Thursday, December 15, 2016

Business Showcase: Movement Lab

By Erin Murphy Colligan 

On the second floor of the old Anderson Auto Body building that is now R-House is an upbeat and modern dance and exercise studio called Movement Lab. Its founder, Lola Manekin, is thrilled to provide Remington and surrounding neighborhoods a space to treat the body, mind, and soul. Movement Lab offers a variety of classes from hip-hop dance to mediation and its signature aerial yoga. Manekin also donates space to local community groups, enabling them to carry out their important work to benefit the residents of Baltimore.

Manekin’s goal with Movement Lab was to be an alternative to the traditional exercise studio that overspecializes and caters to a specific crowd. She craved diversity in terms of classes and clients, and couldn’t think of a better community to realize that vision than Remington. Movement Lab’s mantra is “Every BODY welcome.” Manekin sees a variety of shapes, sizes, and races in Remington and wants to help them all develop a better relationship with their bodies. At Movement Lab, students will find an open, nonjudgmental atmosphere to empower themselves physically and mentally. 

Manekin’s motivating question in forming Movement Lab was “how to make people come alive.” She wants to move people physically and emotionally. She would love to help people live healthier lives, not by teaching per se but by helping people teach themselves. She believes people have lost the power to make their own decisions in a world where they’re bombarded with messages on what to eat and how to exercise rather than being in tune with their own body’s needs. Manekin observes that people get into fitness ruts, doing same thing every day if anything at all, but that our bodies are not linear. Movement Lab strives to have many options depending on the customer’s mood and physical needs for the day. She even rates classes B1–B3 based on physical effort and M1–M3 based on mental effort. Manekin stresses that students can amend the class routine to better suit their ability and needs for the day. Most important, at Movement Lab “fitness is a consequence, not the goal.”

Movement Lab aims to be a community more than simply a place for fitness and wellness classes. Manekin earned her fitness bona fides teaching NIA, a holistic approach to health and fitness, and experienced a supportive village developing among NIA teachers in Baltimore. The instructors became friends and supported each other’s professional endeavors, including Movement Lab itself. Mankein wants to recreate that sense of community at Movement Lab. Rather than just working out and leaving, students can hang out after class and have a kombucha or coffee at the cafĂ© on the premises. Parents and children can take classes simultaneously as Movement Lab has many options for kids. The studio also offers corporate team-building activities so colleagues can bond by moving together. Additionally, Movement lab partners with nonprofits such as the Baltimore Dance Crew Project and the Holistic Life Foundation, which promotes mindfulness techniques and has worked with the Baltimore City police department to teach trauma de-escalation. 

Movement Lab is also part of a larger vision for Remington shared by Lola and her husband, Seawall Development co-founder Thibault Manekin. Lola describes their motivation as “wanting to be a part of something that’s bigger than ourselves.” They endeavor to offer personalized and community-integrated services rather than the typical strip malls with chain stores. The Manekins “want to know people’s names.” They also want to help Remington become a walkable community where residents feel they have everything they need close by. Manekin was impressed with how, during the road closures for the Baltimore Marathon, most of her students still showed up to class because they live close to the studio. In that sense, Movement Lab is adding an important dimension to the ever expanding Remington landscape. 

Remington residents can drop in to most Movement Lab classes for $15. They also have several community class options with reduced prices. If someone wants to test out several classes, they can purchase a $20 introductory student weekly pass. Unlimited membership packages are available for $125 per month for those that want to attend regularly. Manekin and her staff are open to hearing from the community about what they need and how they can make their classes more accessible.