Witness The Fitness

Rawckk That Body

Wednesday Dec. 31st, 2014

Bozeman is such an active town. We seem to keep winning awards for it, and everyone here has their workout. If you don’t, you tend to feel left out of all the “I went on the sickest ride today” and “See you at the gym” and “I ran up Blackmore; what did you do this weekend?” conversations. Although our community contains people who use such obscurities as roller-skiing and wake surfing as their fitness routines, not all of our hidden exercise treasures are limited to the outdoors.

This is good news for those of us who like to do more than ski. Hidden in
the underground world of Bozeman’s word-of-mouth world is one of Bozeman’s best-kept secrets: Rawckk That Body, a cardio-dance fitness class held Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 9am at Tanya’s Dance Company. The class offers a completely different kind of workout and access to more endorphins than you thought you had.

Rawckk That Body, LLC was founded and created by Tara Heinrich, who goes by the whimsical handle “Trawckk” (pronounced “TEE-rock”). Tara is a native Montanan who has spent her life dancing, choreographing, and competing. Her class is a welcoming, high-energy cardio workout that incorporates toning into an hour of hip-hop/funk-inspired dance, while being led (and therefore also entertained) by Trawckk.

Tara grew up dancing in eastern Montana, taking ballet, jazz, clogging, tap, pointe, and hip-hop. She began performing and competing at a young age, and has been recognized for outstanding routines over the years. She has received excellence, high-score, and entertainment awards, as well as judge’s choice awards for both tap and hip-hop. She went on to work as a dance instructor at The Dance Factory in Billings from 2002 to 2006, then began teaching at Tanya’s Dance Company in Bozeman, working with children ages 7 through 18. Over the years Tara has collaborated and performed with various local dance troupes, including Caravan of Dreams, Montana Ballet’s Nutcracker, and Venture Theatre’s production of Grease in Billings. Tara often volunteers as a guest hip-hop instructor at workshops and schools as well.

Her Rawckk That Body (RTB) class originated as a class called “Dance Grooves” in the fall of 2008, when Tara was teaching at a local fitness club. She became a licensed Zumba instructor in January of 2009 and was assigned a Zumba class. The class slowly took off as more and more people experienced Tara’s own blend of motivational, creative, and contagious energy. In time Tara found that she had choreography ideas beyond the prescribed Zumba moves (Zumba is a trademarked product owned by Zumba Fitness, LLC, and does not allow for instructor creativity). Feeling limited and losing interest in the medium herself, Tara let her Zumba license expire in 2011.

Her class continued under a different name for the next two years, and during this time under her choreography, the appeal of Tara’s talents became apparent. The class exploded and had to be relocated to a much larger space in the facility, sometimes with upwards of 80 attendees. Routines became more complex and original, and Tara’s mantra, “This is a judge-free zone; it doesn’t matter what you look like – just have fun” continued to reinforce that everyone is welcome. And everyone was attending; people from ages 16 to 75 and everything in between took and continue to take her class.

Now teaching Rawckk That Body independently at Tanya’s Dance Company, Tara is free to choreograph even better workouts. RTB uses lunges, squats, jumping jacks, and other toning features within and around exuberant, upbeat dance routines. There are always modifications for those who can’t or choose not to do the more challenging moves; as Tara puts it, “you don’t have to be a dancer to benefit from my class – you just have to like moving and music. I try to keep it simple enough for those with two left feet.”

Part of what Tara does is comedic; she is a warm and natural performer, and has a gift for distracting with humor and teaching at the same time. Even the most shy and supposedly uncoordinated students are drawn in and pumped up by the immersive experience of an RTB class. Tara maintains that her success is due to creating “a fun, safe, creative environment where individuality and uniqueness is encouraged while being active, getting or staying healthy, and doing something positive for yourself.”

Tara takes her inspirations from many places – as a child of the 80s, she was greatly influenced by Michael Jackson’s dancing, as well as Madonna, Janet Jackson, and Paula Abdul. Her own sister, dance instructors, and co-workers have also inspired her over the years, and she continues to take ideas away from all the workshops she attends, both locally and nationally. “The kids I get to teach are the biggest inspiration of all,” says Tara. “They are so talented, and they bring me back to how I got my own start.”

It’s rather surprising to find that we have such a sophisticated hip-hop choreographer and dancer here in our little Bozeman, but fortunately there is a growing niche of fitness enthusiasts who enjoy letting go and being silly and sexy while also working out. The cult following of people who heed Trawckk’s words to take pride in your body and embrace self-expression is comprised of those who love working out, but more importantly, of those who also appreciate being led by someone so inspiring, fit, and artistic, while being sassy, uninhibited, sensual, and funny.

“If I can make people happy for just one hour, then I’ve done my job,” says Tara. “Part of what I do is encourage, and if that helps to jumpstart someone’s weight loss and/or overcome their fear of fitness, then I’m successful. This is a very fit community; yet, I still have to dupe people into working out. I want this to be a safe, unintimidating, nonconformist environment. We can’t take ourselves too seriously!”

For more information including class times, locations, details, rates, etc visit  http://rawckkthatbody.yolasite.com/ or visit https://www.youtube.com/user/TRawckk/about. Email rawckkthatbody@yolasite.com    

Katie Thomas is a local freelance writer, editor, and poet. She is a guest contributor to Explore Big Sky with a double Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and English (katiethomas5@gmail.com)