Open for Fitness: So You Think You Can Dance? Check Out Street Jamz Werkout
We took to the streets for a hip-hop class that werked our a$$.
Editor’s Note: Stacey and Katrina are at vastly different fitness levels (and ages) but both enjoy working out. We thought it’d be fun for the two of them to try new or interesting workouts together each month. This time they tried Street Jamz Werkout.
Videos and photos: Catherine Toth Fox
WHAT IT IS
Street Jamz Werkout is a locally owned, dance-focused fitness class. Instructor Mara Bacon-Chang, who’s a renowned local choreographer and teacher at Kamehameha Schools, teaches hip-hop/modern dance routines that pair perfectly with a house mix of ol’ school and Top 40 music. No dance training is required. And, the hour-long-class is only $5! Hollahhhhh.
HOW WE FELT: BEFORE
Stacey: Not too nervous. When I was little (age not size), I wanted to be a Fly Girl on In Living Color. I knew I wouldn’t be breakin’ it down like in my club-hopping, college days, but I would get as low (low, low, low, low) as possible. And, our former food editor, Catherine Toth Fox (who introduced us to this class), was going to be there. She’s good fun.
Katrina: When I talked to Mara before class and told her I didn’t know what I was getting into, she said her class was like Zumba, but harder. I suck at Zumba. I thought, “This is gonna be a disaster.”
We werked it out with our friends and fellow writers Terri Inefuku and Catherine Toth Fox.
Katrina: There were no official stretches or anything before we started—we just jumped right into the first song and I did my best to mimic Mara and the other ladies in class. Everyone seemed to know what they were doing right off the bat. I caught my reflection in the mirrors—the entire room is lined with them—and couldn’t stop laughing. I was significantly taller and lankier than everyone else, wearing a white T-shirt while almost everyone else was in dark colors, and totally missing the beat. Man, did I stand out.
Stacey: I observed for a little bit, because I had a cough and cold. But, when I heard LL Cool J’s “I’m Gonna Knock You Out,” I jumped in. You know the Ladies Love Cool James and his juicy lips—whoops, meant lyrics. All the ladies were givin’ it and the energy in the room was good. We did some punching moves, obviously, some chest thrusting and some side footwork action. I took a breather and looked around the room, noticing how diverse this group was. There were ladies of various ages, sizes and ethnicities. Most were wearing black—they all could’ve been Rhythm Nation dancers—and they seemed to know all the moves. But it wasn’t intimidating. Each of them was in her own zone, doing her own thing. And, they looked like they were having fun(!) working out. Imagine that.
Katrina: My favorite part? Battles. We split into pairs and practiced a quick routine where we turned to face one another and stepped forward to the right with our arms out, as if saying, “WUT?!”, then to the left. Everyone started laughing but Mara said we needed to be titah, not smiling—this was a battle. So, we did our best mean-mugging and grunted intimidatingly (if there is such a thing) a few more times before starting a new song and working the routine in. Every time I looked at Stacey she was smiling, as usual. I can’t imagine anyone ever wanting to fight with her!
Stacey: Yes! The battles. That was fun trying to get “all nutz.” I was partnered with one of the regulars and she was owning it. She was trying extra hard to turn bring out the gangsta in me and get me to stop smiling. At one point she said, “Imagine a girl trying to steal your man.” I laughed even harder. She laughed too.
Katrina: Some of the other ladies moved so fast. Even when I knew what to do, I felt like there was a longer way to go for my brain to communicate to my feet, or more wind resistance, or something, that kept me from hopping on the beat. I don’t think hip-hop is my jam. My robot was surprisingly not bad, though.
Stacey: Throughout the rest of the class, the werk-out was pretty much the same: booty-shaking beats, choreographed moves and lots of attitude (and laughs). I took some breaks, but when I was letting my inner Fly Girl shine, I did break a sweat.
Katrina: The previous week, the class had learned some choreography to a Khalid song and took a video of their moves so they could practice at home. Mara wanted to see their progress, so I just kind of flailed along with everyone, not really caring if I did it well since I had clearly not done any homework. I had no problem with the step-and-turns, but most of the routine moved quicker than I could learn. I did my best, which sometimes meant doing my own thing in the corner. Then we finished with Lauv’s “I Like Me Better”—the only song I actually knew all night!
Stacey: I was beat. Dancing to Lauv, my shimmy was as weak as my body.
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HOW WE FELT: AFTER
Katrina: I don’t even want to see the videos—I already know how embarrassing they’re going to be. Is this what I look like when I dance at concerts? I had a lot of fun but found that I stop and stand still while I watch new moves I’m unfamiliar with, which takes me out of the rhythm. I need to just go for it, even when I’m doing it totally wrong, to keep myself in the game. The other ladies in class killed it! I don’t think I’ll ever be on their level.
Stacey: Dead. Needed food. We hit H&T Burgers at Windward Mall after for its teri fries and burger combo and we talked about the class. The routines are tricky, but if you’re a regular, you’ll catch on. The music was a good mix of old and new, and the studio provided a good amount of space. My favorite part was Mara and the other dancers. Mara is HILA.RI.OUS. She’s like that auntie you want at every pau hana ’cause she gets the party started and wants everyone to have a good time. All the ladies made us feel welcomed—even when I threw my hands in the air and waved them around like I just didn’t care. Which I did often.
Currently, classes are at Windward Mall, 24-VII Danceforce Studio on Mondays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 4:30 p.m., and Aloha DanceSport Center in Kaka‘ako, on Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. Free for first-timers, $5 per class. For more information visit streetjamzwerkout.blogspot.com.