2:15 PM EDT, March 28, 2013
As Madonna’s primary personal trainer, Nicole Winhoffer always has five backup plans ready – just in case her original idea doesn’t fly with the famously fit Madge.
“Of course there are days when (Madonna) says, ‘What is this? I hate it!’” said Winhoffer, who has worked with Madonna for four years. “But she makes me better.”
Winhoffer, a personal trainer, dancer, choreographer and artist stars in the "Addicted to Sweat” 4-DVD video series, which is designed to bring Madonna’s dance-centric workouts to the general public. Though I like challenging workouts, the videos were way out of my league. Professional dancers might have better luck.
Winhoffer recently chatted with me about how she keeps Madonna happy in the gym.
Q: How did you and Madonna meet?
A: I was (a dancer) on the “Sticky & Sweet” tour. After that I trained using my own philosophy of fitness, conditioning myself on the road. After the tour she asked if I would be the primary trainer. Having the same background of dance was crucial.
Q: Do you actually work out with Madonna or just tell her what to do?
A: We work out together so I know exactly how it feels on her body and so she can also follow. We do a new program every week. She just got back from Los Angeles and today we did a program on surfboards, using an unstable surface to challenge stabilizing muscles. We try to change the program every week so her body is shocked and her mind is focused on a new workout and a new thing the body has to do.
Q: Who comes up with the workouts?
A: It’s a collaborative effort. I journal all the workouts I do with her; every Sunday I decide what new prop to use and what body part to target. I train all the muscles all the time with a focus on certain muscle groups. It depends if she has a photo shoot or concert and what she’s wearing. A shoot affects her body so our workouts are very hands-on with open communication. We see how her body responds to it. If I intend to sculpt the hamstrings and (the effect) ends up in the quad, I change it up. I always try to find new solutions to create a feminine silhouette. It’s all about change and keeping her inspired.
Q: How can you tell when she’s slacking?
A: That doesn’t ever happen. It really doesn’t. She’s proven consistency is the most important key to success. She has never missed a workout. She really pays attention to how her body is every day; she’s honest with it. She won’t step over the boundary of killing herself and I feed off her energy. It’s very collaborative but definitely a roller coaster.
Q: What’s an essential element of every workout?
A: Music. I create a new play list every week. It’s fun to find remixes of her songs that she has never heard. When her album came out last year, I mixed into my playlist. Music defines how we move. Because we’re both dancers, it's fun to explore the body and challenge it with music.
Q: How long do you work out?
A: Ninety minutes to two hours a day, including stretching. I massage her; we go into a full body warmup, stretching with movement and getting the blood moving. We do 40 reps of each movement; they target areas in her program. For full body, we do seven to 10 interconnected movements, challenging the body in areas we target, then abs, then dance cardio, jump rope, trampoline and then a five minute cool down.
Q: Does Madonna ever get mad at you?
Q: (Laughs.) Yeah. I know her really well. This is why my job is so hard. There are five possible responses I can get. My goal is to have a free-flowing workout so she can’t complain or talk. The mat is in the right place, there are no questions and no possible way to stop.
Q: Do you train other people?
A: I wake up at 5:30 a.m. every day because I have a client at 7 a.m. Madonna and I work out in the afternoon. Once I’m finished with Madonna, I’m usually done for the day. It’s very important to train with others because that’s how I learn. If I’m constantly with the same client, I can never grow or think outside the box. I purposely (train others) so I can try new things with her. I go to public gyms, private studios, I do Bikram yoga. I take dance class, collaborate with others. It’s important to keep my brain fresh so I can be fresh for her. It’s important for me to keep reinventing.
Q: Who inspires you?
A: People who want to change. It’s not just up to me. I can change someone’s body but it’s very difficult if they don’t want to. I prefer to work with people who are athletes and performers, who have danced on Broadway and other artists because there is that passion.
Q: You’ve been called one of the “most stylish” New Yorkers. How important is fashion for a workout?
A: It’s very important; how you feel and what you see in the mirror dictates what your actions are going to be. It’s very important to wear clothing you feel comfortable in. Colors also have a strong affect on energy and what sort of energy you put out. I believe in colors, feng shui and higher levels of consciousness, not only for energy but for sensuality and being female. It’s important for women to show off their body and curves and to be proud of who they are and not to wear baggy clothing.
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