Tracy Anderson Wants to Make You a Dancer
"Ok, from the top..." Tracy Anderson calls out above the blaring Katy Perry tune as we, her students, once again assume our starting positions. 30 Lululemon-clad women (and me) are assembled in a very warm room on an early spring evening in New York to get a preview of the fitness guru's new DVD: "Unleash Your Inner Popstar," available for pre-order on her website. The workout, from the pint-sized trainer responsible for the toned bodies of tinseltown's royalty (think Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna), intends to do as its title suggests. Not only will you work every every single muscle in your body, but you will become the dancer you always wanted to be.
"I'm very nurturing in the DVD," Anderson says in the beginning of the class, and later, I sense this from her even as I screw up every other move. Anderson, mom to a 22-month-old, is energetic and bold. She easily embodies the role of hip-hop dancer style in her fuschia sweat pants, one leg partially rolled up, a cut-up heather gray tank and messy, blonde ponytail. There's no doubt she's having fun strutting her moves, but her efforts are clearly about so much more than that. Anderson, it's worth pointing out, cares about the history of the workout and the research involved in creating an effective routine. Before returning to the studio in New York, Anderson was in Florida meeting with researchers from around the globe to talk about fitness and our bodies' muscular structure, a phrase that she uses frequently.
In the studio, I don't have time to consider my body's muscular structure or how the dance is helping my figure; I get the first sequence right, and I turn on cue, but somewhere in the middle of things, I don't know what the heck I'm supposed to be doing. I stumble around, feeling like I have two left feet.
"It's in there," Anderson shouts encouragingly as she flawlessly leads the eager yet confused group through the most difficult segment. "Sometimes you have to sleep on it, and it all comes together," she eventually says (probably after noticing that half the class is turning one way, the other another, few of us in tune with the pulsating, almost unbearably loud music). Confusion mounts as time goes on, and the heat and humidity make it harder and harder to focus, but we are perspiring like crazy, and when it comes to exercise, that's always a good thing, right?
At last, when Anderson realizes she's gone well over the hour we had scheduled, she hopefully asks if we want to go through the dance one last time. We all gamely agree, mustering up whatever energy we can find to try and hit the moves in sync with the beats.
Mostly, though, it doesn't happen that way. It's true that I don't hit the dance floor often, but I'm not without rhythm either, and actually I'm quite athletic. The cardio dance doesn't make me feel like less of an athlete, in spite of the struggle, but I'm so focused on nailing the moves that I nearly lose sight of the fact that I'm exercising.
Anderson shares that in her DVD she breaks each of the dances down, so you learn the moves slowly before putting them together to music. Perhaps, in my own living room, with the handy pause button available on the remote, I'd fare better, though I'm not sure the practice would be as fun, which is probably totally beside the point, anyway.
By Stacey Gawronski