I tried the workout class Lena Dunham and Gwyneth Paltrow swear by
One of my favorite pastimes is scrolling through celebrity #fitspo Instagram posts. I’ve often wondered what it’s like inside the exclusive world of celebrity exercise as opposed to the non-exclusive regular world of ellipticals and treadmills populated by normals like me.
I used to be a dancer but now I currently only exercise once a week which usually involves “hiking” and in L.A. that means, walking up a hill. I began hearing about the Tracy Anderson Method several months ago, mainly because Lena Dunham is a fan and was posting frequently about her workouts. Intrigued, I decided to finally try it out.
Tracy Anderson Method was first developed 20 years ago by Tracy Anderson, a former dancer. She wanted to deliver to her clients that elusive “dancer’s body” and has been honing the technique ever since. The focus is on what Anderson calls “accessory” muscles, meaning you’re not focusing on major muscle groups, which tend to build up bulk. The workout also changes frequently so you’re always toning new areas.
The Tracy Anderson Method has garnered a name for itself because of its celebrity clientele, which, as I mentioned, includes Lena Dunham, but also Gwyneth Paltrow, who is also a business partner.
Before my first class, I stalked Tracy’s Instagram for any insight into what I had gotten myself into. It looked…intense?
But also fun.
Once I was emotionally and mentally prepared for class, I signed up for a 7 a.m. Attain Definition class, which is one of the classes Tracy’s publicist told me I’d be able to keep up with. The fact that some classes were beyond regular person strength was already stressful.
Before we get into the actual workout, can we talk about the aesthetic for one second? For starters, the studio has its own blow-dry bar. It’s members-only and incredibly chic. The studio bathroom is more spa than gym. There are rows of constantly replenished towels, tampons, and moisturizers. The showers are nicer than the ones in most hotels. It’s fancy, is what I’m trying to say, and with the cost of membership fees at over $1,000 a month, it should be.
The workout itself might have been the most overwhelming class I’ve ever attended. If a hip-hop cardio class, pilates, and your mom’s favorite aerobics class had a baby and then that baby worked it’s ass off for one straight hour in a heated room while being tethered to the ceiling by way of elastic bands, then that would be the Tracy Anderson Method.
The room is heated to 86 degrees. The class starts with about 10 minutes of non-weighted arm work. Then you grab your weights and do more arm exercises. It’s hard to describe the arm exercises because it wasn’t typical. Imagine a ballet dancers arms posed above her head, now imagine her holding weights and thrusting them up into that beautiful pose, over and over again. It then goes into about 15 minutes of non-weighted floor work that I attempted to recreate in the photo above, followed by similar floor work, this time with ankle weights. The thing about Tracy Anderson method is that you’re doing moves you recognize, but with a slight twist. The “leg-lifts” somehow also incorporate a three-legged dog pose. The lower abdominal sit-ups somehow also incorporate center splits. The class is basically arms and floor work that especially target your abs, thighs and butt and every exercise is done about 15 times. There were five different one-hour classes you could take at Tracy Anderson, but of the three I took, this appeared to be the general flow. In the class where you were weighted with a rubber band suspended from the ceiling, the class still had distinct exercises done in 15 reps, except you would be pulling the band down from the ceiling (very hard to do) while doing a grapevine and leg lifts. You would do that 15 times, switch sides, and then move onto another equally impossible set of movements.
The instructors soldier on throughout the entire class with almost no speaking and the class moves at a very quick pace as the exercises are constantly changing. I found myself occasionally getting lost in the routine or craning my neck around to see the trainer while I’m supposed to be upside down. While it is a group class and the vibe is upbeat, what with all the dance music playing, there is a feeling that you’re in this class to train. Let’s just say, there are no “Your body is a temple,” or other psuedo spiritual epithets a ‘la Soul Cycle.
How I felt:
Generally speaking, I’m lazy as hell during workouts, but there’s this energy in class that makes you WANT to keep going. From an emotional standpoint, I wanted to come back every single day and get a Gwyennie body!
But from a physical standpoint, OMIGOSH these classes were haaarrrrddd. I was so sore afterwards I couldn’t even imagine how one physically does it five days a week. After the rubber bands class, my hands were chafed from gripping the bands for a straight hour. I literally couldn’t even wash my hair.
During my short stint as a member at Tracy Anderson Method, I was expecting to run into at least one of Tracy’s famous clients (Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Richie, Jennifer Lopez, Victoria Beckham, THE LIST GOES ON), but in actuality, the clientele was just a bunch of badass ladies getting their sweat on before they shower, change into a power suit, and go kill it at life. Actually, most women appeared to head straight from class to work and judging by the suits they were changing into, the sheer number of Mercedes G-wagons in the valet, and the cost of membership, I’d say these were highly-successful women whose ranks I very much hoped to join one day. Power females who lift weights at 7 a.m. and then drive off in a hybrid SUV? How do I sign-up? Cost and availability:
Currently there are seven Tracy Anderson studios from L.A. to London. However, it is VERY pricey. As I mentioned before, it costs $1,000/month for unlimited classes (INSANE). However, that monthly fee includes semi-privates, blow-outs, yada yada A LOT OF PERKS. One drop-in class is $45 if you don’t want to become a member. But! They also offer live streams from the studios and have a huge catalogue of exercise DVDs . Apparently Gwyneth Paltrow trained for Iron Man just watching the videos online, so I’m thinking at-home Anderson-ing might be the way to go.
Tracy Anderson Method provided classes without charge for the writer of this post.