November 16, 2017 01:36 PM

To get back into touring shape after giving birth to her first child, Janet Jackson‘s workouts were “focused on intensity,” says her trainer Paulette Sybliss.

Sybliss says the 51-year-old singer wanted to get stage-ready after delivering son Eissa on Jan. 3.

“That was my goal. I needed to get her not just looking fit, but to be able to move, to talk and to sing,” Sybliss tells PEOPLE. “She sings and dances. She does them together — she doesn’t do one or the other.”

Jackson started working out again eight weeks after delivering Eissa, and would train with Sybliss at least four days a week for 45 minutes to an hour.


Sybliss says she focused their workouts on weight training — not cardio.

“People are quite surprised, but we did no conventional cardio the entire time we worked out together,” she says. “It was weight training.”

Janet Jackson
Farrenton Grigsby

“When you work your muscles in that way, your body is going to continue to burn calories. You may burn some calories when you step on a treadmill, but the minute you stop your body stops; you’re not burning any more. So my goal was, every time she’s not with me, I need her body to be working.”

An added bonus of strength training: It prepared Jackson for the intensity of performing live.

“I remember her saying to me at one point, ‘This feels like my dance routine, because it’s intense, with quick rest, back to it, quick rest.’ And that’s how I structured my sessions, that’s what I wanted,” Sybliss says.

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While Jackson was dedicated to slimming down, she didn’t always love her workouts. Sybliss laughed when asked if Jackson had a favorite exercise.

“I think back work might be her favorite, if I had to choose,” Sybliss says. “But I think all the sessions are quite challenging … She didn’t look forward to any of the leg sessions. They were intense. They had to be intense — the bigger the muscle group, the more you’re going to have to physically work it to feel it. But that was where we would be doing the work and burning the calories.”

(Sybliss, second from left, with Jackson)

Still, Sybliss says Jackson was “great” at moves like one-arm rows that would tone her shoulders and sculpt her arms.

Sybliss is working with Jackson throughout her tour, and says they’re focused on body maintenance.

“Now my goal as a trainer is to keep her fit, to keep her healthy,” Sybliss says. “She still has 40-plus shows. You can compare it to an athlete — they’re so strong but they’re often bordering on an injury. So my goal is to keep her going, keep her strong and healthy.”

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