Life+Times: You’re a personal trainer and professional dancer, and perhaps best known as the woman behind one of the most renowned bodies in the world – Madonna. How did your working relationship come about?
Nichole Winhoffer: Madonna and I both share a passion for dance, creativity, and training. It is an honor to be able to work with her and to be responsible for her body. After The Sticky and Sweet Tour in 2009, Madonna decided she wanted a fresh perspective on fitness. As someone who understood her body, and what is needed to perform at that level, my background as a professional dancer was perfect for her. I had previously performed in three Broadway shows including Wicked. Of course I spent countless months researching anatomy and physiology and really immersed myself in finding unique ways to attain the results she needed – nothing that has been done before. To me, what’s been done is old – thinking outside the box is what interests me.
L+T: Where did your love of dance stem from? Were you always an active child?
NW: Yes! Health, the outdoors, pushing the mind and body was always something practiced in my home. Growing up with three younger brothers, our entire family would train mornings and evenings in the basement. I found my passion for dancing when I applied my movement and discipline to emotions, feelings, and expression. It was a brand new feeling…and wow… it was addicting.
L+T: Inspired by art, dance, and music, your workouts have been deemed challenging, innovative and unconventional. How so?
NW: Passion is everything. Drive is what gets you what you want. Consistency is commitment and structure. When you watch my workouts or me working out with a private client, it’s like attending a live stage show. The music, the costuming, the choreography, the performance level, the synchronization, the movement, the music is all planned with the utmost detail. How I create this piece of art, takes days, weeks, years to put together. I journal all my ideas, draw, paint, listen to music, watch movies, live theater, and stimulate my mind to give me new ideas for my workout performances.
L+T: You’re also the creative director of “Addicted to Sweat,” Madonna’s signature program at Hard Candy Fitness. Can you tell us a little bit about this role?
NW: Yes! We offer “Addicted to Sweat” programming at Hard Candy Fitness Gyms worldwide. This means, that every quarter, I supply the gyms with the new workouts I have done with Madonna. Together, Madonna and I come up with new classes to offer to her gyms. I am in touch with the trainers around the world to ensure they have all the content, videos, manuals, and new playlists to teach to their members. Change is crucial to results. We are constantly supplying new content to ensure results for the HCF members. I travel to each location to meet with the trainers, members, and gym team to create an atmosphere and experience similar to Madonna and my workouts. It’s amazing to collaborate with different cultures and people. I learn something new in every country. It’s so nice to see the trainers using the content and being able to use their own personalities and cultures within the programming.
L+T: What is it like working with someone like Madonna? You’ve said she’s your mentor – what has she taught you?
NW: Working with a woman like Madonna is priceless. I take my work seriously; my work is my life: it is an extension of who I am. In life, how you do anything is how you do everything. Every day that I work with her is a testament of who I am. My work is not just about training, but about learning, studying, pushing myself, and honing my craft. How can I be better? How can I find a more interesting solution? In what ways can I be different? Am I being the leader I want to be? Focus. Discipline. Creativity. Thinking outside the box. Being different. Details. Believing in yourself. I take nothing for granted and know that the universe placed me in her life for a reason greater than words can explicate. Every moment matters and at every moment I learn something new. If you aren’t learning, you are dead.
L+T: In Fall 2012, you made your debut in the Hard Candy Fitness DVD set sharing with the masses the “Addicted to Sweat” workout programs. What was the mission behind these DVDs?
NW: Opening the first Hard Candy gym in Mexico City in 2010, Madonna lead a cardio class at the opening with the dances we use in our workouts. We received such great feedback, that Hard Candy Fitness wanted to continue this class. They came to me to create a “Madonna inspired workout” to be offered in the gyms based on the programs I do with her privately. From here, “Addicted to Sweat” was born. Now offered in Sydney, Mexico City, Santiago, St. Petersburg, and Moscow, we wanted a chance to reach people who didn’t have access to Hard Candy Fitness Gyms: DVDs were the perfect solution. All my passion went into the DVD. People need to see the energy that is needed to gain results. How to workout. How to push themselves. How to use their bodies in ways they’ve never used them. How to challenge themselves. How to use unique, unconventional exercises to gain amazing results. How to be free and express yourself through music, movement, and dance. How to be the best version of themselves. How to be the best!