Have you ever tried something new that you were SO excited about that you found a way to work it into every conversation you had with every person you encountered for weeks on end? That’s me lately—I’ve been telling every damn person I meet about my newfound love of twerking class.
What’s my deal with twerking class? It’s fun, of course, but there’s more to it than that. My twerking classes have taught me more than how to drop it like it’s hot. They’ve actually taught me a few lessons that I’ve been able to apply at the gym, and in life.
Today, I’m going to share a couple of those lessons. But first, let’s get clear on what twerking is.
What is Twerking Class?
Twerking, if you’re not familiar, is a style of dance that involves, “throwing or thrusting their hips back or shaking their buttocks, often in a low squatting stance.”
(If you’re like me right now, you probably need a second to process that fact that Wikipedia used the word “buttocks” in a definition. Go ahead and get the giggles out. I’ll wait.)
Per my studio (Yes Honey, which you should most certainly check out if you’re in St. Louis), twerking class is an ”hour-long dance fitness class brings all the booty action. If you want to twerk it, pop it, drop it and shake it, this is the class for you! Literally, a nonstop hour of shakin’ dat ass.”
Pretty far cry from heavy barbells and assault bike sprints, no?
Despite (or perhaps, because of) the differences between twerking class and CrossFit, I actually think the experience is making me a stronger athlete in the gym.
Let’s talk about why that’s the case.
A Growth Mindset
Let me be clear on something, if you’re clutching your pearls and gasping, “I would NEVER!” as you read this.
I never thought I would.
I’m a 41-year-old mother of three who had a pretty gnarly knee surgery back in January, and my moves are more Janet Reno’s Dance Party than Megan Thee Stallion video. There are few things I hate worse than being pressured into dancing at parties. So why do I go?
Aside from silly, ridiculous fun, three things have kept me coming back to twerking class over and over again: the banger soundtrack, the awesome instructors, and a beginner’s mindset.
The beginner’s mindset is a Buddhist concept that means “having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.”
Now, to be clear, there is absolutely nothing advanced about my twerking—I’m HORRIBLE at it! And you know what? You don’t have to be good at something to enjoy it.
I just show up with an open mind, follow the instructor, and focus on getting a teeny bit better at even one subtle nuance each time I go to class.
For example, some of the choreography is a bit too fast for me. This forces me to focus on getting better at just the footwork before adding in the upper body.
Guess what! This is a great lesson for weightlifting and CrossFit, even if you’ve been doing it a really long time!
Twerking class has reinforced the importance of showing up at the gym with a great attitude, completely ready and willing to learn from my coaches. It’s made me think more about the component pieces of movements I’ve done thousands of times, like cleans—where I can get just a teeny bit better on the high pull, or the position of my feet.
And focusing on mastering those subtleties from the ground up helps keep me motivated to come in and put in the work!
Not surprisingly, I think the experience will also make me a better coach. Twerking class has reminded me how scary it can be to walk into a new place and try something new. If you’re one of our newer athletes, I see you and I’m proud of you!
(Also, raise your hand if you think twerking class should be a mandatory training experience for all 26 coaches!!
You think walking and chewing gum at the same time is challenging? Try getting your booty to jiggle while simultaneously moving the other parts of your body.
It’s really, really hard—even if you’re reasonably coordinated!
Two Six Barbell Coach Tobi, my brave bootyshaking buddy, went straight to the source and asked our instructor how to move one’s butt cheeks in isolation.
The trick, it seems, is to focus your attention on the lower part of the quad and the upper part of the hamstring. In layman’s terms, you want to isolate the muscles above your knee and below your butt. It also helps to arch your lower back while letting your belly relax.
Now, we don’t do much booty jiggling in the gym. But we DO perform movements every single day that can be vastly improved if you focus on activating the right muscles.
Want to do pull-ups? Think about activating your lats. Gearing up for a heavy set of squats? You’ll want to focus on “turning on” your glutes.
If you’re just going through the motions on movements you could do in your sleep, you’re missing out on opportunities to improve.
A Better Engine
I walked into my first twerking class lacking dance confidence but making up for it with faith in my fitness level.
And boy, was I humbled. Twerking is hard work!
A twerking class involves 40-50 minutes of fast-paced, nonstop movement. I consistently break a sweat just a couple minutes into the warm up and end the class dripping wet with burning lungs. It feels AWESOME (CrossFitters, think Filthy Fifty or similar if you want to compare efforts).
Not surprisingly, my regular twerking classes are helping me in the gym as well. I’m finding it easier to hang in there a bit longer before taking breaks, and to push myself a little harder on monostructural (cardio) workouts. I’m finding twerking to be a great complement to CrossFit training.
Not quite as confident about your own cardio level? That’s okay—the class can absolutely be modified for any fitness level. For example, you can step instead of jumping, keep your squatting motions a bit higher, and stay standing during crawling and low squatting sections of the class.
Fewer Food Cravings
Have you picked up yet on the fact that twerking class would’ve been so far out of my wheelhouse even a few months ago?
Part of why I love it so much is that it feels like an adventure every time!
A good mini adventure can break you out of a mental rut, boost your confidence, and help you embrace uncertainty (something I think we could all benefit from after the 2020 we had).
It might also surprise you to learn that it’s helped me to stay more consistent with my meal plan, and even lose a few pounds (which is always helpful with body weight movements like pull-ups and running!).
Food fills many core needs completely unrelated to hunger, including novelty. During lockdown, I found myself eating foods I wouldn’t normally touch—primarily because I was craving a bit of excitement.
Twerking class has given me a new outlet for filling that core need, so that I don’t feel like I need to seek it out in the form of food. This makes it easier to stick with my normal, healthy, exciting enough menu.
(Want to know how your unique core needs shape your eating behaviors? This is something I love to do with my 1:1 nutrition client! Click here to learn more about our nutrition program).
Should You Try Twerking Class?
With all of this in mind, should you give twerking class a go?
I say Yes Honey! But if twerking isn’t your jam, there are still ways to reap some of the other benefits.
Try a new mini exercise adventure that allows for mindful movement and go into it eager and ready to learn! Rock climbing, stand up paddleboarding, or mountain biking all come to mind.
And, adventuring is always more fun (and less scary) with friends, so share this with a pal you want to recruit for some fun!