At the time my editor asked if I was willing to try my hand at a Beyoncé-themed workout class, I had just recklessly booked two beach vacations for the month of July and was desperate to get my body in bikini-ready shape. A free workout? I’ll take it!
But when I entered midtown’s Pearl Studios, panic set in. I pulled out my phone to read my class confirmation email: “Beyoncercise combines Beyoncé’s heart-pumping signature dance moves…” Oh, no. “…set to a hot Beyoncé soundtrack…” Nope. “…you will notice some familiar moves, too (think: “Formation”)!” What. Have. I. Done.
Now, some disclosure. I have 17-odd years of softball experience under my belt; I watch hockey religiously (go Rangers!); and I cry at the end of those underdogs-win-it-all YouTube videos. In other words, I grew up living and breathing sports, leaving absolutely no time to work on my sick dance moves. In fact, my first encounter with anything dance-related didn’t occur until I was a 22-year-old college student, when I signed up for African Dance 101. You know, to get that easy A.
It turns out, having rhythm like Gumby does not guarantee you an A.
So I knew I would only bring shame to Queen Bey and all those who love her, including myself.
I considered abandoning ship. I can run in the park for free, after all. But I was here on assignment. With my job security in mind, I stepped into the elevator and made my way to the 12th floor. Another woman dressed in workout gear got off at the same stop. “Are you going to the Beyoncé class?” I asked. She responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!” This was her third class this week, in fact. “Rihannercise is a good one. They even have one for Britney!” (No offense to Rihanna or Britney, but their moves don’t hold a candle to those of Sasha Fierce.) My new friend must have recognized the worry on my face, because she promised me that the class was for dancers and nondancers alike. I wasn’t convinced.
The studio looked like you might expect—smooth wooden floors, white walls, and a mirror stretching the entire length of the room, so that all six of the other attendees could see how rhythmically challenged I am from all angles. Our instructor, Nikki, quickly cued up the music, introduced herself, asked for newcomers to introduce themselves, and then—“Pose!”
Everyone hits the fiercest stance imaginable as the beat dropped on “Crazy in Love.” I go into survival mode and copycat Nikki. She notices. “Pose!” I try to come up with something original, which is just me cocking my hip in the opposite direction. “Pose!” Hands on hips. “Pose!” Hmm…that one’s not bad.
After a deep stretch, we get to the main event: a sassy series of dance moves combined with a high-energy HIIT workout. Basically, it’s the perfect way to get your heart racing and feel like a total boss at the same time. I didn’t realize that shaking your hips like a single lady could result in an effective cardio workout, but Mrs. Carter makes it work.
While you don’t have to be a trained performer to get the most out of this class, I can see where experience could come in handy. The transition from move to move is quick. It definitely took me a minute to get the timing right, or to figure out which arm to lead with (and with everyone facing the mirror, every mistake sticks out like Becky With the Good Hair). But our instructor met each flub with words of encouragement to help get us back on track—which isn’t that hard when “Bootylicious” blasts through the speakers.
And when it came to trying B’s signature moves, Beyoncercise didn’t disappoint. We were flipping hair Destiny’s Child–style, throwing in some “Run the World (Girls)” shoulder shuffles, and don’t think we forgot the iconic head pat. We even paired up for some lighthearted dance battles—my timid thigh thrust was no match for my partner’s booty pop. If you’re looking for sweat and swag, Banana Skirt Productions found a way to fit it in one 45-minute session (hot sauce not included).
Whether you’re part of the Beyhive or not, there’s no denying that Beyoncercise is one of the most energizing ways to start the day. I can finally say “I woke up like this” and actually mean it.
Banana Skirt Productions: Beyoncercise
500/519 Eighth Avenue (between West 35th and 36th Streets), Midtown