Monday, January 10, 2011

Tracy Anderson the Black Swan of Fitness

I usually don't blog about negative things, however I am very enraged lately and need to get this off my chest. Tracy Anderson recently has been heavily publicized and over exposed as a "fitness guru". This really angers me. 

She has been quoted as "putting Jennifer Aniston on a baby food diet", claims she can "make any woman look like a model", compares herself to Joseph Pilates, and has been reported to hire trainers based on their cuteness and appearance, not their credentials and certifications. 

Speaking of credentials and certifications, Tracy Anderson herself has no credentials or certifications listed anywhere that I could find. Including her own bio on her website, where she states that she "studied and researched muscle structure and specific workout techniques" (never mentions where or from who), "developed a computer software program for training to guide her and allow her to keep balance between weight loss and a healthy body" (can't find said computer software anywhere), and "designed a Hybrid Body Reformer" (copied Joseph Pilates' Reformer and made additions and adjustments). The one thing that is referenced over and over is that she is a "former dancer". Again never stating where she studied or with what company or show. The fact that her credentials and where and with whom she studied are never referenced or mentioned, really concerns me. And probably has lead to the numerous allegations I found regarding being injured from Tracy Anderson's Method.

She is also quoted as getting women to their "teeniest, tiny point" and "perfection". As a fitness professional these are very serious words to be using and do not promote a healthy body in my mind. She further promotes this image in all of her photos where she is shot in the skimpiest, lingerie looking workout clothes, looking herself emaciatingly thin. She claims that she can "make any woman look like a model" and references her clients as credentials. When you are starting with healthy, physically fit women who already look like models (i.e. Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Shakira, Madonna, Gwenyth Paltrow) how can you really take credit for your work and method? It's not as if she is a Bob Harper or Jillian Michaels taking the obese population and turning them into fit, healthy individuals. Personally I'd like to see her on The Biggest Loser and put her money where her mouth is. That probably won't happen as it doesn't seem that she even has the resume and credentials to even get hired for a position such as a trainer.

I can't help but think of Natalie Portman's character in the Black Swan. The break in the psyche that occurs from a constant pursuit of perfection, under eating, eating disorders and self loathing. Tracy Anderson seems to be promoting this idea to women as fitness and I take personal offense. This is not what I promote or want to promote to anyone as healthy or fitness. I really wish that the media would stop advertising and promoting Tracy Anderson and her "accomplishments". She is not a healthy role model of fitness for women and is doing our community a huge disservice.

Whew! Got that off my chest. Now I really don't want to see or hear anymore about her in the fitness industry.


  1. THANK YOU!!! I deal all the time with people who range from injured by Tracy and friends to still enamored with her. As I said to someone a few days ago, "if you do any high intensity exercises program for 1-2 hours a day every day you will transform your body", and Tracy Anderson does say that for "best results" you need to exercise that often and that much.

    She knows her market, however. Her client base does not care about background, certification, education, or business ethics (Tracy left her prepaid clients in Ohio high and dry and out of money when she left for LA). All they want is a specific look and will do anything to get it, health be damned!

  2. Correction - the ripoff occurred in Indianapolis, Indiana, not Ohio. Mea culpa.

  3. Thanks for this Laurel!
    She is such a joke and makes light of all the work we do to become certified and continually educate ourselves. I too find it appalling that she is a role model for those looking to be fitter and healthier. She is not a picture of either.
    Plus- anyone who compares themselves to Joe Pilates has balls, and not in a good way!

  4. Nice blog Laurel. I couldn't have said it better myself. As someone who is often hired to "get women in shape" after having a baby, I am constantly having to reassure them that they are just fine the way they are and to be patient. Getting a fit healthy body is the goal. One that will help you raise that beautiful child you just gave birth to, not just to be "skinny".

  5. These two links were forwarded on to me. Thought you might like be interested in reading as well.

  6. Laurel,

    I think you're speaking for a lot of us through this post! I'm glad you had the guts to put it out there. : )

    I totally agree with how dangerous the unhealthy obsession with being your "teeny tiniest" and "perfect" can affect women, most of whom already deal with so many other pressures in life. In your links, they even mention how her sister has the same exact body as her, and how much of that is determined by genetics.

    And for the last time, I will just reiterate that Madonna, Gwyneth, Shakira & Kelly Ripa looked amazing BEFORE they ever met Tracy.

    As my friend says, "Karma is real." : )

  7. Hi! I'd like to comment on this blog post, specially when you say "It's not as if she is a Bob Harper or Jillian Michaels taking the obese population and turning them into fit, healthy individuals. Personally I'd like to see her on The Biggest Loser and put her money where her mouth is."

    I agree that her celebrity clientele did look pretty good before they trained with her. But what I want to talk about is my own experience with the Tracy Anderson Method.

    I have been following Tracy's Method for the last 19 months. My starting point was at 176lbs and I now weigh 121lbs. I don't believe in diets and I simply lost the weight by following a varied diet of veggies, fruit, lean protein, whole grains and very little refined sugars. I did followed her dance cardio and muscular structure DVDs and that's what took me to where I am now; a healthy fit individual.

    You can argue that I could have lost weight by running, or swimming which is true. However, is not more important to lose weight through a controlled healthy lifestyle allied to physical activity regardless of which fitness path you take to get there? And what's wrong with wanting to look like a model? To look your best?

    This is not an attack on anyone's point of view... But Laurel as you can see from my before and after pictures: Tracy's Method did transform me from an obese individual to someone who is fit and healthy!

    Have a good weekend!


  8. Excuse me but I don't think Gwyneth look hot before Tracy. I was absolutely amazed at her transformation in the movie iron man. It's for said reason that I decided to give her dvd's a go. My body is totally transformed... My shoulder and lower back does not hurt anymore. You really should read her book and try it for yourself befit you judge it. I will never attempt any other means of fitness. It's because of her promoting healthy balanced eating habits that I never feel hungry and still look the best I've ever looked in my life. Tracy is the queen of fitness!!!

  9. As someone who has been following TAM (Tracy Anderson Method) since Nov 1st, I think I'm probably the only one here (so far) who actually has a valid opinion of Tracy's Method... How can you knock something if you haven't tried it????

    Anyways, regardless of what certification she has/doesn't have, what negative 'articles' that have been written about her etc... I along with over 100 women I PERSONALLY know have had INCREDIBLE result's following her method.... none of us are celebrities and very few of us have any naturally 'slim' celebrity type bodies... We just work HARD at a workout that is not only fun but VERY effective. I do what I can; some day's a full 2 hr work out somedays only an hr workout... personally, never more then 5 days a weel...and I lost all my post baby weight in 30 days... I didn't follow ANY diet, I ate what I wanted just followed her workout and had incredible results...

  10. I can understand and appreciate your concern for people to be healthy. I would say you could scrutinize any personal trainer if you looked at them through the wrong eyes(everyones view can be misinterrepted). This is my own personal experience. I have follow the Tracy Anderson Zmethod for 15 months and really became more serious about my workouts in the last 4 months. I have lost 30lbs by following her workouts and eating pretty clean. I do not diet. In the last 4 months I have lost 22 of those 30lbs and over 23 inches! This is the ONLY form of fitness that has transformed my body! I was a college athlete and I have spent thousands of dollars and hours at the gym with personal trainers and have only lost weight. None of that hard work actually transformed my body like the Tracy Anderson Method. I use to be so exhausted and sore after spinning and weight lifting that I could barely get through the day. I feel powerful and energetic after the muscular structure and dance cardio DVDs and I only have to spend a few dollars! No more gym membership and ridiculous training fees. My life has changed from doing this method. I just wanted to share my story as I am not a celebrity but I am a mom and a hard working business women who has never felt better. You can be a fitness "professional" and be certified in 15 million ways with a gazillion credentials but what really matters in the end is results. All my best to you!

  11. Good for you Noeme! I am glad that you found something that works for you. And thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  12. Wow! What an interesting thread. The fitness professionals (her peers) seem to agree with one another and her clients are on the other end of the spectrum agree with one another. Results are great, I agree. But I do believe that if you are gonna to call yourself a "fitness guru" you should be able to back it up with your credentials and where/who you studied with. She compares herself to Joseph Pilates yet stole and uses many of his exercises as well as copying his Pilates Reformer. At least credit that Pilates inspired your method.

    I also feel you have an obligation to promote "healthy" ideals. A "baby food diet", "teeny, tiny bodies", and "looking like a model" are not healthy ideals in my book. I also just listened to a podcast of her with Ryan Seacrest (which you can find for free on Itunes) in which she claims that she can "erase cellulite". Lastly, I don't know any fitness professional out there that believes you need to or should do 50-100 reps of an exercise. That is just overwork and not a quality movement to begin with in my book.

    We will have to agree to disgree and I am not bowing down to announce Tracy Anderson as any type of "fitness guru" or "queen" anytime soon.

  13. An Anonymous TA follower just wrote this

    "you say 'you don't know any fitness professional out there that believes you need to or should do 50-100 reps of an exercise'... funny... isn't one of the core moves of Pilates called the '100's' ??? LOL... where you do 100 REPS??? lol"

    Shows what they know of Pilates. Hundreds is a 10 count exercise with 10 REPS! Called Hundreds because 10x10=100 Not because we do 100 Repetitions. In Pilates we dont have to do more than 10 reps of any exercise as we perform quality movements.

  14. Yet another link worth checking out.

  15. Very true. She's dangerous. Injuries on knees here...We need to stick with the real stuff: AFAA!!!

  16. Thank you! Great blog!I don't know how these "phony trainers" get the press...

  17. It simple Melanie, they fit the superficial standard our liberal american culture has created and worships.

  18. I have to weigh-in here for two reasons. First, I used Tracy's method for 2 years, so I'm well-versed in her Method and saw amazing results. I truly did. I never followed her diet, because i used mostly her videos before she become all-the-rage (post-pregnancy, Mat and cardio dance). I did read from time to time about her diet, but it just seemed silly and I was already seeing great results. In terms of results, when I did the Method 6 days per week, alternating between mat workouts and cardio (rarely two in one day), my body became incredibly tight and toned. I was 5'8" and 131 lbs. I wore a size 2/4 and in some shops, I couldn't wear anything b/c their sizing was too big. Never in my life had that happened. So, what changed? Well, I bought her Metamorphosis series. It came in a box. With a pink tape measure and a 'diet' to follow. And talk about perfection being possible (which is serious stuff to spout off). After doing the workout, I cried it was so hard, and I had done her other workouts for 2 YEARS. I literally sat down and cried at one point because I couldn't do all the leg lifts. I also considered the diet, and that was when I sat myself down and had a come-to-Jesus with myself. I was hovering on an eating disorder, disordered exercising and a distorted body image in the pursuit of 'perfection.' I was considering limiting my caloric intake to dangerous levels so I could follow her program and become my tiniest self. I cried and felt like a failure for not being able to do 40 leg lifts in a row. So, for me, I decided that the benefits of her Method (and I admit, there are benefits) didn't outweigh the personal payment in terms of my self-esteem, body image and sense of reality. I also knew that if my daughter watched me workout 2 hours per day and eat pre-portioned, pureed foods instead of sitting down with my family, she would develop at the very least a poor self image and quite possibly an eating disorder of her own. I can't say what other women should do, and I can't argue with the results of Tracy Anderson's Method. But, I don't think she comes from a place of health. I think she comes from a pursuit of perfection and a distorted sense of beautiful. Just my 2 cents.

  19. Hi. I am not a fitness professional but I grew up learning from both my parents, and cooking classes in school (Switzerland) that you have to eat from all food groups, that variety is the key and to eat the right amount (not too much but also not too little). This has to be paired with some kind of physical activity to be healthy.

    Right now I am trying to get fit and I logg my fitness minutes and and exercise routine on

    In every article related to weightloss certified people repeat over and over again that you should absolutely not starve yourself.

    I had eating problems as a teenager and it took me many years to accept myself the way I am and try to be my own cheerleader, not biggest critic.

    Tracy Anderson makes me angry tbh. She has no certificates, her whole legal problems, how she researched her method is very unclear, and I agree on the "not promoting a healthy but a skinny body"-part. It might be that for some people it works. Well it's their choice. But I would never want to do this to my body. Of course you lose weight if you starve and exercise for hours! But ask any doctor, health or fitness professional: it's dangerous!

    I am exercising and eating within a 1400-1800 calorie range (given to me by sparkpeople based on my weight, height and exercising routine) and I feel strong, healthy, happy, less sluggish and I sleep better. I am building strength, physically and mentally. When I was starving myself as a teen I got weaker and weaker but thankfully pulled out before being in serious danger physically. But the mindset was hard to overcome...

    Sorry I wrote a lot! So glad for this blogpost, thank you!!!

  20. Hi All!
    I ve just come to read about this blog and found it very interesting.
    Please all my apologies for my english since it s not my mother tongue but my 3rd language only.
    I personally did the DVD metamorphosis program from Tracy Anderson and i definitely saw amazing results in terms of muscles getting tighter and toner.
    I have to say i am 43 and always have been a fitness addict, tried many different sports and body disciplines through the years and gathered knowledge about postures since i used to have a lot of body pains and be injured (flat feet and consequences of too much running etc.).
    So when i decided to try Tracy Anderson method last year it was not about loosing weight, because i did not have weight to loose i just wanted to see if i can get let's say a more feminine shape because with my mediterranean/balkanic/strong body type i never was a thin ballerina type and of course could not physically get there. I was more easily going into a very male bulky kind of body which i did not like at all... so in that respect Tracy Anderson method did help me and clearly i could see she got inspired by many different techniques created/discovered before her.
    Now i have to say that Tracy Anderson method if you don't have any knowledge and a regular practice of fitness can be too hard, discouraging... and well harmful yes. I mean clearly there is no pedagogy at all about right postures in DVDs. I was not affected because i know how to do it but it s definitely not for everyone to buy it just like that and start from scratch. Even the resting day for example it s clear that at 43 i need more than 1 day rest for 6 days hard workout so i wd listen myself but again not everyone knows and does that.
    Now when you buy this method of course if you have Jlo's body type you will never ever look like Kate Moss at her 'Top' at the end if it is your 'ideal' of course. God! You 've got to keep your common sense but that is always true. Don't you think so?
    You should never ever listen someone blindly: if you feel acute pains, stop and check out what s wrong ... and if you have strong bones, you will never get skinny without risking your health.
    The problem is not only Tracy Anderson who is doing what many others did before her: targeting a mass market because the truth is what we all need wd actually be personalized exercises and evolving with us through time and age but that wd be so expensive that it won't be profitable for any teacher.
    A fitness teacher is a human being with the limitations of his/her knowledge covered by credentials or not... and be even more cautious if he/she calls himself/herself 'Guru' ...never forget to stay aware of your own feelings and perceptions... how could someone else know you better than yourself!? there are too many parameters to consider in our body to leave them all to one single 'expert'(?).
    Hope it s not too long/bad to read and thanks for the blog!