Update as of May 2023: I no longer am doing the method. I want to keep this post up in case it is helpful for anyone evaluating the program, but for me, it was not sustainable. The reason why I stopped doing the program is 1) it is extremely expensive to not do every single day and 2) the hour long workout sessions did not work for me time-wise. I did enjoy some specific parts of the program, so I will keep this post live, but I wanted to inform any recent viewers. Without further ado, here is my original post:
I wanted to try something different to shake up my workout routine, so I decided to try out the at-home Tracy Anderson method online. This will be my official review after trying the program for 4 weeks! As you will read, I have been enjoying some of the benefits of this program so far. I will see whether or not I will stick with it. I am feeling toned, strong and energized so far.
What is the Tracy Anderson method?
You have probably heard of Tracy Anderson before. She is a well-known fitness entrepreneur. Her list of former clientele is impressive- Gwenyth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez and Kate Hudson make the list. She has in-person studios, a new apparatus called “MyMode” with training sessions, and most notably an online streaming service, which is what I decided to subscribe to. The Tracy Anderson method does not neccesarily fit into one category- it is not fair to call it just Pilates or Aerobics, for example. The workouts feature light weights, lots of reps, and an overall full body workout that will engage every single muscle group. When you first subscribe, you have the option to take the Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced classes. It goes without saying that you should start with the Beginner to work up to the Intermediate. Then, once you are comfortable with Intermediate, go to Advanced. The Beginner classes are 30 minutes long. The Intermediate and Advanced classes are 1 hour long. You will need a mat of course, 3 pound hand weights and 1-1.5 ankle weights. I also like to have at least one towel, since you likely will sweat a ton and it is helpful for your hands during the mat section. Some people fold their mat or get a knee pad to avoid too much pressure on the knees. It is recommended to do the program 6 days a week. Typically the first fifteen minutes consist of arm movements without weights (to warm up), then arm movements with weights (tones the arms), and then you move on to the mat for the lower body work. Learn more here. During the mat work, another member of Tracy’s team (usually Courtney- shout out to her, love her energy) joins Tracy on the ground. This is because the trainer is taking detailed notes on Tracy’s moves to do the breakdown since they are so intricate, and the trainer also “cues” Tracy to make sure she does the moves in order on each side.
I subscribed to this program a few weeks ago and I have been doing it 3-4 times a week. The reason why I am not doing the full 6 days is because I like to do yoga or lift heavier weights at least once a week. For me, this helps me feel on track and balanced. Also, now that I am past the Beginner level, the 1 hour long time commitment is not always feasible on certain days. Sometimes I can only squeeze in fifteen minutes. I’d rather do something versus nothing. I will also mention that Tracy has “Elective” content you can watch as well which is shorter. But for me- if I am going to do the Method, I want to commit to the full workout videos. So far, 3-4 times a week is working for me. Now, let’s get into more detail around the Positives and Negatives!
Versatile, Fun and Engaging!
When you see ads for this workout, you may see buzz words and phrases like “Versatile,” “Never Repeats,” or “Fresh.” These actually describe the method pretty well. That is because new content drops regularly, that way you are not repeating workouts too often. In fact, old workouts from weeks before disappear. The idea is you should always be switching up the choreography and moves to challenge your body so it does not adapt. This makes sense to me and I hate feeling bored while working out. This is why often times I don’t love strength training. Do 10 squats for 4 rounds no longer is appealing to me. With these types of workouts, I never know what to expect and my body is constantly guessing- which makes it addicting. Once I start a workout, I never stop.
This detail sets Tracy’s workouts apart. The reason why Tracy Anderson does not talk during her workouts is she believes it can be a distraction and you intuitively know how to move your body and what feels good (more here). At first, this was extremely challenging because I am so used to instruction. The more I got used to it though and leaned in to that uncomfortable feeling, the more I came to really enjoy being present with my body, listening to the music and flowing. Often times my thoughts go something like this (particularly during a challenging sequence): Am I doing this right? Let me check the screen again…okay, yes I am doing this right!… a couple more reps go by…I’ve got this now!
Little Equipment Needed
For this workout, you do need 3lb hand weights to perform the beginning arm sequence. You also need 1-3lb ankle weights for the leg/muscular strengthening section on the mat. I already had ankle weights, so that was no problem. However, I only had 5lb hand weights so I ended up investing in these weights from Bala (side note– if you are in the market, I highly recommend these. They feel amazing in your hand). Tracy also has ankle weights you can purchase on her store. What’s nice about this is once you have these items, you do need to keep buying equipment. These are the staples you always use. For example, you do not also need a kettlebell, heavy dumbbells, resistance bands, pilates ball, etc. It is great since this equipment does not take up a lot of space either. Ankle weights are one of my favorite pieces of exercise equipment since when you are wearing them, they don’t feel intrusive or annoying to adjust.
This piece was fundamental for me when I was searching for a new workout plan. I wanted something that was going to challenge me physically, but also mentally. I’ve heard people say this workout plan feels like learning a new language, and that is not far off. Not only does this workout challenge me physically, but my mind is stimulated the entire time. That is because the moves switch quickly and they are often in sequences. You must pay attention to your form and timing. For example, in a regular Pilates class you may just perform one Donkey kick. During this workout class, you may be kneeling to perform a single Donkey kick, flip around, kick your other leg, swing it back, come back to the position you were just in- to start again. This workout program requires you to give it your all- physically and mentally. The Beginner classes are a great place to start to get a feel of what you are in for. The Intermediate classes are of course longer, so much more difficult and physically exhausting. The Advanced classes are unlike anything I have ever done before. The classes are nuts. Tracy is performing handstands, splits, complicated stretches, etc. I’ve only done a few of the Advanced and I don’t beat myself up for not getting every single move. The idea is to give it my all and don’t stress about perfection- and I’ve gotten an amazing workout no matter what. One of my biggest pieces of advice with this program is: Have an open mind, don’t beat yourself up (especially the first couple of times), be consistent, and just have fun with it.
My biggest gripe with this workout program is the time commitment. I already mentioned that the Intermediate and Advanced workouts are a full hour long- sometimes even a little longer. The time commitment alone could dissuade a lot of people from doing this program. I mean, fitting in an hour long workout 6 days a week while working a full-time job, having other responsibilities, chores, and people to see can feel impossible. I think it’s nice that Tracy offers the Beginner classes and Elective content, but the time commitment often feels impractical. Whenever a workout video is released, they also release a breakdown of the workout, front view of the arm sequence and a post workout chat. While all of these videos are amazing, I cannot spend up to 2 hours taking the workout class, watching the breakdown, and listen to the post-workout chat. I understand that not all of this content is required, but I have gotten stressed out before about the time commitment and not being able to watch all of the beautiful content I am subscribed too. I want to get my money’s worth of course, but I don’t have all of the time in the world.
Another piece of feedback (and I alluded to this earlier) is the workout feels frustrating at times. I often have to watch Tracy and the trainer perform the sequence a couple of times before I feel like I “get” it. And again, I know that is what the breakdown is for- but sometimes I don’t have the time for the breakdown, so I just jump in. There have been a few instances where I am watching Tracy thinking “What in the world…I can’t do that!” Some of the moves feel very weird in your body and you may think…”This can’t be doing anything…” but those are the times where you really just need to push through and be versatile.
It is no secret that this is not a cheap program. It costs 90 dollars per month for the online streaming service. This does not include the live classes. You also may need to purchase the equipment items if you do not have those lying around already. If you end up not doing the program every single day, you will feel badly for spending so much money on it. I definitely think the program is effective for toning and muscular health, but for many people, the price is not worth it. If you can’t fit in an hour workout several times a week, then paying for this program doesn’t make much sense.
Hurts My Knees
Some people who do this program will get a knee-pad, but I just ended up folding my Bala yoga mat in half. This works fine but I still often felt pain in my knees, since you spend a lot of time on your hands and knees during the move. This was uncomfortable and had me almost giving up at certain points. It is never fun to be doing a workout where you are feeling an aching pain in your knees.
If you have the time and money to try out the Tracy Anderson method, it is worth it. For me, I felt energized and excited about the program at first. I thought the moves were really interesting, and I did feel my body changing. The problem for me was that I could not always commit to the full hour daily due to other responsibilities. This caused me deep frustration since I was spending so much money on the program. I like to be versatile- if I can fit in a 15 minute Pilates flow, or make a yoga class at night, that is great. Being active is about making that commitment daily and it wasn’t worth beating myself if I couldn’t fit in the workout. So, for me, I ended up deciding to cancel my subscription since I was paying a lot of money and not using it daily. And nothing bad happened- I am still exercising daily and one day, I may resume the method. But for right now, I’d rather not stress about the whole thing.