Spring of 2020 was not a particularly auspicious time to debut a new group fitness studio in Dallas. Ellen Hoffman learned that the hard way when she opened the doors to The Movement Loft, a yoga and dance studio in Fair Park, in early March — and then closed them two weeks later due to COVID-19.
After several months of virtual classes — the only way Hoffman and her staff of seven instructors could introduce themselves during quarantine — Movement Loft took some cleansing breaths and reopened in August with a mission that continues into the new year: to offer holistic stress relief to anyone and everyone who needs it.
"A place for self-care is really important right now," Hoffman says. "All we can do is continue to pour into everyone who walks through our doors. We're building community, and I think people need community more than ever."
The Movement Loft aims to help busy professionals of any fitness level get a mood-boosting physical and mental workout, without breaking the bank. Popular weekly classes include Revitalizing Gentle Yoga, Hip Hop Dance, Yoga Flow + Tone, Candlelight Restorative Yoga, Stretch, and Buenas Vibras Latin Dance Choreography, which is a nod to the owner's heritage.
The studio offers memberships at $69 per month for unlimited classes, with the first month at just $45. Drop-ins are available for $20 per class, with bundles of five and 10 also available. They also offer occasional workshops focused on holistic wellness, such as Acupuncture Yoga or Self-Care Yoga, which run about $30-$80.
Accessibility and community are the central tenets of their mission, "so you'll see a pretty diverse range of faces, ages, skin tones, and body types," Hoffman says. "We see all levels of clients. I love being someone's first-time yoga experience."
Fostering community is also why she opened the studio in Fair Park, in an old two-story, 1,600-square-foot space at 824 Exposition Ave., #9. Hoffman configured it into a large main studio, open-air meditation area, and lofted library, where guests can drink immunity-boosting herbal tea, enjoy chilled aromatherapy facial towels, read a book, or mingle with others as COVID protocols allow.
"I really like the eclectic nature of the neighborhood," says Hoffman, 31, a former dancer who launched the business after a decade in corporate marketing. "There are a lot of artists and creative professionals. It reminds me of some of what it was like growing up in Oak Cliff, older buildings with creaks and cracks and crevices that all tell a story."
Given all the starts and stops of 2020, the studio still considers itself a "new" business, even though it will celebrate its one-year anniversary in March with special programming and events.
Hoffman says despite the obstacles, she's grateful to have had the chance to offer some relief — both physical and emotional — to those who have needed an outlet.
"Yes, you're going to burn calories. Yes, you're going to get a great workout," she says of group classes. "But you're also going to get so much more than that. The overall experience is designed to make you feel good."