Before the average person has had the chance to hit 'snooze' on their alarm clock, Nicole Winhoffer has completed an elaborate series of stretches, recited mantras, written down her dreams, mindfully sipped on a black coffee, visualized what she wants to achieve within the next five years, and consulted her detailed plan of how she's going to do it. Impressive? Yes. Surprising? Not so much. After all, Winhoffer is building an empire, and to do that requires imagination and a certain amount of genius, not to mention a lot of organization and a boundless supply of energy.
Already the proud owner of her namesake dance studio, the personal trainer to countless stars, and the Global Ambassador of Women’s Training for Adidas by Stella McCartney, Winhoffer's story is one that centers around a love of dance and an affinity for hard work. "I spent my childhood doing Jane Fonda videos in New Jersey and then when I was eight, I went to a dance class and instantly fell in love with it," Winhoffer tells us animatedly over an iced coffee and madeleines at a café around the corner from her New York studio. "By the time I was 16 I was on Broadway, and then I left high school a year early to tour with the musical, 42nd Street." A grueling stint on Wicked! followed, after which she decided to quit dancing. "When you do a show, it's eight days a week and you're doing the same choreography everyday. I lost the brain energy connection to my muscles and my emotions were stagnated and causing me pain. I gained a lot of weight and got injured and it just seemed like the universe was telling me it was time to leave."
Feeling lost, Nicole began to question the dance world’s status quo and looked to eastern philosophy, the Alexander Technique, and the Feldenkrais Method for alternative theories of movement. Whilst spending her time researching, she received a life-changing phone call from Madonna's camp asking her to audition for the role of personal trainer to the Queen of Pop. Needless to say, she got the job, but the task of keeping the Queen satisfied was no easy one. "She's a dancer, so we spoke the same language, but I knew I had to dream up something bigger and better for her," explains Nicole. Bringing together the findings from her studies with her rich knowledge of dance, she was able to do exactly that.
Six years of training Madonna allowed Nicole to further refine and solidify her approach, which is now known as the Nicole Winhoffer Method. The sessions she teaches are blood-pumping, ever-changing, and set to loud music, but their core uniqueness lies in Nicole’s equation that thought plus physicality equals results. Each movement she teaches accesses different acupuncture meridians and simultaneously stimulates the mind and the body. "People don't realize that you can't solve problems with the mind alone. You need to move and let energy into your soul and spirit," says Nicole. Put literally: Get into the groove, dance your heart out, and all will be well.
With so much achieved in such a short period—Nicole is only 30—it wouldn't be entirely amiss to assume that she hasn't the time for a life outside of her work, but that assumption would be wrong. Due to her precision planning, this one-woman powerhouse attends a seemingly endless amount of events and practices more than the usual set of hobbies. "I do one cultural activity every week and I like to hangout with my friends and go to the club. I also love drawing, sketching, writing poetry, singing, and traveling" lists Nicole, "I'm obsessed with Rio."
As much as her Adidas collection is perfect for work hours, her travel and downtime, she hastens to add, is not spent in workout gear. "Of course I love to wear Stella McCartney and my Stan Smiths everyday," she says, "but I also love Acne, Alexander Wang, and Christopher Kane." Bag necessities include essential oils and water. If she ever had a couture gown, Riccardo Tisci would design it. "I'm a completely normal person," Winhoffer says just before she dashes off to teach her fourth high-energy session of the day. With awe and respect, Nicole, we completely disagree.