She Looks Great — But How Fit Is Madonna, Really?


For pop goddess Madonna, seen here performing in Nice, France, during her Sticky & Sweet tour, a two-hour show is like running a half marathon — in heels, while singing. (Photo: Corbis/Pascal Deschamps)

It’s no secret that Madonna boasts one of the best bodies in entertainment — and has for the past three decades. Her ridiculously toned arms and long dancer’s legs are the envy of women one-third of her age (which would be 56, but who’s counting?)

But when it comes to her fitness regimen, aesthetics (as impressive as they may be) are only a secondary goal. Her head personal trainer, Craig Smith, tells Yahoo Health that his main objective is to get Madonna ready for the grueling rehearsals in preparation for her next world tour.

In this way, Madonna trains like a professional athlete preparing for a season of tough competition. One show lasts for two or more hours, Smith explains, during which Madonna is dancing, jumping, and dashing across the stage. It’s similar to running a half marathon several times per week — and having to sing during the entire race.

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Rehearsals can be just as demanding as the tour (if not more so), Smith explains. They begin three months before the show kicks off, and last 12 to 16 hours per day, six days per week. “That’s on top of her family and all of the other work she does,” says Smith, who also serves as the creative director for Hard Candy Fitness.

To prepare for her upcoming Rebel Heart World Tour, which starts Sept. 9 in Montreal, Smith has Madonna working out about an hour each day. “We do well-rounded, balanced programs that incorporate cardio, strength, stability, flexibility, mobility, and relaxations and meditation,” he says.

From one day to the next, Smith may put Madonna through high-intensity Tabata intervals, Pilates, Ashtanga yoga, barre, core work, or a bodyweight strength circuit. For cardio, they’ll do a nonstop dance routine or kickboxing. (Dance cardio is her favorite, Smith says.)

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All of the workouts are designed to help Madonna prepare for the intense — and unique — physical demands of the stage show. “There are elements of dance in everything we do,” Smith explains. For example, one of Smith’s favorite arm exercises to do with Madonna is a tricep kickback with an arabesque.

During rehearsals and while on tour, her training is more focused on preventing injuries, facilitating recovery, and keeping her body strong, healthy, and ready for the next performance. Smith uses massage, foam rolling, and trigger point therapy to aid recovery.

Workouts take place wherever they need to, given the star’s hectic travel schedule. She’ll work out at her home gym or visit Hard Candy Fitness (her high-end gym chain with eight international locations) when she can, but is also known to squeeze in a workout in her dressing room, on set, or at a local gym.

What’s Madonna like as a gym buddy? Fun and chatty. “We talk about everything [during training sessions],” Smith says. “We talk about her kids, what she’s working on, how rehearsals go, how she feels from yesterday’s workout. It’s always a fun conversation.”

She may have the body of a dancer-slash-model, but in the gym, Madonna trains like an athlete.

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