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What Is the Tracy Anderson Method workout?

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Tracy Anderson is a former dancer and the brains behind the Tracy Anderson Method.

It's no secret you're more likely to succeed with an exercise program you love, so this week we reviewed the Tracy Anderson Method, a dance-based workout that claims amazing results. Several celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, Courtney Cox, and Shakira, swear by Anderson's unique workouts that emphasize repetition, repetition, repetition. Anderson, an ex-ballerina, developed the workout to give everyone a "teeny, tiny dancer's body" that resists aging and stays fit for life. Anderson's celebrity clients attest to the power of the workout, but is it practical for everyday women? Is it a fun fitness routine, or an overly demanding process? Keep reading to learn more about the method and what real people are saying.

What Is the Tracy Anderson Method?

According to Tracy Anderson's official Web site, the Tracy Anderson Method succeeds by targeting the smaller, accessory muscle groups: "Strengthening the accessory muscles help to create a tight knit group of small muscles that actually pull in the larger muscle groups."

Similar to the Bar Method and Pilates, most of the moves target specific body parts and don't require any weights or machinery. When free weights are used, they are limited to three-pound dumbbells and lighter. This lack of weight combined with the increased number of repetitions (60 to 100 reps for each exercise!) results in lean, non-bulky muscles. The exercises can be performed from home, hotel rooms, even your office (assuming no one's looking), so there's no need to trek to the gym or buy expensive equipment.

Real Women and the Tracy Anderson Method

Right now you may be thinking, "Okay, that all sounds great, but how effective is this workout for the non-Gwyneths of the world?" Or, as British newspaper The Guardian asks, "Do we all really want to look like teeny, tiny dancers?" The workout assumes that everyone wants to replace feminine curves with a defined, zero-percent-body-fat physique, which isn't always the case.

Fitness blog Fit Bottomed Girls did a thorough review of the Tracy Anderson Method Workout DVDs, assessing how well they fit into the life of a busy, modern woman. The bloggers, who call themselves "two regular girls [sharing] their trials, tribulations and adventures in staying fit," tried the Tracy Anderson Mat Workout and Cardio Dance DVDs and had the following things to say:

Pros

  • Almost all of the moves are fluid, so you definitely work a lot of large and small muscles."
  • "[The Dance Cardio DVD] had its fun moments. The music is techno-poppy goodness, and if you like to dance and have a little background getting your groove on, you'll probably love the moves."
  • "All of the exercises are varied, and you definitely aren't doing the same exercises that you're used to in traditional workout DVDs."

Cons

  • The moves are challenging, and there are no modifications shown for beginners."
  • "[Anderson] says to do both DVDs four to six times a week, equaling darn near two hours a day. REALLY? Who has time for that?"
  • "If I ever need to lift something over three pounds (say groceries, a child or even a package that came in the mail), I want be able to do it."

Trying the Tracy Anderson Method

If you think the Tracy Anderson Method might be the fun fitness routine you're looking for, you can try some of the moves for free by watching the demonstration videos on her web site. At the moment, Anderson only has two studios—one in Los Angeles and one in New York—so you are likely to be doing the workouts at home through your DVD player. The DVDs cost about thirty dollars each, and there are a variety to choose from.

Try the mat work, do some dancing—whatever it takes to have fun and reach your fitness goals!