This DJ, singer and dancer has been teaching since her teens, and has choreographed for Miley Cyrus. Her YouTube dance tutorials, which break down the choreography of popular music videos by Gwen Stefani, Ariana Grande and Meghan Trainor, have generated millions of views. Mandy Jiroux took a break from the studio, where she's working on making a record, to talk food, dance and happiness.
What does wellness mean to you? "Living a healthy lifestyle is super important, physically and mentally. I think working out, for anybody, makes you feel really good, but as well you want to make sure you're doing things that make you happy in everyday life. Eating healthy and working out is really important to me, but I don't get too hard on myself where I go crazy. I strongly believe in portion control; being healthy is all about what you eat as well."
What's your diet like? "I make sure that I wake up and have a big breakfast: usually, egg whites, protein and healthy carbs. I think throughout the day, you really do need to have healthy carbs to keep up your energy—especially for someone who's as on the go as I am. Recently, I've been making with my roommate eggs, brown rice—which is random because I never really eat rice for breakfast—and turkey sausage. We mix it all up, it's really good! So I usually eat three small meals a day, but I make a little bit bigger of a meal in the morning, as well as snacks in between meals, and if I do want to treat myself to something before my cheat day—which is on Sunday—then I still let myself have a cookie or a piece of cake or whatever. Because that's what makes me happy, too. We also just got a new Nutri Ninja blender, and have been making smoothies out of spinach, apples, bananas and beets. I've also been juicing, which is really helping my skin."
Any other food tips? "I really do live by portion control, and what you eat. I went to a great nutritionist out here in California, and he got me in the best shape. He told me, 'It's not about working out, if you really want to be healthy and lead a good lifestyle, it's really about what food you're putting into your body. I really do feel you need to give yourself a day, every week or every two weeks, to really go in on food because it kind of actually tricks your metabolism. 'Why am I putting all this crap in my system?' And I think that helps you lose weight, as well."
Your YouTube channel has more than 200,000 subscribers. How did these how-to dance tutorial videos come about? "When I started my YouTube channel about a year ago, I was like, 'What would I enjoy most putting out into the world?' I've been dancing since the age of three, and teaching dance since I was in middle school and high school, it's what I love to do the most and what I'm good at. I put it up because I wanted to, it grew naturally, and now people are asking for it. That's a lot of fun for me."
How do you choose which videos to break down and demonstrate? "I really have to keep up to date with what music videos are coming out, and which have choreography in them [and] I can see what's going on. Plus, I do the videos I feel my fans will love. It's been really great to inspire people to get up and dance and learn with their friends."
Dance is fantastic exercise. What else do you do to stay fit? "To be honest, you'll never see me at a gym. It's not my cup of tea. I really like to go running in my neighborhood. I also do a lot of hot yoga, which is great, makes me feel awesome, makes me more flexible—as well as dancing. It works out every part of your body!"
What else do you love about dance, beyond the obvious? "Man, dance is my number one passion. It means the world to me. It keeps me so happy. Even when I'm having a bad day, I can go into my dance room at home, turn on music and dance my sorrows away. It's my favorite thing to do on this earth. And you don't have to be a professional dancer to enjoy it."