BodyHoo Pilates Studios in Bushwick Inspires Inclusive Wellness
– VOL. 16
BodyHoo Studios is worth your attention. If the name alone didn’t get you, you’ll be hooked by the inspiring story and mission of this inclusive, anything-but-basic Bushwick pilates studio.
Owned by married couple and circus and sideshow performers, Arrie Fae and Meghann Bronson-Davidson, the fitness and wellness space offers a one-of-kind take on body positivity for community members in Bushwick and beyond.
Arrie and Meghann founded BodyHoo to create a vibrant and encouraging place where people of all backgrounds can enjoy support and fitness training. With a focus on inclusivity for diverse populations, including members of the transgender and nonbinary communities, BodyHoo is a welcoming home for the neighborhood.
Venn interviewed both Arrie and Meghann, who are quoted together in this interview.
Q: Tell us about your business and why it’s different.
A: As circus sideshow performers, we’ve been in this business a long time. When we were presented with the opportunity to open a business, it was about creating something that was an extension of what we feel in our creative work.
We chose the name BodyHoo because ‘ballyhoo’ is a historical sideshow term that means ‘extravagant language.’ We wanted a name that reflected us and our philosophy. For us, the studio is a call-to-action to celebrate yourself in a flamboyant, extravagant way.
We don’t want people to feel intimidated, which is something people might feel in fitness studios. In a literal sense, we want people to know that BodyHoo is a place where everybody is already perfect and can come to practice yoga or pilates. We wanted to create a space that was everything we believe, and who we are.
Arrie and Meghann are married, founded BodyHoo together, and also perform as The Brides, a circus sideshow duo. That’s partnership!
Q: When did you decide “now” was the time to open BodyHoo, and how did you choose Bushwick?
A: We heard about a former yoga studio that vacated their space during the pandemic. We took a look and found it was already a beautiful space! We knew that it was connected to a rehearsal space and performance venue downstairs fire performance and aerial. It’s also connected to Fien Coffee. We loved the literal sharing of space among the three of us.
Q: How is BodyHoo promoting wellness and body positivity for members of the Bushwick community?
A: We take what we do, and the material, very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. As adults, we forget to laugh and smile and enjoy play.
On a personal level, as a trans woman, I [Arrie], have had to re-learn firsthand how to be comfortable, smile and laugh as a person in my body. I have to not let the mountain of noise and insecurity inhibit me from doing things that are healthy and fun. I bring that energy into class.
As performers, as a duo together, we have had to deal with obstacles of not getting certain types of bookings because we don’t fit into a traditional circus “mold” as a couple. Because of those experiences, it infuses how we plan our class curricula, and the whole space, for different people, so they are welcome.
Meghann teaches a pilates tower class at the studio in Bushwick.
Our philosophy is to move and have fun, and feel good.
Q: What’s a long-term goal for inspiring change in the Neighborhood through BodyHoo?
A: We’ve lived in this neighborhood for several years now, so I see the studio as being a contributor to the neighborhood, as a place where people can light up inside.
I don’t want people to think, ‘Oh I just took a good class.’ Instead, I want them to be excited because they know they’re coming to class. I want to contribute to that energy while they’re here, and throughout the neighborhood.
We have this vision with our partners that we’ll bring a sort of “Coney Island idea” to the neighborhood, and do outdoor carnivals and markets. A long-term goal is to provide and contribute to this community, and also, to this little mecca of space.
Class options include a variety of pilate levels as well as aerial yoga.
Q: What kind of impact has BodyHoo had on the Bushwick community? Any specific feedback?
A: Our goal is to serve the direct community. It’s been nice to hear from our neighbors. We’ve gotten comments about how it’s nice that we’re a queer-owned business in the neighborhood, and that there’s ‘quality,’ both in the strong offering of yoga flow, and that in the same studio, people can take a pilates class without having to leave the neighborhood. It’s all in one place.
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