was like why should I?
This was back, you know, whenInstagram was new.
It was like should we be onInstagram, you know, asking the
social media person?
And then it goes of course, andI was like oh, okay, cool, and
so it was, I'm amazed everyoneto have friends in marketing and
high places.

Sonja Crystal Williams (03:39):
Yes, Right.

Matt Chambers (03:40):
Step one work in a marketing business.
Step two open a business.
You know, free advice.

Sonja Crystal Williams (03:47):
Yeah, it was great.

Matt Chambers (03:49):
But yeah, that background and those support
systems really helped M3,especially in the early days.
I think this was before a lotof yoga studios or any really
fitness places had caught on todoing much marketing unless you
were like Point Of Fitness, youknow somewhere big, and so it
was especially digital marketing.
It was like ads were so cheap.

It was great.
You know it was.
You were really exposed whenyou jump on that.
It was great.

Sonja Crystal Williams (04:18):
Wow, so okay, so that's actually a good

question (04:20):
Do you all still run ads today,or do you think the community
grows more word of mouth?

Matt Chambers (04:28):
I mean, it grows word of mouth for sure.
Yeah, definitely, we wouldstill do ads.
We do digital, social, and paidads for sure, and I would, you
know, those bring in a lot ofpeople.
You know there's a lot ofpeople that come their studio
from word of mouth as well, butthere are people that you know

their friends haven't been to us.
Yeah, first feeling Atlanta,where we're pretty new, you know
, and so it just takes time,where it's like an Athens it's,
you know, it's a boulder that'salready rolling down that hill
and so word of mouth can be alittle bit more effective there
for sure.

Sonja Crystal Williams (05:02):
So launching in Atlanta, I meanAtlanta's a big mark.
I mean Athens, pretty big onits own right, that's a nice
size city here in Georgia, butAtlanta is like a whole another
bargain because you have so manysurrounding suburbs and just a
high concentration of studios inthe city.
So, okay.
So if we were to say part ofthat formula it sounds like ads

has been part of the formulathat's helped the community grow
Once you get people into thestudio.
How are you using these othertools like Instagram and YouTube
to really just help yourcommunity thrive, or do you
still even attract new peopleoff of the things that you put
out through those networks?

Matt Chambers (05:45):
Yeah, for sure, yeah yeah, totally yeah, I think
Yeah, I think the social aspectis really good for attracting
new clients.
I think it's really good forbuilding that community and also
like retaining your clients,like I think that's a lot of
what it helps with for us.
You know, obviously, we get infront of new faces and get new

falls and that you know that'sall great and everything.
But also like keeping ourstudents engaged and like
keeping them on the way, keepingthem on the loop of like this
is gonna be coming up, so here'sall our events.
Here's a little cute littlevideo about it.
Like here's some story poststhat are like graphics that we
post very often.
These are important things toknow about our studio, so we
post them times a week and so,yeah, I think those things can

be very helpful.
I think repetition is alwaysgreat.
So like using those stories andjust like repeating them over
and over and over, like they'regonna know it and it'll be great
, and so I think it's been great.
Once they're in the studio,those become really good
retention tools.
I think also our email effortsare really good, along with text
We do some auto text campaignsthat reach out to people and so

I check in with them.
After the first class there'sauto text that goes out and just
how was your first class comingabout?

Sonja Crystal Williams (07:01):

Matt Chambers (07:02):
And so those like personal touches, you know, I
feel real and there's like awhole pipeline that they go
through in the studio and it'sall good stuff, all good
information, yeah.

Sonja Crystal Williams (07:13):
So were you just behind the scenes like
just building out this wholesystem of like, when this
happens, they go here, when thishappens, they go there?
I mean, let me ask you aquestion for business owners.
Let's just say, people who owna brick and mortar facility
could be in the fitness industry, it could be a hair salon,
anything like that.
Do you think that system issomething that takes a lot of

time to build out and is itexpensive?
You know, just generallyspeaking, without you throwing
out the exact figure, but is itexpensive or is it something
that, hey, as a growing orstarting up business, this is
something that can be executed?

Matt Chambers (07:50):
Yeah, that's a great question because I had
that question myself back in2018.
I was like this seems like alot of money and work and effort
to do.
I think it's totally worth it.
I think we wouldn't get theconversions that we get from new
people coming through our doornearly as much if we didn't send
those messages and we didn'thave those touch points.

I think it does take a lot ofwork for sure to do it up front
and then the maintaining it'snot bad so when you get a, you
know you'll get the perfect leadwhen someone replies back, so
that like interaction, that youknow that that person is ready
and willing and engaged.
And so it does take a lot ofwork to set up, for sure.
And it you know I go in andtweak the messages once or twice

a year just seeing how they'redoing or if we change language
that we use or add a class orsomething.
But for the most part, once youset them in place, I mean it's
pretty hands off.
You know it kind of runs on itsown and definitely is worth.
You know its weight in gold forsure.

Sonja Crystal Williams (08:50):
Okay, so the investment of time is
really up front.
I mean, you still got to tweakthings and do maintenance, but
it was you really investing alot of that time in the
beginning to set the systems up.

Matt Chambers (09:01):
But really it saved me more time, I think,
because, like, this prevents mefrom having to call every person
you know a few times to checkin with them.
You know it's just an automatedthing.
I don't have to worry aboutlike, who have I emailed, who
haven't I emailed, like I thinkover time it ends up saving you
way more time for sure,especially like the volume that
we do.
It just, yeah, makes more sensethat way.

Sonja Crystal Willia (09:21):
Absolutely .
And then my next question waslike do you, Matt, do all of
this from the content creationof social media?
Like, are you a one man showdoing it all on your own, or are
there people here and therelike I need this person for
graphics, I need this person forvideo?
Like, do you have people thatyou go to that help with any

parts of the system that you'vecreated?

Matt Chambers (09:45):
Yeah, we have videographers and photographers
that we use for professionalshoots that we do which did one
recently and but for most of itit's just me and my partner,
We will hold the camera up, youknow, and take the photo in the
You know, like iPhone camerasare so good nowadays that, you
know, for social it doesn'tmatter as much.

We've also always had a socialfield that's felt a little more
organic, you know, like that'sjust kind of our social media
It's a little bit like organic,like it's not, you know.

Sonja Crystal Williams (10:18):
Like real.

Matt Chambers (10:18):
Yeah, yeah, it's not gonna be super polished,
it's like real.
Yeah, it's real and it's fromthe heart.
Everything we post is, you know, pretty much from the heart
that we're writing, you know.
And so, yeah, it's just us,just a small little shop, yeah.

Sonja Crystal Williams (10:32):
Yeah, but you've been able to do
something really big and amazing, so that's huge.
What do you enjoy most on?
And let's go into two things,because you also teach at the
So you're a marketing, you're aco-owner, and then you're
teaching also at the studio, onjust the marketing side, and

then we'll get into teaching.
But on the marketing side, whatare the aspects that you enjoy?
I guess most Do you.
Just I love making.
Like that's the fun part of thejob.
You know, from that end, for me, I feel like you enjoy.

Matt Chambers (11:08):
Yeah, I really enjoy planning events and
creating the graphics andmessaging around those.
I also really enjoy thecommunication that happens in
our marketing, because it issuch a pipeline and it's like,
hey, how are you doing?
Like, tell me about your class,how's it going?
Like the students reply backand that's really cool to like

have a.
I've never met them, you know,but like I'm having a
conversation with them as likehey, I'm glad you, like you know
super stretch, like that'swonderful.
I think that's a really coolcomponent and I think that kind
of makes it feel like thatcommunity, even when you're
walking, you know, like you'rewalking into a community,
obviously, but then also likevirtually we're right there with
you, like hey, we're stillgonna check in on you, you know

how's it going.

Sonja Crystal Williams (11:52):

Matt Chambers (11:53):
Kind of making people feel seen.
I really enjoy that.

Sonja Crystal Williams (11:56):
Yeah, which I think is really huge,
and especially that's one of thereasons why people come into a
yoga community and wanting tofeel like they're a part of
something and they're aroundsimilar, you know, kind of
So that makes a lot of sense.
And then on the teaching side,what do you teach at the yoga

Matt Chambers (12:14):
Yeah, I teach inferno hot pilates and inferno
power pilates, which is a lot offun.
It's a high intensity,well-impact workout class using
Pilates principles.
One of them uses weights andone of them is all body weight
and it's lasers on the wall,good lights and music and we're
pumping you up and getting yougoing.
It's a lot of fun.

Sonja Crystal Williams (12:34):
Yeah, so spoiler alert everybody, I
teach inferno hot pilates atMatt's studio.
We met online actually, whichis funny, and then in person,
but that's fun because it's sucha disconnect from being in
front of a computer and being ata desk and getting away from
marketing sometimes and justdoing something different,

especially physically with yourbody.
So I love it and I thank youand I love the studio.

Matt Chambers (13:01):
Oh, I'm glad I love having you at the studio
and I love teaching as well.
I mean, I think it gives me areason, like it reminds me on
those hard days where, likemarketing and going through the
slog, whatever and you know,like anything, business, but
like going to the class andseeing the students grow and get
stronger, I'm sure you feel thesame.
It's so inspiring, like why wedo it.
I love it.
Yeah, it's like my why.
You know, find your why, orwhatever.

Sonja Crystal Williams (13:22):
Exactly very cool, okay.
So a couple of quick questionsas we start to wrap up.
One is there's a lot of fitnesscontent that exists on
Instagram and YouTube.
Do you feel like, or do youever find yourself asking, how
do we make ourselves a littledifferent, or how do we stand

out, or how do we make sure ourcontent is connecting with the
right people?
And, if so, like how do you dothat?

Matt Chambers (13:55):
I mean, yes, we ask ourselves how can we stand
I don't think I'm ever.
You know, it's nice in a waybeing a local business, and a
small local business in twocities, a small local business
where, like, I'm not going totry and like capture the US
audience's attention.
So it kind of helps me focus alittle bit on like.
I just want to hit Atlanta andAthens and like, do it.
Well, our, you know, strategyhas always been to be real and

authentic and engaging in thatcapacity and like to showcase
the community, because there isa lot of like you can go watch
thousands of millions of hoursof YouTube of yoga and Pilates
classes, but like, you can'twatch a class on community, you
know, like and so, like ourmarketing is going to lean into
that community factor and that'sgoing to be a lot of what we

try to show on social media.
And so that's kind of where wedifferentiate, because, like,
you can find out what yoga andPilates is a lot of the time.
Like you're also not going togo to Instagram to find that out
, really, you know and so, butyou are going to find out like,
what is the vibe of this studio?
Like I want to know what thisis going to feel like if I
walked through this door, and solike that's what we try to

Sonja Crystal Williams (15:01):
Yeah, I love that.
Would you have imagined, let'sjust say, even 10 years ago,
that you would be running a yogastudio where you are today?

Matt Chambers (15:14):
No, no, no, no, not even close.
I hadn't done yoga.
I still don't do too much yoga.
You know, in this wild, yeah, Inever would have imagined.
You know, it was Nick and Imeeting and then the rest was
From there I think I might havegone down a business route,
maybe one day I don't know.
You know, that's kind of beensomething like my father did

that, and so that's kind of alittle bit, you know, in my mind
, but it was never anything tolike, certainly open up a
fitness or yoga studio.

Sonja Crystal Williams (15:45):
Yeah, Okay, yeah, I wondered about

Matt Chambers (15:49):
I don't think either of us really planned it,
it just kind of happened.
Yeah, it just happened it waskind of magical, yeah, and I've
just always gone with the flow.
You know, I went fromjournalism to advertising really
easily and you know, likethat's just always gone where
the water has taken me in thatregard, and it took me to a yoga
I mean, I kept my marketing jobfor a long time, you know,
while the business was growingyou know and then left.

But yeah, I was doing both fora while.

Sonja Crystal Williams (16:14):
Yeah, but yeah, you've been able to
gracefully, or maybe gracefully.
We all run businesses, so maybeit's not always graceful, but
you make it look graceful inhaving that transition from one
to the next, so that's awesome.
How can people find you orlearn more about the studio and

for people, even though Atlantais where, like technically, your
face to face community is, arethere ways that people can
engage if they're not in Atlanta?

Matt Chambers (16:45):
Yeah, for sure.
So any of our social media, ourwebsites, the great our m3yoga.
com was the website.
Social media Athens is @M3Athens, Atlanta is @M3 Atlanta.
Pretty simple.
You know I'm on Instagram andnot really much, but it's @wheat
bread candy.
That's my very catchy title.

Sonja Crystal Williams (17:03):
Wait, wait.
So pause, because I have aquestion about that that I've
never asked you.
What's the story behind @wheatbread candy?

Matt Chambers (17:11):
There's literally no story.
So literally was like I'm goingto change.
It used to be @Welcomed Matt,like welcome- D- Matt, and then
I changed it to @wheat breadcandy.
Randomly one day I was likewhat should I change it to?
And when you go to change it itwas like suggested things and
suggested @wheat bread and thenI was like candy and so I don't
know, there's no rationale.

Yeah, it's a mystery.
It's catchy though, it iscatchy, I was like I like it,
I'm going to stick with it.
So, yeah, yeah.
I don't know.
But yeah, you can engage withus there.
You know, we have an onlinelibrary of videos, so if you're
not an Atlanta and Athens, thenyou can still get you some
classes online and all that.

But, yeah, a lot of people comethrough Atlanta sometime.
You know wherever they'retraveling or whatnot.
So we're here.

Sonja Crystal Williams (17:58):
That's right.
And those of you in Atlanta whoalso check out the studio and
then you go travel, you haveaccess to that online library as
So very cool, well, Matt, Iwant to thank you so much for
your time.
Thank you so much for beinghere and just sharing a little
bit about how you all have beenable to grow and expand two
locations now in three yoga.
Thanks so much for being hereand thanks everyone for

Have a great day.
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