Goga: The New Yoga Revolution

Goga: Where Barnyard Meets Downward Dog
Interview with Derk Westover, Co-Founder of Goga LLC

"And suddenly you know...it's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings."

I love trying new fitness styles and putting my trust in the magic of new beginnings... and I've gotta tell you, Goga did not disappoint! It was one of those experiences that you go into totally blind and don't know what to expect, but once you unroll your mats and begin class, you feel right at home. I brought my good friends Kim and Rachael, @talkwordytome + @rachael_seeley, with me and they were hilarious! We had our Goga session on top of a mountain at sunset, so we had the perfect backdrop as we practiced our hour long yoga session. We had the biggest smiles on our faces and couldn't stop giggling, it was like a middle school slumber party but 1000 times better! Yoga is all about calming the mind and finding inner peace within the flow of your movements..but Goga  flips that idea right on its back. It's a zen party full of laughter, silly goat parkour and the occasional barnyard shenanigans like goat droppings and mat chewing. By the end of class you'll be grinning ear to ear and will soon find that even the most novice of yogi's can become a talented gogi!

A few weeks ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Derek Westover, the co-founder of Goga LLC in Utah Valley, and got the inside scoop on the creative process of making Yoga with Goats a thriving business venture. The team behind Goga, Derek and Benson Richardson are incredible, and offer a unique fitness experience that is revolutionizing the Yoga game.

Describe the “Goga” experience in 5 words or less!
I have five words for you - where goats and yoga meet!

How did the idea of Goga develop?
A friend sent me a viral video of Goat Yoga in Oregon. This is where classes officially started and the trend of doing yoga with goats in a group setting began. I raised goats in high school and my friend knew that. I laughed at the video and the idea and joked about it possibly working.
Just a week later The idea of starting Goga here in Utah became realized when another friend (Benson Richardson) and I were sitting at my home watching TV. A news clip came on covering another goat yoga group in Arizona. We both looked at each other and the wheels started turning. I showed Benson the video I had been sent. That day we decided to try something different and take a chance!

What steps did you take to make this dream a reality?
Planning was easy. Invest in some goats and find a place to keep them. We had to stop and ask ourselves though: would people in Utah County be interested in doing a yoga class with goats? What if it didn't work out? We, Benson and myself, decided to take a chance. I mean, if goat yoga wasn't going to be successful, then we'd be stuck with a bunch of cute fluffy baby goats...darn ;) 

How did you spread the word out about your new fitness style?
After getting the goats we gathered some friends and created a promotional video to announce that goat yoga was coming to Utah! We released the video on our social media page and it quickly received a lot of attention. We sold more tickets than anticipated (13 of the 20)and we were thrilled. We didn't advertise at all. Word of mouth gave us the attention we needed. Students, or Gogis as we call them, left happy from every class and they shared the new trend with all their friends. After March, we sold out every class. Each class in the summer had a max of 26 students. We wanted to keep the goat to people ratio even so anyone who participated could get plenty of goat time.Throughout the summer we were featured on KSL News, KBYU 11, Fox 13's "The Place", Salt Lake Magazine, Utah Valley Magazine and Park City TV. All these news stations were so easy to work with and so helpful in spreading the word...without us even asking them to! 
Why Goats? What are the health benefits to utilizing animals in your Yoga practice?
As you know, there are multiple health benefits to practicing yoga. There are also many benefits to participating in animal-assisted therapy. The goats are the main part of the class. Animals, goats included, have been known to help people with depression, lower stress and fatigue levels, and help you forget about pain. This is exactly why we do what we do. We want to help people. 

Whats the "typical" Gogi experience like? Does one need previous Yoga experience to participate?
Anyone is welcome at our classes! We welcome everyone. The atmosphere at the classes is great and there is no judging at all. If you're afraid to do yoga in front of people, don't be! The focus is always on the goats. They'll take your mind off of the fact that you're exercising.

Tell me more about the Goats! 
A little bit about the goats. They are Nigerian Dwarf Goats and they are a milk breed. They give for healthy creamy delicious milk. These goats stay fairly small, making them great pets and great yoga goats. We own them and they live happily in a pasture in Orem, Utah. There are ten altogether and seven of them come to the Goga classes. Their names are Pepsi, Fresca, Pepper, Dew, Sprite, Squirt, and Coke. When they were babies, I along with my wife Randee, bottle fed them, out of pop bottles. That is how they got their names. We plan to name all of their kids after candy bars. Goats are natural climbers. Some immediately want to jump on people and others need some coaxing. So we use some treats (cinnamon graham crackers) for all of the goats and they jump right up there! It's so fun to watch. Benson and I both grew up with goats, we know how much fun they can be and we love sharing them with people.
With all the varied boutique fitness styles out there, does your company have a lot of competition?
We were the first goat yoga in Utah, but at least two more have started since we've been going. One is in Clearfield and the other is in Southern Utah. Competition is a good thing though! We were happy to hear that others were following the trend and sharing the goat love...there's plenty to go around! 

Thats wonderful that you support other's in their Goga journey, did you receive the same kind of encouragement when starting Goga LLC?
At first our friends thought we were crazy and that goat yoga would never work and become successful. In fact, we didn't receive very much support from them. Boy were they wrong! There were a select few that helped us get started and we very much appreciate all their help. 

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Now people approach us asking for advice on starting a business. Benson and I give them the classic tips of find someone who can help you get started (the Small Business Development Center in Orem was GREAT help to us), set goals, etc. But the biggest tip I always give is BE DIFFERENT! Everyone around here thinks they are a food nutritionist or a personal trainer. You want to be one of those things? Great! Do it! But be different and set yourself apart from everyone else and get noticed. I often joke and say, "get a goat!", but in all reality sometimes that's what it takes...well not that exactly, but you know what I mean! Don't be afraid to take a chance. The biggest mistake you can make in life is being afraid you'll make a mistake.

"If you desire to make a difference in the world, you must be different from the world."- Elaine Dalton

The big takeaway from my interview is to follow your heart. Dare to be different, embrace what makes you unique, and don't be afraid to try something new. Whether your'e starting a business, jumping into a new fitness routine, or want to do something outside your comfort zone. Just be yourself and go for it. No one is you, and that is your superpower. I want to thank Derek, Benson, and their outstanding team of Goats for following their heart and making their Goga dreams a reality here in Utah. As a animal and fitness lover, I gotta tell you that you've created something truly special and I cant wait to spread the news about this awesome new fitness craze! Goga is a refreshing experience that brings so much light and love into the Fitness industry. Namaste Gogis!

Don't be the one who "goat away", stay up to date on the Gogaguys and all the fun things they are up to.  To find out more about Goga, head over to 
their websiteutahgogaguys.com
their facebook: facebook.com/gogaguys
their instagram: @gogaguys

*Spoiler alert, my favorite goat may or may not be pregnant! Cue excited squealing! This Spring, the Goga Guys will be adding a new liter of kids to the Goga family! So get ready for some new friends to join in on the Zen party!

*Experience The Goga Circle, a Gogi favorite where the class comes together to create a circle of trust  as the goats walk along their backs! Its equally as exciting as it is hilarious! Be sure to check out Kim's reaction to the goats nibbling her hair. haha

Testimonial from a recent Gogi student:

"Just wanted to say thank you...you guys are so fun...and my girls are already begging to go back. Ive been extremely ill for several years...As I'm finally, slowly healing now moments like last night...are nothing short of miraculous to me. I haven't heard them laughing like that in 4 long miserable years...I had difficult labs taken in the morning and was so looking forward to goat yoga at night. And you guys did not disappoint!! Thank you for providing the activity and letting their hearts be light for a few hours!!"

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