After we sent our blogger Amy Strode into Voga to see what all the fuss was about, she was first knocking on our door to be one of the first to try out innovative new class, the NW Method, named after the creator celebrity trainer, Nicole Winhoffe. "Madonna Schmadonna, I'll be marrying Guy Ritchie/buying a cone bra/snogging Britney in no time" she says. This is what happened.
"Maybe it's karma punishing me for finding Madonna's recent wardrobe malfunction a teeny bit funny. Or maybe I shouldn't have eaten that bowl of ravioli before the class. Or maybe I should've eaten more ravioli...". If there's one thing the NW Method has taught me, it's that you have to earn it.
As with all Gymbox classes, this is not just a workout, but an experience – except this one takes it to the next level. Named after its creator, Nicole Winhoffer – professional dancer and personal trainer to stars like Rachel Weisz, Stella McCartney and, most famously, Madonna – the NW Method matches movement with psychology, taking your body and mind in new and challenging directions.
Entering the class, we launch straight into the moves with the guidance of instructor, Esmee. This class is all about not wasting time, working the body to the max, and making the most of every rep. If you're thinking this sounds like your approach to every gym session, think again! There's a catch – try maintaining the same energy after 30 reps of each move. I'm currently two weeks from a marathon and can safely say that the NW Method puts the 'end' into endurance, as in, "when will this burning ever end?". The answer to this is not the next day, as I'd hoped.
First move: grab a rope, keep it taut. Easy. Mix with various arm lifts, squats and other shoulder-based moves and you've got a nifty little resistance workout. "Madonna Schmadonna, I'll be marrying Guy Ritchie/buying a cone bra/snogging Britney in no time"... I had clearly underestimated this challenge, especially considering the amount of sweat pouring from every inch of my being after just a few minutes.
Most classes claim that you will work the whole body, but with the NW Method you can really feel this happening. The workout targets all major muscle groups (and a few you don't realise are there, hello, next day glute pain!) through focusing on 360 degree motion rather than more conventional forward-motion workouts. Although the class includes variations of press ups, squats, lunges and so forth, I found myself working muscles more deeply and effectively through three dimensional exploration of movement, alongside lengthy repetition. This was a struggle at times, but the class really goes by the 'no pain, no gain' mantra. Throughout, Esmee emphatically reminds you to stay positive, make the workout your own and, most importantly, to never give up. She encourages you to think of a reason for each side kick, toe touch and squat and to relish every accompanying bead of sweat.
Next, it's onto abs. By now, the thought of my lunchtime ravioli makes me want to vomit my way through these plank/leg lift/twisting hybrids. But no! "I won't give up, Madonna would never give up... I AM Madonna!". As Esmee reminds us, "if you don't think you can do it, you won't do it", I plough on through... just.
If all of this sounds like a nightmare to you, it's not! Yes, it's a test of endurance, but it's positive and energetic and sweaty and, in true Gymbox fashion, there's a great playlist on at all times. Also, once you get past thinking you may actually be on fire, you get to enjoy the music and UV lights with a final dance routine.
By this point, I may have looked and felt like I'd done 10 rounds with Rocky but, amongst the hand claps and shouts of, "think of something that makes you really happy!", I realised that the only person I'd battled was myself. It might sound cliché, but exercise should be rewarding and challenging both physically and mentally, and the NW Method definitely lives up to that expectation. For me, it offered a sudden 'look how far I've come' moment, not only from the class but to take away to my ridiculous, endless marathon training and beyond.
As the class drew to a close and we rocked out the high kicks to a remix of Madonna's Frozen, my only final thought was, "I wonder what deodorant Madge uses".
Earn it and burn it: 500-700 calories
Inspired by Amy's experience? Then give the NW Method a whirl right here.