Photography and Video by Sasha Israel
IT’S 10 A.M. IN THE HEART OF WALL STREET. BELOW STREET LEVEL IN A HIDDEN DANCE STUDIO, LYNN BAN IS DRIPPING WITH SWEAT WHILE NICOLE WINHOFFER BELTS OUT COMMANDS OVER THE BOOMING STEREO BLARING A SKRILLEX DANCE ANTHEM. “MARCH, MARCH, POINT! HORSEY! DRACULA! I WANT TO SUCK YOUR BLOOD!” No, this isn’t an episode of So You Think You Can Dance. It’s just a typical weekday workout with a pair who seem to be a match made in #fitspo heaven. First, there’s Ms. Ban, the Singapore-born jewelry designer whose edgy, neo-warrior baubles have graced the limbs of Gigi Hadid, Beyonce and Rihanna, to name a few. Then there’s Nicole Winhoffer, the bodacious, pint-sized fitness powerhouse who cut her teeth working with Madonna and went on to launch her eponymous NW Method–NYC’s latest cult workout du jour. “When I first met Lynn, the thing that stood out was her style,” says Winhoffer between choreographing Ban through her latest dance routine. “She works extremely hard. That’s something you can’t teach.” To wit, Ban, clad in Cushnie et Ochs slashed leggings and high-top Pumas is a natural. “Nicole’s energy and positive vibe is addictive,” she says. “I’ve always been adverse to going on the treadmill, but dancing, I could do for hours.” Below, the pair reveals what wellness means to them, how they feel about “athleisure,” and how success means breaking the rules…oh, and they also tore it up on the dance floor just for us. See below.
Nicole, how would you describe your workout class?
NW: I work with a lot of people in the entertainment industry and time was a big factor. I wanted to create something in an hour that hit every muscle group, focused on the core, butt and thighs and then also get cardio while you’re toning. Every class is different so your body constantly has to think.
How would each of you describe your approach to health and wellness?
LB: I eat healthy but at the same time, I eat whatever I want. I’m not gluten, dairy or alcohol free. I like juice but I eat. That’s why I work out so much just to maintain that balance. I don’t cleanse. Sweating is important to me. Keeping your heart rate up and then toning. For me, working out is addictive.
NW: Health for me is taking care of my emotional being through movement and through food and really listening to how I feel. Feelings are our guide. I eat what I want and I eat when I want. I just make sure to set an intention when I’m eating. If I’m eating a big bowl of pasta, and I’m like, “Oh I’m fat, I hate myself, my body’s going to retain water,” I’m going to bloat like a motherfucker and I’m going to eat with a negative intention. But if I’m eating because I’m such a foodie, and I’m like, “This is really good.” I’ll feel full and I’ll stop eating. It’s elementary. Emotional well-being is a glow that exudes, beauty and strength. It’s not about the size but your mental energy. If you’re depriving yourself of food or you’re working out like an addict, people pick up on that type of energy. You want to be in the flow. Dance is a combination of movement and emotional expression. Every time you change the song, we talk about the character and we fuck around because we have all different colors to ourselves. We have the bitch in us, we are angry, we are happy, we are generous, we’re jealous, so it’s important in the dance room to get it out so we don’t bring it out in life.
Has dancing changed your body?
LB: Yes, most definitely. I love the adrenaline of dancing and sweating everyday. Before I did yoga and pilates and I felt it would build up areas but not take inches in. Now I’m longer and leaner and it just hits the smaller muscle groups.
What is your most nourishing meal that makes you vibe?
NW: Avocado, roasted butternut squash, Himalayan pink salt, hummus, sushi, seaweed–basically, everything from the sea and earth. I really feel grounded when I eat that. It’s yummy. I go to EN Japanese Brasserie all the time.
LB: EN is the best restaurant. I love their seasonal specials that they fly in from Japan and the grilled stone chicken, the rice pot, the sashimi.
What other restaurants do you love?
NW: I love Blue Ribbon Sushi, Locanda Verde and The Smile.
What is your pre and post workout fuel?
NW: I train everyday so I can’t eat too much before but for me it’s quinoa, salmon, seaweed snacks and nuts. After I workout, I usually have a big meal. I go to Whole Foods once a week and buy a bunch of stuff to have on the go but I love to eat out.
LB: In the morning I do berries and cereal. I have to have something in my stomach because I go work out for two hours. After, I have coconut water and either eggs or avocado. I eat at Mulberry & Vine everyday because it’s down the street from me.
How would you describe your workout style?
LB: Black. (Laughs) I introduced a little white in there as an accent. Usually long leggings but I prefer capris. I wear a lot of Stella and Alala. I discovered other brands at Bandier. I won’t do a crop top. Athleisure is such a funny term though. They’re like, “Oh you can go for drinks after!” I’m like, “First of all the way we sweat, you want to go home and shower.”
NW: That’s hard. I change. Sometimes it’s funky and I dress according to color but I love streetwear. I don’t like looking like the Lululemon girl. I dress according to how I feel. If you’re going to dinner, you’re going to get dressed up. When I work out, it’s the same thing. It affects the way you move. I’ve been really into Jordans lately and I’ve been wearing a lot of basketball shorts. I love wearing bathing suits to work out. Growing up dancing, I would wear leotards to school with jeans. It’s part of the dancer mentality.
Best makeup products for working out?
LB: I heard Madonna wears Hourglass mattifying foundation on tour. I wear it too but not to workout.
NW: Makeup For Ever is a good brand. Usually when I workout, I wear Tom Ford foundation under my eyes, curl my lashes with a Shu Umera curler and use a Korean mascara.
You both have such amazing Instagram personas. How does social media help you connect with your fans?
NW: It gives you an opportunity to have a platform to expand your presence, to voice your opinions, build your business and reach people you wouldn’t otherwise.
Lynn, when did you start–
LB: Not giving a shit? (Laughs.) In the beginning, you’re like, I’m supposed to put pictures of jewelry or me in the workshop but no one really cares. You’re putting out your brand and what you’re about and yeah there are jewelry pictures but also your lifestyle. It’s an attitude. Maybe that’s being naked. I work my ass off. I work out. If it’s a tasteful picture, I think that’s fine. As a woman, you should be able to express yourself.
Where do you find your inspiration for social media?
LB: Photography. Definitely the last trip was a very Helmut Newton vibe. He would shoot within six blocks of wherever he was, just taking in his environment and what was happening. These days everything is taken with an iPhone so it’s similar. It’s about being able to express what you’re about.
What would you consider your breakthrough moment in your careers?
LB: The season finale of American Idol five years ago. Rihanna had these dreads on and she wore my croc cuff and rings. After that, working with Beyonce and Madonna.
NW: There were two moments. When I started working with Madonna exclusively. I had to really work my ass off to prove myself and she stood behind me for six years. That gave me a different kind of confidence because I was only 22 when I started working with her. The second was when I went off on my own and started my own brand two years ago. It proved to me when you believe in something, you’re going to get 3,000 no’s but you have to keep persistent and keep the dream alive in your head to make it happen.
How does music inform your work?
NW: Music is super important. Music has to move me because I have to move a room. If I’m not inspired, people are going to be like what is this girl doing. I like R&B, techno and classical. Beyonce and Rihanna obviously are really huge for their personalities and style. I really like J. Lo as a woman.
LB:The artists that I work with inspire me constantly on all levels. All these strong women that don’t give a shit. With Rihanna, every decision, every choice that she makes, is hers and she has a very strong opinion. Everything she wears is absolutely her choice and she has a strong vision and point of view of what she likes and what she wants.
What songs or artists are you listening to currently?
NW: That Kanye song Famous. When that whole thing happened with Taylor and Kim, I started playing it in my Equinox class. Just pulling current things in connects you to it. I really like Dae Dae. He’s like the new Future. I like Maino and Grimes.
LB: I’m obsessed with For Free by DJ Khaled and Drake. Nicole has an amazing playlist and she’s so in tune with DJs and music. Sometime, if we don’t discuss beforehand, we’re spend ten, fifteen minutes before hand and she’ll be like, “Do you like this?” And I’ll be like, “No I want to be more tough.” Dessert is the new song I like.
Do you have any self-care treatments?
LB: Massages. I have someone that comes to the house. His name is Dave and he works at the Peninsula uptown but he’ll come to you. He’s 6’4 and enormous. I like a strong massage. I also do PT with Natalie from Neurosport. She does dry needling and cupping. She fixes you. She’s fixed people’s plantar fasciitis. I also see Dr. Hao at Pat Wexler for peels. I’m pretty low maintenance.
NW: I do acupuncture and massage once a week. I like Japanese needling acupuncture with Dr. Yamaguchi on 54th street. He brought Japanese needling to New York about 30 years ago. It’s really important. The hormones and lymphatic system need to be drained. You sweat, which is a really good natural release but sometimes that self-care, relaxation does something that working out doesn’t. Maggie at La Prairie Spa does a myofascia release with deep tissue. Fascia is really important and how it overlays on the skin. You have to do the opposing way of your fibers and she’s really good at that so I do that too.
Where do you get your energy?
NW: People. I’m an empath. I can feel people’s energy. When I hear music, I pretend I’m a character and I play. This time I was Sailor Moon and I was painting colors with my hands. Sometimes I have a hard time sleeping because I’m so wired during the day. I like using essential oils, eucalyptus and lavender, taking baths at night with rose oil and eucalyptus salts and not eating so heavy at night. Also, trying to go to bed without a night cap.
What’s your nightcap?
NW: Vodka and limes.
LB: You turned me onto a gimlet with no sugar.
NW: It’s just vodka with fresh lime juice and pour it over ice. I love Tito’s.
NW: Tumi clothing sacks for my sports bras and my lingerie.
How do you keep healthy while traveling?
NW: The first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do before bed stays the same no matter where I am. That trains your body. I drink ten gulps of hot water with lemon in the morning and I say my mantras. I list five things I’m grateful for, five things about what I want in my day and then I visualize my day. Every since I was a kid, I created a really strong mindset for myself.
LB: On the plane, drinking a ton of water and I live on Berocca. It’s like a Vitamin B fizzy drink for when you arrive.
NW: I love gelato and Insomnia cookies. It changes all the time. One day I’ll start eating sorbet.
LB: I love pasta, rice and wine.
NW: Real Food Daily in LA.
LB: In LA, the Chateau and M Cafe. In Paris, there’s a great Japanese in Palais Royal, Kinugawa. It’s always nice to have Japanese.
What’s in your workout bag?
NW: Water, Lys 41 by Le Labo, almond oil and coconut oil for my skin, ten changes of clothes, a dress and heels and three other workout outfits, my Sony headphones.
LB: A change of clothes and rose water from Whole Foods.
Who makes your workout bag?
What is the best advice you’ve gotten?
NW: Believe in yourself and consistency. Madonna would say, “This couch is green.” And you would say, “No, it’s silver.” And she would say, “No it’s green, it’s green.” That type of mind control is really important. I also learned consistency. You have to do something every day. You want to build your social media following? You have to work at it every day. You want to build your business? Every day. Every day. Every day, to make it part of your blood and part of your life. Once that happens, the opportunities start to come faster.
Watch Lynn and Nicole slay: