Behind every great celebrity is a team of people keeping them employed, looking their best, organized, out of trouble, sane, and physically fit, among other celebrity needs. Enter Tanisha Scott, Drake's go-to choreographer and one of the masterminds behind "Hotline Bling," as well as Jonny Roxx, Drake's trainer and the man who helped him get that "swoll" body—a term proliferated by the internet to describe the musician's beefy-yet-toned figure, which he likes to flaunt on Instagram.
Scott was born in Toronto to Jamaican parents, and got her start working with Sean Paul on his “Gimme the Light” video (2002). She's since gone on to work with Rihanna, choreographing, "We Found Love," (2011) and "Rude Boy," (2009) as well as Beyoncé's "Upgrade You" (2006).
Roxx was born in Barbados but grew up in Toronto. (Of course Drake's A-Team has Canadian roots.) He first started working with Drake in 2004 and travels with him on tour. He also retains a few other celebrity clients including professional athletes like Brandon Jennings of the Washington Wizards, Amir Johnson of the Boston Celtics and British Formula One racing driver Lewis Hamilton.
This month, as Drake's More Life enters its third week atop the Billboard charts, both Scott and Roxx teamed up with GapFit and GapFit Sculpt for women, opening up about how they get the musical icon moving and their favorite songs from "More Life." Roxx even shared his fitness mantra in the form of a Drake lyric.
How long have you worked with Drake? How do you keep someone motivated for that long?
We've been working together for about five years now. Results keep clients motivated. We keep the workouts fun and change our approach to keep it interesting.
Drake's body has been referred to on the internet as “swoll”? What does that even mean and do you even like that word?
[Laughs.] I'm not a fan of that word. But I would say people use that term to brag about getting some size with their gains.
If one wanted to get "swoll" like Drake, where would you suggest they start?
Start by sitting with a professional and developing a program that is going to help you get to your goals. Be committed and be consistent.
I’m guessing cheesecake is not part of Drake’s routine. Do you guys work together on diet?
We have a nutritionist come in and work with his personal chef to create a menu that works for him.
Do you tour with Drake? If so, how do you work on the road?
Yes I do. We have a set up that follows us on tour, so we are able to keep our workouts consistent.
Does "arm day" and "leg day" matter to Drake? Does he have a focus or goal when it comes to his body?
We do a little bit of bodybuilding to create an aesthetic look, but we don't really do bodybuilding splits.
Do you guys do Zumba or SoulCycle or anything like that to mix it up, or is it mostly cardio and weights?
We mix it up with sports, basketball, paint-balling, boxing—anything to get the heart rate up and keep it interesting and fun.
What are your personal favorite fitness songs from “More Life?”
"Can't Have Everything," is one of my favorites to workout to. It gets me in my zone.
Your fitness mantra in the style of a Drake lyric:
"My weight up / I refuse to wait up / I started a new race." (From Drake's "5 a.m. in Toronto.)
At what age did you start dancing and what was your first experience as a choreographer?
I've been dancing since I came out the womb. My father is a DJ, so you put on music and I’m jumping around. My first experience as a choreographer was on Sean Paul’s “Gimme the Light.” It was nerve-racking, but it felt right and went extremely well.
Drake’s dancing in “Hotline Bling” is iconic now. What kind of direction did you give and what was his response?
I told him to be himself and to take influences from what he usually does on a regular basis in sports, such as basketball which he plays all the time. He was really comfortable with it.
It must have been difficult to choreograph something so authentic. What was it like working with him on set? What were you inspired by for that video in particular?
The only way to choreograph something authentic is to have that person be authentically themselves. I was inspired by him 100 percent.
Favorite places to go out at night and dance:
I love Max Fish in New York because the DJ plays the best music; all sorts. In Toronto, I go to any club where Starting from Scratch plays.
Songs you’re listening to right now that make you want to move:
I love “Perm” by Bruno Mars, DJ Khaled's “Let’s Go”, and Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money.”
Favorite Drake song to dance to from his new album, More Life:
“Fake Love” and “Rhythm.”
Most challenging dance move that you’ve choreographed for a celebrity:
The bed choreography that I did in Matt and Kim’s video, “It’s Alright.”
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