When Small Businesses Collaborate, They Create Community

Opening Up to Change Breeds New Possibilities and Growth


Freed Bodyworks and Rooted Pilates are two small Capitol Hill businesses hit hard by the shutdown last year. Specializing in health, wellness and movement, both were thriving in their own environment. Freed offered a variety of wellness modalities to clients and had exercise classes as well. Rooted Pilates, which had recently moved to a new location on Pennsylvania Avenue SE, just two blocks west of Freed, gave private sessions on the apparatus and held small mat classes in the studio.

In March 2020, both had to shut their doors and stop doing business in person. “Freed closed from March until August of 2020,” said owner/manager Jessica VonDyke. “When we were allowed back to work, the number of people allowed in the space was limited.” In six months of shutdown, VonDyke said, some of the therapists who worked at Freed reinvented what they were doing or left the area. “We started back with a team of six. We closed with a team of 24 in March.” It was a big difference for business.

Freed started a Go Fund Me page that summer. “We raised about $50,000, which has been pivotal to us staying open,” said VonDyke. “We also received PPE loans, and our landlord is wonderful and has been working with us all throughout the pandemic.”

Down the street, Randi Moore, founding member of Rooted Movement Collective and former owner of Rooted Pilates, had a different story. “When DC shut down, we went online. We kept the business going until we opened for private sessions last summer.”

Moore described her challenge as figuring out how to restructure what Rooted was doing in the uncertain environment in which they were now living. “Our new studio space was not sustainable,” she said. “We were able to have only four to five people in the building. Our landlord was not able to work a tenable deal with us. I had to close the business.”

Moore regrouped and created Rooted Movement Collective, a collaborative community of practitioners working together to bring movement practices to all bodies. They work collaboratively but offer services independently.

When Moore decided to search for a new location, she called VonDyke at Freed Bodyworks. “It made sense. We’d been cross-referring clients to each other for years and we shared a great deal of mutual respect.”

About five years ago, VonDyke contacted Moore about teaching a class to Freed bodyworkers. “A love affair began,” said VonDyke. Moore chimed in, “It was one of my favorite classes to teach.”

Indeed, a love affair among professionals exists. Each expressed how cool it is to be working together. “I love this partnership with Randi,” said VonDyke. ”She and her clients bring something different to our community.”

“I love the energy of being in a space where all different wellness modalities, not just Pilates, are happening,” said Moore. “It really feels good and supportive. Being in a space all under one roof, I can easily refer folks to Freed. I love practicing holistic always.”

In addition to Rooted Movement sessions, Freed offers sessions for acupuncture, chakra balancing, reflexology, integrative energy work and massage (together in one session), massage and Thai massage. Mental health sessions are still offered online.

Freed Bodyworks and Rooted Movement Collective may be pioneers on Capitol Hill for their collaborative effort, but, VonDyke said, “there are models for what we are doing called wellness collectives. It’s a group of different practitioners of different modalities that share space. It was already becoming a trend before the shutdown. Now it’s become an economic necessity.”

The most fulfilling benefit though, she pointed out, is how you can do more energetic alignment and reach more people when you join forces. It’s all about helping people to get and stay well.

To learn more about Freed at 1337 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, log onto www.freedbodyworks.com or email info@freedebodyworks.com. You can also call: 202-321-9715.

To learn more about Randi Moore and the Rooted Movement Collective, log onto www.rootedmovementcollective.com.

Pattie Cinelli is a health and fitness professional and journalist who has been writing her column for more than 20 years. She focuses on holistic and non-mainstream ways to stay healthy, get well and connect with your true self. Please email her with questions, comments or column suggestions at fitmiss44@aol.com.