When Neyleen Calejo works out, she puts on makeup and heels.
“I have two kids and I kind of lost my mojo,” Calejo said. “This is my club experience and me time.”
Calejo, 24, is a regular at the Vixen Workout, a 60-minute cardio session where women dance to hip-hop in heels and mimic the performances of video vixens like Beyoncé.
“It’s very empowering,” said Calejo, a licensed practical nurse who works at a pediatrician’s office in Kendall. “I come dressed up and the next day I have a pep in my step.”
Janet Jones, 32, a professional dancer who began her career as a Miami Heat dancer, created the program.
“The workout is really so Miami,” said Jones. “Imagine going to a nightclub and being able to dance your booty off, but no guys, no drinks being poured on you, and no one judging you.”
The class is made up of a collection of hip-hop dance moves that Jones named for easy remembering: “Ridin’ Around and Gettin’ It,” “The Bugatti,” and “The Dade County.”
In any given class, more than a hundred women in heels and sneaker wedges dance, or as they call “twerk,” under black lights and studio mirrors.
“Most women will never know what it feels like to be on stage and to have that power and feel larger than life,” said Jones, who has performed alongside Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull and Usher. “What we do with the Vixen Workout is create that experience for them, so the woman who feels invisible every day because they’re playing these roles of mother, career woman or wife can in this one-hour experience themselves as a vixen.”
Jones is familiar with feeling obscure. When she was 25 she traded in her dance career for a 9-to-5 job in finance.
“I guess I was at a point in my life where I needed to experience that, but after doing that for years, I felt like I lost myself completely,” said Jones, mother of a 3-year-old daughter. “I had never felt more invisible in my life.”
After being laid off last September, Jones returned to her roots and opened Street Jamz, a dance studio at Southwest 32nd Avenue in Miami. The studio offers jazz, ballet and contemporary classes for kids.
Jones, however, wanted to reach out to women. By October, she held the first Vixen Workout class; two people showed up: her best friend and cousin.
“At times it was super discouraging because no one would show up,” said Jones. “But one night I had eight students and I came home like ‘Oh my God, I made it! I have eight!’ ”
By word of mouth, the classes began to fill up. Today, the Vixen Workout is offered in Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Miami Lakes, North Miami Beach, Tropical Park, West Kendall plus at Street Jamz. Classes cost $12 for a 60-minute session; women must RSVP on the website to attend.
“The workout has taken on a life of its own and we’re just listening to it,” said Jones, who is hiring more instructors to expand into Broward, Palm Beach and New York, where she plans to start classes next month.
Veronica Vigil, 21, started in February. “Women love it because they get to express themselves,” said Vigil, who has lost 15 pounds and sees a difference in her upper body, especially her arms and face.
“I’ve done Cross Fit, I’ve always gone to the gym, but I’ve always had that hip-hop in me, and I’ve finally found a class where I can work out and be crazy at the same time.”
When heels are worn, Jones said it intensifies the workout by 40 percent. “A woman changes when she’s in heels,” said Jones. “I want you to seduce yourself and it helps when you look hot. Without noticing, you’re doing abs, arms and squats for 60 minutes.”
On Saturday afternoon, the vixens will take over LIV in the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach for 90 minutes of what Jones calls “twerk fitness madness.”
“You know when you go to a concert and there’s a thousand people singing along to the music, I want a thousand people to dance along — to be participants in their own concert.”
The event sold out in a day with 400 women reserving a spot. Vigil and Calejo said they will be there.
“Some girls just want to burst out but they can’t because they have those titles of mom, sister, daughter, wife, and it’s so hard,” said Vigil, an assistant first-grade teacher. “But she [Jones] tells you it’s OK to be sexy, it’s OK to bring out that Beyoncé.”