Q&A with Voga founder Juliet Murrell

20 April 2017 by
First published: 26 January 2016

Everyone is talking about Voga – a fusion between ‘80s-style vogueing and yoga, and we’ve got a Q&A with Voga founder Juliet Murrell to find out what all the fuss is about.

Q. What is Voga?

A. Voga reworks that essentially ‘80s joy of fitness, but in a new creative way that combines an awareness of holistic breath-synchronised movement and cardio sequencing that guarantees to give results. It targets key areas of the body with a series of target-focused sequences to tone and sculpt the female (and male) form and work muscle groups that other forms of exercise often miss. The biceps, glutes, inner thighs and abdominals are key areas trained, as well as increasing blood circulation to the peripheries of the body, hands and feet. It boosts serotonin levels, and leaves you with a new sense of empowerment, confidence and glow. 

Q. How did you come up with the idea?

A. After working my way through my studies of history of art, architecture and interior design and finally becoming a set designer for film and fashion, I realised that I needed yoga back in my life. I went to Ibiza to teach my first retreat after training in India and was inspired by the mix of yoga and dance out there. I happened to simultaneously watch Paris is Burning, a film highlighting the ‘vogueing scene’ behind Madonna’s Vogue, and began to play with the idea of striking a pose for health benefits, aligned and empowering, to a soundtrack of strong beats and 80s divas. Voga was born! The concept of a fitness-based experience where you get lost in the moment.

Q. Do you have a background in fitness?

A. Mainly yoga. I’ve always been sporty – tennis, athletics and netball at school, but not fitness as such. I’ve been practising yoga intermittently since I was 15 after recovery from ME and became a teacher four years ago. I’m an active person and like to merge my love of movement as part of my everyday existence without consciously thinking about ‘staying fit.’ I cycle to meetings, which often take place in the lido! The seed for Voga was sown with my DJ friend Alex Gromadzki as we swam lengths of the pool. 

What I’d like to do with Voga is change people’s attitude and approach to yoga and fitness in two key ways:

1. Remove negativity, value your leisure time, maximise pleasure and create a daily habit. 

It’s just one more way people choose to spend their leisure time, so why not spend it wisely – giving your body the much-needed stress-relief it deserves while having fun? Starting with an end goal of losing weight is already a negative stressful target. Commitment is all you need. Give it time. Remove the pressure and you’ll see the results. This is about aspiring to discover the best in yourself you didn’t even know existed. By letting go of every inhibition or fear that tends to tug at you in everyday life. Voga is ‘headspace’. A way to get lost in the movement and the meditative power of repetition. It’s about ditching goals and just ‘letting it flow’ – as Madonna says. 

2. Alter the way you approach ‘dressing for fitness’ 

The whole concept behind Voga is that idea of seemingly effortless fitness, representing a nostalgia for that essentially ‘80s vibe of dressing up in g-string leotards and smiling your way through the whole experience. In Voga, you’re having so much fun that the word ‘exercise’, with all its connotations of consciously working and toiling towards an end goal, is forgotten. And results are guaranteed. You will see and most importantly feel after just one session. It’s finding the true innate power in the moves of the pose, which boosts chi, energy flow, blood circulation and serotonin. There’s a sense that you’re discovering a new understanding, awareness and respect for the art of movement and making shapes that feel 100 per cent right. Wear something that feels great for you. Not a subscribed uniform – it’s something that makes you feel fabulous. And you can head on out after! 

Q. Who do you find inspiring in the world of fitness?

A. Tracy Anderson, Les Mills Body Balance, Michelle Pernelle, Fierce Grace, Karli Kloss with Nike, Charli Cohen, Lucas Hugh, Laurie Nouchka, Alexander Wang and Sportsmax.

Q. Do you work out in any ways other than Voga?

A. I cycle, swim, walk my dog Rio, do yoga and have, and have a monthly night out dancing! 

Q. Where do you see Voga being in five years’ time?

A. A global phenomenon with worldwide teachers, a new way of dressing for fitness and House of Voga studios in London, Paris, New York, LA, Miami. These will be creative spaces encompassing all of the arts. 

Q. What’s your favourite aspect of yoga and why?

A. Accessing a sense of ‘headspace’, stress release, finding inner calm, enjoying the magic of being in the body and 100 per cent present with no distractions. A safe space to disappear from the frenzy of city living. I love that is so accessible to everyone and that by adding just 15 minutes a day of regular practice you’re already on the way to giving yourself alignment and balance, both mentally and physically.

Q. Voga is very much about losing your inhibitions and having fun. Why do you think this is so important when getting fit?

A. Like I said earlier, you should value the way you choose to spend your time. Having fun will amplify all the benefits and effects already offered by the process of moving your body to music.

Q. What advice do you have for someone who’s never tried Voga but would like to?

A. Trying any new class is daunting for anyone; there are so many new factors to take on board. But it’s worth it. You’re going to feel fabulous! The day after too, although you will feel the burn. 

In 2016 we will be rolling out new sequences every three months, so there’s a chance to really nail the skills before moving onto a new sequence and tunes – so your body has time to shape and mould your muscles. Once you begin to get used to the moves, the shock of the new ones will kickstart a new impact and target different areas, so you’re continually shaping your body for the better and concentrating on your whole body, not just a few areas.