My Beef with Tracy Anderson
I recently got busted for an admittedly sarcastic and snarky tweet about the training methods of the very popular Tracy Anderson. You see, Ashley Borden, my dear friend and well-respected and highly educated trainer, and I feel the same about Tracy and her “Method.” I was just reading the back of her DVD cover, (which was given to me as a joke from another friend because she tried it once and saw no use for it), where she promises to “Reengineer the muscular structure,” “shift your shape,” based on “10 years of research” that is proven to, and this is the best part, “turn [any woman] into a tiny, sexy, strong and defined woman.” Where do I start?
— Jennifer Galardi (@livWhole) August 26, 2013
Tracy makes millions of dollars betting on the fact you feel “less than.” Less than “tiny.” Less than Gwyneth. Or less than “sexy.” HER definition of sexy.
I’ll revert to my latest celebrity guru, Ashton Kutcher, and his speech. You know what’s sexy? Be smart. Be thoughtful and be generous. Which makes Tracy anything but sexy.
I found this passage from an article published in 2009 in W Magazine particularly disturbing:
“She pushes in my hips and lifts up my butt with her hands, like a sculptor who can envision the finished piece underneath all that clay. Scrutinizing my bum, she says, ‘All this has to be gone.’ To achieve her vision, Anderson creates a digital image of my body with a custom computer program and plays with it as a retoucher would.”
As I get older, I’ve become more accepting of my body. And while I like to think I can melt into the beauty and grace of growing older, as well as the wisdom that comes along with it, coming off years of body dysmorphia, eating disorders and abusive exercise, this has not been easy. The last thing I need is Tracy Anderson pinching, scrutinizing and reprimanding my body and its God-given, blessed and beautiful shape. I’ve done that to myself my whole life. I’m shedding tears at the thought of the abuse I’ve piled on myself. And for those women who continue to do so under Tracy’s watchful and demeaning eyes.
This is more than enough for me to walk away from this professed “body guru.” But it is subjective. Let’s get to the facts. Research? I’d love to see a scientific study done on her “Method.” Chances are if there were long-term studies done, you’d find students with overuse injuries and a general lack of muscular strength. Fact: If you want to build strength, you need to add weights. I’m not saying there is not a place for small movement, high rep with low weight exercises. Hell, my newest DVD, Barre Breakthru is all about it. But I also incorporate large explosive movements into this workout. Plus, it’s also a fact that you will find me in the gym at least once a week lifting weights to get strong and balanced, and to prevent injury. (OK, fine … to stay slim too.)
There are a litany of articles and studies that contradict Tracy’s claims that women shouldn’t lift more than 3 pound weights. There is no need for me to repeat what many qualified and highly educated trainers have already contested. But I did find a wonderful blog written by Dean Somerset that comprehensively outlines Tracy’s faulty logic.
One woman questioned what kind of scientific research I’ve done for my workouts. Admittedly, I haven’t. But I also don’t claim to have a “method” that has been clinically tested to “transform muscular structure” or morph a woman into a mini me. I am a student of the body and am fascinated by how it moves in space and time. However, because I can only feel MY body and not yours, or your boyfriend’s, or your mom’s, I only have this as a frame of reference and admit my knowledge must therefore, be limited.
What I can say unequivocally is that I am dedicated to learning and have studied, and continue to study, with some of the leaders in the health fitness field.
Have you watched a Tracy Anderson DVD? Full disclosure – neither have I. At least not in its entirety. That’s because, I have no clue what I’m supposed to be doing. Tracy doesn’t speak in her videos. There is no direction, no cuing, no guidance on form or anything else. It’s a lesson in self-indulgence. “I’m blonde. I’m cute and I train Gwyneth. So follow me.” Maybe this has changed with her more recent videos. I hope so.
I will give her credit for mentioning the importance of incorporating your brain into your workout. It’s something that unless we’re on a yoga mat, is oft overlooked in training. So kudos to Tracy for emphasizing the mind-body connection, as she does in this video with Katie Couric. I hope, though, that her mind is more present the next time she scrutinizes someone for not having a body like hers or her celebrity clients.
I stand firm in speaking against trends and fads and hope to re-direct conversations focused solely on transforming our size, shape and lack of perfection because I believe the momentum of this business, and our culture, needs to shift.
In the grand scheme of things I have to discern what to take seriously, and what to let roll off my back. My studies, self-reflection and commitment to inspiring others to make positive changes, not only for their bodies but for their lives – these I take very seriously. Tracy Anderson and Twitter? Not so much.