Born in 1942 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Janice has been involved with ballet, yoga, and pilates through study, practice, and instructions for over 65 years. Her early immersion in artistic expression through dance probably explains her ability to project an aura of positioning perfection, fulfillment of purpose, and sheer fun for the observer of her beautifully synchronized motion. With enchanting ease, grace, and warmth, Janice’s artistry captivates her audience with every musically infused movement. Prestige sits down with Janice for a one-on-one
Sylvia: Hello, Mrs. Lennard. We would like to just say thank you for taking out of your busy schedule to interview with us at Prestige Magazine.
Janice: Okay, sounds fine.
Sylvia: All right, so the first thing that we would like to know—well, we would like to say, first of all, is that you’re such an amazing lady, Mrs. Lennard. And we would like to congratulate you on continuing to develop and share your talents as you’ve been progressing in the areas of ballet, yoga, Pilates and just to name a few of your certifications for over 65 years that we’ve discovered, and so, what we really want to know is can you just please give us a little background on yourself?
Janice: Well, the background is basically I was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana and actually that’s where I started doing ballet at the ballet academy in New Orleans. And then went on with that until I was about 16 or 17 years old, and then I took private lessons in New Orleans for about three years from there. After I got older, I moved to Los Angeles and started working there. But in the interim I was doing ballet at the Lichine Ballet Academy in Beverly Hills, and I did that for about 28 years. And also while doing ballet I also started doing yoga which I love because it helps doing the ballet, because it makes you more flexible for everything and also yoga gives you piece of mind. I continued doing yoga as well as some dancing in different venues in Los Angeles in different sports clubs. Once I got married, my husband and I moved to the desert and once I was in the desert I decided I would start teaching yoga and Pilates in Palm Springs, CA, and the rest is history. I’m still doing that now, and I’ve been doing all of this for the last, oh my gosh, it’s like almost 40 years. So, that’s about the sum of who I am.
Sylvia: That is so impressive. Now, Mrs. Lennard, as you mentioned you grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, so as a child when did you actually know that dance would be your career path or was it something that was always there?
Janice: Well, I think I always knew it was there because as a child, my mom and dad, they were very musical. They loved dancing and listening to music and they would go out dancing. So, I think it just came instinctively because she would play music around the house and, of course, I would start dancing around their house, and I was always dancing on my toes and trying to do things, and that’s when she decided I should just go to dance school, that it would be a nice outlet for me. So, that’s what I did after school, I think it was like three or four days a week if I can remember, it was so long ago. And that’s how it all really started because I always loved music and loved dancing and so did my parents, so it just came very easy.
Sylvia: We were looking at your educational background and I see that to be very, very impressive. What would you say that each experience has brought to your present career and the way the things have been progressing for you?
Janice: Well, things have actually been going so fast now in the last couple of years, dancing and doing all the different things that I do, because I mean, the teaching part of the yoga, which I love yoga, and teaching the yoga it just came because I was doing it in the classes and everything, and everybody kept saying, “This is crazy, you should be teaching us, not taking the classes.” So, that’s really what made me decide to start teaching yoga and it segued into doing the Pilates also because the core work you need for dancing and doing other things the Pilates helps a lot also. So, that’s how it all kind of fell into order that way.
Sylvia: You’ve also released several DVDs showcasing your graceful style with Pilates, yoga, and ballet. What is your daily regimen that keeps you so beautifully fit and has afforded you this longevity in the business?
Janice: Well, you know what, I have to say what it is right now, I do teach every day. I teach yoga just about every day during the week and five days a week I teach Pilates. So, I have some days three classes a day, some days two. I think there’s one day I have one class a day, that’s about how it goes, and I just love teaching because I love helping people do the yoga and help them relax. Basically, during my classes I love playing classical music mostly in my yoga classes because it seems to relax people a lot, and of course it relaxes me also, and they love the music. Although, in Pilates you play different kinds of music which is a little different, so I always play different things like Al Green music, really upbeat stuff, really good stuff. But teaching every day, so in between some classes I will go home and relax and eat something and go to my next class, that kind of thing. Right now I’m on a sort of little vacation because this is the first time I haven’t had classes in three days, so it’s a little rest in between, but I can’t wait to get back to my classes.
Sylvia: Yes, and it’s so very good and so very important to be able to do the things that you love and just enjoy those things and not regret going to work every day.
Janice: Mm-hm, yes!
Sylvia: You know, which is what we often find ourselves doing sometimes in life when we’re not able to do things that we love that we’re called to do.
Janice: Exactly, exactly.
Sylvia: Also, you received some award for your outstanding contributions in the promotion of a healthy lifestyle. Can you tell us a little bit about some of those awards?
Janice: Well, I was asked to teach to the muscular dystrophy, so it would help them relax and be able to stretch and move their bodies because sometimes it’s very hard for them, they get too hot or too cold to move. So, I did that for a long time, and then also I taught at a few different senior homes, and actually my husband helped me do that. He would come and play the music for me and I would, even with people in wheelchairs, or they were just in a regular chair, they couldn’t really move too much. In the chair we were able to do yoga, really basically, and play music and get them to move their arms and legs, and to really relax their bodies so they can do their regular things they like to do, that make them able to do. And that was very rewarding, it really was, and I enjoyed doing that.
So, that was my two biggest things that I did do besides helping all the people in the classes that I did. And it’s really nice because the people in the classes always would come up to me, especially somebody that’s new in class, they would always come up and say, “Oh my gosh, thank you so much for your class. I enjoy just the relaxing, your voice, and how easy it is to do the things that you tell me to do.” Because I always tell people when they do classes, “Don’t try to do everything just like everyone else is doing. I do the class so you can see what should be done and you just do it to your ability, not try to force yourself to go overboard.” Because that’s how people get hurt when they try to do more and push themselves too hard in the beginning. You’ve got to take your time and work your way up to that and that way it’s easier and you get more out of the exercise. And that’s basically what I love doing for the people.
Sylvia: We’d like to just mention, you know, you said you have those different levels that you’re starting at when then they’re beginners or the advanced levels. Now, in your DVDs, are those levels evident? Do you have it so people are able to, like for instance, for myself if I wanted to start taking—I’ve done yoga, I’ve done Pilates but it’s been a long time since I’ve done it, so is anything broken down into levels so that people that are beginners like myself or even the advanced ones would be able because they’re not able to actively have themselves placed in your class?
Janice: Right. Well, you know, in the DVDs, basically the DVDs that I did because it was done for the people who take my class because a lot of them would ask me to please do something so when we’re on vacation I can take this DVD and still do my class, and that way they’re getting exercise even though they’re on vacation. And the beginning, especially the yoga DVD, the beginning of the yoga DVD is a little for beginners —it’s not difficult but the standing poses, all the Warrior Poses that you do in yoga is a little difficult, so a lot of them is standing and moving around on your feet and just doing different poses. And I call it yoga flow because we don’t stop, we just keep flowing from one pose to another, only relaxing a little bit in-between in the Child’s Pose and then starting over again. Then eventually we go to the floor, and on the floor we’re sitting and we’re doing stretches on the floor.
Now, if somebody’s just starting yoga and they don’t want to do the Warrior Poses they can start with the second part of it and just go into the sitting stuff and learn the stretches and everything. And then they can go and do the Warrior Poses after that once they get used to the whole process of what the yoga is. And the Pilates classes or Mat Pilates, and in Mat Pilates anyone can do it to start with because you just have to go a little bit slower on some of the stuff because it’s done very slowly, but it’s all core working and you’re on the floor, you’re lying on the floor most of the time. Then you’re using little weights or small balls, a big ball, and we also use a tube to stretch the legs out and everything, and towards the middle we’re doing weights, light weights. I never do myself heavy weights because I don’t want big muscles or anything. I just do the weights to get a little bit stronger and get definition in the arms and stuff. And then from there we go to the very end of the Pilates and we’re doing stretching on the floor, so then the yoga stretches. And that’s how it all goes from there, so it’s like a build up except for the yoga, you’re starting with Warrior Poses to get your body warm and then you onto the floor and do the stretching, so that’s how they’re breaking in. Anybody can do it, really, and it’s just what I said before, you do it to your ability, you can watch the video in the beginning just to see exactly what’s happening, and then from there you start working with the video yourself. You can watch it and do the same thing I’m doing and it makes it a lot easier for you.
The Ballet Barre is a simple Ballet Barre because you can do it by using, if you’re at home you can use a back of a chair, you can use the back of a couch, or a counter, a kitchen counter you could do it. Anything, like kitchen tables because you’re just holding onto that doing mostly plies, everything is in position, the first, second, third, fourth position, and you’re doing plies which is strengthening the legs and getting muscle tone in the legs, it helps everything. And concentration, it helps the brain also which for all of them is the most important thing to get the brain to relax and to move freely, it does help it all.
Sylvia: Now, you’ve been coined as the Fitness Dynamo, just a little bit about that, who coined that phrase for you?
Janice: The Fitness Dynamo? I think it was my husband really who started that, he’s the culprit of that one definitely. It’s funny, yeah.
Sylvia: Our next question is there any wisdom or inspiring words that you would like to share with your fans and the readers of Prestige Magazine?
Janice: Well, inspiring words is to always eat properly and exercise. Also do something nice for somebody else every once and a while, it does help you also, and just try to keep your body moving, walk, anything you can do, really, it helps you so much.
Sylvia: Are there any new projects that you’re working on right now or future projects that you would like to tell us about?
Janice: Well, right now I’m just working on my usual classes at the moment. And I’m in the process of maybe doing something on TV here in New Orleans, I’m going to be doing an interview on CBS here in New Orleans, WWLTV. Doing some workouts with the anchor lady, she wants to do some Pilates. But basically my work is just every day going to classes and helping people in classes and helping myself because the classes, they really help me, because if I wasn’t doing the classes I would probably just watch TV or walk around or something like that, and this way I think I’m helping people to do things for themselves and that makes me feel better to do that.
Sylvia: Also, Mrs. Lennard, do you have any, I’m quite sure you do, but the social media sites that you would like to share with us? Your Facebook, Instagram, or your Twitter?
Janice: Well, yeah. People can always go to JaniceLennard.com and if they want to leave a message for me they can, and I can answer them back eventually.
Sylvia: Okay, very good. We really just want to say thank you so much, Mrs. Lennard, for allowing Prestige Magazine the opportunity to speak with you. You’re just so graceful and we want to just send you many blessings on every endeavour that you’re embarking upon.
Janice: Thank you.
Visions Beauty 5th Annual Natural Hair and Health Expo
Singer Vivian Green (Center) performs with background singers at the Visions Beauty 5th Annual Natural Hair and Health Expo. Photo credit: Between Classes Magazine March 18, 2016 (BIRMINGHAM, AL)– The Visions Beauty 5th Annual Natural Hair and Health Expo (NHHE) achieved record-breaking attendance, welcoming more than 5,000 natural hair, beauty and health enthusiasts to…
Singer Vivian Green (Center) performs with background singers at the Visions Beauty 5th Annual Natural Hair and Health Expo. Photo credit: Between Classes Magazine
March 18, 2016 (BIRMINGHAM, AL)— The Visions Beauty 5th Annual Natural Hair and Health Expo (NHHE) achieved record-breaking attendance, welcoming more than 5,000 natural hair, beauty and health enthusiasts to the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center on March 12. The expo has evolved into Alabama’s largest natural hair show, and is among the must-attend “hair show list” to travelers from as near as Atlanta, Ga. to as far Detroit, Mi. The Simmons brothers, owners of Vision Beauty Distributors and creators of the annual Natural Hair and Health Expo, offered attendees a full day of hair, beauty and fashion; preventative health services; and inspiration to “Love Your Natural You,” the theme for the 2016 expo.
“I reach out to the Birmingham natural hair community each year to see what they want to see at our annual shows,” says expo co-founder Victor Simmons. “This year we were seriously pleased with the turnout. It’s our fifth year and our hard work is paying off. We are connecting with stylists, bloggers and the healthy living community from all over the Southeast and some from the North. Each year we plan to do it bigger than the year before and with the grace of God, and the help of our amazing core team, we’re succeeding!”
Key Highlights from the NHHE included:
The “What Men REALLY Think…” all men’s panel presented by SHEEN Magazine and hosted by SHEEN’s editor in chief Sammi Haynes. This panel featured actor Christian Keyes, “insta-famous” Instagram models Joshua Benoit and Donnell Blaylock, Pastor Adrian Davis, and motivational speaker T.W. Dawson. The men shared their thoughts on relationships, natural hair, love and romance. A natural hair chat hosted by mega YouTube star Taren Guy focused on extension dependency and how to embrace your natural hair and length. During these discussions, attendees gathered to ask questions as well as shared their thoughts on and personal experiences with the related topics.
(L-R): Pastor Adrian Davis, Donnell Blaylock, Taren Guy, T.W. Dawson and Joshua Benoit at the Visions Beauty 5th Annual Natural Hair and Health Expo. Photo credit: iPUSH Magazine
R&B artist Vivian Green shared her magical vocals with the audience and old-school rapper Kwame from the late 1980s and early 1990’s made a small appearance on stage with the soulful diva.
(L-R): Jeffrey Simmons, co-founder Visions Beauty Distributors, R&B Singer Vivian Green and Victor Simmons,
co-founder Visions Beauty Distributors at the Visions Beauty 5th Annual Natural Hair and Health Expo. Photo credit: iPUSH Magazine
Lastly, the main attraction and focus of the NHHE was the inaugural Miss Natural Hair and Health Beauty Pageant, presenting 9 contestants competing for the first crown. These 9 beautiful women, adorned with their beautiful natural hair, walked the stage and shared their thoughts on loving and embracing the healthy, natural you. The pageant not only focused on poise, looks and hair but also focused on intelligence, confidence and inner beauty. Although the judges Sharon Williams author of real beauty A to Z, YouTube sensation MahoganyCurls, Celebrity Stylist Christopher Ryan, Sammi Haynes and former Miss Black Alabama Laquitta ParShai Wilkins had an array of top contenders to choose from, they finally agreed upon Birmingham-native Jazmund Walker as the first Miss Natural Hair and Health Beauty Queen. 1st runner up went to Keisha Jones-Peeples and 2nd runner up went to Whitney Gay.
Miss Natural Hair and Health Pageant Winners from L-R: Whitney Gay, 2nd Runner Up; Jazmund Walker, Winner; and Keisha Jones-Peeples, 1st Runner Up. Photo credit: iPUSH Magazine
“I went into this competition to achieve one of my bucket list goals,” says pageant winner Jazmund Walker who works as a communications and outreach coordinator for the non-profit organization CAMP College, College Admissions Made Possible. “I had no idea that I would win the Miss Natural Hair and Health Beauty Pageant! I’m typically a behind the scenes person and my focus has always been on helping others achieve their dreams. I was told many times in my early twenties that I should model or try out for a pageant but I never felt confident enough to do so. However, when I saw the advertisement for the Miss Natural Hair and Health Beauty Pageant, I knew it was time to conquer my fear and give it my best shot! Now that I’ve won the crown, my goal is to inspire young women in my community. I am a girl from the projects the eldest child and the first in my family to go to college. My title platform will promote education and avenues to reach your full potential. I encourage every young woman to do something that lives outside her comfort zone. Be fearless so when you look back you can at least say you tried and gave it your best shot.”
Miss Natural Hair and Health Pageant Winner Jazmund Walker at the Visions Beauty 5th Annual Natural Hair and Health Expo. Photo credit: iPUSH Magazine
The Visions Beauty 5th Annual Natural Hair and Health Expo was made possible due to key sponsors, including: radio stations WAGG, KISS-FM and JAMZ, Design Essentials®, Amtrak, Brownstone Total Healthcare, Snatch My Waist, SHEEN Magazine, iPUSH Magazine, Breezes Resort and Spa Bahamas, Laura Vincents LLC, Sam’s Club Wholesale, Natural Girls Rock, Cooper Green Health Services, Angela’s Kiss of Shea and Chocolatetopz.
For more information on the NHHE/Pageant, go to www.naturalhairandhealthexpo.com
Flatter Stomach Secrets
Nearly everyone wants a flatter stomach. Many people spend years looking for a magic pill or magic trick that will cause them to wake up the next morning with a magically flat tummy. However, there is no magic solution to the tummy issue. It takes hard work and dedication. The secret is not a mystery,…
Nearly everyone wants a flatter stomach. Many people spend years looking for a magic pill or magic trick that will cause them to wake up the next morning with a magically flat tummy. However, there is no magic solution to the tummy issue. It takes hard work and dedication. The secret is not a mystery, however. Many people get so overwhelmed with all of the advice in fitness magazines and on fitness websites, that they give up before they even begin. If you are looking for a flatter, sexier tummy, the following tips will help you burn off the pounds and tone up.
Carbs are great. A nice piece of warm bread, some yummy mashed potatoes or a bag of chips can soothe your stress after a hard day at the office. However, carbs are one of the biggest contributors to a flabby tummy. You don’t have to completely eliminate all carbs from your diet, but it’s important to eat these food items in moderation. Skip the carbs when you can and load up on other, healthier food items.
Most veggies are great for your waistline, and you can have just about as many as you want. Pick up lots of carrots, celery, green peppers, lettuce and spinach at the grocery store. But remember, all the veggies in the world won’t help you if they are drenched in ranch dressing and bacon bits. Cold, freshly washed veggies are best.
One of the biggest improvements you can make to your diet is to cut out the sodas, fruit juices and other drinks that are full of empty calories. Add lots of water to your daily routine. At least 64 ounces is the minimum amount of water you should be drinking. More is better. Water can also help increase your metabolism. If you can’t stand plain water, add slices of lemon, lime or other citrus fruit. Mint leaves and lots of ice also help make this drink more palatable.
Cardio and Toning
What’s the best way to burn fat? Cardio. You don’t have to run for miles to burn calories, though. Look for fun exercises that you can do with friends and family. But burning fat isn’t enough; you’ve got to tone up the muscle beneath the fat for a flatter tummy. Pushups and crunches are the best exercises for this, but there are many great toning exercises to choose from.
You may not have washboard abs, but you don’t have to tell the world. Make wise clothing choices that flatter the body that you do have, and you will look amazing. You don’t have to walk around in baggy or too-tight clothing.
Just remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your body didn’t get this way in a day, and it won’t get healthy and toned in a day, either. Carve out some time for exercise each day. Find exercises that work for you. And eat a healthy diet that consists of the proper nutrients to fuel your body. Most of all, don’t give up when you feel like it’s just too much work. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a workout. Be kind to your body and it will repay you with good health and a good shape.
Black Women & Depression: Stop Hurting and Start Healing
Depression is a painful mental condition in which a person becomes abnormally saddened and loses all hope in life. A bout of depression may come on after a traumatic event or for no apparent reason. Depending on the disorder, a depressive episode can last from one week to several years. Symptoms of depression include repetitive…
Depression is a painful mental condition in which a person becomes abnormally saddened and loses all hope in life. A bout of depression may come on after a traumatic event or for no apparent reason. Depending on the disorder, a depressive episode can last from one week to several years. Symptoms of depression include repetitive crying, hopelessness, fatigue, negative thoughts, oversleeping and incapacitation. Medics have had varying views on the causes of the depression. Some believe in the chemical imbalance theory while others blame hormones and environmental circumstances.
Because of cultural backgrounds, depression may be displayed differently among African-Americans, according to the Mental Health Awareness website. If you experience five or more of the following symptoms for longer than two weeks, if you feel suicidal or if the symptoms get in the way of your daily life, visit your doctor.
- A constant sad, anxious or “empty” mood or excessive crying
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain
- Persistent physical symptoms that don’t respond to treatment like headaches, digestive disorders and chronic pain
- Irritability, restlessness
- Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling “slowed down”
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, pessimism
- Sleeping too much or too little, early morning walking
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities, including sex
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts
Black Women and Depression
More than 19 million people in the United States suffer from depression. Out of those 19 million people, many of them are black women. Black women who have a genetic tendency to develop the condition are more likely to come down with it because of the everyday struggles such as single motherhood, job competition, financial problems, and other factors such as racism that may play a role in adding stress. Unfortunately, the culture of the black female is to always display strength. More than 50 percent of black women feel as though mental illness is a personal weakness. Many of these women suffer with it, damaging relationships and life opportunities in the process.
Depression is not a Mark
What black women in society need to realize is that depression is not a mark. Just because a person has a certain mental illness, does not mean that she will lose other people’s respect if she seeks treatment. Additionally, if someone does not respect a person who seeks treatment for this type of illness, then perhaps that person is a source of negative energy that aggravates the illness. Women who suffer from depression should only engage in relations with people who will bring a positive force of energy.
Stop Hurting and Start Healing
Any black female who believes that she may be suffering from depression should seek assessment and treatment as quickly as possible. Treatment is more effective the earlier the medical experts can diagnose the problem. Healing begins when that person reaches out to a person or organization that can help and takes forward steps to maintain a positive mental balance.
Some doctors will prescribe medications, which are excellent treatments for chemically induced depression. Other doctors may use behavioral, cognitive or talk therapy to treat a client. During therapy, a woman can learn coping mechanisms. She can learn how to use breathing and relaxation techniques that will take her mind to a more positive plateau. Additionally, a therapist can help to delve into her past and see if childhood trauma may have caused some of the depression.
Healing and improvement is definitely possible. It just takes effort on the part of the black female to be truly strong and turn toward the right source of help. With the proper medications and morale boosting strategies, a black woman can end up even stronger and more vibrant than she was before treatment.
As more voices join the chorus, may there be more dialogue in African-American communities about mental illness so that those inflicted with mood disorders have a chance to recover.
For more information about depression, visit http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression
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