Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Kim Kardashian, Nicole Richie, Courtney Cox, Gwyneth Paltrow—and me. What do we have in common? We all have bodies shaped by celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson!
I lost 13 lbs and a total of 10 inches all over, and I’m in better shape than I was a decade ago, after finishing Tracy Anderson’s 90-day omnicentric metamorphosis program.
What is the Tracy Anderson Method (TAM)?
From more than 10 years of research on various muscular structure groups, former dancer Tracy Anderson put together a fitness method that claims to be able to change “any problem area or body type.”
“Tracy has created and patented over 3,000 fitness movements, and her varying moves target every muscle in the body. The sequences strategically exhaust the muscles in a way that does not create bulk, and that strengthens the connection to the body. This program is designed for anyone to achieve a perfect body naturally,” according to tracyandersonmethod.com.
Metamorphosis (or “Meta”) is a series of workout DVDs catering to four body types, depending on your problem areas and fitness goals: Abcentric, if you want a flat tummy, focuses on the lower stomach and back; Hipcentric, if you’re pear-shaped, tones the thighs; Glutecentric, lifts and tones the butt; and Omnicentric, if you need to lose weight all over, want a toned look, have a lot of pounds to lose or have no specific problem area.
I like workout DVDs because they’re portable, affordable, efficient (no time wasted driving to and from a gym), and if you’re self-motivated anyway, you won’t have excuses for not getting your workout.
I like that TAM is a healthy, sustainable balance of diet and exercise. I first started doing Tracy Anderson’s post-pregnancy workout DVD in 2011 after I gave birth, alternating it with her method mat workout. Both are hourlong exercises that you are supposed to do with an hourlong dance cardio routine, but I couldn’t make the time to work out her recommended two hours a day, six times a week.
I ended up skipping the dance cardio altogether because it entailed remembering some challenging choreography, required a large space, and was very hard on my knees.
The beauty of Metamorphosis is that it addressed all the problems of an at-home exerciser. You don’t need a lot of props (just your mat and three-pound weights), or a lot of space (I only use a 7.5’ x 5.5’ area). It gives you options for full audio mix, music only, or just her voice, which gives you the flexibility to make your own playlists to dance along and keep things fresh.
It’s not one-size-fits all, it’s a targeted approach to your problem areas. Beyond just a DVD series, TAM is a lifestyle change that demands commitment: one hour a day, six times a week. It’s surprisingly doable.
The cons: The music is uninspired, so you will have to make your own playlists. She doesn’t talk much, so expect to look at the screen for the first few times. You might want to preview and write down the rep counts beforehand.
Seldom does she warn you when she changes to a new move, which is often. When she repeats the sequence on the next side, she sometimes does a more difficult version of the move, so you might doubt yourself if you have been doing it right all along.
Tracy doesn’t allow you to zone out and forces you to really concentrate on each movement, as you will have to figure out the counts yourself and mimic her angles to a T. The editing is also unreliable (you will realize this as you pay close attention to the counts). But the benefits outweigh these little flaws.
TAM relies on nutrition, cardio and muscular structure work. Tracy stresses that she cannot promise results if you do not commit to all three.
The package comes with a booklet with weekly menus and recipes. You will spend quite some time in the kitchen, prepping your food. This will take some getting used to, if you’ve been accustomed to fast food. It helps to already store them in quart-sized ziplocks for convenience.
The diet changes every week, alternating “Nutrient Boosts” (seven small meals a day), with “Body Resets” (three meals a day). You can have as much unsweetened tea as you want, as well as the occasional glass of wine, but no sugar, salt, diet soda or coffee. These are considered low-level inflammatory foods, and true enough, I lost two-and-a-half inches off my waist and 4 lbs by the 10th day.
The first week (Nutrient Boost) was the most challenging for me, as most of the food was puréed. This is supposed to help adjust your body to unprocessed food and aid in your digestion. I was dizzy for the first few days, because I had withdrawal symptoms from my old diet. But strangely, I was not hungry and had energy to last the day.
I was skeptical that I was eating too little, and so I plugged in everything onto an online food log, and was surprised to see that my nutritional requirements were indeed met, except for the protein and calcium (which I supplement with a pill). The Body Reset weeks are protein- and fiber-heavy to make up for the nutrient boost weeks.
Since some of the ingredients are not readily available or are too expensive, I made substitutions (prunes for blueberries, kangkong or spinach for kale).
I only kept to her diet strictly for the first month (November), and let go by Christmastime. By then, I had gained back a few of the pounds I lost, but because I kept working out, I lost them again in the next month.
Tracy says to “feed your soul” during the holidays and not deprive yourself, but to continue working out. On hindsight, I saw the wisdom in that, because I also noticed that when I went back to eating heavy, oily, salty, sweet and starchy food, I had less energy to do the workouts.
The 30-minute dance routine doesn’t change for the entire 90 days. This entails a lot of jumping and endurance, but the moves are simple. It may seem silly, but it helps to really “perform” it for best results.
According to Tracy’s site, “I don’t believe in bulking muscles or overworking your large muscle groups. With dance cardio you are constantly working different muscles and using your entire body.”
It took me till the 60th workout day to be able to perform the whole thing without stopping. Having supportive shoes and motivating playlists are essential.
3. Muscular structure
The 30-minute muscle sculpting part of the program changes every 10 days. “Repetition can make your large muscles bulk and can neglect your smaller muscle groups. The changing content will be sure to give you a total body workout and you won’t neglect any of your muscle groups,” explains Tracy in her site. Movements for arms, abs and legs become increasingly more challenging as the levels progress.
Aside from eliminating boredom with ongoing variety, the 10-day period is just right for getting acquainted with the moves in the first few days, then egging yourself on to do as many reps as you can, because you know it’s only going to last for 10 days. There is a great feeling of accomplishment as you finish each level.
Tracy recommends using only 3-lb weights (I use only 2 lb ones) so that you don’t bulk up. There are a lot of planks and positions where you support your whole weight on your hands and knees so you will see a noticeable difference in your arms first.
Aside from the fitness guide, nutrition guide, nine muscular structure workouts, and dance cardio routine, you also get a tape measure to measure yourself and log in your progress in a workout tracker every 10 days (each time you finish a level). You also have to weigh yourself every day, and this helped keep me honest.
You also get access to the TAM online community, where you get to interact with other women starting at the same time, share playlists, and learn from other more experienced and very helpful TAMmers worldwide who are still doing the Meta Continuity workouts on their third year.
I started Meta in November, and because I got sidelined by life (the holidays, sick days), it took me an extra month to finish. But I feel amazing having completed it. Since the program is a lifestyle change, I am never really done; my beloved husband Jason got me Continuity DVDs for months four to 12 for my Valentine’s present (he knows I’d prefer that over pesticide-drenched flowers!).
More than the weight loss and inches lost, I like that the program has made me stronger and more aware of my nutrition.
I’ve made a commitment to be as fit as I can be. I may no longer be able to sprint or kick as well as I could in my youth, but now I like to focus on what I can still do.
I haven’t seen TAM being sold locally, so until Tracy decides to build a studio in Manila, have a balikbayan order TAM DVDs for you via tracyandersonmethod.com, amazon.com, eBay or OpenSky.com for best savings ($195 for nine months’ worth). Till then, try TAM for free on YouTube and “prepare to be amazed!”