At Ekata fitness club in Valencia, kids may meditate before hip-hop dance class
By Kavita Daswani
Los Angeles Times
A group of elementary school kids sat cross-legged on the floor, their eyes shut tight, listening to their teacher: How was their day at school? What were they feeling? Could they take a moment to breathe and check in with themselves?
Then, their quiet time over, the kids stood up, the music came on, and they launched into an exuberant hip-hop dance class.
That confluence between Eastern practices and Western fitness conventions is what makes Ekata — Sanskrit for “oneness” — one of the more unusual fitness clubs on the landscape, a place where a tranquil Taoist meditation room seamlessly co-exists with the intense activity taking place in the full-size boxing ring.
Founder Ed Monaghan opened Ekata in May as a way to combine his interests in health, fitness, martial arts, applied movement and Eastern philosophy. A professor at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, he also is involved with the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center.
“There are no TVs,” he said, indicating the walls of the 12,500-square-foot two-level gym, located in Valencia. “We want people to be fully present, to focus on their movement. While working out, they can increase their attentiveness. [They] can train the external body but train intelligently, to do things that are smart.”