How It Works
When celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Shakira, and Penelope Cruz want to get in shape, they turn to fitness guru Tracy Anderson. She's put out a series of workout books and DVDs for those of us without celebrity-sized budgets.
Anderson says she's spent more than a decade researching different muscle groups, and as a result, she has developed a patented series of exercises. Her workouts are built on repetitive movements, which use body resistance and light hand weights to fatigue muscle groups without bulking them up. Anderson's workouts target each woman's unique trouble spots. Whether the goal is to tighten your abs, firm your arms, or tone up your thighs, she's probably got a program for you.
Anderson's workout library includes many DVDs, such as:
- “The Method for Beginners”
- “30-Day Method”
- “Mat Workout”
There are also routines women can do during their pregnancies and afterward to help them lose baby weight.
Anderson's most recent release is a set of DVDs called Metamorphosis by Tracy, which is designed to be an alternative to other one-size-fits-all exercise programs. With Metamorphosis, you'll get a customized series of workouts based on your body type:
- Abcentric -- you tend to gain weight in your middle
- Hipcentric -- you're pear-shaped, with your weight centered in your thighs
- Glutecentric -- you'd like a shapelier, more lifted rear end
- Omnicentric -- you need some firming all over your body
The idea is to do the program 6 days a week, for 1 hour each day.
Intensity Level: High
Anderson's workouts are high-energy. You will repeat the same movements over and over again, which will make you sweat and tire out your muscles.
Areas It Targets
Core: Yes. Anderson's programs include a lot of abdominal and core exercises. One of the Metamorphosis programs is specifically targeted to the abs.
Arms: Yes. A series of repeated arm movements using your own resistance and light hand weights tightens the biceps, triceps, shoulders, and other muscles of the upper body.
Legs: Yes. Her programs focus heavily on the leg muscles, with high repetitions of motions like leg lifts, kicks, and deep knee bends.
Glutes: Yes. The rear end is another area of intense focus for Anderson. She uses many of the traditional hands-and-knees leg moves to tighten and lift the muscles of the derriere.
Back: Yes. While many workout routines neglect the back, Anderson wants you to look good from all sides. Some of her programs -- like the “Abcentric” workout in Metamorphosis -- focus specifically on the back muscles.
Flexibility: Yes. The DVDs include many different stretches to warm you up, cool you down, and increase your flexibility.
Aerobic: Yes. The idea is to divide your time between aerobic exercise and toning. In some of her videos, Anderson focuses on traditional cardio exercises like running in place and jumping jacks. In others, she uses a dance-based approach, so that you constantly work different muscle groups.
Strength: Yes. Anderson's program uses very light or no weights, but your body weight counts. Anything that tones your muscles will build some strength.
Sport: No. This is a workout program, not a sport.
Low-Impact: No. Anderson's aerobic workouts tend to be high-impact, with no low-impact alternatives provided. However, her toning workouts are low- or non-impact.
What Else Should I Know?
Cost: The price varies based on which DVDs you buy.
Good for Beginners: Yes. This program is designed for all fitness levels. However, Anderson recommends that you watch the breakdown steps to learn the exercises, and that you start slowly.
Outdoors: No. This program is meant to do along with a DVD.
At Home: Yes. You can do Anderson's workouts wherever in your home you have a TV and DVD player.
Equipment Required: Yes. You'll need 3-pound hand weights and a mat for many of the workouts.
What Dr. Melinda Ratini Says:
Some of Anderson's programs can meet your cardio and strength training needs all in one workout. All you need are a DVD player, some light weights, and a mat. She even has special workouts for beginners, if you are just getting started.
You will get a great workout following Anderson’s DVDs, but check with your doctor first if you take any medication or have any medical problems.
If you like being in a class with other people and an instructor, a DVD-based exercise program is not the best choice for you. If you're looking for a slow, meditative approach to fitness, this isn't it. You'll be moving fast.
Is It Good for Me if I Have a Health Condition?
Anderson’s combination of aerobic and toning workouts can help you shed pounds and strengthen muscles. If you have diabetes, this means lower blood sugars. Muscles use energy much more efficiently than fat; so ask your doctor about adjusting your diabetes treatment plan.
The cardio work in Anderson’s programs will also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, cutting your risk for heart disease. If you already have heart disease, you should not jump into Anderson’s workouts unless your doctor gives the go-ahead. You should start out on your journey to good health more slowly, maybe even in a cardiac rehab setting.
Anderson has a workout just for pregnant women. So if you were doing her workouts before you became pregnant, you should be able to transition to this one, as long as you have no problems with your pregnancy. But you will have to be careful of her high-impact aerobic tapes as the months roll by. Pregnancy hormones will cause your joints to become more relaxed and prone to injuries, so it’s best to stick to lower-impact workouts.