Sonya’s #Transformationtuesday

Transformation- Sonya

Truly, more than any external transformation, I’ve evolved with an internal transformation because of Vixen. I’m always a jolly person cracking jokes and enjoying life, but I remember there was a time, where there were so many problems I was facing in my personal life, that I’d just drive and wait like 7 hours in the parking lot of body & soul because I had nowhere else to go. I’d literally just wait in my car waiting for Vixen to start. To go from that wait-time of contemplation, crying, and confusion to suddenly walk into a class full of just being able to let it all go and release it through movement, through bumping music loud enough to feel vibrations in my body made me feel alive again.. made me feel like nothing else mattered. That I was here at this moment and it was healing. Vixen has become my method of meditation cuz it’s the only time where I can easily disconnect and be so live and present that it leaves me refreshed and just so happy and like a badass afterwards lol.

More than anything, the reassurance that hey, life will throw curveballs but to be at your optimal state to handle those things, you NEED to absolutely take care of you, and that this is your outlet was like… FINALLY! I am my most authentic self in class because it’s not about just putting in werk lol, it’s about letting loose and going so HAM in a judgement free zone that you sweat all that stress out. And because of that acceptance of myself, I bring that authenticity more and more outside those body & soul walls and really just try to live it IN my body and soul. Ever since I started these classes, Vixen has consistently been in my top 3 things to be grateful for in life.

That last dance where we end with that Rihanna song usually puts me on the brink of tears, because the words in that song come to life at the moment and just mean so real. It puts you in the moment of look… we conquered another challenging workout and we ended with sweat and smiles on our faces. It’s a reminder that you can conquer anything but to do it with swag and your invisible crown because we are all queens and that’s all that truly matters in life.

Thank you for Vixen. It means so much more to me than I could ever express.

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with love,
Sonya ❤

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The road to Vixen

This week, we posted a Transformation Tuesday post on Instagram encouraging our #vixenarmy to share their weight-loss stories.  Reading through all of them has simply brought me to tears.  It is so incredibly humbling to see that the purpose of why Vixen was created is being served.  I happen to share a few of the instagram posts with my friend Robin (who’s also an avid #vixenarmy member and publicist)  and her response was a simple “Doesn’t this make it all worth it?”….Hell Yeah it is.

Along with the many blessings of entrepreneurship comes many struggles, stresses, and many sleepless nights.  Add motherhood to that, and the guilt that comes with being  a working mom with a very consuming career.  Mix in the pressure of putting on a hell of a performance every night for hundreds of women regardless of exhaustion or anything that is going on in life, because I completely understand how hard it is for these women to leave their lives to come to Vixen in search of some solace.  That is bigger than anything I can ever be going through.  I am sure I speak for myself and every other Vixen instructor… Hell yeah, it’s worth it.

My first Vixen Class was taught October 2012.  I had no idea that this day would change my life forever.  In order to understand what Vixen is, it’s important to understand the road that got me there.  How in my complete self-destruction, I gave birth to myself and to something much greater than me.  How losing my way put me on the road to Vixen.

Early Life

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I started dancing at the age of 3.  I was painfully shy as a child, so much so that my teachers on several occasions asked my parents if I was mute because they had never heard me speak.  I remember life in general to be absolutely terrifying, but for some reason I never felt that way when I danced.  I was able to completely focus on the task at hand and completely lose myself in the beautiful melody of the piano.  I was lost in my own world of movement and music and I felt safe… i felt brave…

Fast forward to my first year of high school, that’s when dance took a whole new meaning for me.  My father was a terrible diabetic and became very ill.  My mom became the sole breadwinner so my little brother and I became my father’s caretakers. Due to a gangrene infection caused by diabetes, my father lost his foot.  I was 15 when I learned to clean my first amputated wound.  Those visuals still haunt me.  After the foot, they amputated the lower part of his leg right below his knee….  Then went the other foot.  Then it went piece by piece until my father had to have both legs amputated above the knee.  Seeing the wounds of a double amputation is awful, having to clean them is even worse.  To this day, I get chills remembering my father’s screams from the phantom pain, which is severe pain coming from limbs that are no longer there.

My mom did such a great job of keeping it together. I remember her waking up every morning at 4:30am to cook the meals for the day, clean, prepare everything my father would need then head off to her 12 hr work day.  She never made it seem like there was anything wrong with our family.  It just was what it was, and we had to do what we had to do.  Seeing her seem unbreakable made me feel like I had to be just as strong.  I felt like I couldn’t give in to any of the storms of emotions I had inside of me, so I quickly learned how to not to feel.

As you can imagine, I hated being home so I would spend endless hours in the dance studio.  All the things I learned to numb outside of the studio, I would feel so deeply in the music I danced to.  When I danced I was able to channel the emotions inside of me and make them beautiful.  When I danced, the strength I was so wildly faking at home felt real.  I never danced because I wanted anything out of it, I danced because I needed to lose myself… it retrospect it was to save myself.

My father passed when I was 21 on Christmas day, he was 57yrs old.   The experience of caring and loving him molded every part of me and I am forever thankful.

My twenties

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I made a career in dance.  For years I danced, I traveled, I assisted everyone who I could possibly learn from, I choreographed, produced, and taught all over the country.  I became the director of a talent agency and brought great tours and jobs to the city which taught me a lot about business.   I had the respect of large companies and artists in my field… I was living my dream and I was successful.

For anyone whose familiar with the life of a performer, you are a total gypsy with no solid ground to stand on.  It’s exciting, always changing, and addicting.  After many years of living this life and seeing all of my friends settle down into adult life, I started to question everything.  The life that once felt exciting all of the sudden felt very lonely, voided, and irresponsible.  The  voices I had always ignored pressuring me to pursue something practical suddenly became all I can hear.  I started to look at my friends who put their dreams aside to pursue a safe life with envy.  My friends who finished college, got a job in corporate america and married their college sweethearts.  They were safe and I felt that I needed safe .  The mind is a very powerful thing and I convinced myself that every decision I had ever made in pursuit my dreams was absolutely ridiculous.  I convinced myself that my “happily ever after” was going to be found on the same road they were on… Marriage, children, & the security of corporate america.

The Black Hole

This  4yr period of life I call the black hole.  I left everything dance related in pursuit of the safe and the practical. For the first time in my life, I ignored everything my heart had to say and started listened vigorously to society’s roadmap to adulthood: I got married, found a job in finance, and had a baby.

For 4 years I walked in the shoes of my friends and so many other women.  I lived a life of routine based on fulfilling many roles on the day to day.  Not the roles of a dance performance, as I was used to, but the numerous roles a woman needs to play on the daily: The roles of mother, wife, breadwinner, domestic diva.

My daily schedule went a little like this:

6am Got up to tend to the baby  630am Make breakfast for the family and prepare & pack lunches for work 715am Get baby dressed and iron work clothes for husband 8am Drop baby off at care 830am Start work 530pm Rush to pick up baby at care. 645pm Arrive home and prepare dinner for the family 730pm Feed baby 8pm Bathe baby 830pm Put baby down to sleep 9pm clean the house of the mess made by cooking, baby, do laundry 1030pm shower go to bed.

6am.  REPEAT

6am. REPEAT.

6am REPEAT.

This was life.  If you notice on the daily schedule there is no time allocated for me.  I bet a lot of you can relate to that.

Everyday I woke up with a little less of me inside of me.  The light I once had inside of me got dimmer everyday.  Dance was the one thing I had used my entire life to make me feel brave, to make me feel powerful, to help me channel my emotions, and it was no longer there for me… and I was lost.

For the first time in my life I went through a depression.  I remember using the 30 minutes I had for lunch everyday to hide in the bathroom stall and sob.  I remember laying in bed sometimes for days at a time to just cry.  I remember looking in the mirror, and not recognizing the person reflected back at me.  I remember the feeling of invisibility.  For someone who was raised on stages under lights, this feeling of invisibility felt detrimental to my spirit.  I also remember the immense guilt I felt for not finding happiness in this life, as my friends had.

Everyone makes it seem so easy… my mom, my friends…Why do I feel like I’m drowning?

The woman in the floral dress is me.  I never took pictures during this time, so I forgot that I looked like this.  This was mother’s day 2010.  Ava was 8 months old.

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The Turning Point

Summer 2011, I got laid off from my finance job.  My husband at the time was unemployed as well and I was forced to apply for food stamps since he didn’t qualify for unemployment benefits.  I had to go back to the only thing I knew, which was dance and entertainment, in order to provide what I could for my family.  Let’s just say this didn’t sit well with someone who is used to an invisible wife.  As women, we can be natural martyrs.  As mothers,  we will do whatever is best for our children, regardless of our own happiness.  The only thing that could’ve made me leave the life I was in, was the realization that the my daughter’s future was much better if I was alone.  So I grabbed my daughter, filled whatever clothes I can fit in a trash bag, moved us both into my mothers, and started over.

August 2012, I decided to open up a dance studio.  Our opening was in September 2012.  The quick decision to open a business didn’t leave much time to get the word out so I didn’t have a lot of kids to start.  I had an empty time-slot Monday’s at 830pm so I had the bright idea to bring in a fitness class.  I figured that a fitness class would bring adults who’d possibility register their kids.  I had called a few Zumba instructors to teach, but I couldn’t afford their rates.  I was a choreographer, so I knew that I could come up with something… I just didn’t know what.

A girl’s night with some friends provided my “aha” moment.  We were out in a nightclub, looking to let loose and disconnect from life for a couple of hours and we just couldn’t.  I just sat and observed these women who were my friends but also mothers, career-women, who could not disconnect from the roles that they have to play everyday. OH MY GOD.  These are women who their entire adult lives only know the life that put me in a deep depression.  They have no idea what if feels like to be on stage and feel the exhilaration of losing yourself to music.  How do they express themselves?  How do they channel emotions?  They have never experienced themselves as I had, the larger than life person I transformed into on stage.  That was it… that was my moment.  That was the moment that it became my life’s mission to make sure that every woman around me has the opportunity to experience themselves that way.  I needed to share the one thing that got me through any tough moment in my life. The one thing that made me become, if even for a fleeting moment, all of the things I wasn’t brave enough to be in real life.  The one thing that made me feel alive.  I had to figure out a way to make something that only a few get to experience available to the general public.

That Monday, I went to the studio to come up with choreography for this new class of mine.  I knew I wanted to make it easy to follow and that the steps needed to be similar to the choreography I’d use for an artist.  The music needed to by edited the same way music is edited and curated for a concert.  I needed these women to feel like performers.  I turned off the lights in the studio and I turned on a single spotlight that my aunt had found in a garage sale.  For the first time in over 4yrs, with the heat of the spotlight, the darkness of the room, and the bass beating through me as if it was my very own pulse…. I remembered who I was… Vixen was born.

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STAY HUNGRY. LIVE FIERCE.

The Vixen Workout is a culmination of every life experience I’ve ever had.  “Don’t let them steal your light”: Don’t let life take the light that shines so bright inside all of us.  Self abandonment does not make you a better mother, wife, woman.  It does not!  Let your light shine bright and by doing so, light the fire in everyone around you.  That makes you a great woman!

“Selfies”: I encourage selfies in class because for 4yrs I never photographed myself.  I lived invisible.  The feeling of living life feeling “Unseen” completely killed my spirit.  So I want all of you to take pictures of yourselves damn it, and be proud of being a woman. Feel and know that you are beautiful because whether you weigh 500lbs are 100lbs, you are beautiful!

Live life alive! Don’t settle for the safe and always NO MATTER WHAT listen to your heart.  There is nothing more powerful than a room of a hundred women seeking solace, channelling emotion, and losing themselves in movement & dance for an hour.  That is what Vixen is.

Please know that when I see an overweight woman hiding in the back of my class, I see myself in her.  Please know that when I see a woman hide from taking a picture, I see myself in her.  I see myself in all of your struggles and I feel you… I feel all of you.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  Thank you for taking the time to share your stories.  Please understand that only by sharing your stories do you let other women know they’re not alone.  Most of all thank you for your support the last 2.5 years.  We truly are an army of incredible light.  We are the #VIXENARMY.

XO

Janet

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Transformation Tuesday:Letter from Christie Rodriguez

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Dear Vixen Army,

My name is Christie Rodriguez. I have been attending Vixen classes for the last six months. As I sit here and write this, I am amazed at how much my life has changed in what is relatively a short period of time. Last June, I was working at a summer camp and I was asked to review some pictures that we had taken on one of our field trips. As I was sorting through them, I saw something that shocked me to the point that then and there I knew I had to make a change ASAP. That something was a picture of me.  Many people have asked me to post on social media before and after pictures, but to be honest with you, I don’t have very many. I NEVER took pictures of myself, so coming across that picture was like having cold water thrown in my face. There was no denying it anymore. As it so happened, a long time friend of mine had just become a distributor for a weight management company that sold shakes as meal substitutes. I decided that I would try that out.

I felt this would be an easy way to get started because all I had to worry about was lunch and snacks. Alongside this, I also wanted to start exercising. So I started going to the gym and walking. Throughout the course of my life, I had tried it all Yoga, spinning, Zumba…you name it, I tried it. Do not get me wrong, those are all great exercises, but I needed to find what was for me. As I started researching alternatives, I came across posts about the Liv event that Vixen had hosted. I was immediately drawn to it. I had danced all my life when I was younger and the idea of doing that for exercise to the music I loved seemed so perfect.  So I decided to sign up for a class one Monday morning. As that day went by, I became more and more nervous. I had no idea what I was getting into. I came very close to not going but I decided that if I wanted to change my life, I needed to stop being so scared. So that night I went, in a horrific outfit , and not because I don’t have style lol, but because if I wasn’t good at it, I wanted people to think that I didn’t care. To make a long story short, that day was the day my life changed.

I felt like I had found what had been missing and something told me that would help me reach my goals. It was like finding my home. I remember going home that day, and booking two more classes that week. Little by little, I started branching out, becoming a little more confident, wearing lipstick, but it was a gradual process. I had a lot of self-esteem to repair. It didn’t happen overnight. The more classes I went to, the better I felt and the more confident I became.  I started going from two classes a week, to three to four and now I go six days a week, with one day where I do back to back classes.  I started posting pictures of my journey on social media, pictures of myself (selfies!) and I felt empowered. A day that replays on my mind all the time, is one in which midway through class, Janet came to tell me to come stand in the front with her, that she saw me working hard and that SHE was going to help ME. And she has, so much! I will never be able to thank her enough for that.

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Since I started, I have lost 60lbs and 6 dress sizes. It has been by no means easy. The shakes that I was doing helped a great deal but as I continued to educate myself and learn about health, I realized that to see the results that I wanted I had to actually eat more! Who would have thought? So, I decided that I was going to do a three day, juice cleanse. One of the hardest things I have EVER done, but it helped lead the way to clean eating. One of my biggest issues is my stomach/ab area. While reading up on what helps with that, I learned that abs are actually made in the kitchen. Exercise helps of course, but what really does it is the types of foods you eat, things like almonds, oats, spinach, etc. So after my cleanse, I designed a meal plan for myself. The plan consisted of a smoothie in the morning, a protein with brown rice for lunch and protein with greens for dinner. My snacks are things like green apples, almonds and peanut butter. Every Sunday, I cook my food for the week, put it in containers and refrigerate. There are many simple, inexpensive foods that are healthy. The most recent thing I have done is cut out dairy (there is dairy in everything!) but it’s doable and the changes I have seen in my body have been literally from one day to another.  I am by no means an expert, but this has been my journey up to now.  Bottom line is there is no magic cure.

Change takes time. I feel blessed every single day that I found the Vixen workout. I have a long road ahead of me still, but every day that passes, I feel closer to that finish line. The past six months with vixen workout  have been the best I have had in a long time. I have met beautiful, amazing women (Janet, my amazing instructors, my vixen glam squad) who have encouraged me, I have set goals and stuck to them  but most importantly I have found the person I thought I had lost. Thank you for taking time to read my story. Hope to see you in class!

XOXO,

Christie

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aka “@sassy_c_rodz”