L.A. Transplant and Dancer Turned Founder Kim Thompson on HLP's Body Dada and More

Welcome to 10 Questions, a weekly series that explores L.A. through the eyes of its coolest citizens.

Body Dada Founder
Photo: Courtesy of Body Dada

You know you're working out at the right place when its owner and founder is right there next to you. Kim Thompson is the owner and founder of Body Dada, one of Highland Park's newest places to work out and feel phenomenal. They offer their signature barre technique class Body Dada the Workout and a stretch class called Stretch + Chill. Their classes get Angelenos feeling their very best through a total body fitness system. 

Body Dada received its name from dadaism – an art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th century, with early centers in Zürich, Switzerland, at the Cabaret Voltaire. Thompson was inspired by the rebellious energy of the Dadaists and people who push boundaries in any field. She acknowledges that tending to the self is a radical concept in the modern era that she aims to make more regular through Body Dada.

A professional dancer, Thompson opened the studio in 2019, just four months before the pandemic struck. She grew up dancing in New York at the Ailey School and came to L.A. to pursue a degree at the California Institute of the Arts. She's performed with the L.A. Contemporary Dance Company, instructed at other L.A. studios, and eventually formed her own unique style that she incorporates into Body Dada.

A full membership with unlimited in-person and live-stream classes is $150 per month, an in-studio membership is $120 per month, and a membership that includes five in-studio classes per month along with full access to the content library is $90 per month. Click here for more membership options to choose from.

We caught up with Thompson to learn more about her inspiration, role models, food, and more as part of our (now) weekly '10 Questions' series where we explore L.A. through the eyes of its coolest, most empowered, most innovative, or forward-thinking citizens.

Body Dada 10 Questions
Photo: Courtesy of Body Dada

What's your background? If not fitness, what was your inspiration for starting Body Dada?

I'm a professional dancer and originally fell in love with the barre technique for keeping me performance-ready. Eventually, I became an instructor and after many years of working for other studios and brands, I was finally at a spot in my life that I knew could make a major move. 

Who were your role models growing up and who are they today?

I grew up on Long Island, New York. I obsessed over entertainers of all types from dancers with the New York City Ballet, to passed icons of the modern dance canon like Martha Graham, to my ultimate idol Judy Garland. Today, the people I look up to are women who embody the strength and drive I saw in the role models of my past but mix that with entrepreneurship and business, like Sara Blakeley of Spanx. On the daily, however, it's ultimately the staff and community of Body Dada that keep me going. It's a beautiful exchange of motivation and inspiration that happens at the studio.

Body Dada Shop 3
Photo: Courtesy of Body Dada

Do you listen to music or podcasts while working out on your own? If either, what are your jams or channels currently?

Yes, music drives me when I work out at home and when I'm teaching the studio's classes. Specific jams I'm loving right now are Kacey Musgraves – Violents Remix of High Horse, Mari Cray/Afrojack – Back to Life, and anything by Kaytranada. I like to cool down and Stretch to music like 070 Shake and Kelsey Lu.

Other than running the business, what does your ideal day look like from waking up to falling asleep?

My ideal day is any day after a good night's rest! I prioritize rest and rejuvenation, otherwise, it's easy to have my work/life balance skew off-center towards work only. I suppose ideally, a perfect day would mean having time to move and exercise, cook an amazing meal, and go on an adventure in nature with my boyfriend Dan.

What about Body Dada are you most excited about in the next year or so? And how has the last year gone with everything that's been happening?

We were only open for four months before the pandemic hit when we had to creatively adjust to develop a digital platform. That proved to be of benefit to our clients and established trust that we were here to stay. It allowed them to see in our hearts how passionate we are about building this community together. Now that we're again open in-studio, we're welcoming our community back indoors, expanding our reach on-demand, and looking forward to retreats and special workshops.

Body Dada 10 Questions 2
Photo: Courtesy of Body Dada

If you could travel anywhere in the world to observe fitness trends, where would it be?

Seoul, Korea. There is so much potential energy in Seoul. I would love to get to know the landscape there. Body Dada articulates into its identity what it's inspired by in art, music, and fashion. Seoul is doing exciting things in all of those areas.

You're sitting down with your 20-year-old and 80-year-old selves. What are those conversations like?

I would tell my 20-year-old self to allow for more mistakes. When I'm 80 I hope I'm still stimulating and challenging my body and brain in healthy ways and the community being built now is still doing that with me later!

What style of dance best encapsulates what you love about dance as a form of fitness and why?

I don't know if there's any one style that is better at relating to fitness than the other as most styles are based on techniques that require commitment and dedication, and all lead to cumulative growth and skills just like fitness does. Dance is beautiful because it's an expression of the soul that allows people to find meaning, identity, and community just as fitness can be all of those things. It really is so much more than a workout.

Body Dada Shop 1
Photo: Courtesy of Body Dada

You're taking a first-time visitor on a one-day tour of L.A. Where are some of your top stops?

Go Get Em Tiger in Highland Park for coffee, Tropical Juice LA also in Highland Park for the green juice, and precious things for home and gifts at Prelude + Dawn. Nearby hike at Debs Park in Montecito Heights, Lunch from Dune in Atwater Village, and dinner at Little Beast in Eagle Rock.

Favorite outdoor place to get away in L.A.?

I go further and get out of L.A. to the Sequoias or Hot Springs in Santa Barbara.

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