The Myth of the Ideal Client

Has anyone ever told you that to have success teaching private yoga clients, all you need to do is figure out who your dream client is?

This idea has spread from the online marketing world and made it’s way into the yoga world. The advice, although totally untrue, is well meaning, I’m sure.

The thinking goes like this: If you are teaching your Perfect For You Clients, your teaching will feel easy and fun, your clients will adore you, and you won’t have to go hunting around for new clients all the time.

Marketing “gurus” each describe this practice slightly differently, but the Ideal Client or Dream Customer or Client Avatar exercise all coalesce around this principle:

When you know exactly who your ideal customer is, you can sell to them more effectively. Business coaches recommend you create a highly detailed profile of this person; they reccomend you know their age, gender, ethnicity, income, specific desires, specific fears, and specific struggles. They recommend you write about this person extensively before you write any copy on your website, or create any products or services to sell. You have to know who you are selling to.



Online marketing teachers and coaches may have something to offer yoga teachers here because knowing how to communicate effectively online is important for everyone in this day and age.

But the people who teach business to yoga teachers are really taking this Ideal Client thing way too far. The idea of an Ideal Client as a private yoga student is a total myth.

Can I say that again?

The idea of an Ideal Client as a private yoga student is a total myth.

If people are trying to tell you that you can have a full schedule of private clients that are also your Ideal Client, I can guarantee you they have never taught 25 private clients a week.

I think this teaching is being misunderstood.

The purpose behind the Customer Avatar concept is that your web copy will be more compelling if it is more specific. And for that reason, this exercise is totally valid. Let’s look at an example:

Can you see how this:

“You’ve heard good things about yoga, but you’re not sure if it will be a good fit for you. You need actionable, tangible results, not new age hocus pocus, and you certainly don’t want to waste your time. If you’re going to have a yoga practice, you know you need a teacher who makes it as easy as possible to see positive change quickly and tailors the practice to your schedule, needs and goals.

I teach time-crunched professionals how to create strength, balance, and ease in their body and mind so they can be more productive at work, more present at home, and enjoy every day to its fullest.”

Is more compelling than this:

“Yoga can help you heal from anything that ails you. It has changed my life and I know it can help you too! It is calming and relieves stress and anyone can do yoga.  I loved yoga from my very first class. I’ve studied with this teacher and that teacher and this teacher really changed how I see and teach yoga…. .”

Having an idea of your Ideal Student will make your copy more compelling. It speaks more directly to some people and makes them more likely to reach out to you.

But, as far as I’m concerned, that is where the usefulness of the Dream Customer Avatar exercise ends. I think trying to apply this concept to the gritty work of being in an intimate teaching relationship with a client doesn’t translate.

And this, you guys, is really good news!

Teaching private yoga clients, well, is really really hard work. And even if you love it, it will feel like hard work. Don’t mistake the hard work as a sign that you aren’t teaching your “ideal client”.

Tell me if this is what happens:

You have a session with a new brand new client. They are hard to read, and you can’t tell if they are getting what they want.  You walk away feeling awkward and uncomfortable…


You teach a client you’ve been teaching for years, and they still have trouble respecting your boundaries of time and money. You have to keep reminding them of your policies. Your interactions with this student make you feel frustrated and underappreciated.


You try to plan well for your sessions, but you feel unsure about how to best help your private clients because their needs and wants in total opposition to each other. You think, “This person doesn’t even know what they need, I can’t help them!” When their session ends you feel like a total failure.

And all this stress and frustration makes you feel like you’re just not teaching your Ideal Client. You’re tempted to fire these clients, and go on a hunt for your Dream Student.

Well y’all, there is good news and bad news.

The bad news is, you don’t get to have a full private practice of people who are easy to teach, because any time you are in an intimate 1×1 relationship with someone, especially in a healing context, their “stuff” will come out; partly so it can get dealt with.

It’s your job to deal with the difficulties these students bring to the session in a way that helps them move towards more balance and grace in their inner and outer lives.

The good news is, this is what it’s like for everyone who is teaching a full schedule of private clients. You’re not alone! It feels like challenging work because it is, not because you aren’t teaching your ideal students.

As private yoga teachers we have so many jobs that no one taught us anything about. We have to:

  • Deal with the messiness of 1×1 relationships in a professional, supportive way.
  • We have to help students figure out what they need and want from their yoga practice.
  • We have to meet them where they are, and make the most important teachings of yoga accessible and useful to them.
  • We have to give them what we may know they need, packaged inside of what they think they want.
  • We have to inspire them to commit to their growth and evolution.
  • We have to help them stay committed to their practice.

It’s hard work!

So we don’t have to wait around hoping we can fill our schedules full of our Ideal Client.

We do have to:

  • Learn how to create and hold the space so we are able to turn any hectic home or busy office into a sacred space for yoga.
  • Manage the intense vulnerability of teaching one on one so that we can stop feeling nervous with new clients.
  • Know how to build trust with our students on every level, so they will open up to us, and real transformation can occur.
  • Think on our feet and create sessions that meet our students where they are on physical, emotional, and spiritual levels.
  • Create and hold really strong boundaries and take responsibility for that part of our relationship with our clients. {It’s not their job to hold the boundaries, it’s ours!}
  • Manage our energy so we can teach a full schedule of private clients without getting drained or depleted.

I hope this all feels like good news, because it what means is you don’t have to wait for Perfect For You Clients to finally show up. You can take the fun, difficult, fascinating, stressful clients you’re already teaching,

and teach them in a way that makes you both feel like you’re teaching your absolute Dream Client. You can fall in love with teaching the clients you already have!

That is how I feel every time I sit down next to the mat with every single one of my private clients. 🙂

What do you guys think? Have you been waiting around for your Ideal Client to show up? Have you even fired a client because you thought it wasn’t a good fit? Could you make your current clients all feel like your Dream Client?

10 Responses to “The Myth of the Ideal Client”

  1. Melody

    YES! There is a lot of advice out there talking about the dream client/success/happiness situation and THANK YOU for labeling it as myth. As a newer teacher I have allowed myself to become overwhelmed by the clients who feel like HARD WORK, and have questioned whether or not those clients were a “good fit.” Some of that hard work is because those people are often summoning my most patient, most creative, and most focused self- which is hard work! The clients on my schedule I consider to be dreamlike are those with personalities I enjoy to be around, who have meaningful goals for their practice, who treat me with professional respect (yay!!!)….but the ones I consider more like hard work (and sometimes a nightmare) are often the people I learn the most from…and when those people have breakthroughs in their practice, DAMN does it feel good! Like a dream.

    • Francesca Cervero

      YESSS. Melody, exactly! You get it. Your clients, dreamy and difficult alike, are so lucky to have you. <3

  2. Gail

    Love this post! I think actually anybody can have a day when they’re ‘difficult to read’ – depending on what’s going on in their life at the time. Totally agree it is our job to reach a client – who has made the effort to come to us – & support them with what they need from yoga that day. Very occasionally a client might need the services of a different teacher – but mostly when we use all our skills to patiently dig a little deeper – we can create real trust, great professional relationships & support real change – & it feels a real privilege. Searching for the ‘ideal client’ never really resonated with me – so great post thank you!!

    • Francesca Cervero

      Yes, I am so glad to hear this resonated Gail! You are so spot on– being asked to dig more deeply into ourselves so we can build meaningful, professional relationships with clients– it’s such an HONOR. Sending love to you and your lucky students. <3

  3. Michelle

    Love this!!! And I could not agree more. Very simply…my ideal client has always been the one who was willing to unroll their mat. Then we go from their. I have found that over the years the majority of my clients who seek me out are very similar and I just chalk that up to universal intervention.

  4. Allie

    Thanks for writing this, Francesca. Regarding this excerpt from your piece: “Create and hold really strong boundaries and take responsibility for that part of our relationship with our clients. {It’s not their job to hold the boundaries, it’s ours!}” I am in total agreement, however, it seems over the years I tend to attract clients who are very triggered by some of my most basic and standard business boundaries. The message I have received over the years is “If I have porous boundaries I will have clients; If I uphold boundaries I will not have clients” Obviously this is not ALL of the folks I have worked with….but it has been enough to make me worry. Especially in 2020.

    Some personal backstory: I have been teaching exclusively and full time for almost a decade. I have all of my policies clear and in black and white. I am very mindful, kind and compassionate about my policies. If someone needs to cancel last minute for a true emergency / they are very sick and it has not happened before, I will waive my cancellation policy. Until the pandemic, I had regular private clients who I saw regularly for years – some as long as 7 and 8 years. I saw clients every week, one who I saw twice a week and one who I saw 3x a week. Some I traveled to, some traveled to me. I lost all of them when the pandemic happened. One of my longest running clients flat out refused to see me on zoom & angrily demanded huge refunds of lesson packs, one who I also saw for almost a decade disappeared completely. One client and I were able to meet in a park a few times but they became very when I suggested we meet over zoom for one session to avoid my late cancel policy (24 hours pre session the forecast was calling for terrible weather and they wanted to wait until the morning of a 7am session for us to “call it”). I have some newer zoom privates and they are going well, but I am still so shaken over how some of my longtime, most devoted clients acted toward me at the beginning of the pandemic. I know I could just chalk it up to pandemic stress, but I am seeing so many teachers (like yourself. I watched your Q & A on FB yesterday) have huge success transitioning their clients all to zoom. I feel like I am coming to terms with the fact that my clients never respected me. The moment I upheld boundaries (personal, professional, legal) they “fired” me. It is really making me question myself as a professional and also, how people see me.

    • Francesca Cervero

      Hey Allie, I’m so glad you reached out and I’m honored this piece and my other work has been helpful for you. I know it must have been so hard to lose many of your clients when you transitioned online. I’m really sorry you went through that. I’ve absolutely heard of that happening to other teachers, so you are not alone! Some of that must just be luck of the draw; some students will transition more easily than others and you must have just had a really tough batch. It will be good to create and uphold really clear boundaries, but don’t let this make you question yourself as a professional, truly. If you had more of a decade of working with them skillfully that really counts, and it matters too. If your new Zoom privates are going well, that is wonderful to acknowledge as well! If I can be of any other support for you in this time, don’t hesitate to reach out. Sending love… <3

  5. TreeTop Yoga, LLC.

    Hi Francesca,
    I am a yoga teacher who instructs private, group and online classes. The online classes were created because of the pandemic. My unexpected pleasure is that communities occurred, and people who are out of state are in the online classes. What was supposed to be temporary has now become a permanent situation, which I have adapted to.

    The issue I now have, is bringing the students that live nearby, back to my studio (teaching class via zoom makes it very easy. You just go into a room, log in and you’re there- no worrying about changing clothes, packing up the mat, drive time, parking, etc. Zoom has made it very easy to stay at home instead of going outside. For women it’s safer because the time class takes place doesn’t matter.

    • Francesca Cervero

      Hi Amani/Annette! It is so nice to meet you. Thank you for reaching out. I’m actually thrilled to hear you still have a robust online community. Many yoga teachers I know would love to be teaching online still, but their students don’t want to practice that way anymore. Do you want/ need more in-person students?


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