Health & Fitness: Meet Jo-Jo Taylor – Indio Guru

Green drink (Mr Wabu) 674 x 280

Former ballet dancer Jo-Jo Taylor is dressed in electric blue leggings and matching headband as she glides across the floor to meet us at Indio’s flagship franchise in Chiswick, West London. Discretely located above two estate agents on Turnham Green Terrace, we have just emerged from a narrow staircase into a startlingly large, bright studio space that could easily accommodate three full size tennis courts.

Open plan, in primary colours, the studio comprises of vast chrome kitchen incorporating an impressive health-drink bar, a central breakout area, and polished workout floor. The east wall, is dominated by floor to ceiling mirrors, whilst motivational poems, posters and imagery decorate the  remaining wall space. The most immediate of these is an alarmingly life sized photo of founder, Angelica Andress, under the familiar tagline “Californian body, Indian soul”. Jo-Jo Taylor, Chiswick instructor and owner of this local franchise, enthusiastically air kisses our arrival, ushers us over to the low circular armchairs in the breakout area, then begins to busy herself in the kitchen. In the whizz of the industrial blender we know our Indio education is about to begin.

For anyone who has missed the hype so far, Indio was conceived in California back in the 1960s as a healthy living solution for mind, body and soul. Its promise is to optimise physical and mental well being via a blend of isometric yoga,  good food, mental discipline… and motivational mantras. After quietly building a worldwide following for the last 40 years, it exploded into the UK in 2013 as the next big thing for exercise and fitness. The blender stops and Jo-Jo, our tall, tanned instructor returns with a tray bearing two thick, bright green drinks  in old fashioned milk shake glasses. She hands us a glass each and drops lithely onto a turquoise seat, pulling her legs under herself like a cat. Neither of us quite know what to expect from our Indio initiation…

Jo-Jo: Indio Shakes!

Kathryn: What are they?

Jo-Jo: It’s a Wheatgrass Wakeup Wallop. A blend of wheatgrass, 12 green vegetables, apple juice, green chillies and an energy boosting powder derived from the bark of a Redwood tree.

Nick: Not bad – do you begin your classes with smoothies?

Jo-Jo: Drinks come afterwards. Each class is begun with our special motivational broadcasts…

Jo-Jo jumps  nimbly to her feet, crosses the studio and flicks a switch on the mirror wall. A screen emerges in place of the glass and our instructor beckons us onto the wooden workout floor. We follow dutifully, clutching our wheatgrass drinks.

Jo-Jo: Before each class begins we play a short video designed to get people in the right mental space to achieve their goals. It all comes from the top. Indio has a team of motivational specialists creating fresh messages each week, all tailored to fit the various Indio plans.

Jo-Jo presses a button and the screen leaps alive with the image of an incredibly pretty girl underneath a waterfall. A chirpy voiceover semi-sings: “Water is pure and it flushes out hate, Wheatgrass and spinach can regulate weight,” Jo-Jo turns the sound down and the screen flashes tropical scenes in silence.

Jo-Jo: Nothing is allowed to get stale, everything is geared towards keeping the mind supple and the body pure.

Kathryn: These change weekly?

Jo-Jo: Sometimes more. We’re completely unique, the exercise results speak for themselves and our bespoke motivational messaging underpins everything.

Nick: What makes your core message unique though? What sets Indio apart?

Jo-Jo: Indio combines a harmonious diet of spiritually similar foods, with isometric yoga. Because it is practised in conjunction with the positive motivational techniques; people both feel and look better.

Nick: And isometric yoga is?

Jo-Jo: You use resistance when holding our poses. It’s easy and gets you in the fat burning zone. Hold your arms out straight in front of you and imagine you’re holding a football.

Kathryn and Nick reluctantly hold their arms out.

Jo-Jo: Now, use your muscles to try and push your arms together, without actually moving your arms closer.

Jo-Jo: You feel that? Indio has you doing that with every part of your body. You’ll discover muscles you’ve never exercised before. It’s low impact, perfect for the old, the young and the injured. (Adopting a sing song voice) Now keep it there for 45 more counts, Grasp that globe; squeeze, feel the tension mount. Nick, see Indio begin to click. Come on Kathryn you’ve almost got it…

Kathryn (lowering hands): Is this how your classes work?

Jo-Jo: Usually – I tend to do a bit of ad-libbing where needed along with using the material that’s created for me. It’s all about maintaining the Indio zone before, during and after the classes.

Nick: So who are your clients, what do they do, why do they come?

Jo-Jo: It varies from studio to studio. Here we have a lot of local women between 35 and 55. Mainly mothers and professionals. Some come to get back in shape, others want to stay in shape. We offer special classes for pregnant and post-natal ladies too. We even have a couple of celebrities – although I won’t name names! Many of the ladies that come along have tried Pilates, yoga, aerobics, Zumba… the lot. All of them say nothing works as well as Indio.

Kathryn: So you’re running this place as an Indio franchise and they supply you with the messaging and the training… how does that work?

Jo-Jo: Indio was begun by a lady called Angelica Andress, she had a vision of “Californian Body, Indian Soul” back in the 60s and combined yoga with her knowledge of nutrition; then put it together with her own special messages and mantras. She devised the concept, the exercises and the menus. As the movement grew, she took on staff, licensed out her product and put together fresh motivational messages from her offices in the US. It all ticked along quietly, building up a loyal following. But as technology grew, Angelica was able to transmit the message of Indio a lot more effectively. No more grainy VHSs or crackly poems with sitar music. Now it’s professionally produced videos broadcast online, a TV Channel and a host of professional Indio performers, musicians, writers and brand ambassadors. There’s podcasts, blogs, magazines and 24 hour support. We’ve got around a million members and we’re growing fast.

Nick: You mentioned the food aspect?

Jo-Jo: Angelica began as a nutritionist. There’s a science behind Indio and it’s all to do with spiritually similar, holistic food. It’s about making these foods work together to give the body everything it needs and nothing it doesn’t. We show our practitioners how to utilise this skill to create menus for them and their families… we even cook our own Indio meals in house for people to take home and enjoy. Just before you arrived we made a batch of Recovery Rock Fish, with mint bean puree. Everybody has an individual diet plan according to their needs. A person trying to recover from an injury will follow a different plan to somebody trying to lose weight for example. If you do the Indio exercises without following your diet plan, you won’t be able to enjoy the full effects.

Kathryn: You used to be a ballet dancer, how did you become an Indio instructor?

Jo-Jo: I grew up in Chiswick and studied ballet and performing arts locally. After graduating I did some recitals, plays, art house theatre and plenty of auditioning. My legs were my living and we did well for each other… but when I was 25 I tore my anterior cruciate ligament. Rehab didn’t go well and I no longer had the movement I needed and couldn’t perform. I felt my life was over. Then a couple of years ago I was visiting family in San Francisco and walked past an Indio class. There was laughing, dancing, poetry, something pulled me in through the door, I knew I had to be a part of it. I ended up staying in San Francisco for a year, studying the art of Indio… within eight months my knee was completely healed. From there I moved to Paris and studied at the feet of Angelica herself… then I decided to start my franchise, here in Chiswick. This is my calling, I help people, I perform, we all perform.

Nick: So what’s next?

Jo-Jo: If all goes well I’m about to become an official brand ambassador for Indio UK. There are around forty franchises operating up and down the country and I’ve been working with the people at Indio Towers to produce some British-centric messages, TV channel performances and videos. It’s a brilliant opportunity to help spread the word of an organisation that’s done so much for me. I used to be lost I had nowhere to go, but now I’m a part of the Indio show. I’ll help make you healthy, be all you can be, you’ll be a new person come try it and see.

Jo-Jo Taylor will be presenting a weekly show on the Indio Health Channel from May 1st.

Speak Your Mind