Lifestyle

Julianne Hough’s Year of Transformation

When Oprah calls, you pick up.

WW / Photographer: George Burns

Julianne Hough is in her own class when it comes to hustle and self-transformation: The formally-trained dancer began winning major dance awards as a teenager, before going on to a whirlwind career in television and film, that yielded winning turns on two different seasons of Dancing With the Stars, an Emmy for Outstanding Choreography, and roles in films as broad-ranging as Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone and Netflix’s new Dolly Parton-produced series, Heartstrings.

Hough’s latest transformative coup: A nine-city run with Oprah Winfrey and WW (Weight Watchers Reimagined) as part of the Winfrey’s national arena tour, Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life In Focus, where Hough is activating audiences with her new fitness method, Kinrgy. The Riveter’s founder and CEO, Amy Nelson, talked with Hough backstage at the tour’s stop in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Amy Nelson: So, how’s the tour been going so far?

Julianne Hough: I’ve been on stage many times with a lot of people, and the fact that it’s Oprah and everything is incredible — but then to be on stage with the launch of this company that is so much bigger than me, that to me was what was so special. I felt like I knew everybody in the audience; it wasn’t so much performing, but that we all got to collectively do it together that was so cool.

Nelson: And how did this all come together? Oprah called …

Hough: Oh my gosh; you couldn’t say yes fast enough because it’s Oprah calling! Knowing what Oprah stands for, and how she has been vulnerable about her own transformation over the years that she’s been in the public eye, that’s why people look up to her, because they see themselves in her … it’s not about being a leader, or being perfect. It’s the fact that Oprah is coming out here and sharing. It’s wellness; it’s WW — they’ve shifted their whole branding of what it means to be healthy, and that’s what I want to be a part of. I could have a number one album, and I have, and that’s great. But if I could be a part of actually shifting and helping people transform their lives, that’s something that I would to want to leave as my legacy.

Nelson: It sounds like Kinrgy is more of an evolution from your prior work than a pivot, but how did you make time for it?

Hough: I’m still making time for it. Part of what this year for me is about is letting go of an old idea of what I thought my life was supposed to be and loosening the grip, because I can still do everything that I did before. I can still act, I can still sing, but I’m getting rid of the idea that this is the way it was supposed to look, and actually accept that my life has evolved into this. And this has so much more impact and purpose behind it; when I talk about it, I light up.

Part of what this year for me is about is letting go of an old idea of what I thought my life was supposed to be and loosening the grip … and actually accepting that my life has evolved into this. And this has so much more impact and purpose behind it; when I talk about it, I light up.

Nelson: Can you tell us a little more about the method?

Hough: The movement is specifically designed to help you connect to your truth and to yourself. When that happens, you get to experience the world how it’s supposed to be experienced, which is love and unity. And so that’s what the whole mission and method is really about. 

Babies have 30,000 unique movements when they are born. When they’re in a high chair, they hear music and they dance around.

Nelson: They do. My baby’s wiggling all the time. It’s hilarious.

Hough:  And they just feel it! And they’re not worried if their parents think they’re doing it right or wrong, or good or bad. They just are there laughing and dancing and being free and whatever it is. And then somewhere along the line somebody says, “Oh, you’re not a dancer,” or “I’m not a dancer.” When did that happen? Dancing is about expression and freedom. In the movie Jojo Rabbit — have you seen it? — there’s this girl, and they ask her: “What would you do when you’re free?” She goes, “Well, dance.” Dance is freedom.

“Dancing is about expression and freedom. In the movie Jojo Rabbit — have you seen it? — they ask a girl, ‘What would you do when you’re free?’ She goes, ‘Well, dance.’ Dance is freedom.”

That’s what Kinrgy’s about. We don’t have mirrors. We just have the music on. The movements are designed the way that our bodies are designed, so it’s not choreography. Yes, it’s a dance fitness experience, but really it’s about connecting to your essence of who you are.

Nelson: How did you come up with it?

Hough: Through my own transformation. I’ve always danced. It has always been my super power, because it’s helped move stuck energy in my body and helped me felt expressed when I didn’t feel like I had a voice and my body was my language. It kind of just came at a time when I was in my own healing and transformational stage of life, of like, what is my purpose? Who am I? And I think that’s when you move more into contribution. Instead of it being about you, it’s What can I give? What can I offer? I realized that it’s the combination — the trifecta of movement, breath, and visualization — that helps you activate that power source.

Kinrgy came at a time when I was in my own healing and transformational stage of life, of like, what is my purpose? Who am I?

Nelson: This tour is incredible — how else are you bringing Knergy to life this year?

Hough: This company is all about human connection, and so we changed our business model a couple times because we were like, “Oh, maybe we’ll be digital,” but we’re like, “No, we have to get people to experience it.” So we are going on tour, obviously with Oprah. We’re doing popups. We’re touring around, and then at the end of the year we’ll have a location that’s more solid.

Nelson: That’s amazing and so important because I think sometimes we’re in a space where we think the digital world is enough, but we’re humans. We have to connect.

Hough: We are so disconnected because we’re on our phones, and because everything is so accessible, and our food … we can literally order it online and have it come to our doorstep. We don’t have to get up and move.

Nelson: And it was just two generations ago that we were so fully connected to our food every single day. It’s not long ago.

Hough: No, not at all. And that’s the whole point: Our minds are so busy and active right now because we’re getting so much information, and then our bodies are still, so it’s: How do we switch it? How do we get our minds still and activate our bodies? So that’s what the whole method is about.

Nelson: I  think about that a lot, because at the Riveter we have physical spaces and a digital network. I’m in the middle of the country because I think women in the middle of the country …

Hough: Get left out. 

Nelson: Get left out.

Hough: That’s our whole point in doing this tour … The very first thought I had was, How do we start the method from the inside out? Let’s go to the middle of the country. Kinrgy is about inclusiveness and bringing everybody together, not being like, “Hey, we’re right over here. Come to us.” No, we want to come to you.

Interested in seeing more from the Vision Tour? Oprah and co. will be streaming the interviews the Wednesday after each stop on the tour at 8pm ET/ 7pm CT on Oprah’s Facebook channel and on the WW Now Facebook channel. And The Riveter is pleased to share an exclusive WW membership offer for tour attendees, their families, and their friends: 50% off any membership plan at WW.com/2020Vision.