PHOTO GALLERY: ‘Twerk and Tone,’ teaching self-love with fitness

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A box of chocolate, flowers, and a cozy movie date with your significant other sounds more appealing than sore arms, tight thighs, and a sweaty face. Although Valentine’s Day is to celebrate romance between couples, it’s also a day to celebrate loving yourself.

In N.C. Central University’s LeRoy T. Walker Complex, 28 women shook their hips and strengthened their bodies through the art of dance and fitness at Campus Recreation’s “Love Your Body” party this week.

The “Love Your Body” party is an event hosted by Campus Recreation director and fitness instructor Donnae Ward-Laughinghouse to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Each participant received raffle tickets for prizes, a rose, and treat bags filled with sweets. The event also asked for participants to wear red or pink for the celebration.

This party was combined with Campus Recreation’s new group exercise class, “Twerk and Tone,” which is taught by Ward-Laughinghouse.  This is the first semester class has been taught at Campus Recreation. It was created by Ward-Laughinghouse based on the popularity of last semester’s Campus Recreation Halloween event called “Twerk Out,” which promoted staying fit in fun, creative ways.

“It was perfect. [The class] fell on February 14,” said Ward-Laughinghouse. “I turned ‘Twerk and Tone’ into the ‘Love Your Body’ event because what I’m trying to promote is self-love and self-care. I want for people to love their bodies and take the time to see what they’re grateful for.”

According to Ward-Laughinghouse, one of “Love Your Body” party’s goals is for participants to celebrate and love all the quirks, curves, and other flaws of the human body.

Before the women walked into the aerobics room for the party, Ward-Laughinghouse encouraged participants to write what they loved about their bodies on a sticky note and place it on the small “Love Your Body” wall.

Some responses included “my personality is on fleek,” “I love my beautiful belly,” “I love my bright smile and little boobs,” and “[I] love all of me.”

“I wanted them to record it so that they can kind of think about it because a lot of times, there are women who always say ‘I wish my hair was like this,’ ‘I wish I was this skinny,’ or ‘I wish I had a bigger whatever,’” Ward-Laughinghouse said.

In the “Twerk and Tone” class, gym-goers are able to experience a full-body workout while having fun and dancing.

Participants start with five to 10 minutes of cardio warm-up, which involves squats, high knees, and simple dance steps, circulating blood flow.

Then from there, the group focuses on strength and resistance training using heavy dumbbells, bench-press bars, and their body weight.

“I really wanted to add in resistance training,” said Ward-Laughinghouse. “Especially as women, we don’t focus on resistance training so that’s why we have to add the ‘tone’ in there. You dance a little bit, have fun, and then have the strength training between.”

Before Ward-Laughinghouse ends the “Twerk and Tone” class with a cool-down exercise, the class forms a large circle for a “Twerk Off.” Participants are encouraged to show off their best twerking moves in the middle of the circle.

Kala Hayes, a pharmaceutical science junior, said it was her first time attending “Twerk and Tone.” She wasn’t sure what to expect when she walked in, but was surprised about how much of a work out the class was.

“The choreography and everything else was easy to pick up on,” she said. “But by the third round, I felt everything.”

Hayes added that she wouldn’t mind attending the class again.

She said she liked the “Twerk Off” because Ward-Laughinghouse used dance moves others created to form more exercises during the class.

“The types of choreography she did praised the body from the booty to the arms,” she said. “I like that the instructor doesn’t take just her own back of choreography and exercise, she looks at others for inspiration.”

“Twerk and Tone” is held once a week in the aerobic room B101 on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. in the LeRoy T. Walker Complex.

Tia Mitchell, mass communications senior, is the Campus Echo Co-editor-in-chief. Her interests include music, books, and fiction-writing. Her dream is to work as a communications director in medicine and science.

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