When talking about fitness and celebrities, the name that comes up quite often is Tracy Anderson. Not only has the diminutive trainer worked with everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz, to Nicole Richie and Jessica Simpson, but many of the A-listers she has worked with have been very vocal about how much Anderson has contributed to their change in physique.
I recently finished reading Anderson’s book, Tracy Anderson's 30-Day Method: The Weight-Loss Kick-Start that Makes Perfection Possible, which has an introduction penned by her “A-plus” student, Gwyneth Paltrow. Paltrow has said on numerous occasions that the only way she can indulge in her love of food and still stay looking the way that she does is with at least 90 minutes of exercise a day (based on a routine designed by Anderson), at least five days a week. As someone who exercises about five days a week and likes to indulge my food cravings, I can relate to needing this balance. Unfortunately, while I admire the honesty that both Paltrow and Anderson maintain, it also highlights the biggest flaw in Anderson’s book: most women do not have the time for 90 minutes of exercise a day.
Further, while Paltrow has said that she works out as much as she does so that she can indulge in the foods that she loves, the meal plan advocated by Anderson struck me as almost absurdly restrictive given the amount of exercise suggested. A sample meal plan for a day, for example, would entail:
Breakfast: papaya and blueberries
Lunch: greens with oranges and pumpkin seeds
Snack: choco chestnut pudding
Dinner: Grilled tofu and pea mash
Now, I’m not a nutritionist, and neither is Anderson, but even on days where I don’t go to the gym, I don’t imagine that would be enough food to sustain the energy level I need to function. I do, however, commend the meal plan for pushing real foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean protein (versus protein powders and overly fussy dishes), but I wish there was more of an explanation as to the reasoning behind it.
Meal plans aside, there is much to love in the workout plan outlined by Anderson, especially for those who favor the bar method (think Physique 57, Core Fusion, etc.) Most of the movement showcased in the book focus on isolating our smaller muscles with small, isolated movements and Anderson, who maintains that she helps sculpt a dancer’s body minus the bulk, avoids targeting large muscle groups or working with heavy weights. Personally, I work with heavy weights all the time and am not one of those women who believe that you necessarily “bulk up” just because you lift 10 pound weights versus 2 pound ones, and I’m proof of that. That said, I do realize that it depends on your body type. After having gone through some of the workouts outlined in the book, I do believe that many of them would build endurance, especially in the arm muscle area, by working muscles to fatigue, but I can’t imagine that they would allow you to build much in the way of strength.
Anderson, in my opinion, is her strongest when it comes to her stellar ab and leg exercises and she has a number of them that I’ve never seen before. Further, the book is very well detailed with lots of pictures to make the exercises easy to follow. The cardio component of the workout is presented on an attached DVD.
I found that the most important thing to take away from Anderson’s book is that our bodies are smarter than any treadmill or Stairmaster will ever be, and while you might see results when you first start running, for example, you will eventually plateau so it’s imperative to continually switch up your routine to challenge your body. Anderson is hardly the first person to say this, but I’m always surprised at how many people I see day after day during my AM workouts running while watching the TODAY show who wonder why they are no longer seeing changes in their body. Mix it up! Work in weight training, spinning, boxing, cardio sculpt – there are so many options out there that finding a varied routine is easier than ever. I, for one, will be adding a number of Anderson’s ab and leg movements to my current routine in an effort to do just that.