When you see Madonna on a talk show this week promoting her new album MDNA (out today!) or during one of the stops on her world tour, which kicks off on May 29, you’ll be checking out moves choreographed by former Broadway dancer Nicole Winhoffer. She appeared in shows like Wicked and 42nd Street, among others, before joining the Material Girl for her Sticky and Sweet Tour in 2009. Winhoffer, who is also a personal trainer, now works in the gym with Madonna six days a week to ensure that she’s ready for her grueling performances.
We caught up with Winhoffer to take a peek behind the scenes and to learn more about how everyone can train just like the amazing 53-year-old pop star!
If our readers could steal one trick from your work with Madonna, what would that be?
Body awareness. One must engage their mind while performing their exercises. Time and time again, I see people reading papers or watching TV while they work out. This might bring about injury and if the mind is not connected to the body, you can’t exert the proper amounts of energy needed to gain the desired results.
You were in Indianapolis to help Madonna prepare for the Super Bowl and are now gearing up to go on tour with her. How do you prepare for each performance?
Right before the show, we warm-up in her dressing room. We complete active hamstring stretch sequences as well as other stretches, ensure joint mobility by performing jumps on the ground and on trampolines and do ab work. As a result, her body is connected, warm and ready for the performance.
People are still buzzing about her amazing halftime show performance. How do you get your body ready for something like that?
We increased our cardio for stamina—her show was the most physical 12 minutes I have ever experienced! Due to her high heels, we made sure her core was strong to support the stress placed on her lower back. We practiced several movements and routines from her performance within the workout so once she was on stage, her muscle memory kicked in.
We heard that Madonna practiced for the halftime show with the temperature warm in the stadium. Does she always prefer to train with the thermostat high?
A warmer environment allows for the muscles to be warmed up and limber. Increasing body temperature allows for the blood to flow through the heart and muscles, enabling mobility, movement and protection from injury. Being a dancer, there is nothing better than feeling each muscle warmed up, connected and ready for a big show.
Besides being Madonna’s trainer and helping with the choreography for her new video “Girl Gone Wild,” you’re involved with her Hard Candy Fitness Clubs. Can you tell us more about them?
Hard Candy Fitness is inspired by Madonna and the belief that “Harder is Better.” It includes much of the same choreography and toning exercises used in Madonna’s personal fitness regime. Currently there are locations open in Mexico City and Moscow, with St. Petersburg opening in spring 2012 and another club opening to be announced soon. Hard Candy Fitness also plans to open additional locations around the world.
You’ve worked with Madonna since 2009. What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned from her?
With persistence, one will bring about the change they desire. With attention to detail, everything is accounted for.