Q&A: Tracy Anderson Explains Her Method
by liana lozada
Superstar trainer and fitness guru Tracy Anderson has worked with just about every beach and bikini-loving star in the business—from Jennifer Lopez to Gisele Bundchen. (She’s even spearheading Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy workouts.) Her masterpiece, though, is undoubtedly the lean and lovely Gwyneth Paltrow, who believes so much in The Tracy Anderson Method that she became Anderson's business partner. And with a trio of successful DVD series and studios in New York, The Hamptons, and Los Angeles, the pair has done alright for themselves.
We first met Anderson last November at a seven-day bootcamp pop-up during Miami Detox Week. Being around the bubbly former dancer for a full week, it’s easy to see how she’s skyrocketed from small town trainer to fitness sensation and savvy businesswoman. She connects with not just celebrities, but the everywoman, and from a very genuine place. “I went through one of the four hormonal changes women go through in their lifetime and I had an unacceptable weight gain for a [professional] dancer,” she says of her version of the freshman 10 while at school on a dance scholarship in New York. Despite dancing day in and day out, the weight never dropped and she left dancing to pursue something she wanted even more deeply: motherhood. Around the time of her pregnancy, Anderson's ex-husband (a professional basketball player) was seeking therapy consultations for a back injury. Anderson went along and was fascinated by the process of building supporting muscles. The journey that she made from there is best described by Anderson herself:
Was meeting this physical therapist the moment that you decided to pursue fitness as a career?
TRACY ANDERSON: It was like an Oprah ‘Aha!’ moment. [As a dancer], when I went to the gym and did different disciplines of exercise, I really realized that you are how you move . . . I realized it is possible to control and employ more than the 230 muscles conventional exercise employs—we have over 600 muscles in our bodies . . . Then came the journey of crafting that. It's taken 14 years of extreme focus. I had to approach fitness scientifically and creatively. The goal was to give women real results organically though their hard work and not to build a brand or business. None of that was on my radar.
When did you realize you had a potential brand on your hands?
TA: The idea of a brand formed about six years into it, after testing on 150 women in the Midwest. I had a waiting list. I measured all of them every 10 days, made individual programs consisting of nine to 13 unique exercises to exhaust the large muscles and empower the small muscles and hone in on where their genetic weaknesses are. You can't just spot reduce: fat cells collect in an out of proportion manner because you have a genetic weakness there. My approach is almost like how a farmer crop rotates, you start somewhere and go elsewhere to help build the structure.
What would you say is the biggest misconception people have about you?
TA: That I only believe in making women teeny tiny and lifting three pounds weights. Sometimes it will really hurt when I launch a product like Metamorphisis and people say things like, ‘Tracy is just selling out.’ If they only knew what we went through to create the product; we were in production every other month, filmed and produced over 160 DVDs in under three years, and we do that because that is what is required to get Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez' and my workout. It is specific and changes every ten days. When I try to stay as authentic as possible and give people an affordable and accessible route and it gets criticized, that tears me up.
So the DVDs are truly an equivalent to a visit to one of your studios?
TA: I actually felt guilty after I put out my first DVD, because it will only last them a few weeks. Once they perfected the DVD it's not going to serve them anymore, and I told myself, ‘We have to give them more.’
And how will you do that?
TA: I'm launching a whole online program with a more basic route into the method where clients can actually do 12-week programs with me. We're building our own filming studio to make these things possible.
How does it feel when strangers approach you about their results?
TA: I absolutely love it. I get stopped all the time. Women telling me about what I've done for their body, their marriage . . . It makes me feel so good because I'm helping transform lifestyles and how women feel about themselves and connect with themselves. I'm not entertaining them or taking their mind off something, I'm challenging them and supporting them. And I take that very seriously.
Who among your personal clients is the best embodiment of The Tracy Anderson Method?
TA: Jenni Konner is a producer on HBO's Girls. She came into my studio so under the radar. Not everyone who comes in is a celebrity, a lot are in industry behind-the-scenes. She had a real transformation and I was shocked because usually producers are more time poor than any celebrity I've ever worked with. I was impressed that she stuck to it.
Gwyneth is probably my best example of someone who had all the odds the against her. She had never danced in her life and was used to very routine things like yoga and pilates but wasn't seeing results. She is also tall so she was able to hide her problem areas well. She was also very busy. When I first started with her about seven years ago, she couldn't even step-touch. She was strong and disciplined but wasn't coordinated and in touch with her body in the right way. I was so surprised at how she put it in her schedule and committed. She never made excuses for not coming to a workout. Her body continues to transform.
Other than your workouts, how do you stay looking so fresh and balanced?
TA: I'm obsessed with Mama Mio. I take their skincare products with me everywhere. I also don't go anywhere without a wellness shake. I love to eat and dinner is my favorite meal—and I know better than anyone that you can't have three big meals a day, so I meal replace with the wellness shake either for breakfast or lunch.
We have to ask, will you open a Miami studio soon?
TA: Yes, but I don't want to dilute the brand for the sake of bringing people in. We're aggressively interviewing and hiring, and we're in the process of talking with an upscale hotel that I think will be home to our first Miami gym. I think it will happen sooner rather than later.
Go behind the scenes with Elle Macpherson during her Ocean Drive photo shoot.