Janet Jones has made the art of booty shaking a national fitness phenomenon. Jones’ Vixen Workout is a high-energy experience that builds on the latest dance trends, encouraging women to sweat into their sexy and embrace their sassiness within a safe space. At Vixen, the fantasy of working it like Beyoncé becomes a reality, all while burning hundreds of calories fueled further by female camaraderie (a.k.a #VIXENARMY). The classes have sprouted loyal legions in Miami and New York and have sprouted branded collaborations with Urban Decay and Covergirl. Hip popping popularity aside, the former Miami Heat dancer credits her creation to helping her rediscover her womanhood, and her dedicated followers have echoed similar spikes in confidence and self-love. Jones is tossing out taboos—a theme we also highlighted in our 2016 Trends Report, Sexual Wellbeing: Taboo No More—and embracing her fierce feminity. Here’s how she owns it—and how you can, too.
Spafinder: How did the creation of the Vixen Workout concept enliven you as a woman?
JANET JONES: Creating the Vixen Workout did more than just enliven me as a woman—it brought me back to life. The inspiration for the Vixen Workout came from my darkest moments as a woman; for years I stopped listening to the voice inside of me and instead surrendered myself to societal roles of practicality. The life of routine, responsibility, and what everyone called “adulthood” felt like my personal hell. My identity up until to that point [“adulthood”] was who I became when performing; I was strong, powerful, confident, vivacious Janet. I quickly became depressed, desensitized, and confused as to why everyone else’s “happily-ever-after” was not mine. I discovered that my personal hell came from living as a lesser version of myself by trying to fit myself into boxes that society had chosen for me. I didn’t have the opportunity to tap into those [lost] layers of myself.
I, however, was the lucky one. I knew that there was much more to life than my current experience of it and I came to the daunting conclusion that this is the only experience most women know. This is what all little girls are programmed by society to strive for. “Happily ever after” was a muted existence.
Janet Jones leads a class at Body & Soul in Coral Gables, Miami, Florida.
Outside of the fitness aspect, what are the mental effects Vixen has had on participants?
The most important part of the Vixen Experience is to create an environment where women feel safe to let go of any role they carry in the outside world and tap into their inner selves. Our worrying about how we are perceived, creating the wrong impression, or doing something that is deemed inappropriate usually excludes us from enjoyment.
The Vixen environment is meant to remove these outside obstacles in order for women to lose themselves in music and movement. By losing your “self” through movement you create a sensory awareness of your participation in life—a.ka. feeling alive.
Tapping into our physical selves for the first time also improves our own body-image, which is what leads to an almost immediate sense of self-confidence.As we become adults, the amount of time we dedicate to our social lives and relationships changes to focusing on career and family. Our need for community and belonging, however, does not change. The #VIXENARMY, which is what we call the women who attend our workouts, provides that sense of belonging that we sometimes lose.
Why do you think women suppress their sexuality? How does Vixen allow them to embrace their sexual well-being?
As women, we live with this sense of guilt without even knowing why we feel guilty. Women are sexual beings—some studies show that women actually have stronger sex drives than men. However, we feel as if we are not permitted to express our sexual feelings or even to enjoy sex in many contexts. “Sexy” is not a bad word, in fact, a woman’s sensuality is a key factor in her confidence and body image.
We are bombarded with messages of being too thin, too thick, too this, too that, and taught that our sexual selves can not live in the same world as our values and virtues. [With this messaging] how are we suppose to not hate our bodies?
Through Vixen, I encourage women to pretend they are J.Lo, Beyoncé, or whoever they admire. By pretending they are someone else, it makes it okay to tap into layers of themselves that they normally wouldn’t—like their sexuality. By making sexuality okay, if only for that one hour a day, it changes their negative perceptions of their own bodies.
Janet Jones and the #VIXENARMY.
How and why would you encourage women who are shy, or believe they “can’t dance” to try Vixen?
Because I am painfully shy. In school, teachers would ask my mother if I could speak because I had been in their class for a year and they had never heard me speak. I was the kid who would burst into tears when the teacher would call my name because I was mortified by having any attention on me. When you dance you are free to be whatever you want to be. When I dance, I am everything I don’t have the courage to be in the outside world. Eventually, if you dance with enough abandonment, you will realize you are no longer pretending.
What do you say to those who insist that the word Vixen has a negative connotation?
Vixen is embracing all of the layers that make up our womanhood and being unapologetic for doing so: A shining light in a society made to dull anything that shines. I encourage anyone who thinks there is anything negative about Vixen to come join the #VIXENARMY.
Stay hungry. Live fierce.