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KONA JOHNSON

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Growing up on the North Shore, movement and community have been woven into my life from the start. I stopped competing in sport early on, but I never stopped competing with myself in getting outdoors and moving. Surfing, running, trekking in the mountains, the odd surfboard waterpolo game...

 

All these activities began as play, but over a lifetime have slowly revealed themselves to be playful therapy. Ways to reset the mind. To gain perspective and maintain flexibility. Especially during times of transition. At least when I can remember to interpret them that way.

 

After graduating a public school on the country side of Oahu I moved to a city to attend a much bigger public school in UC Berkeley. There I found a lot of questions. Academic, mostly, with a few other important ones like 'how long does it take to open a car door with frozen claw like hands after a cold water surf'? Or, 'how many times can one go out in a week and still get by'? 

 

Balance, they say. 

After graduating I found my way onto a steam powered Matson barge from Oakland back home to Oahu. Retracing in some millienial way the journey my grandfather took 50 years prior in sailing to Oahu. We had a union crew, cafeteria and wifi, he had canned food, a plastic compass, and a convict jump aboard... more chest hair too.

 

We both had the sea. 

Back home I found myself chasing uncertain horizons. Sails across the pracific, SN Goenka meditation retreats , South American vagabonding, Alethia with Steve March, love fueled Australian Covid tours, Jack Kornfield... all the questions about meaning along the way. I knew I was a lucky kid to even get a chance to ask the question, but that didn't stop me from wanting to find something that spanned further than the horizons my sails were already pointing. 

 

Also known as a girl to date. In retrospect probably a lot of it was that.

 

Then Covid. A relationship unraveling.  Coursework and travels giving way to an inclination to simply move with friends at home. As the world shut down, I found a pull to rally my community around fitness challenges. I went with it. And eventually the Den moved in next door. With it a warm culture that pushed people to their edges but accepted them as they came. An impossibly welcoming and energized leader. One who also can't help but compete at all things. A magic to each of her classes that went beyond pulsing on a reformer to Lil Jon. All of it enough to make even this outdoor, independent mover a believer in group fitness. It seemed too coincidental not to be sign that the real work was here.

Now as co-owner I provide the why to Chelsey's why not. The occasional no to her constant yes. The meandering bio to her concise and professional one. In pragmatic terms, she teaches classes and I write things down. Sometimes stories, sometimes employee manuals or paychecks, sometimes teacher trainings. We both manage the studio. We both facilitate Den trainings. We both feel we've stumbled upon something special.

 

The question we're now living together: how to support a growing ecosystem of functional health instructors while doing things the right way. In line with what Wendell Berry might call The Good Work. If he were to do pilates. It's a happy accident that it feels as if my meandering path has equipped me to be a great partner to stumble into the answer to the question with. The UC Berkeley systems degree, in the end, coming in handy. Miraculously, even all those late nights out too. This yogi named Chelsey knows how to party.

 

Balance, they say. ​

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