Health & Fitness

By Erika Hackmann

When it comes to fitness, I’m no couch potato. In fact, I’m quite the opposite. I danced competitively during most of my adolescent years, run almost every day, and after hearing a tip from Kelly Ripa (and I always listen to what Kelly has to say) started taking 2-3 times a week classes at Physique 57. Truth be told, Kelly was right. Physique has done amazing things for my body, but not so much for my wallet. At $35.00 a class, I needed to find an alternative to buffer my expensive workout tastes. That’s when a little voice in my head reminded me of Tracy Anderson, the tiny fitness diva who is responsible for the body of Gwenyth Paltrow and Madonna. While I am not usually a What-Would-Gwen-Do kind of girl I decided to check Tracy out.

I ordered Tracy’s Mat Workout DVD and got to work. The entire DVD takes place in Tracy’s dance studio and she does the routine alone. The only requirements besides your own body are a chair and a pair of 3-pound weights. Going with her signature method of elongating your muscles rather than bulking, Tracy makes sure to mention never to use more than 3 pounds. All the movements are small, which she explains helps to target muscles from a variety of angles, reaching the smaller muscles usually ignored during standard strength training.

The video starts with a standing leg section, moves onto arms, standing abs, and then a floor set for legs and abs again. When the workout began, it immediately reminded me of exercises my dance teacher used to require we do at the ballet bar. It was lucky for me that I had seen these moves before because Tracy did not have a detailed explanation of what I was supposed to be doing or how to keep form. She threw in a few guidelines, but wasn’t very thorough. In fact, there were a few times I wasn’t even sure she was counting or knew what was coming next, like she was “winging it.” Unlike the generally upbeat nature of workout videos, Tracy was quiet during most of the session, and very soft-spoken which was surprising considering she is Madonna’s trainer. Seems like Madonna would eat her alive!

On the positive side, this workout will make you feel the burn. At first, some of the moves seem all too easy (flailing your arms around in circles for instance) but you’ll soon be dying to put them down and take a break. My favorite portion of the DVD was the abs section. If you’re looking for something more than the traditional crunch and repeat, Tracy offers a few unique moves that get the job done.

After using the video three times a week for a few weeks, I’ve noticed some muscle definition, but not drastic improvements. I haven’t lost any weight, but my abs and butt do feel a bit tighter. All in all, I’m not sure I could solely rely on this DVD to get me a bod like Gwen’s, but it’s definitely a nice supplement if you can’t make it to the gym.

For me, this DVD was a little bit of a tease, and I’m curious to see what else Tracy has up her sleeve. If her method intrigues you as well, you might want to check out her studio opening this month. Located at 408 Greenwich St. in Tribeca, the studio has 85 classes per week, cardio dance aerobics, Tracy’s signature “Hybrid Body Reformer,” and personalized guidance from trainers who have a mix of dance, fitness, and strength training experience. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even bump into Gwen.

For more information visit tracyandersonmethod.com or call 212-965-1408.

Originally published April 2009
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