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Hello Idaho: Poi spinning in the park

Boise therapist Julie Meeks says poi spinning has multiple physical and mental health benefits.

BOISE, Idaho — If you've been to Camel's Back Park in Boise this summer, you may have seen a class taking place every Tuesday.

Boise therapist Julie Meek can be found at Camel's Back each Tuesday teaching poi spinning classes, which is similar to a dance class and has numerous benefits for both physical and mental health.

"The first time I saw it was during a fire performance in France," Meek said. "I was 17 and had no idea what I was looking at, and then a few years later I saw someone doing it on the streets here in Boise."

Meek found different forums and videos about poi spinning online and taught herself. The next summer, she started teaching classes at Camel's Back. She said poi spinning is growing in the Treasure Valley.

"There's a lot of research out there that's been out there for decades that says aspects of poi are supportive of mental health," Meeks said. "Things like physical movement, exercise, cardio, mindfulness, creative movement, playfulness. It improves the mind-body connection. It also uses both sides of the body and the brain which is supportive of regulating mood states and lifting the mood in general." 

Meek said poi spinning with others can help bring the community together as well. 

"It helps us really see each other and feel like we belong and that we are in the community," she said. "I like to call it 'play therapy for adults.' If COVID taught us anything, it's how badly we need community for our mental health and each other and a sense of belonging and connection." 

If you want to try poi spinning, you can try it for free this summer. Meek holds classes Tuesday nights at 7:30 at Camel's Back Park. Everyone is welcome.

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