Find Your Fit: WERQ Dance Fitness is for Everybody and ‘Every Body’ 

Jake Newby

| 4 min read

Did you know that one of the hottest up-and-coming group fitness classes was born right here in the Midwest? WERQ is a pre-choreographed cardiovascular dance workout class that moves to the rhythm of trending pop and hip-hop music. It’s a close cousin of Zumba, and it’s expanding quickly by the year. 
“It’s dance movement, fitness movement, combined into a cardio dance format,” said Monica Sanders, a Michigan resident and certified WERQ instructor. “It actually was created by a Zumba instructor; I know her before she created the format. So, I was all in once she got it going. It’s been around since 2011.It originated in Chicago and then we had the second training ever in Grand Rapids, I was at that training. Now we are in 43 states with over 2,500 instructors.”

What is WERQ exercise class?

WERQ is all-inclusive and for all levels. It’s intense enough to push even the biggest cardio buffs to their stamina limits, but modifications are on the table for anyone who’d like to break a sweat at their own pace.
“We show modifications for the moves in case you want speed up or slow down both the intensity and range of motion,” Sanders said. “People will be able to accept those modifications as we introduce them or stick at that higher level of intensity. We like to say that WERQ is for everybody and every body.”
Every room a WERQ class takes place in is a judgment-free room, and if you’re moving, you’re doing it right. Many WERQ movements are layered the same way a song is. A class may start by focusing on footwork, for example, then incorporate arm and core movements like the chorus of a song.
“We tell new students this – there’s room for everybody in our class,” she said. “Whether you’re working at the highest level or you want to take advantage of the modifications all the way down because you’re 80 years old and you just want to move.”
The entire workout is done standing. Class length typically ranges from 45 minutes to an hour.

WERQ builds bonds 

Just like with Zumba, communities are created and friendships are forged through WERQ.
“These people depend on each other to be there, they hold each other accountable,” Sanders said. “Like, if someone doesn’t show up to class one day or two days you got friends going, ‘Hey where were you, we missed you.’ Your presence does count, people notice you and notice when you’re gone.
“I can’t even tell you the friendships I’ve seen formed within these classes, myself included,” Sanders went on. “You get people that didn’t know each other, met in this fitness class, and now they’re friends. They go on vacations togethers. There’s a group of about 12 of us that do these community events together outside our classes. People meet and they mingle. So, I’ve got students from this gym and this gym and this gym. We go on vacations to Traverse City every year, and we’re all people who met each other at the gym.”

WERQ techniques and safety considerations

As Sanders noted, a WERQ class can be as intense as you’d like it to be. When discussing safety, she reiterated the importance of accepting modifications for beginners or any students with physical ailments.
She added that as long as you mimic the general movements of your instructor, you’ll avoid injury.
“As long as you’re not doing some crazy jumping or things like that if you have an injury, or maybe sore knees, you’ll be OK,” Sanders said.
As far as tips, Sanders said you’ll always be on the right track if you start with the feet and layer everything else in later, even during a particular move.
“Even if I’m not showing layering in a move, if a move is confusing because we’re moving both arms and legs, I tell people ‘Start with the feet,’” she said. “Once you get the feet down, add the legs and arms.”
WERQ’s Michigan “home base” may very well be Grand Rapids – that’s where it’s the most popular and where classes are most concentrated. But classes are available all over the state and country! Enter your city, state or zip code on the official WERQ website to find classes near you.
More from the Find Your Fit series:
Photo credit: Monica Sanders

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