Thursday, January 29, 2015


In January, 2015, I put the following prompt up for potential guest bloggers:
Write about why you come to the studio, what happens in your class(s), what you ate for breakfast - whatever you want that you can tie in to the studio doings.
The In Their Words posts share the contributions of the women who answered that call, in their words, without edits.  Enjoy!

Mama-Oxygen by Debi Lewis

In December of 2013, I learned that my 8-year-old daughter would need to have major cardiac surgery in the spring. Though it wasn’t our first experience with medical drama or even surgery for her, it was the first time that we had quite so much time to prepare. Time to prepare comes with an unfortunate twin whose name is “time to worry.”

Because Hip Circle Studio was already a part-time home to me and to both of my daughters, I had told Malik about both the situation at hand and how anxious I was. I sent her an email that said, in part,“I think I need to make a concerted effort, very serious, very dedicated, to my own stress-relief and tranquility in the coming months... As you know, moms need to put their own oxygen masks on first.”

Her response was simple: “Mama oxygen is sorta my specialty.”

She went on to suggest several classes. I pooh-poohed yoga – too much navel-gazing for me – and she countered with Pilates. I said no to bellydancing (a sacrilege she graciously ignored), and she suggested Circuit. I liked her Exercise Ball classes so much that I scheduled my 5k training runs around them.

In every class during that crummy, scary winter leading up to my daughter’s surgery, Malik’s gentle but firm teaching style gave me just what I needed: a focus on making my body strong even when my emotional state was not. Classes were full of chatting. Other women in the studio definitely let me share my worry without judgment, but conversation during classes varied widely from the ridiculous (“what is the difference between a casserole and a hotdish and a kugel?”) to the serious (“how do we teach our daughters to love their bodies if we don’t love our own?”).

You bet I breathed in that mama-oxygen. I breathed it in DEEP.

That (hip) circle swung all the way around this winter, long past my daughter’s full recovery from her cardiac surgery and into my own recovery from my own (considerably more minor) foot surgery. I sat with my foot up on my couch while my girls walked together to the studio to learn to knit at the first Hip Circle Studio Kids’ Knitting Workshop. Malik even made a housecall for a knitting emergency, providing an entirely different kind of mama-oxygen for me.

It takes a village to raise a child; this we know, but we sometimes forget that a child needs a functional mother connected to that village. That winter, I could have joined a regular gym. I could have done workout videos at home. My daughters could have learned to knit from a book. That’s really not the point; none of those would have had the personal and community connection that gave us what we really needed. It’s simply different at Hip Circle.

Maybe it’s just the oxygen. It’s better there.

Debi Lewis is telling her daughter's story at and is at work on a memoir about mothers' instinct."

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