Rooted, a fitness center ‘for the soul,’ opens in Wicker Park
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The eight participants in Rooted Self Expression Center’s first-ever expressive writing class Monday evening promised three things:
• That what they wrote during the class would be just for them.
• That they would be open and honest with the class.
• And that they wouldn’t repeat what was shared in the class.
That last one perhaps makes my job writing about the class a bit difficult.
But the idea behind all the classes offered at Rooted is simply to help participants recognize and express what it is they genuinely are feeling in the moment. It’s not about mastering a skill or completing a work of art. It’s all about the process, not the end product, facilitators repeated.
That can be done through language like writing or storytelling. It also can be done through creative expressions like visual art, music, dance and drama.
And Rooted founder Shruti Sekhri hopes it will become “the next yoga,” a first-of-its-kind fitness center for the soul.
“I want this to be the next yoga. I want you to be able to say, ‘I want fitness for the soul.’ I want it to be in every neighborhood so you go do that,” Sekhri said.
Rooted opens this weekend at 2221 W. North Ave. in Wicker Park with a series of free 20-minute mini-sessions in each modality of creative expression: language, visual art, music, movement and drama. Those sessions start at 4 p.m. Friday and run through Sunday.
The idea for Rooted really came from Sekhri’s life journey, she said. Her background is in finance and consulting, she said, but she had been to a week of “living centered” workshops at Onsite in Nashville. She’d done Chopra yoga and taken acting classes. She knew she wanted to do something.
Then one day about a year ago the crazy idea to do yoga to techno music popped into her head; she doesn’t even like techno, and it certainly isn’t the type of music one listens to during a meditative yoga practice, she said. But she listened to it. And it clicked – not that she wanted to open a techno yoga studio, but that she wanted to open a center that helped people connect with what they were feeling.
Within two hours, she had the idea for Rooted.
Listening to her own thoughts and feelings, even if they were telling her to blast techno or dance when nobody could see, “just felt so freeing,” she said. It helped her connect with herself, she said, and she realized those kinds of creative expressions could do the same thing for others.
Others appear to agree: A Kickstarter to launch the center last month raised $26,868. And, inspired by Sekhri’s vision, facilitators Jacquelynn Camden-Gay and Aliza Roth moved halfway across the country to lead classes at the center.
“It’s an actual new idea we’re helping to create,” Roth said.
Sessions at Rooted usually are about an hour and a half, and participants can sign up for a six-week series exploring all modalities or drop in for a class in a particular modality.
On Thursday, after we’d agreed to the ground rules, facilitator Frederick Ford led eight participants through a brief getting-to-know-you exercise, a sort of have-you-ever game in a circle, before we all grabbed notepads and scattered around one of the center’s two studios to write. And write. And write. And write. For about 45 minutes, with some prompts from Ford, following wherever our thoughts and pens took us to “get at the root of how you feel,” Ford said.
Afterward, we circled up to share and connect over our individual epiphanies.
And then we ripped up what we had written.
We may not have brought home a polished piece of creative writing, but, the facilitator said, he hoped the process gave us some creative tactics for self care to take home and practice.