Star Trainer Tracy Anderson on Shifting Conversations

·3 min read

Trainer to stars like Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez, fitness entrepreneur Tracy Anderson could easily have dumbed down her signature method to make it more palatable to the public.

But for Anderson, whose extensive research into fitness and wellbeing shows that variety is key to health, taking the easy way out wouldn’t be in the best interests of her followers, who always come first.

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“When I did my first DVD, I had probably the biggest meltdown of my entire career,” she revealed during a lively conversation with WWD’s executive editor, West Coast, Booth Moore.

“My work is not one DVD, right?” she went on, discussing her workout ideology. “I change Gwyneth’s program to this day, every single seven to 10 workouts, and she does a brand new work of 13 to 18 different strategic muscle moves that I create for her all the time. So, I’m like here you are, the world glorifies you, many people want to look like you, and we just gave them a puddle, one DVD with one sequence. The second that they use that for 20 days, it’s done. And if they keep using it, it’s against all my research.”

So while she was forced to close her in-person studios during the pandemic, the silver lining was doing live videos online that enabled anyone to join, a way of directly communicating — raw and unfiltered — the core teaching principals and fitness beliefs behind the “Tracy Anderson Method.”

“My life’s work can be in everyone’s living room,” she said. That proximity has altered the conversation Anderson is having with her followers.

“The conversation for me used to always be about how to get Gwyneth Paltrow’s legs or J.Lo’s butt, and how to do it in three moves, which is just not possible,” she said. “But also, I’ve spent so many years really trying to educate people on how stultifying it is to want to look like somebody else so much that you miss the opportunity to actually be your most balanced, beautiful self.”

That message has been resonating with Anderson’s core consumer. Her digital business grew 120 percent during COVID-19, and she was able to keep her full staff. Beyond fitness, Anderson expanded into beauty, launching skin care balms last year. Made in collaboration with neurologist Dr. Doug Strobel, they include varieties that target pain relief and inflammation.

“I connected with him and really wanted to explore the topical benefits of things like magnesium and zinc,” Anderson said.

Next, Anderson (who also trains the likes of Madonna and Tracee Ellis Ross) will unveil fitness equipment of her own.

“I feel like there’s a giant hole in wellness in terms of how we utilize resistance,” she said, noting that the cost of the machinery will be far beyond the suspected $100,000 price tag and should debut in her studios next year.

“I’m brave in the sense that I already know what it feels like to be made fun of for trying to change the culture before it’s ready,” Anderson said. “That happened to me when I came out with my tiny weights and asked people to exercise five to seven days a week for two hours. Everyone said I was massively nuts. And now, I think I’m probably the most ripped off choreographer in the world.”

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