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.”
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.
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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.”
Vixen Workout Studio
Opens May 1 at 547 NW 28th St., Miami. Members-only, soft-opening limited classes begin Sunday, April 23. Free open house with 30-minute preview classes every hour Saturday, April 29, and Sunday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. RSVP on Eventbrite. Visit vixenworkout.me.