Here at Nook, we have a passion for people, places and properties. There is a reason that we say people first, for what makes a neighborhood special if not the people who live there? Welcome to #TastemakerTuesday, where we’ll feature the visionaries in our favorite nooks who are dedicated to building a better community through their talents.
I’d walked by Heartbeat House for years before venturing inside the welcoming lobby hall to my first yoga class. Kumbi Butler was handing off her then-small baby to a friend to watch while she taught a beginner yoga class. We’d met perhaps once before that day, and Kumbi remembered me and my reservations with the yoga scene. As a very infrequent yoga practitioner, I just had to be sure that any teacher I had would make the proper adjustments and no one in the room would make any judgements.
That day, and every class I subsequently attended at Heartbeat House, was exactly what I wanted. They make it a point to emphasize that Heartbeat House is a neighborhood dance studio for people “of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds looking for creative self-expression and to achieve physical fitness through the joy of dance.” No matter who was in class, or which one I would attend after that first day, there was always a welcoming feel, an acceptance, a nurturing that is usually found only if you are a regular. At Heartbeat House, you feel the non-competitive vibe from day one.
They are also incredibly affordable. Smack dab in the middle of Glendale Boulevard on Atwater Village -- you’d probably recognize the storefronts from commercials -- and just steps away from the L.A. River, Heartbeat House understands that its clientele need a good deal to get in the door. Nearly every holiday there’s a discounted offer, and their sandwich board loudly proclaims the schedule each day. You have intensive zumba and advanced flamenco right before beginner yoga and pre-ballet for ages 3-5.
Their location is phenomenal, helping Heartbeat House live up to its name. Many residents and neighbors visit the famous Atwater Village Farmer’s Market every Sunday before venturing across the street to enjoy a coffee at Kaldi Coffee and Tea. If you’re lucky enough to snag a very dog-friendly outdoor table on the bump-out, sipping your latte next to dragons and dinosaurs attacking the public succulent landscaping, the door to Heartbeat House is literally open. I will never forget the day that my barely-walking 1-year-old was attracted to the flamenco dancing, standing by the door and feeling the beat before dancing. Anywhere else, he would have been seen as distracting to the class, but they found a way to involve him without disrupting their rhythms or flow. I still see a glow in his eyes when he hears or sees flamenco, and believe this class’s acceptance of his interest at such a young age went a long way.
That is how compassionate and open everyone at Heartbeat House is. Kumbi, her teachers and her students all understand the value of community, especially one as unique as Atwater Village.
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(Photo courtesy of Heartbeat House Facebook Page)