How Madonna’s former personal trainer does fitness
Walk by celebrity trainer Nicole Winhoffer’s workout class at The Standard High Line Hotel in New York and you could assume you’re passing The Boom Boom Room club is in the same building. Her dance-based classes are always set to music (she favours R&B), but you’ll never attend the same class twice – varying workouts is something Winhoffer knows the importance of from personal experience. “I was in the show Wicked, and I gained [weight],” says the former professional dancer. “I was 180 pounds by the time I left. I tore my labrum [in the shoulder] and it was because I wasn’t training. I was doing the same show eight times a week. I wasn’t getting stimulated, and so I chose to leave.” After working as creative director for Madonna’s Hard Candy Fitness and the singer’s personal trainer (more on that below), she created the NW Method. Here’s how she stays fit.
On the importance of actually liking your workout:
Struggle through it, but you need to want to do it. Passion and desire is more important than, ‘Oh, I have to hit my workout at 6 a.m. I’m so bored,’ because your muscles won’t react to it. What I teach people is that they know their body best. I don’t tell them to work out six days a week and ‘do this.’ But I tell them ‘come when you want to, feel your body,’ and usually people end up coming six days a week for an hour, because it feels so good. The philosophy is use music to connect the soul to the body with dance moves, and get the best workout ever. Because if your emotions are not involved, then you won’t get the results.
On her daily routine:
Every morning I wake up and I do my five-minute meditation. Then I take 10 gulps of cold ice water with lemon, and then I usually do a black coffee. Sometimes I don’t have breakfast if I have a really early client — that’s intermittent fasting — so then I’ll work out really hard on an empty stomach, burn the fat. If I do have breakfast, I’ll do some protein, like eggs, then I’ll not eat for, like, four hours. I’ll eat a lunch, which is usually lean proteins like fish or chicken and greens. Depending on what I do for dinner, (dinner is my most favourite meal of the day), I’ll have wine, I’ll have bread and butter, but I’ll usually make sure that I keep my favourite foods to two or three times a day. So if I have dessert, I’m not going to have wine. If I have wine, I’m going to lay off the dessert.
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On how she came to work with Madonna:
I’m a professional dancer, she’s a professional dancer, and I was auditioning a lot in the city and she was looking for a trainer to train her dancers on the “Sticky and Sweet” tour. So I auditioned, I was chosen. It was my first time seeing her in concert, and I was so inspired. And for two years before that, I stopped dancing. So me seeing her and the dancers in concert, and training with the dancers, I was like “Oh my God, I have to go back to dance.” And then after two months she called me and we started working together six days a week, six years, two hours a day. And it was the most incredible experience of my life, it’s priceless. My experience, you can’t buy it, you can’t learn it anywhere.
On tailoring your workout to your outfit:
I work with a lot of actresses and pop stars. Whenever they’re working on a project, like Jennifer Connelly was going to Paris to do something with Louis Vuitton and she was wearing this specific outfit, I’ll make her workout geared to that [outfit]. Or when Madonna was doing the Super Bowl and she had to do a cartwheel, I was working on muscles that help her do that. Or when we did the “Give Me all Your Luvin” music video, and she had this choreography, I was her bodydouble—when we were rehearsing with the directors, I would be the one standing in as her and then I would teach it to her— I would incorporate it into her work. So it becomes second nature. You know you can walk very easily? My goal is to get everyone to dance really easily, so I teach them these muscle memory patterns.