Fans vie for chance to sweat it out with Madonna at Toronto fitness club
U.S. pop star Madonna smiles during her visit at the "Hard Candy Fitness" center in Berlin on Oct. 17, 2013. (AP / Michael Sohn)
Lauren La Rose, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, February 9, 2014 11:33AM EST
TORONTO -- Jamie Madigan has been a Madonna devotee since his teen years when he was listening to "True Blue" on cassette and watching the music icon perform during her Girlie Show tour stop in Toronto -- his first concert in high school.
So when Madigan learned Madonna's Hard Candy Fitness was opening in Canada, the pop idol's connection to the luxury gym brand was his main motivation for enrolling.
"She's a smart businesswoman who from Day 1 knew what she wanted, went after it, didn't really listen or care about what anybody else said and just fought until she got. To me, she really hasn't changed that model," said Madigan in reference to Madonna's career longevity.
"She's always aware of what's current, what's trending, what's hot. Just when people think she's maybe falling out or she's being quiet, then here she is coming out with something new."
In recent weeks, the Material Girl has given Madigan added incentive to squeeze in additional training as the 37-year-old competes for the chance to break a sweat alongside Madonna during her upcoming Canadian visit.
She will be in Toronto on Tuesday for the official launch of the Hard Candy Fitness facility. The Canadian club opened for workouts in October, joining international locations in Berlin, Rome, Sydney, Santiago, Mexico City, Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Madigan is among the hopefuls vying to fill 30 spots in the cardio-based Addicted to Sweat class that the pop diva will be leading. The classes were created by Madonna and are based on her daily workouts. Tim Anderson, Madonna's personal trainer from her "MDNA" tour, will be making the final selections at callback auditions on Monday.
"I think about it every day," Madigan said. "It's going to be the experience of a lifetime, something I've always dreamt of but never thought would actually happen."
Group exercise director Lori Kirwan said the class blends the best of the dance and fitness worlds, meshing elements of high-impact aerobics with choreography.
The hour-long Addicted to Sweat class in Toronto comprises a warmup, cardio and intensive stretching, strengthening and toning work involving the use of towels. A component of the towel exercises involves placing them under the feet while individuals are in plank position and sliding in different directions, working the core and inner thighs, Kirwan noted.
While he has no professional dance experience, Madigan previously auditioned for a chance to land in a music video for pop star Pink, but didn't make it past the first round. He's hoping for better results this time, but admits the Addicted to Sweat class is demanding. He's been attending sessions four to five times a week in addition to his regular routine of cardio and weights.
"It's the craziest class I've ever done, kind of unusual, especially the towel portion. But it's fun. The time flies by," Madigan said. "Madonna does it for two hours every day, so we figure we should be able to get through at least an hour of it."
Cyndy Love-Minns was an avid dancer in her younger days, and is no stranger to the audition experience, previously vying for a spot in the National Ballet School. Still, the 57-year-old was a bundle of nerves and excitement as she competed for a chance to work out with Madonna, making it to the final callback.
"To me, if you want to have someone inspire you, you want it to be achievable," said Love-Minns, who is anticipating the arrival of her first grandchild within days.
"Me looking at somebody that's in their 20s or 30s and thinking: 'Well, I can never look like that again. It's out of my range.' But Madonna has looked after herself and is fabulous. She looks fabulous. And she's not that far away from me in age."
Love-Minns said even if she doesn't make the final cut, she's happy to have reached the last stage in the process and pleased with the progress she's seen in her fitness, which includes losing eight pounds since December.
Kirwan said seeing the efforts of those auditioning for the class has been inspiring, including those who have devoted hours in studio to practise.
"As a fitness instructor, it's my dream come true to have people that excited," she said.
"The way I'm looking at it, the process that they've come through to get to the point where they're at the final audition and can maybe dance with Madonna has been a really valuable experience in and of itself."