The small group of homeless people will return again to the small space in the basement of the downtown library next week. They meet there each Monday, Wednesday and Thursday to do tai chi at 9 a.m. as a stream of sunlight filters down from the windows upstairs.
The hope, Hart says, is that through the exercise, a slow-paced practice of balance and movement, these individuals will find stability in their lives. The activist started the informal program with his wife, Marita, in September.
For their first attempt at holding the class, the couple walked around the library, encouraging members of the homeless community who sleep on the perimeter under tarps and near shopping carts to join them for tai chi. Just one person did.
"I'm not qualified to do this," Hart recalled thinking at the time.
They continued, though, and each week more folks joined in. Now there are about 28 "regulars" who often bring friends with them from The Road Home and Salt Lake Mission shelters.
Fred Davis has been attending the tai chi lessons for five months. He arrives for the classes with a hug for Marita Hart and an update on his progress.
"It improves here," he said, pointing to his forehead. "I have short-term memory loss."
Davis was a dancer for some 35 years before he developed tremors that left him constantly shaking without medicine. He became homeless two years ago, bouncing between shelters and camping on the streets.
The tai chi, Davis says, gets his blood flowing and sharpens his focus.
"I need to keep moving as long as I can," he says with a deep laugh that sends his salt-and-pepper beard shaking.
Freeman heard about the program from Davis, initially teasing him that it was "just for old people." After trying it for the first time four months ago, she hasn't missed a session.
And when the class is done, Freeman heads upstairs to fill out job applications on the library's computers.
"It gives you momentum that carries throughout your day," she said.
Freeman, 65, began staying at The Road Home shelter six months ago. The challenge in overcoming her homelessness, she said, is complicated in that she doesn't have a government-issued ID and hasn't been able to get a replacement without a birth certificate.