Madonna’s trainer of three and a half years, Nicole Winhoffer gave an interview to NYMAG.
Winhoffer first met Madonna while training backup dancers for the Sticky and Sweet tour in 2009. When the tour ended, Madonna asked Winhoffer to stay on as her primary trainer, and the pair has since co-founded the Hard Candy Fitness brand, which includes a series of DVDs called “Addicted to Sweat.” In addition to Madonna, Winhoffer’s clients include Andrea Riseborough and Abbie Cornish. Read on for more details on Madonna’s workout habits and Met Gala tush.
She explained that she had to make Madonna’s workouts extra butt-specific during the past week to prepare the Queen of Pop for the Met Gala.
NYmag: How long did you spend preparing Madonna for the Met Gala?
Nicole Winhoffer: I knew that the event was on Monday, May 6, so in the week leading up to it, we spent a lot of time on legs and cardio, and particularly on her butt. We kept the room feeling warm, right at 85 degrees, and very humid, to promote sweating, which is good for the skin and circulation and blood flow. I focused on three [specific muscles] of the derriere, and I made sure they were fired during the warm-up, which is about ten to fifteen moves. Then we spent about 45 minutes each day on the toning session, which also focused on legs and inner thighs. We also did lots of cardio, about 35 minutes. We really really tried to burn fat and make sure the skin was tight.
NYmag: How was this different from what you normally do with her?
Nicole Winhoffer: I change the program every week, and when I know that she has to make an appearance, I change the cycle. This was a very difficult week. We put the muscles under fatigue so that it could create a shape. The body is like a sculpture, and we spent a lot of time sculpting the legs and the butt. But we work out six days a week, for about an hour and a half at noon in her home gym, so we’re always on top of it. She’s my most dedicated client.
NYmag: Did you know what she was going to be wearing on Monday?
Nicole Winhoffer: No, I actually didn’t ask her if she was even going until the day before, but I assumed she was. On Sunday, I asked if she was going to show legs, and she was like, “Yeah,” so I’m glad we were prepared. But it’s always different, and she’s so busy that I normally just keep our conversation to the workout. I like to minimize the questions I ask my clients. It’s the same for Andy [Lecompte], who does Madonna’s hair, or Gina [Brooke], who does her makeup, or [Arianne Phillips], who has been styling her for 30 years. We come prepared, and work together, and we manage her so that she doesn’t have to worry about being asked a million questions.
NYmag: Can you give examples of other events you’ve prepped her for?
Nicole Winhoffer: She never has to tell the people that work for her what’s happening, because she has the best of the best around her, so we [her staff] all work together. If we know that she’s doing the Super Bowl, for example, I talk to Ari, her wardrobe designer, right away. When she’s prepping for a tour, I know all about her fittings and what she’s wearing on stage, and then I pay special attention to how her clothes should fit. If she’s in a corset or her butt is showing, I make sure to really pay attention to those areas.
NYmag: Does she have any areas of her body that she likes to really focus on?
Nicole Winhoffer: We really focus on the butt. That’s my specialty. I think it’s the most important part of a woman [laughs]. But it can be hard to get her body to respond because she’s so strong and has so much endurance already. For her to feel an exercise, I have to put her in these really odd positions to even make a butt lift work. We’ll be hanging from the ceiling, dangling from ropes, or on ballet bars. Because she’s been working out for so long, it’s always a challenge to put her body in a pose that she has never done before.
NYmag: How do you motivate her on days when she’s tired and doesn’t feel like working out?
Nicole Winhoffer: First of all, music is super-important — that’s what drives the movement. We’re both dancers, so every day I have a new playlist for her. The rhythm and style of the music helps dictate the workout. Number two, she’s a human like all of us. Some days she’s not motivated. We all have days when don’t want to go to the gym, and on those days I know that I have to work extra hard to keep the energy up. I do the workouts with her, so I’m leading her and we’re exchanging energy. I’m also very verbal. I count out loud, and yesterday, I screamed out, “Okay, you’re gonna show your legs!” But she’s super-focused when there’s good music playing.
NYmag: What kind of playlists did you have this week?
Nicole Winhoffer: Right now we’re listening to a lot of old-school R&B, because the program that we’re doing has slower toning and a lower BPM [beats per minute]. So there’s some Missy Elliot, old Jay-Z, Frank Ocean, Chris Brown, Rihanna. Last week her workout had a higher BPM, so we were listening to a lot of remixes, like remixed Christina Aguilera and Britney songs. It just varies. Sometimes I play Rastafarian music and she’s like, “What is that?” [Laughs.] But it’s good to change it up, keep the imagination and brain working, and keep her body inspired.