Anyone who’s struggled to talk and run at the same time can appreciate the sheer athleticism it takes to dance your way through a high-energy concert—all while maintaining perfect pitch. It’s something Janet Jackson’s been doing for four decades, and at 51, the legendary pop-star is about to do it again on her State of the World tour, which continues after a break on October 14 in Las Vegas.
But training for this show was different—Jackson is a new mom. (Her son, Eissa, was born in January.) So how did she prep for her return to the Rhythm Nation this time around? By tapping trainer Paulette Sybliss, who started working with the performer two months after she gave birth. “Was Janet happy to see me every day? No. Did she give me 100 percent every time? Yes,” Sybliss says of her all-star client.
Believe it or not, conventional cardio wasn’t in the game plan—at all. “We did weight training,” Sybliss reveals. “Steady cardio does burn calories, but when you do weight training, it’s easier to stay within the fat-burning zone, so you have that aftereffect, too. That’s when you really start to see your body becoming more toned.”
“When you do weight training, it’s easier to stay within the fat-burning zone. That’s when you really start to see your body becoming more toned.”
Instead of lifting heavy, Sybliss had the singer use weights in a light-to-medium range. Why? “The body doesn’t actually know how heavy of a weight you’re lifting. What it does know is resistance,” Sybliss says. Repeating back-to-back moves using 5- or 8-pound weights was the core of their training process. And using your own body weight works, too—massively. “Of all the moves, Janet hated lunges the most,” Sybliss reveals. “It’s a killer, but super effective!”
Ready to channel your inner Janet Jackson? Keep reading for the 4-move, no-equipment circuit that helped get her ready to tour the world.
A 4-move circuit—straight from Janet Jackson’s trainer
Sybliss says to do 12–15 reps of each move—starting with 15 and working your way down to 12 as the moves become easier. “Anytime you want to make a move harder, just slow it down,” she says. Do all 4 moves back-to-back, resting for a minute when you complete the circuit. Then, repeat it all over again 4 times.
Squats: If you want to keep yourself honest while doing a round of squats, Sybliss recommends using a chair. “Sitting down with your butt cheeks hitting the [seat] and standing up is a good squat,” she says. Sound too easy? You’ll change your mind after about 8 reps—especially when you’re counting to 12.
Push-ups: “Keep your hands nice and wide,” instructs the trainer. And yes, putting your knees down is completely fine.
Body weight lunge: Hinge at the waist, keeping your butt back and your knees over your ankles. Extend one leg behind you, drop that knee down (keeping the thigh of your opposite leg as parallel to the ground as possible), and then bring the leg back up. Repeat with the other leg.
Abdominal crunch: Lie on your back with your feet up in the air. Slightly lift your shoulders and reach toward your feet. Want to take it to the next level? Pedal your feet like a bicycle.
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