Vixen Army: Senior Vanessa Richter introduces empowering workout class to campus


Josh Christian | Photography Editor

Tulane senior Vanessa Richter leads students in a Vixen Workout session at Reily Student Recreation Center. The class has gained popularity due to its empowering message, encouraging sisterhood through intense hip-hop dance, call-and-response affirmation, and, most importantly, fierceness.

Cadence Neenan, Senior Staff Reporter

Walking into a Vixen Workout class can be intimidating. The overhead lights dim, the multicolored dance lights flicker across the ceiling and roughly 30 excited girls crowd close to the mirror, stretching and striking a few poses.

Within moments, however, Vanessa Richter, Vixen Workout instructor and Tulane senior, leads you through a militant call-and-response of self affirmation: “Yes, I’m sexy, yes I’m fierce, yes I got this, yes!”

This femme-fierce attitude is what defines Vixen. Originally inspired by the Miami clubbing scene, Vixen is an “intense hip hop cardio” workout class. Instead of doing squats or crunches, class attendees spend the hour-long class popping, locking and booty dropping.

And now, with the help of Richter, one of the youngest instructors of the “Vixen Army,” Vixen has arrived at the Reily Student Recreation Center.

“At first, it had a little bit of a negative stigma, because it sounds like this sexy workout class, so they didn’t want to approve it at first,” Richter said.

After teaching practice classes for free to friends and friends-of-friends, Richter returned with a petition and her own personal “Vixen Army” to again request that Vixen be featured at Reily.

“It wasn’t until I started teaching and I did my demo class that they could really understand what it was,” Richter said, “How it’s not just sexy dancing, but it’s bringing these women together, and it’s an escape, where you can be this alter-ego or find your true self and let go.”

With the lights down, and the sounds of Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj or Pitbull blaring around you, whatever inhibitions you might have had about an hour-long workout class chock full of hair flipping and sexy strutting are left at the door — that’s the beauty of Vixen. As it says on the Vixen website, “Each workout creates a fun club atmosphere where women can let loose, forget responsibilities and transform into their ‘alter-ego’ or as we say ‘getting your Beyoncé, Ciara, Rihanna on.'”

Richter ensures a space of empowerment by beginning every class reminding everyone that the class is a safe environment.

“I always say it’s a safe space, no judgments, and that is rare, especially in college when a lot of women are going through a hard time,” Richter said, “And a big transition and trying to figure out who you are and what you want in your life, and I think that escape is really special.”

It’s this attitude of female empowerment, of sisterhood and of acceptance that makes Vixen unique. Walking into the class might be intimidating, especially if you haven’t gone before. The routines build in difficulty throughout the semester, so attending for the first time can be confusing, but by the end, you realize everyone is too busy sweating and panting to bother checking anyone else out in the mirror.

“I always say to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and you’ll discover things about yourself that you didn’t even know you could feel or do,” Richter said. “This class is a safe space that we’ve created, with a sisterhood of women.”

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