UI Rec Center’s ‘WERQ’ workout classes are high-energy, community-driven

The University of Iowa’s ‘WERQ’ workout classes at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center include cardio exercises and dancing to pop and hip-hop music. High-energy moves and a sense of community make the class fun for everyone involved.


Emily Nyebrg

Iowa student Isabelle Bennett leads a WERQ fitness class at the Campus Recreations and Wellness Center on Tuesday, March 21, 2023.

Grace Westergaard, Arts Reporter

A room at the University of Iowa’s Campus Recreation and Wellness Center is packed full of people of all ages twice a week for a WERQ workout class. The room bursts with energy as the music begins.

WERQ is a cardio-based dance workout known for its use of pop and hip-hop music. Songs from artists like Beyoncé, Megan Thee Stallion, Coi Leray, and Miley Cyrus are frequently played during these classes.

The warm-up took place first. Beyoncé’s “Cuff It” was paired with the routine, making for an exciting and powerful start to the class. Isabelle Bennett, the instructor, demonstrated and explained each movement before the participants copied her. Movements could be modified for all ages, and anyone with access to the recreation center can participate in the class.

WERQ classes recently resumed fully in-person. Bennett said that in 2020, students could attend in-person with masks by the end of the fall semester.

“They offered a lot of virtual options and still offered it virtual while it was back in person,” Bennett said.

Bennett is a fourth-year student at the UI majoring in human physiology and will start physical training school at the UI this summer. She said she began teaching WERQ classes in the summer of 2022.

“I started teaching WERQ because two of my favorite instructors, Catie and Rachel, were leaving the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center, so I decided to get certified and start teaching my own classes,” Bennett said.

Bennett teaches WERQ every Tuesday and Thursday at the CRWC, but her class isn’t the only one. On the UI’s Rec Serv app, prospective participants can see the week’s group fitness schedule and the different instructors teaching WERQ classes. 

Students danced, jumped, and squatted alongside one another and Bennett for the following hour. Some songs included partner sections; this provided a fun chance for anyone to dance with their friend or meet someone new. Similarly, formation changes were added as participants jumped into lines and danced in unison.

Everybody could sing along when Coi Leray’s “Players” queued, as most who use TikTok know of its recent popularity. Some students are regulars in the classes and participate frequently enough to know some of the songs and dances by heart.

The community aspect felt strong in the room, with attendees smiling and dancing alongside one another. The energy was electric; dancing to all these songs in a room full of people felt empowering.

“My favorite part about teaching WERQ is getting to know the regulars and watching their confidence grow,” Bennet said. “I love that we have made a community of amazing people who make WERQ a fun experience for all.”

The class ended with a cool-down session full of stretching set to Miley Cyrus’ “Flowers,” making for a calming end to an energizing workout.

The community bond felt apparent even after attending just a single class. The enjoyment of classmates brought an exhilarating energy to the room. WERQ is a fun experience for all and would be a great fit for anyone in need of a new, exciting workout to add to their routine.