“Meet the Woman Behind the Hip-Hop Workout That’ll Unleash Your Inner Vixen”
By Erika T. Butler
Some of us log our miles on the treadmill and others enjoy a high-intensity spin class, but what about a workout that feels like a night out with the girls? That’s just what Janet Jones, the 34-year-old mother, wife, and fitness instructor, created with the Vixen Workout. Born out of her love of dance and a desire to recapture her inner essence during her late-20s, Jones—a professional dancer, choreographer, and producer—launched the hip-hop-based fitness craze that’s spreading across the country. We sat down with Jones to discuss her thoughts on dance, a healthy lifestyle, FitBox, and why a tube of red lipstick is all you really need to unleash your inner vixen.
FB: Have you always been involved in the fitness industry?
JJ: No, not at all. I was born and raised in Miami, but my father was Cuban and my mother is Dominican, and I've always danced. I started off in classical ballet and my mom would send me to the Dominican Republic for about four months out of the year to train. I wanted to be a classical ballerina, but as I got older, I got big thighs. (laughs) So my dreams of being a ballerina didn't work out and that's how I ended up trying hip-hop. I made the Miami Heat dancers when I was around 18 and that's when I became a professional dancer. From there, I went into choreography and producing. I never actually did fitness at all.
FB: As a dancer, having your body be at its peak level is so important, right? How was it that you were able to link your love and passion for dance with a lifestyle surrounding dance that other women could relate to?
JJ: Because I was a dancer, just doing what I loved, the perk was that I was in great shape. And around [age] 27, I think all women go through this: once you're close to hitting 30, you give yourself this surreal amount of pressure to have it all figured out, like you're a complete failure if you don't. So, you start to make wrong life decisions in order to fulfill that timeline. That's what I did. I gave up everything dance-related to get a career in corporate America. And in doing so, I discovered the life that most women live. Working from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., to then go pick up my daughter from daycare, to come home, tend to the baby, tend to the house, laundry, cooking, and you do it all over again, and at what point do you have time for yourself? And even then, to take an hour or two to go to the gym? Absolutely not, because the gym feels like another chore. So that's how Vixen happened.
FB: So you took those experiences and created the Vixen Workout?
JJ: I merged what I loved—and the only thing that I knew, really, was dance—with the mindset of the general woman. I remember when I was in that part of my life, I couldn't go out to a nightclub with my friends anymore. And going to the gym felt like a chore, so I made a dance workout that felt like a girls' night out. And it was so fun and it felt like you were just hanging out with your friends, dancing to your favorite songs, and doing all of the moves that you see on the videos. You don't even realize that you're having a really intense workout. That's the whole purpose behind Vixen.
FB: How would you define a vixen?
JJ: A vixen is in all of us. I think that we, as women, look at the TV and see these pop stars. It's almost like it's somebody that we can never be. And that's why I called it "Vixen," because I remember in my teens, I would watch MTV every summer and just be obsessed with the music videos. Everyone wanted to be the star of the video or the "video vixen," as they used to call it. So that's how the name "Vixen" happened for this. I think that everyone is a star on the inside, everyone has that Vixen in them.
FB: How have women been impacted by your classes?
JJ: We try to target women from the inside. We make sure that everyone feels welcome, that no one feels invisible because I feel like invisibility is something that a lot of people go through. Maybe they don’t hear, "Hey, you look beautiful today." So we give that to them. We make sure that the change happens first from the inside and, because they're having such a good time, they lose weight. The statement that stands out the most in Vixen is one of the clients who had yo-yo dieted her entire life. She started the Vixen and lost a lot of weight really rapidly. And she said, "the difference between Vixen and the rest of the workouts is that with Vixen, I look at myself in the mirror, and for the first time, I see myself." That's a pretty powerful statement. And that statement pretty much sums up our mission as a brand. What we say is, "Don't let them take your light,” because I feel like society takes the light from a lot of us and, in essence, we lose ourselves. [Vixen's] purpose is to switch on that light again. Or if you've never had it switched on, help you discover that you have that in you.
FB: If there's a young lady who wants to try out the Vixen Workout for the first time, what's your number-one tip?
JJ: Wear red lipstick. Vixen is set up like a performance, so you're supposed to feel like you're performing in your own concert. For someone who's not comfortable with dance, I think that dressing the part helps you get into character, especially if you're not used to wearing lipstick. It's almost like you're acting out a persona. We want you to tap into all the different layers that you normally don't get to and maybe don't even feel comfortable with, but because you're in class pretending to be powerful or confident or even pretending to be sexy, you take that with you and then you eventually realize that you're not pretending—that you have all of that in you. I recommend that you get your red lipstick and get your hair done, even though we're going to sweat it out—it helps you get into character. And it helps you feel like you're going to an event and not a workout.
FB: What are your top three healthy-lifestyle habits?
JJ: I live by the 80/20 rule. As in, during the week, I eat healthy and during the weekend, I cheat about 20%. If I want a piece of pizza, I'll have the pizza and then the next day, just get back to eating clean. There's no reason to be so hard on yourself. Eating should be approachable and fitness should be approachable, and more people would do it. I drink a lot of water, because it helps with my energy, since I run the business, I'm a mom, and then I teach my classes at night. I try to drink a gallon a day and sometimes I do have to drink it from the gallon so I can measure it. And I take moments to just do nothing. I think it's important, just to be one with yourself, listen to music, and take moments and just be present. I think it's very important for your health.
FB: You've recently been named a brand ambassador for FitBox. Can you talk a little bit about how you got involved and why you wanted to sign on?
JJ: What I love about FitBox is that it's really cool clothing. It's easy. Convenience is key, so the fact that you could have this great line of clothes delivered to your house is something that really intrigues me. And the price point intrigues me because I love wearing workout clothes during the day, especially cool workout clothes because it kind of makes you feel like you're together and not in your pajamas. It's part of fashion, that whole athleisure look, but when you go to the stores, the pants are about $120, so it's not a price point that's attainable for most people. So that's why FitBox is so intriguing to me, because the clothing looks just as good as the expensive clothes that you buy in those stores and the price point is attainable for girls that take my classes at Vixen. I'm very honored to be a part of it