Twerking: It’s not just for the dance floor

A Twerkshop class is a fun, physical way to exercise your core.

FOR THE RECORD, twerking is hard work.

You might know twerking from pop culture — Beyoncé, Rihanna and Miley Cyrus all come to mind. Or, you might not.

I had never tried to twerk, mainly because I fully believed my pelvis would not be able to. After taking a twerking class, I assure you there is an art to twerking properly, and it is quite physical.

I went to Studio 206 in the Old Rainier Brewery for a Twerkshop/Afrobeats class. For the uninitiated, twerking involves bending over, and popping your pelvis back and forth rapidly.

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Doing the movement properly requires a lot of core control to get your pelvis to twitch in the right direction. When you add in a squat or get down to elbows and feet (aka a twerk plank), your core will wonder what this new torture is.

Twerkshop teacher Tricia Diamond grew up in New Orleans, where, as a kid, she studied Mapouka, an African dance that spawned twerking, she says. People in New Orleans have been twerking for more than 20 years, she says, and she wanted to spread it to the Northwest. The Northwest thanks you, Tricia.

I convinced my friend Pam to come. Diamond took our group of three through the two main elements of twerking: A pop is punching your rear back, while a bounce is thrusting your hips forward. We watched intensely in the mirror to see whether we could imitate Diamond’s impressive twerking technique, then looked at each other and laughed.

I could do the moves when we practiced them slowly, but when the music sped up, my hips definitely did not twitch to the beat. The more you do it, the faster you twerk, Diamond assured us.

During one song, she had us practice the pop in different formats. First we did it standing with our feet together, which was relatively easy. Then she took us to a squat, hands on thighs, and my legs burned. Diamond reminded us that proper technique requires core engagement throughout so you don’t lose strength in your lower back.

She also taught us a twerkle, putting our hands on the floor, rears in the air and bouncing in a circle, or bending one leg at a time to the beat, and a twerk bunny, where we leaned to one side and twitched one leg. Both were easier than the legit twerk.

For the latter part of class, Diamond moved us to the floor on our hands and knees to twerk, and then had us get into planks on our elbows for twerk planks. I realized quickly why the true twerking outfit includes both booty shorts and kneepads.

When new to twerking on hands and knees, you can keep your knees closer together. The better you get, the wider your knees go. I’ve even see people do the splits and twerk — it’s a sight to behold.

As for twerk planks … well, I preferred squat twerks to this particular burn. Eventually, Diamond told me after class, your twerking technique can be applied to twerk handstands, with…

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