With all of the changes here at Hustle and Flow in this not-so-new-anymore year, we spent some time thinking about what makes the studio special and how we can continue to serve our clients and our community in positive ways. It all comes back to our amazing staff of teachers, who truly characterize what Hustle and Flow to offer! Each of the teachers you’ll meet at Hustle and Flow classes has something unique to give – their own style, their own tone and pace. We’re proud of our amazing team and want you to get to know them!

For the next few weeks here on the Hustle and Flow blog, we’ll be doing short interviews with each teacher and spotlighting classes offered by them and getting to know them a little bit more. If you’re new to Hustle and Flow, perhaps you’ll find something that resonates with you and join us for your first class! And if you’ve been coming to the studio forever, maybe you’ll discover something new about your favorite teacher.

For our first teacher spotlight, we’re starting with Hustle and Flow’s manager Carla!

Teacher Spotlight: Carla Hopkins

Teaches: Yang Bang, Hustlercise, Slow Grind, Abs and Assana

How did you come to teach at Hustle and Flow?

I came to Hustle and Flow when the space was still operating as Bhakti in Motion in the beginning of 2013.  I had known the previous owner, Kara Seymour, through the young, hippie mom’s network of Mount Desert Island and the Blue Hill peninsula.  [Hustle and Flow owner] Steph was a member of the group that came to my first Buti class at Bhakti and she hated it! Just kidding, she didn’t hate it, and she kept coming.  Not many people came to my classes at first.  Many, many, many classes were completely empty.  I didn’t mind because I would practice and figured I needed to hone my skills. Little by little, people started to come.  Other teachers came to find out about this weird booty shaking class where women took their shirts off and listened to loud music with swears at a yoga studio.

I began to get some regular students, some who still come today, like Greta – she and I did many classes where it was just the two of us.  Steph and I bonded pretty quickly.  She ended up getting Buti certified and started teaching at Bhakti too.  We talked often about opening a movement studio.  Then we actively searched the town for a space and met with realtors and looked at so many buildings.  The current owner of Bhakti had had a vision during a retreat that she would sell her studio. Through a series of events, Steph was the one who would eventually buy the studio and Hustle and Flow was born. It has been quite an evolution.

What informs your movement practice and what influences do you consider key to your practice? 

Embodiment.  Dropping down into myself enough to let my body’s wisdom take over.  The vehicle for this is the music.  Whether dancing all out, working out with all my power moves, or just rolling around on the floor and stretching, the music always dictates my movement.  I rarely have practiced movement without music.  It doesn’t have to be music that I know, it can be from any genre, as long as it speaks to my body.  The technical alignment training and the repetition of movement definitely installed a certain program in there that I can utilize.

I spent a lot of years just dancing and moving, by myself, to music. During times in my life when I needed to express myself because I felt overwhelming emotion or a sense of powerlessness, I always had my body and my dance to turn to.  I am primarily self-taught.  Lots of experimenting with my body.  Lots of ecstatic freestyling, either at public events or alone.  I also learned what I could from videos, we’re talking DVDs and VHS. I drilled dance isolations in the mirror, that has always been a helpful tool for me. I watched other dancers and took classes here and there when I could. I am someone who has always enjoyed being active and in touch with the natural world and my own instincts. I draw from there, but I don’t ever remember learning how, so I think it is just an innate ability.

What do you do to prepare for class? 

Listen to music.  I make a new playlist for each class.  I sit with my laptop and get in the zone.  I find new songs and give them a few second listen, that’s all I need to know if it will work.  I put it in a “stockpile” playlist on Spotify that I then draw from to build my class of the day playlist.  Some classes, I might plan some of the exercises or sequences in my head and write them down, but I rarely stick to any plan.  Some of my classes are completely spontaneous in the moment.  I like to add something new and fun to each class – that typically happens naturally, but if I am feeling stagnant, I will watch dance videos on IG or YouTube.

I also like to take classes and workshops from others as much as possible.  Because my teaching style is more embodied than cognitive, I don’t rely on counts, sets or memorization.  It has to come through me, from the belly outward.  Getting out of my head and trusting myself and what will come through is a large part of how I operate when teaching.  I see myself as a movement guide and as a woman who is offering an example of how to enjoy being in her body.  I’ve realized that seems to be why people come to my class and I am fine with that.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your classes – what can we expect when we’re in the room with you, what do you hope for us to take away from your class, or what kind of music or movements are you into right now? Or anything else you’d like to tell us!

My classes are fun, flowy, sexy and silly.  We do wild things with our hips and butt.  We laugh a lot and I am a weirdo.  I really just have fun moving together with a bunch of women and I love when we can all just catch each other’s vibe and get into watching the amazing view of beautiful bodies moving freely.  I try to offer challenges, but also make it about releasing into the movement and not forcing ourselves.  I want people to listen to the messages from their own bodies and not shut them out, to trust that they know what is best for themselves, to know that no movement is wrong if we listen and allow for that expression.  My classes are full of creative possibilities, lots of blooper reels, quite a lot of hip work, heavy on the booty work, unusual music, and moves that make you feel like a sexy goddess.  I absolutely love spinal undulations, all kinds of shimmies and twerks, and anything that gets into the hips and hearts.  I am so into hairwhips right now.  I think all the HnF teachers are riding that train!

My music ranges from all types of EDM (I love to rave out) from trance, house, dubstep, electro-pop, tribal house, European 90’s house, drum n bass, and more.  I also enjoy world music, traditional and modern Asian, Middle Eastern or Belly Dance music, African, Latin and Brazilian beats, Native American and Celtic-inspired sounds  I love rap, hip hop, trap, deep south bounce and sexy af quiet storm style R&B.  For Slow Grind lately, I am into Sevdaliza.  I am not against pop, as long as it moves me.  I grew up listening to a lot of rock and have been known to have some 90’s era rock playlists.  Tool is my favorite band.  I am also a Type O Negative fan.  Because of the darker nature of this music, I am careful with using it and mindful of where it can take people.  And also, all the divas: Beyonce, Janet, Missy, Christina Aguilera, Big Freedia…I’m all about them.

When you can sweat with Carla:

Mondays       4:00 pm Abs and ASSana (Class Change Soon)

Tuesdays      5:30 pm Yang Bang

Wednesdays 5:30 pm Abs and ASSana

Thursday       9:30 am Abs and ASSana and 8:30 pm Slow Grind

Fridays          7:00 pm Hustlercise

Sundays        4:00 pm Yang Bang

Check out the schedule to join Carla at a class this week – we’ll see you in the orange room soon!