Twerk it: Ignite Movement Studio in Morro Bay offers 'Booty School' class
BY RYAH COOLEY
Shawna Marie wants women to be comfortable using what their mama gave them.
The owner of Ignite Movement Studio in Morro Bay, life coach, and singer for local band Captain Nasty is sending a wave of body positivity through San Luis Obispo County, one twerk and booty pop at a time. In January, Shawna Marie launched Ignite Booty School, a six-week dance fitness program that culminates in a performance.
"For me it really got me connected with my body," she said. "I grew up having body issues, not unlike most women."
The 30-something-year-old grew up active and did gymnastics as a child and surfed while attending college in Hawaii. But Shawna Marie didn't get into singing and dance until her late 20s.
"When I decided to pursue singing it unlocked this creative energy that I didn't even identify with," she said. "Before I was like, 'I'm not a creative person.' Which is so silly because everyone is creative."
Shawna Marie's first dance love was Shakti Flow, a fluid, feminine combination of yoga, dance, and fitness. Eventually that experience inspired her to create Booty School.
"I was really drawn to all the primal movements," she said. "I liked all the booty shaking, all of the aggressive and sensual movements that come from focusing on the hips and core. When I started feeling myself and really expressing myself through movement it totally just connected me even more. I fell in love with my body, this beautiful instrument that we have to experience life with."
Shawna Marie wants to help unleash that inner creativity within other women through Booty School. The first half of class focuses on fitness and toning the glutes, thighs, and core. The second half is dedicated to choreography and learning dance techniques like twerking and booty popping. And yes, Booty School might just be the secret to getting a thicc behind.
"The booty sculpting is a key ingredient," she said. "It's important not just for the dance techniques we do, but just for posture and health."
Shawna Marie said most of the class participants are women in their mid-30s, though a few girls in their late teens and women in their 50s round out the class as well. While attendees may start out feeling uncertain about dropping it like it's hot while donning baggy clothes and avoiding the studio's mirrors, Shawna Marie said that eventually an inner transformation leads to a visible difference.
"By the second or third class they're coming in with a sexier outfit or they're getting hot and just working out in their sports bra," she said. "Women literally walk in taller than when they first started."
The class is open to men as well, but Shawna Marie said that so far only one male participant has attended Booty School.
"Men are invited as long as nobody is being made uncomfortable and they just want to come and move," Shawna Marie said.
In the past, Booty School classes have wrapped with performances at SLOQueerdos' drag shows or at halftime at a local roller derby match. The current Booty School class will perform at a '90s hip-hop dance party at The Siren in Morro Bay on Aug. 22. In the future, Shawna Marie hopes to have a dance troupe that performance bootylicious moves on the regular. Even if you didn't grow up dancing, Shawna Marie still thinks Booty School is worth a shot.
"It's not too late; the universe is there to help you out when you decide," she said. Δ
Arts Editor Ryah Cooley's two pit bulls have mastered the butt wiggle. Contact her firstname.lastname@example.org.