Torch 1,000 Calories in Wynwood With This Former Miami Heat Dancer

Vixen Studio has it down to a science: leggings, flannel and lipstick

 

First rule of Vixen: You do not talk about Vixen. Not when you can Instagram about it at a glam bar with selfie-optimal lighting.

And at the new Vixen Studio in Miami, that’s only expected. The successful hip-hop dance fitness class founded by former Miami Heat dancer Janet Jones recently opened its first 3,000-square-foot permanent studio in Wynwood, not far from where the Vixen workout founder got her start.

“I was a dancer. Then, I got into choreography and production, which led me to become a talent agent for dancers,” Jones told the Observer. “My first agency was called Jones Talent and it was located on 36th street and North Miami Avenue back in 2006. So, I’ve always loved [the Wynwood] area. I love the energy here. It’s like coming full circle, opening a studio here.”

And for the legions of women who count themselves as part of the “Vixen Army,” that means the chance to channel their inner Rihanna or Beyoncé, seven days a week. The new studio features a retail space where merchandise is displayed on concert tour crate cases, a pre- and post-workout lounge and a larger-than-life vanity accompanied by director’s chairs for make-up touch ups before the class begins. But the main attraction is the space’s “Center Stage.” Dancers file in beneath a large marquee box into a dance studio that recreates a live-stage experience through an hour-long sweat session featuring concert lights, loud hip hop and sexy choreography—with moves like the “kitten pose” and plenty of body rolls. Each class torches between 400-600 calories for new dancers, and up to 1,000 calories for the veterans.

“Up to now, we’ve been operating via pop-up. We’ve never had the opportunity to really provide a true Vixen workout experience, which was always to give the public a sense of what it feels like to be up on stage,” Jones said. “So, if you notice, the studio looks like you’re on stage. This is actual stage flooring.”

But the uniform found in pop-up classes all around the country remains the same. And the women of the Vixen Army have it down to a science: black leggings, flannel shirt wrapped around the waist, lipstick and wedge sneakers, if they’re feeling up to the challenge. This uniform is part of the Vixen persona—one that’s found itself as voice for women’s empowerment.

“What inspired the whole workout, was not only my dance experience, but my leaving it behind. In doing that, I came to realize what most women go through. It’s that 9 to 5 grind being repeated over and over again. Life just becomes an autopilot experience,” said Jones. “And that had never happened to me before, because my life had been on the stage—it was always those moments of being the most alive ever, over and over again. I then realized that most woman had never even experienced that ‘alive’ feeling. Because they’re so tied up in their routine, they don’t even get the opportunity to discover who they are on the inside.”

“Dance forces you to do that. You don’t have time to think,” Jones continued. “It’s a black room, the lights are off and you have no other choice than to connect with yourself and what the music makes you feel. And that feeling, if you take it outside of the studio, makes you start asking questions about your life. And that changes people.”

As for the future of Vixen, Jones has her sights set on another flagship location in Manhattan, with the possibility of expansion to the West Coast. “We have over 150 certified instructors that are all over the United States, Canada and the Dominican Republic,” said Ms. Jones. “I’d like to have those flagships—places where our certified instructors can come in and know what they’re supposed to replicate. But for now, I’m happy to continue focusing on expanding the certified instructor program as much as I can.”

Jackie Gutierrez-Jones is a freelance editor and writer who covers lifestyle, travel and parenting. She’s contributed her local expertise and copy to UrbanDaddy, Time Out, Mommy Nearest, Vivala, Eater Miami Citizine.tv, Whole Foods Market and the Frost Museum of Science. Follow her on Twitter at @jaxiscool.

See original article here

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Vixen Army: Senior Vanessa Richter introduces empowering workout class to campus

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Tulane+senior+Vanessa+Richter+leads+students+in+a+Vixen+Workout+session+at+Reily+Student+Recreation+Center.+The+class+has+gained+popularity+due+to+its+empowering+message%2C+encouraging+sisterhood+through+intense+hip-hop+dance%2C+call-and-response+affirmation%2C+and%2C+most+importantly%2C+fierceness.

Cadence Neenan, Senior Staff Reporter

The overhead lights dim, the multicolored dance lights flicker across the ceiling and roughly 30 excited girls crowd close to the mirror, stretching and striking a few poses — walking into a Vixen Workout class can be intimidating.

Within moments, however, Vanessa Richter, Vixen Workout instructor and Tulane senior, leads you through a militant call-and-response of self affirmation: “Yes, I’m sexy, yes I’m fierce, yes I got this, yes!”

This femme-fierce attitude is what defines Vixen. Originally inspired by the Miami clubbing scene, Vixen is an “intense hip hop cardio” workout class. Instead of doing squats or crunches, class attendees spend the hour-long class popping, locking and booty dropping.

And now, with the help of Richter, one of the youngest instructors of the “Vixen Army,” Vixen has arrived at the Reily Student Recreation Center.

“At first, it had a little bit of a negative stigma, because it sounds like this sexy workout class, so they didn’t want to approve it at first,” Richter said.

After teaching practice classes for free to friends and friends-of-friends, Richter returned with a petition and her own personal “Vixen Army” to again request that Vixen be featured at Reily.

“It wasn’t until I started teaching and I did my demo class that they could really understand what it was,” Richter said, “How it’s not just sexy dancing, but it’s bringing these women together, and it’s an escape, where you can be this alter-ego or find your true self and let go.”

With the lights down, and the sounds of Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj or Pitbull blaring around you, whatever inhibitions you might have had about an hour-long workout class chock full of hair flipping and sexy strutting are left at the door — that’s the beauty of Vixen. As it says on the Vixen website, “Each workout creates a fun club atmosphere where women can let loose, forget responsibilities and transform into their ‘alter-ego’ or as we say ‘getting your Beyoncé, Ciara, Rihanna on.’”

Richter ensures a space of empowerment by beginning every class reminding everyone that the class is a safe environment.

“I always say it’s a safe space, no judgments, and that is rare, especially in college when a lot of women are going through a hard time,” Richter said, “And a big transition and trying to figure out who you are and what you want in your life, and I think that escape is really special.”

It’s this attitude of female empowerment, of sisterhood and of acceptance that makes Vixen unique. Walking into the class might be intimidating, especially if you haven’t gone before. The routines build in difficulty throughout the semester, so attending for the first time can be confusing, but by the end, you realize everyone is too busy sweating and panting to bother checking anyone else out in the mirror.

“I always say to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and you’ll discover things about yourself that you didn’t even know you could feel or do,” Richter said. “This class is a safe space that we’ve created, with a sisterhood of women.”

See original article HERE

Vixen Workout Founder Janet Jones to Open Wynwood Studio

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Janet Jones shows off Vixen Workout’s newest studio in Wynwood.
Courtesy of Vixen Workout

Janet Jones wants you to shake things up — and not just your booty. The founder of Vixen Workout, a hip-hop-inspired dance-fitness program, is opening a new studio May 1 in Wynwood after a five-year journey of rediscovering herself.

“All of us, as women, go through the same thing,” she says, “growing up with mixed messages about what we’re supposed to be.”

Jones began her rich and varied life as a dancer in classical ballet and explored many forms of movement, including martial arts. She earned a BFA, performed with the Miami Heat Dancers, and worked in Los Angeles with celebrity choreographers in the entertainment industry. She honed her knack for stage production while dancing on major artists’ tours and TV network shows.

Once she returned to Miami, the business-savvy Jones opened a talent agency for dancers. It all looked good. But the agency took a hit in 2008 during the Great Recession. So she settled into a more traditional life: marriage, motherhood, and a job in corporate America.

“I stopped listening to my heart and was trying to fit into a mold,” she says. “I thought that would be my happily ever after. I thought all of that would make me an adult. But it was the death of my spirit.”

The 9-to-5 grind drove her into depression. “Most women never discover what it’s like to be alive,” she says. “We go to work. We serve everyone else. We put ourselves last.

“You can read dozens of books and attend dozens of seminars on empowerment,” she adds. “But you are still in a battle with everything you’ve heard and seen through society’s messaging.”

Vixen Workout founder Janet Jones.

Vixen Workout founder Janet Jones.
David Alvarez Trick Productions

The year Vixen Workout was born, Jones had no idea her heart’s calling would come back so strongly. It all began innocently enough and perhaps a bit un-Vixen like: She simply added a Monday-night fitness class for moms at a dance studio for kids she opened in 2012.

Business picked up. By 2013, she had so many women signing up for the hip-hop-inspired cardio routines that she moved classes to a larger space in Coconut Grove. By then, more than 100 members of the Vixen Army — as loyal fans are called — were consistently lining up for each class of the workout that helps women get their “Beyoncé, Ciara, and Rihanna on” while reclaiming their self-confidence.

“Vixen is such a powerful force in the empowerment of women because it forces you to mute decades of negative messaging that we all carry in our heads,” she says.

That same year, Jones opened pop-ups in Manhattan. By 2015, she had created a certification program for the signature workout. Today 120 certified instructors and counting teach Vixen Workout across the United States, Canada, and the Dominican Republic.

On May 1, Jones will open the first stand-alone Vixen Workout studio in Wynwood. She has no regrets about having to start all over again. Her passion for dance has come full circle in a more balanced life.

Dance was the answer, which she hopes will help other women on their own paths. “Dance forces you to disconnect from your consciousness and connect with bodily self and spiritual self,” she explains, “your truest self.”

Jones has since remarried and is raising her daughter, now 7, who started dancing a year ago. “Vixen isn’t a children’s dance class, but she asks to come to work with me because she loves to see everyone dance,” she says of her daughter.

The majority of Miami’s Vixen Army, who are encouraged to vamp up their workout looks with “red lipstick and hair done like they’re performing in their own concert,” range in age from their 20s to 30s. “But we’ve got college-aged girls,” Jones says, “and recently a woman celebrated her 65th birthday party with Vixen.”

The Vixen Workout is open to all levels. Classes teach easy-to-learn routines with variations inspired by whatever is trending in pop culture. Atmosphere lighting adds a glam vibe to the one-hour fitness practice, which is a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout disguised as choreography. “It’s what makes Vixen so fun,” Jones says. “If there’s a viral dance, we’ll incorporate it. But the fundamentals are the same.”

Jones began her dance career as a little girl wearing a tight ballerina bun, but now she lets her hair — and spirit — flow freely. “You need to take care of yourself first,” she says, “so you can be better prepared to take care of others.”

See original article HERE

This Beyoncé-Inspired Workout Is the Most Fun You’ll Ever Have Doing Cardio

Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation.

                                                   

While Beyoncé’s trainer has let us in on her squat-heavyworkout routine, we know there’s really one thing that’s gotten her that famous body: dancing. Swerving, twerking, and “surfboardt”-ing for hours on stage (and in rehearsal) tones you like nothing else. That’s why hordes of women in Miami and New York are flocking to Vixen Workout, a hip hop dance cardio class inspired by Queen Bey herself.

Vixen was started by Janet Jones, a former Miami Heat dancer who has also performed as a backup dancer for Jennifer Lopez, Usher, and Pitbull. In an hour-long workout designed by Jones, you can burn 400 to 1,000 calories in a class that typically includes a sick soundtrack (Top 40 rap songs, Bey, Rihanna, even Bieber), a dark studio illuminated with black lights, and women wearing full faces of makeup and high heel wedge sneakers. It’s very sexy, very sweaty, and very fun. If you don’t consider yourself a dancer, no worries: The choreo is fairly easy to follow. Here, we have Jones demonstrate five signature Vixen Workout moves and a seven-minute workout that’ll have you wanting to join the #vixenarmy by the end of it.

Jump Squats With Inner-Outer Thigh Sits

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How to do them: Starting with your legs together, jump into a plié squat. Repeat twice. Bring the left knee in, then sit into the squat and repeat with the right knee.

Cross Punches With Pops

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How to do them: In a plié squat, alternate rapid cross-body punches 4 times into 2 alternating booty-pops. (In the booty pops, be sure to contract your abs before and after popping the hips back.)

Hip Swings

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How to do them: In a wide “V” stance, place hands on hips and swing hips from right to left. Alternate arms between on the hips and over the head.

Punch Downs

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How to do them: Twist the torso so your chest is facing the right corner. Bring the chest down to the knee and punch down with both arms. Because you are twisting to the right first, the left arm should be in the front when the right knee is up. Bring the foot back to neutral and the arms up by your chest. Do the same movement to the left. This movement can be done in different patterns (for example: singles/single-single-double/doubles)

Battle Arms With Roundabout

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How to do them: Starting in neutral position, bring the left arm across the body. Bring the right leg out to a bent, wide stance and pull the left arm. Make sure you hit a sharp movement with the elbow. Repeat on the other side. In a wide stance with bent knees, drop the torso in a circular movement twice while keeping the abs engaged. Repeat.

Now that you’ve got some basic moves down, try this 7-minute dance workout:

Vixen Workout hosts classes ($18) in Miami and New York. Sign up here. Wardrobe by Live the Process.
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THE ONE DANCE CARDIO MOVE TO MASTER BEFORE YOUR NEW YEAR’S EVE PARTY

by LISA ELAINE HELD, DECEMBER 29, 2015dance cardio movePIN IT

Your regular workout classes will give you confidence in your LBD (and sparkly jewelry), sure. But they could also help you impress friends—and handsome strangers—on the dance floor this New Year’s Eve.

“This Vixen Workout move called the Chest Pop can save you from an epic fail at a holiday party,” swears Janet Jones, creator of the sexy workout method that women from Florida to New York City love for its let-your-hair-down mentality.

Follow her easy tutorial, below, to master the move before the big night out festivities (and to see it in motion, in addition to two other go-to moves, check out Jones’ Youtube tutorial).

New Year's Eve dance movePIN IT

The Vixen Workout Chest Pop

1. Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart, abs tight, and your shoulders a little slouched.

2. Turn your torso to the right and pop your chest by sticking your rib cage out (feels like you’re arching your back and hiccuping) in a quick movement.

4. Bring your torso back center by contracting your abs.

5. Repeat to the left.

6. Move side to side, and add in double pops for variation.

Intimidated by dance cardio? Check out these tips to master your first class (even if you’re rhythmically challenged).

See original article HERE

VIXEN WORKOUT IS CREATING AN ARMY OF DANCE CARDIO DIVAS

 

BY LISA ELAINE HELD, MAY 3, 2015Vixen WorkoutIn an average fitness class, running shoes and ponytails are standard. To work out in the Vixen Army, recruits wear wedge sneakers (they’re recommended in the What To Wear section on the website along with a favorite lipstick) and let their hair down.

Members of the New York City regiment are packed into an old dance studio near Penn Station, practically on top of each other, to shake their booties with their Commander in Chief, Janet Jones, 33, who’s visiting from Florida.

“Serve hips for dinner, then add gravy,” she yells to them, swiveling and gyrating, running her hands down from her hair to her torso. The class follows her lead, cheering and screaming out the lyrics to Pitbull and Flo Rida songs as the air in the room fills with heat and humidity, the mirrors fogging, shirts flying off. (Wait, are we in Florida?)

Welcome to the Vixen Workout, the dance cardio phenomenon that’s the opposite of your mom’s Zumbaclass. Jones brings together women of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds, and inspires them to let go—and get sweaty, sexy, loud, and off-script in a way that is unheard of in the average uber-choreographed dance workout.

Launched in 2012, Vixen started in Miami (the city is good at inspiring dance cardio workouts) and now has close to 40 classes per week across South Florida— from Boca Raton to West Palm Beach—plus packed daily classes in New York City (where they’re a budget-friendly $18). It launched in Chicago recently, too, and in August, Jones will launch an official teacher certification program “so we can go nationwide pretty quickly,” she says.

Vixen Workout

Becoming Vixen

Jones didn’t always have such a specific direction. She started her career as a professional dancer and choreographer, and worked as a Miami Heat dancer. But as she watched all her friends climb the corporate ladder, she started feeling like her creative choices were irresponsible. So she got a job in finance.

“When I was put into the nine-to-five, and that was my whole life, I felt that I was a failure as a woman because that did not make me happy at all,” she says.

After she was laid off, she went back to dancing and opened a dance studio for children. Her light-bulb moment came during a night out at a club with girlfriends.

“No one was able to be themselves or let loose. We all knew the words to a Rick Ross song, but no one wanted to dance or sing. We were so concerned with what other people were seeing,” she says. “ I realized, ‘These are my friends and they have no idea what it’s like to experience themselves as divas.’”

Janet Jones.VixenWorkout.DavidAlvarezPhotography_1

Creating Divas

She set out to change that, teaching her first class in Miami to a cousin and friend and gradually growing her following until a line of eager women would form outside of the gym she taught at, prompting employees to compare the crowd to an army. “It just took,” she says.

And while the class is definitely a cardio-packed workout that will leave you drenched in sweat (much more so once you’ve mastered the moves), it’s the let-loose mentality and the sense of being part of something that seems to lend the brand its magic.

“You are not what you are in the real world. You’re not a mom, you’re not a lawyer, you’re just you,” Jones says. “I want you to just completely lose yourself for a second.” She makes that possible by carefully selecting instructors and crafting an environment that feels safe and supportive. And incredibly fun.

“It’s important to give women a place to belong. It’s not just a fitness class. You come here and you’re a part of something,” she says. Lots of brands say that, but in my Vixen class, acceptance and empowerment hung in the damp air around us in an unparalleled way, especially compared to boutique studios where loyal customers are gunning for the best spot, and the most attention.

For example, a regular told me she sometimes gets so into the dance moves she doesn’t even realize she’s improvising and really going for it. Once, when that happened, the woman next to her looked at her with pure joy and yelled, “Yeah, bitch!” —Lisa Elaine Held

For more information, visit www.vixenworkout.com

(Photo credits: Bob Metelus, Jess Moore, David Alvarez)

See original article HERE

Twerking Their Way to a Sweaty Workout Nirvana

As green and red strobes flashed around a darkened Midtown studio, some 75 women, many in animal-print Lycra capri pants and wedge-heeled sneakers, scrambled for lipstick touch-ups, then took their places for their exercise class warm-up.

“Now you’re going to give me a hair flip,” yelled Janet Jones, a classically trained ballerina and former Miami Heat dancer. “And ooh, hair flip. Ooh, hair flip.”

The women obeyed, repeating the words like an incantation while tossing their hair as (there is no other word for it) aerobically as possible. Ms. Jones, 32, segued to a “kitten pose” (rear end out, one leg bent), followed by a hip-swiveling, backside-shaking maneuver she called “ay papi, el papi.” Then she led the group in affirmations: “Damn, I look sexy for a Monday night,” four times, crescendo. Members of the Vixen Army, as Ms. Jones calls disciples of her Vixen workout, were ready to twerk.

To a soundtrack that was about two-thirds Beyoncé, one-third unprintable except for indefinite articles and conjunctions (and to which nearly everyone knew the words), the group performed suggestive dance moves that Ms. Jones has given equally suggestive titles, like “booty call,” “milkshake” and “ridin’ round and gettin’ it.”

Ms. Jones refers to this as “me taking urban hip-hop and Justin Biebering it,” but it’s also practical because the names make the moves easier to teach. There is some giggling when Ms. Jones or her instructors say things like “give me eight ‘ridin’ round and gettin’ its’ into 10 ‘milkshakes’ into five ‘booty calls,’ ” but mostly, there is just sweating. Hair flipping may not spike the heart rate much, but dropping it low certainly does.

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Janet Jones, 32, created the dance routine in October 2012. CreditBarbara P. Fernandez for The New York Times

“We want you to get dolled up to sweat it all off,” reads the “vixen etiquette” on the website. Ms. Jones said her experience as a Heat dancer taught her that she moved differently when she thought she looked good.

Stephanie Muñoz, 27, said she used to ridicule women at the gym with makeup, but that her Vixen workout prep includes a manicure and her favorite Nars red lizard lipstick, a siren red. (She draws the line at getting a blowout.)

“It’s like a religious experience,” said Ms. Muñoz, of Astoria, Queens. “You start to feel better about yourself getting ready, and then you do the workout and you feel like a million bucks.”

Carla Acosta-Medina, 30, came to the $15 Midtown class with two friends who were intrigued by the workout when they spotted pictures of it on Instagram.

“You get to sing and dance and feel sexy,” said Ms. Medina, who lives in the Bronx and has a 14-month-old daughter. “You feel like you’re onstage performing with Beyoncé. When does a mom get to feel like that?”

If it seemed as if it was only a matter of time before someone turned twerking into a workout, well, Ms. Jones was regularly selling out classes of 125 people before Miley Cyrus’s performance at the Video Music Awards in August. The Vixen workout already had spread throughout South Florida almost entirely thanks to Instagram — sweaty selfies, often in kitten pose, practically are a part of the cool down, and have been since the very first class, attended only by Ms. Jones’s cousin and her best friend.

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Ms. Jones encourages women to attend with makeup on, hair down and sneaker wedges.CreditBarbara P. Fernandez for The New York Times

“You only take a selfie when you’re feeling hot,” Ms. Jones said.

Post-Ms. Cyrus, Ms. Jones’s army began hashtagging their pictures with “twerk” or “twerkout” and labeling photos “getting my Miley Cyrus on,” and the workout caught fire. Last fall, classes began in Manhattan, Harlem and Astoria. Ms. Jones recently flew to Los Angeles to hire instructors; classes will begin there in April.

What makes Ms. Jones’s workout different from other of-the-moment dance cardio classes is that her moves are raunchier than the rest — moves most women older than 25 no longer feel comfortable doing in a nightclub, if they ever did. That’s because the workout was inspired by an episode at the Arkadia nightclub (now closed) in Miami, when a song Ms. Jones and her girlfriends loved came on, but the group grooved about as enthusiastically as junior-high boys forced to attend a school dance.

“It’s like you have your public persona of being a V.P. of a company, being a mom, and even in a nightclub you can’t let loose,” Ms. Jones said. “And I just thought, well, when can you let loose?” She added the affirmations because at the time, Ms. Jones was slowly emerging from what she called “my blackout period, when I was invisible,” when she lost her job as an administrative assistant and was unhappy in her marriage.

Unlike many boutique gyms, which focus on hiring hot instructors with genetically blessed physiques, Ms. Jones chooses approachable women who are “not the best dancers out there,” to make them relatable. Students are more likely to be singled out and told they look beautiful than corrected on form. In fact, there are no corrections, because “you can’t feel the music wrong,” Ms. Jones said.

Michelle Schloemer, 24, of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, learned of the workout when a blogger she follows on Instagram gave it the thumbs up.

“Some workouts, like maybe a yoga class, you feel overshadowed by all these smaller women, but not here,” Ms. Schloemer said after Monday’s class. She checked her heart rate monitor: She had burned 40 percent more calories than she does on the elliptical machine, she said.

She ran over to join the class picture, everyone making a V with the first two fingers of their right hand. Ms. Jones surveyed her students and yelled: “I want to see every sex bomb,” before taking her place in front. After a couple of takes, the group splintered into twos and threes, the women throwing their hair back as they snapped photos and posted them on Instagram. This army is always recruiting.

See original article here