How to Do the Worm

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How to Do the Worm

This essay, by Camille Gonzales, 18, from Houston, is one of the Top 11 winners of The Learning Network’s new “How To” Informational Writing Contest for Teenagers.

We are publishing the work of all the winners over the next several days, and you can find them here as they post.

Each essay is illustrated by an image or video from a Times article that touches on the same topic. For this one we have used a 2018 video from the “Anatomy of a Scene” series. Watch the whole thing, or just start at 2:48!


“Really, it’s becoming one with the environment — understanding the perspective of the environment surrounding your body,” says Astrid Allen, 17, a zoo employee and physics-loving student who has been teaching people how to worm since she was four. At work, Astrid feeds the reptiles their evening worms. Astrid is a wormer extraordinaire. The worm, to Astrid, is a silly demonstration of physics for any festive event. “It’s actually awesome to hear the excitement in people’s voices when I do it.” When the floor opens up at a wedding, a house party, Easter Sunday, you have the worm to back you up.

Start by getting into a push-up-like position on the floor. Legs together, arms bent and shoulder-width apart, chest pressed to the ground. For a beginner, get on softer grounds like carpeted floors or fluffy yoga mats. Then, push up and forward with your upper body. “Doing the worm requires some upper body strength and will. You can do it as long as you focus.” Your chest will naturally fall back down with gravity. Catch yourself, keep your hands below you. Simultaneously — and this is where the focus begins — as your chest falls, kick your feet off the ground. Your legs should fly into the air. “Relate this motion to that physics law: Equal and opposite reactions.” If you repeat this, you’ll be inching around like a pro.

Do not wear necklaces as you worm. You could chip your tooth. If you’re not careful to catch yourself, you run the risk of injuring your chin. The key to successfully worming is picturing what you want to look like as you move. Imagine yourself making that flowy, rocking motion. “You’ve got to imagine yourself as a Viking ship.”

Astrid learned how to catch ducks when she was two, which for her, began her ever-evolving connection with the environment. “What does worming show about human nature? We have a need to mimic that which inspires us.” In times like these, where the world is not right, a good lighthearted mood booster is always welcome. It’s impossible to watch someone do the worm and not get happy. That person becomes a symbol of joy. Any time I see it, I feel challenged to do it, too. Soon enough, that’ll be me.