In order to get into BODYHOO Studios, a new yoga and pilates health club at the southeastern edge of Bushwick, you have to walk through a cafe called Fein Coffee and climb up a wooden staircase.
On a recent Friday afternoon, I found BODYHOO’s two founders, Arrie Fae Bronson-Davidson and Meghann Bronson-Davidson, at the top of the sun-drenched staircase.
“It’s really cool that we’re all connected,” Arrie said, motioning to the coffee shop below.
The Deep End, a different bar and restaurant, lies a couple doors down from Fien Coffee. It leads into a performance space called Liminal Space, which is operated by a circus troupe. That performance space also leads back into BODYHOO Studios.
Arrie and Meghann, themselves a circus sideshow duo that performs as The Brides, said they opted to open up shop in this particular location because they felt its proximity to those other businesses gave it a collective feel. An ecosystem of sorts.
Inside BODYHOO, there is a pilates room – equipped with tables and pulleys and harnesses – and there is a yoga room with darkly varnished wood floors, matts and cushions. There’s a lobby with a large crescent desk. A wall of cubbies. Changing rooms. And a small workshop space that Arrie uses to fix and paint the workout equipment.
While Arrie is a sought after pilates teacher and Megghan an accomplished dancer and physical therapist, BODYHOO’s two founders say they envision a rotating cast of teachers at their new health club, able to cater to the wide ranging tastes of the community.
“It’s mostly going to be yoga and pilates,” Arrie said. “But we’ll offer a circus workshop, a handstand class..belly dancing…We want to hear what the neighborhood wants. If that’s a salsa class, we’ll offer a salsa class.”
The most important thing about BODYHOO, Arrie and Meghann told me, is that it feels like a welcoming, non-judgmental, supportive environment.
“We equally want it to be a place where people who teach here and people who come here for classes are excited to be here,” Meghann said.
“Exactly,” Arrie said. “Just having a space where anybody can go ‘alright, I can feel good there. Like, walking in the door, I don’t have to feel like I’m being judged or there’s a standard.’”
“Right,” Meghann said.
Arrie continued, “I can guarantee that if you take my class, you’re gonna get a great class, and you’re gonna get sound correction and you’re gonna get fit. But…if you come in the door, and you move, and you understand your body better…that’s a success. All other goals are yours. The fact that you’re moving your body, that you’re feeling better today…That’s the main thing you need to do.”
The duo’s ambitions with BODYHOO are both modest and grand. They have no illusions of riches or future franchises, but they do want to make their mark.
“It’s not about feeling like there has to be some altering change in your body type for you to feel like you’re a healthier person. It’s about how you feel.”
In August, BODYHOO will take over a nearby street to put on a two-day carnival, which Arrie and Meghann hope develops into an annual affair.
“We want to be this neighborhood’s circus side show the way they have one at Coney Island,” Arrie asserted.
Yet, Arrie said that, at root, what drove her and Meghann to open BODYHOO was the very humble desire to, well, survive in this world as artists and performers.
“It was about–‘how do we create a model of sustainable income for ourselves as artists that’s not always grant-based or donation-based?’” Arrie said of BODYHOO’s conceptual origins.
“The goal is this,” Arrie added. “I want to get to a point where I own the hovel I live in instead of rent it. We want to have enough in the bank where we don’t have to stress. We can take a vacation and not feel like we’re going to starve. And if that was everyone’s idea of success, I think we’d all be able to function a lot better.”
Arrie lifted her arms in the air. “I want you to go, ‘I’m going to BODYHOO today, and I already feel better!’ That’s what I want.”
“One of the ways we can help with dropping people’s inhibitions is, I think, the aspect of humor…Not taking yourself too seriously,” Meghann added.
“I take my teaching seriously,” Arrie responded. “I don’t take myself seriously.”
“I’m not trying to be a guru or anything like that.”
“We want people to find the joy in all of this.”
Visit BODYHOO studios’ website to sign up for classes. More sideshow performances from Arrie and Meghann will take place at the studio’s adjacent performance space on April 23 and April 24.
Top image courtesy of Atticus Media Productions.
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