Jacey Lambros and Danielle “Dani” DeAngelo climb the stairs at their Newark Avenue boutique fitness studio, Jane Do.
“Fitness is one of the only businesses that really thrives on a floor that’s higher than the first floor, because that’s your warm-up,” laughs Lambros, as she and DeAngelo jog up in unison without so much as breaking a sweat. The climb is nothing to them considering that they limbered up with a combined 17 years as Radio City Rockettes. That’s where they met while entertaining crowds with perfectly executed high kicks. Now they keep in shape by teaching a few classes every day at Jane Do.
They’ve just returned from their new Edgewater location, where they spent the morning sweating it out with clients. The former Rockettes offer classes like Barre Naked, a traditional barre class; Dance Your Ass Off, a cardio dance class; Step It Up, an aerobics class; Sports Barre, a hybrid class; and Tramp Stamp, a total body workout on trampolines.
“Each of our classes fuses traditional dance with traditional athletic conditioning, to get the strength of an athlete and the body of a dancer,” Lambros says.
“Fitness should be fun,” DeAngelo adds, “not the monotony of running on a treadmill. You’ll be a lot more consistent if it doesn’t feel like work.”
While they’re owners, trainers and sole investors, running this 24/7 operation doesn’t feel like work either. They say it’s because they complement each other so well, which they discovered while sharing a dressing room at Radio City Music Hall.
“Our strengths are each other’s weaknesses,” Lambros says. “We know that we are such a perfect partnership.”
“For example, Jacey comes up with most of our creative content, the design, the shirts, a lot of the challenge ideas,” DeAngelo says, pointing to themed bingo boards that motivate clients to work out. “I, on the other hand, negotiate with the attorneys. I’ll sit with the bookkeeper.” She has a degree in business management, and a real-estate background.
At the Sweat Shop
Today they sport Jane Do tees that Lambros designed. The studio has a small retail area that offers Jane Do’s branded gear. One shirt features Jane Do’s crown logo, symbolizing the empowering messages, “rule your workout” and “rule your world.” The gym used to be known as Sports Barre, but they changed the name to show that they are more than just a barre studio.
“Jane is every woman; Do is her call to action,” Lambros says. “It’s scary to do a rebrand, because we were flourishing, but our clients got behind us right away. Jane Do is this really amazing community of women.”
“Sharing a dressing room at Radio City is very similar to the community that we have here,” DeAngelo says. “You’re sharing experiences. You’re in close quarters, so if someone is going through a tough time, or if someone is going to graduate school and studying between shows, that camaraderie among women is really what we missed, and we’ve got that here. It’s such a sense of community here with people from all walks of life.”
The two settle in at the studio for a marketing meeting and staff training session. Today one of their instructors doesn’t know it yet, but she’s about to get a special gift for one year of service at Jane Do.
“We try to crown everyone’s achievements,” Lambros says, showing off a signet ring with the Jane Do logo. It was made by Allison R. Cannarsa of the Jersey City-based jewelry line ARCOS. Lambros hints that more custom pieces are in the works for client and staff milestones.
She indicates a wall of signed ballet slippers, the current prize for gym-goers who make it to the hundred-class mark. “We started with one shelf,” Lambros says, eyeing dozens of toe shoes.
The instructor they’re honoring, current Rockette Katie Hamrah, is surprised. DeAngelo shoots a video with her phone while Lambros slips the ring on Hamrah’s finger.
“We pride ourselves on the fact that we do have professional, working dancers,” Lambros says. “Not only is that cool for clients, it keeps things fresh for us. They bring new ideas to the table. We do allow that freedom for people to do a show and return. As a working dancer it’s harder to find work because people know that you’re transient.”
Jane Do has a growing team of about 15 instructors. “We wanted to have a place where dancers could transition their love and passion for dance into a career,” DeAngelo says, giving Lambros a knowing glance. “We get it.”
DeAngelo, who grew up in Bergen County, says that seeing the Radio City Christmas Spectacular was a holiday tradition. “My mom would save up all year to bring the entire family to see The Rockettes,” she says. “Having danced since age three, my mother, every single time that she would go and write the check for dance classes, cause it’s not cheap, she would always say, ‘Here I go, another year, you better become a Rockette or do something with these classes.’ I ended up booking Radio City when I was 19. The audition process is three days, and it’s intense, and most years they are only looking for one or two girls.”
Lambros was the only woman who made it when she became a Rockette in 2003, two years after DeAngelo. She is originally from Oneanta, N.Y., and moved to Jersey City when she landed a job as a dancer for the New Jersey Nets.
“Somebody told me about the Rockettes audition,” Lambros says, “and they were like, ‘You have to go. It’s the best job to land in New York. It’s such a legacy,’ and I had never seen the show before. I remember going to the audition. If you remember Carson Daly, he had a late-night show, and I was kind of like his fly girl. The Rockette audition line wraps around Radio City, and I was getting really impatient because I had to use the restroom. My friend Carla was already over at Carson, and she was like, ‘Dude, I will go stand in line, get over here and pee.’ I still thank her all the time.”
And the Rest is History
After three days of auditioning, Lambros went to Upstate New York and waited. “I was actually at Walmart with my dad when I got the call,” Lambros remembers. “He was a basketball coach and a sports fanatic, and I’ll always remember what he said: ‘Jace, there’s the Yankees, the Mets, the Nets, the Jets, and The Rockettes!’”
She encountered a steep learning curve. “I was the only one who didn’t know the show,” she recalls. “Oh my god, I couldn't sleep! I was living over on Dudley Street at the time in Paulus Hook. I would come home and practice in front of the mirror in my bathroom.”
Soon after she met DeAngelo, the two bonded over long, hard days working on their chorus-line precision.
“You can’t be a Rockette by yourself,” DeAngelo says. “It only works as a team. Even at Radio City at the sixth show at the end of the day, you’re like, ‘I just don’t know if I can get my legs up,’ but you do, because you’re there with your fellow Rockettes.”
Teamwork also applies to the Jane Do crew.
“We say something that my dad used to say to his players: ‘It’s not me, it’s not you, it’s us,’” Lambros says. “It’s what we do as a unit.”
That unit is eyeing a third location.
DeAngelo hints that it will be “somewhere along the Hudson.”
“Gold Coast, baby,” Lambros grins. Both have lived in Jersey City for more than a decade and want any new studios to be nearby, so they can be hands-on.
They start pulling out trampolines for their next class, snapping the legs into place and setting them up. You can hear their clients warming up on the stairs.—JCM
Learn more at JaneDO.com or follow them on social media: Instagram @JaneDo
Facebook: facebook.com/janedojerseycity and facebook.com/Jane-Do-Edgewater-210911962632053
Jane DO Jersey City
160 Newark Ave. #3
Jersey City, N.J. 07302
Jane DO Edgewater
890 River Road
Edgewater, N.J. 07020