Whine your way to fitness

Soca fitness: Wukkout is a soca-based fitness class, designed to improve dance and burn calories.
Zahra Siddiqui

Soca whine during your fitness time.

Dance fitness class Wukkout is a soca music-based dance class giving participants a chance to dance to the upbeat genre and break a sweat.

Designed to make you dance, it is mostly a full body non-stop workout that also offers you the feel of Caribbean carnival for those who cannot readily experience it, or have not been to one in a long time, said Wukkout founder Krista Martins.

“It’s a high intensity workout that’s also supposed to make you feel like you’re at carnival and for people who never been and want to know what culture is,” said Martins.

And with carnival season coming up next month, those who can’t make the trip can enjoy the wanderlust at a Wukkout class.

“They can come to class and get a taste of it, and even for people who haven’t been able to go in a few years. It’s not the same but they can come to class and it make it easier to be away from that because you’ll get that feeling.”

Martins, a professional dancer originally from Toronto and of Guyanese descent, comes from a background of dance. Moving to New York 16 years ago she continued her dance career here and taught fusion dance courses, including ballet, hip-hop, and street jazz. She also choreographed dances for special occasions and events. But as a self-proclaimed lover of soca she officially launched Wukkout in 2013 hoping to introduce a soca fitness workout to a larger audience.

Wukkout is a one-hour class that focuses on high-impact exercising while incorporating waist-emphasized movements, better known to many in the Caribbean as whining. Martins says she enjoys introducing this aspect of her class to her non-Caribbean students because they learn more about their bodies and gain other benefits aside from cardio.

“When you’re doing whining — that’s a hip rotation and many people in their day to day lives, don’t move that area,” she said. “So we’re working an area that should be moved to increase that range of motion and flexibility.”

Along with those benefits, the class also helps to burn calories, increase endurance, and coordination, she said. During her class, students are given the opportunity to learn new dances and hear the latest soca tracks, but also self-express, said Martins.

“We start off with a warm up and move non-stop. And similar to other dance fitness classes, we go through song by song and do a different routine for each song,” she said. “It’s a follow format and we also do a lot of freestyling. I don’t want you to necessarily do everything I’m doing — the music is on do your thing.”

Somewhat similar to other dance fitness classes, like commonly-known Zumba, Wukkout differs mostly in the movements, the music, and the encouragement of group interaction. The majority of Martins’ students are adult women, but Wukkout is an all-inclusive dance fitness course that can be modified depending on individual ability, and something that men and women of all ages can take, said Martins. But most importantly she is proud of the gains she has seen in her students.

“It’s designed for anyone and everyone can come along,” said Martins. “The more you do it, the more you become more comfortable with the class. There are a lot of health benefits and it’s going to improve your endurance tremendously. I’ve seen people begin with knee braces who couldn’t jump, but now the knee braces are gone and they’re flying in class.”

The positive testimonies her students approach her with, allow her to see that her class is more than fitness, and beneficial to all aspects of health.

“I had a lot of people tell me that this class in addition to the physical benefits, has given them many mental and emotional benefits,” she said. “People have thanked me for having a space they can come to and let go even for one hour.”

Martins said in the last two of the four years since launching her fitness dream, Wukkout has really taken off in the city, and continues to grow.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.
Wukking it: Krista Martins, right, leads a class of her students during a Wukkout fitness class.
Zahra Siddiqui

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