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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.
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