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Feb 5

The Enduring Appeal of Tracy Anderson and Her Method – TownandCountrymag.com

Year after year when January rolls around, scores of trendy new workouts appear on the wellness horizon, all seemingly tailored to answer a near-universal yearning for self-improvement, andfor better or for worsea desire to shed evidence of holiday-season indulgence. Whether it's hot yoga, a HIIT workout, the rebounder cardio classes du jour, or classical ballet training, the fitness fads flows freely this time of year and inevitably arrive in tandem with similarly hyped cleansing diets and eating programs.

No matter how appealing the new offerings, however, it is almost certain that we will all know someone who is getting on board withor getting more serious aboutTracy Anderson, the fitness guru who launched her program way back in 2008 and has since built it into an international colossus. Anderson has many high-profile fans, including early adopter Gwyneth Paltrow (the regimen is a Goop-fave to this day), Tracee Ellis Ross, and Victoria Beckham, but it would be a mistake to lump her into the celebrity trainer category. Instead, it is the enthusiasm of her "#tamily," a loyal, diverse, and very large following that may explain her staying power.

Most TA members initially sign up to partake just in workouts, but soon become immersed in Anderson's dietary programs, health and beauty products, and even her clothing line. There are several tiers. Studio members pay a premium to exercise in person in heated and humidified studios led by highly trained instructors who follow a program of moves that Anderson develops and changes on a weekly basis (Covid restrictions have temporarily put this option on hold). Smaller groups can opt to train with Anderson herself (again temporarily on hold because of the pandemic).

Studio membership, which requires a $1,500 initiation fee plus annual dues (the price of which have not been listed publicly in nearly a decade), includes unlimited access to studios in Manhattan, the Hamptons, and Los Angeles, as well as London and Madrid. For those who don't live near one of the bricks-and-mortar locations, or prefer to work out at home, membership to her streaming platform is $90 a month.

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At first glance, the program looks like many other workout plans, albeit more expensive. But delve a little deeper, and an unusual focus on consistency and commitment becomes apparent. Anderson advises that those following the virtual program should tune in to one of three pre-taped muscular structure workouts (beginner, intermediate or advanced), as well as to her version of dance cardio some days, a minimum of four times a week, and up to seven. Participants are meant to repeat the muscular structure classes, which target smaller muscle groups (Anderson calls them accessory muscles) and master them over a week. The duration of the workouts? Close to an hour each, not including the 20 minute in-depth breakdown videos that offer detailed demonstrations of postures for the moves each week. In other words, workouts can last upwards of an hour and a half some days.

The body movement sequences target specific areas and often require hand and ankle weights. The idea is, instead of working larger muscle groups, which Anderson believes leads to bulking, these programs target muscles that are less-relied upon, but are vital for creating a balanced physique.

Anderson is quick say that results are hard won. For those who like to dip in and out of a program, she warns, her method is probably not right. "Consistency is consistency," she tells Town & Country. "You have to spend time with yourself and lay down those foundationsbehaviorally. This matters for everything, even your health." Figuring out what "balance' means for you, and calculating how that fits into your life so you can be consistent, is a key tenet of the program, she says.

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Anderson says she is aware of how much she asks of her followers and knows what they expect in return. "It's not even about people trusting that I'm going to show up every week and I'm going to deliver that next strategic muscle exhaustion sequence. I'm going to be there every week, no matter what's going on in my life for my audience. I'm going to continue to research, and I'm going to continue to develop. That's a signal between the relationship that I have with my audience."

A quick search of the Instagram hashtag #tamily turns up hundreds of thousands of video posts of (mostly) women going through the paces of their weekly program. Some have dedicated accounts to track their progress. Scroll through weeks or months of a few individuals' workouts, and you get pretty good idea how the program works and what sort of results people get.

Sam Anderson

It should be noted that not everyone is a fan. Along with legions of #tamily members, an internet search will also turn up many detractors of the Tracy Anderson Method. In the past 15 years, she has been criticized for her prescription for daily movement, her strategy of not focusing on larger muscle groups (many fitness programs, in fact, promote the very opposite), and for her ambivalence to having her members simultaneously follow other programs. Anderson, is aware of this though. "People called me crazy for years," she says acknowledging that the commitment she requires from her followers may not be everyone's cup of tea.

Anderson says an early focus on digital engagement was key to expanding her program and has been vital to keeping it vibrant during pandemic-related closures." I think that what separated us from the fitness pack originally was that we didn't intend to use our social media platforms to market ourselves in the traditional sense. It's about the method and connecting with the people who are practicing it, through those platforms," says Anderson. Her company does not disclose how many streaming followers have joined its online studio since it was launched in 2014 or since the beginning of the pandemic, but, according to Steven Beltrani, Anderson's chief communications officer, the method has streamers in all 50 states and in 50 countries around the globe.

Sam Anderson

Some of these streamers have traveled long distances to meet and work out with their fellow #tamily members. Heather Hawkins, an illustrator from Australia, has been following the method in some capacity since Anderson hit the scene. Her gateway? A Goop newsletter forwarded by a girlfriend. "Initially when I started, there were only a few DVDs , so I was doing them a few times a week, but also doing other things as well (running, yoga, personal training at the gym). It wasn't until Metamorphosis [Anderson's now digitized workout video series] was released that I became committed to the program (and saw results)." More than a decade later, Hawkins is still religious about it. "Tracy films new classes each week. So youre only ever doing the one class for 7 days. But generally its a weekly journey with the class and you grow with it, learning new things about yourself along the way. Tracy constantly pushes our body and minds with her classes."

Along with traveling to the studios in New York and Madrid, Hawkins has also visited streamers abroad. "When I was in Italy I specifically travelled to Bergamo to meet up with a TAmsista [a nickname denoting the sisterhood related to the method]. And most recently my dear friend Mariam had her birthday in Phuket with a bunch of friends including friends shes met through the Tamily. She even brought a trainer over from London so we could do classes every day. It was incredible. "

When asked why she finds such a close kinship with these women, Hawkins remarks, "Theres a closeness in the community and an honesty which is so special. She adds, jokingly, "Were all a bit type A personality or type A++++."

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The Enduring Appeal of Tracy Anderson and Her Method - TownandCountrymag.com

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