Ali Abramovitz, MK Hurlbutt, & Alex Knecht
Ali Abramovitz, MK Hurlbutt and Alex Knecht are the founders of Chorus Meditation, a new kind of meditation class that draws from different techniques to provide an immediate and sustainable release from the stress and anxiety of daily life. These three women, based in San Francisco, have forged a partnership that serves as a foundation for both their personal lives as well as the work that they're seeking to do in the mindfulness and mental wellness space.
How it all began

Ali: Prior to Chorus I worked in investing and corporate strategy, and generally considered myself a very “happy” person, but during an especially hard year I realized I didn’t have the tools to deal with the difficulties I was facing.

A friend recommended meditation, but I was resistant because when I had tried meditating in the past, I had challenging experiences. Trouble sitting still, couldn’t quiet my mind, and wrote it off as “not working” for me. But because I felt like I had nowhere else to turn, I committed to trying it every day. After a while I started noticing amazing benefits. The pressure I was feeling had been subtly turned down. I was sleeping better, more productive at work, better at communicating with my partner, more patient with my parents. I generally felt more connected with myself and those around me.

It felt like magic, and I wondered why more people didn’t do this. Then I remembered my initial experiences and how hard it can be to develop a practice because the initial experiences with traditional techniques can be so challenging. You sit there, wondering if you’re doing it wrong since you don’t notice the feelings people rave about. It’s frustrating! So that’s the goal for Chorus — to remove the friction of developing a mindfulness practice and make it something you WANT to do, not feel like you “should”.

I was lucky enough to get introduced to MK through a mutual friend who knew we both shared this passion and we totally hit it off. I’m so grateful she and I came into each other’s lives because I truly believe what we are creating with Chorus can help so many people.

MK: I'm a Master Instructor at SoulCycle, cohost of the She’s Thriving podcast, and cofounder of Chorus. I formed a regular meditation practice in the fall of 2016 after experiencing acute stress and anxiety for the first time. It was definitely a last option moment for me. Despite being well-versed on the many benefits of meditation, I had found it difficult to connect with a traditional practice. It took finding myself in dire need of mental relief to finally get serious about picking up the habit.

Fast forward to the summer of 2018 when a mutual friend introduced me to Ali. Ali shared with me her own struggle to develop a meditation practice until she too found herself in an acute moment of stress and need. Her experience inspired her desire to bring the benefits of meditation to people, who, like us, might be struggling to do it on their own. She explained her vision of wanting to help adjust people’s perspectives and transform meditation from something we know we should do to something we actually crave doing. I loved the idea of designing a totally new way to meditate that would feel accessible to people and help them reap the benefits after their very first class. I feel so passionately about providing people with the space, tools, and time to connect with themselves and others, and Chorus is doing just that.

Chorus' Fulsom Studio
On mindfulness and meditation as a strong foundation for modern life

Ali: To put it simply, meditation is the practice of bringing non-judgemental awareness to our thoughts. As we become aware of our thoughts, our relationship to them evolves. Most of the time, our thinking mind runs the show. It does its job of producing thought after thought, story after story to try and make sense of the world. Without awareness, these stories can hijack our nervous system and our thoughts can send us into perpetual states of fight-or-flight which we experience as chronic stress and anxiety. When our focus and attention is so caught up in these stories that we’re obsessing over, we leave little space to actually see, hear, and connect with one another in the present moment.

On setting a foundation of female partnership

MK: Working with Ali is a dream and being her friend is a privilege. From the moment I met her, I was drawn to her bright spirit and energy, her enthusiasm and earnestness, and her keen way of synthesizing all my wild thoughts into streamlined operationalized steps. Our skill sets compliment each other so well and I am grateful everyday for her leadership, vision, and ability to draw out the best in everyone with whom she works.

And we recently added Alex Knecht to our founding team. Alex brings 5+ years of experience building out Apple’s wellness programs and has been able to bring that expertise to help get us ready to open up our first permanent studio space at the end of March. We’ll actually be opening up down the street from Modern Citizen in SF!

On practicing mindfulness as a start-up founder

MK: I used to think starting a company would be too stressful for me. And yet, I now find myself as an entrepreneur looking to break the cycle of stress our society finds itself in. Because of the kind of company we are building, we are exposed daily to the benefits of meditation and mindfulness, little tricks to destress in the moment, and ways to cultivate clarity and calm in our busy days.

But I would be lying if I said that kept us totally protected from feeling the stress and overwhelm that comes from trying to start and run your own company. We have our moments too.

I just feel so grateful to be working with a team who is so solid, compassionate, and invested in their own mental health, along with mine. It provides such a solid foundation for us to build a company where taking care of yourself is a core value. It’s invaluable to be able to talk openly with Ali and Alex when I might be struggling and need extra support. Or to chat with each other about our lives outside the company that may be causing stress as well. We are entrepreneurs in the mental health space, so it’s nice to be aware of what’s going on with ourselves and feel empowered to use the tools and resources we have to feel better.

On the role of clothes

MK: I want clothes that keep up with my lifestyle. On any given day, I go from teaching a SoulCycle class, to meeting with advisors for Chorus, to teaching a Chorus class, to going on a date with my husband. That’s a lot of variety in one day, and it’s nice to have well-made pieces that don’t break the bank, are long-lasting, and versatile enough to be used in several different outfits for an array of occasions. Which is one of the reasons I love Modern Citizen so much. They make clothes that can keep up with me and make me feel like myself, no matter the setting!

On being a Modern Citizen

MK: A modern citizen is someone who cares deeply about the world around them and is constantly looking for opportunities to make others feel seen, heard, and known. Two modern citizens who I deeply look up to are the 2 incredible women I work with every day as we build the dream of Chorus. They are loving, compassionate, selfless and purpose-driven individuals determined to realize the mission of Chorus. We are trying to empower our community to be modern citizens by helping them connect more fully with themselves and with the world around them.