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TWERKOUTS: Workouts that are fun to get behind

Sorry, not sorry.

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BY TIFFANY ARNOLD

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Zag Magazine | June

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July 2015

You feel sexy.

Michaela Brown-Jones demonstrates twerk aerobics at her women’s exotic fitness studio. Zag Magazine.com

TOM FEDOR/ZAG MAGAZINE

ichaela Brown-Jones already has issued a warning to her Saturday afternoon twerk aerobics class. “After this class, you might not want to twerk again,” says Brown-Jones during the warmup. And by the first water break, a third of the 20 or so students — all female — were visibly sweaty. The rest were at the dewy glow phase. “I’m going to be sore tomorrow,” says former Silver Spring resident Brittani Gordon, slightly winded. Other participants described the class as “the best workout ever,” the only exercise routine they’d stick to. “You work. You feel sexy. You have a lot of fun doing it,” says Gordon, 26, who now lives in Washington, D.C. For better or worse, Miley Cyrus’ stiff-legged twerk at MTV’s 2013 VMAs has drawn twerking — what the Oxford Dictionary defines as “thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance” — out into the mainstream. Leave it to local gym owners and trainers to capitalize on pop culture’s latest obsession, trading in conventional workouts for “twerkouts.” “Pushups and running on a treadmill is painstaking and boring and, in most cases, rigorous on the mind,” says Brown-Jones, a certified personal trainer, fitness twerker and founder of The P Spot Fitness Studio in Washington, D.C. The P Spot already offered pole dancing and other types of exotic fitness classes. Brown-Jones says Cyrus was the reason she started offering twerk aerobics at The P Spot last spring. “Everybody’s been popping for a long time, but I guess when Miley Cyrus started twerking, everybody was,” Brown-Jones says. On the surface, it’s really easy to question the fitness merits of twerking. Local gym owners warned that if you’re not dealing with a professional — someone with a credible certification in fitness and experience as a personal trainer or group fitness training — wiggling your butt is all you might wind up doing. A good twerk fitness instructor is more concerned about how much exercise you’re getting than your ability to twerk.

Ebony Freeman, 36, who leads a Tuesday night Twerk After Work class in Riverdale, says sex appeal is the draw for a lot of women in her class. Her facility, My Body Shop, dedicated an entire workshop to twerking. The session’s “ATL BootyClap” format challenged participants to “make the booty work in wondrous ways, while building your core and intensifying your cardio workout,” according to a flier. The suggested workout flie gear? “Loose-bootied shorts.” ge “You work. “Our emphasis is on the assets — the ass and everything it sits on,” she says. You have a lot of Sexed-up fitness is nothfun doing it.” ing new. More than a decade in ago, pole fitness phenom Sheila ag Kelley Kell lley appeared on “Oprah” and, thanks th ks tto the Oprah Effect, swung pole dancing out of strip clubs and into gyms. Around the same time, actress/model Carmen hawking striptease aerobics DVDs. Electra was hawk that women want to feel sexy. “I’ve found th feel comfortable in their own They want to fee skin,” says Ashley McGaughey, 29, a certified personal trainer aand group fitness instructor in think [exotic fitness] gives them Silver Spring. “I th that.” an outlet to do th Even though pole fitness classes are abunfitness has been slow to spread dant, twerk fitn Montgomery County, where McGaughey in Montgomer demographic skewed older. She says says the demog twerking ggets unfairly stigmatized. hard. It’s almost like a taboo,” “It’s h she says. “A lot of places don’t wa want to offer it.” Freeman says she thinks twerk stigma has to do with the type of music associated with it, music she describes as “ratchet.” It’s the reason she believes twerk fitness will be a passing trend.

At The P Spot, pushups went something like this: “Down. Up. Twerk it! Twerk it! Twerk it!” If you got rid of the twerking in Brown-Jones’ class you’d be left with the basic mechanics of an air squat, burning up your legs and behind. “[Women] come in for the excitement of the twerk, the opportunity to swing around a pole or do a lap dance, whatever. That’s what brings them in,” Brown-Jones says. “I sneak the workout in while you’re thinking king about how sexy you look.”

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