She may be known for transforming her celebrity clients’ bodies into lean, camera-ready machines, but Tracy Anderson is much more than a physical trainer. The former dancer intensely researched real ways to reach a toned, fit physique more than a decade ago and developed her signature system: the Tracy Anderson Method. She’s traveled the globe with her star clients (Madonna, Jennifer Lopez) and treks between her four fitness studios (with business partner Gwyneth Paltrow) in Manhattan, the Hamptons and Southern California. Anderson also has several workout DVDs for those who want to try her unique fitness regimen and don’t live on the East or West Coasts. She and Paltrow also teamed up recently for The Restart Project, an online series spotlighting women who’ve overcome various obstacles through diet and exercise.
What made you create your own lifestyle brand?
It’s interesting where I ended up because I never wanted to be in the fitness business — that was never a goal of mine. I was a dancer. There was a need for something in the industry that didn’t exist, and I needed it to be able to do the career I wanted to and it just wasn’t there. So I did it out of a passion to help women who struggle and it initially started with a focus on girls who go to school for dance and don’t have a genetically sticky-thin figure. But then when I did my years of research, I realized this problem plagues women of all ages of all, from all different careers, backgrounds, whatever — this desire to have a body in the best proportion that they can have it in, through exercise and a through a healthy lifestyle. Really it was just a need to help women. It’s that simple.
I’ve been doing it for 13 years — 13 incredibly focused years. When I was pregnant with first child is was when I shifted my focus. That turned into real research and then years and years of developing the content to support the research, which is no small task. So it’s not like it was a part-time fun thing of mine — it was a mission.
What is your advice for female entrepreneurs?
I love to support other women that are doing something great in business and that are going out there for themselves. I think the biggest thing for anybody who’s an entrepreneur is you have to do something you believe in 100 percent — you can’t be swayed. No one’s advice, no one’s criticism can derail you. Your product, your service or what you’re creating has to be like a family member to you. You have to have something you really believe in and that’s the most important thing.
The second most important thing is that it has to be something you’re passionate about, something that you really love. I think you need to find the perfect temperature of providing for yourself and your family, and loving what you do. You need to love it and realize the commitment that you make because being an entrepreneur takes serious commitment and it takes serious ups and downs. You’ve got to be willing to stand by it in the low times, too.
Do you travel with your clients?
I did two world tours with Madonna and she’s such a hard worker that we’d be in three countries in one day sometimes. When she goes on tour, it’s not like we’re relaxing — we’re working. She’s just a machine.
I’ve traveled with Gwyneth [Paltrow] a lot. I’ve traveled with a lot of my clients. But then I also send my trainers. I’ve got a trainer who went with Jennifer Lopez around South America. I’ve had trainers with Shakira all over the place. I send people everywhere because after I did three years with Madonna, my son had had it. He’s just now over it enough to be like, “Wow, my passport is cool and I did see some cool places.” But for the first year I had him home, he never wanted to leave again. I was nervous that I scarred him, because travel is so wonderful.
How do you stay motivated to work out when you travel?
You have to prepare yourself to be able to do your workout, but stay focused with the program that you’re with. It’s bad to be in a program — especially a program like mine — and then just do the elliptical because it’s sitting in the hotel gym. That’s why I love the convenience of DVDs. I think that if you have a DVD you love, you need to take it and put it on your laptop.
Sometimes new environments can help reenergize. So it’s kind of fun to have your workout in a new environment because you can connect to yourself and to the place more. Sometimes if it’s some place beautiful, it’s a whole new experience. Other times, you’re traveling for business and you’re stuck in a little hotel room. Don’t be afraid to move furniture; don’t be afraid to ask the hotel for help.
But I do think that if you’re traveling someplace that has wonderful hikes or other things you should take advantage of the physical activities that cause you to explore.
I think the worst thing is when you go somewhere amazing and you want it to be a great experience, then you come home and you lost some of your results. And you can lose results quickly. I do not think that anyone should diet while they’re on vacation because one of the best reasons to get your workout in while you’re traveling is so that you can enjoy the food from different cultures and different places.
What are Tracy Anderson’s favorite travel destinations?
I love Paris, and I love the big wonderful kind of fast-moving cities. I also love Vienna too. Prague and Budapest, to me, both had this really kind of magical feeling about them where the architecture is a little bit more mysterious, but in a really magical way. I really loved both of those cities.
I also live in Sag Harbor, N.Y. and in that city there are great shops, but you can’t really tell that they are a Gucci or something like that. In Prague, it’s like that — they really respect the history of the architecture and they don’t allow commercialism to come in and kind of make it their own brand. They really respect the history of the city. The integrity of the city is really intact and the streets are really magical. And I felt the same way in Budapest.
I really love Tokyo as well. When you go to Tokyo, there’s an electricity that is so fierce, yet the people are so lovely that I felt comfortable. But maybe it’s because I am from Indiana so I love that comforting feeling. When I travel I can go and be adventurous but I’m much better off when the people are nice or the atmosphere is cozy.
What are Tracy Anderson’s favorite things to do in Sag Harbor, N.Y.?
Sag Harbor and Venice are very different, and I live in both places. In Sag Harbor, I love going to the beach or the bay. We live on the bay side, but just 15 minutes from the ocean side too. That’s my favorite thing to do. All year long, too — the beach has just a whole different feel in the fall and winter there. I love taking my dog to the beach. Also, there are wonderful little shops in the Hamptons and wonderful little restaurants all over. Sag Harbor is really home for me.
What are Tracy Anderson’s favorite things to do in Venice, Calif.?
We live in Venice because my husband loves Venice and loves to surf. We live right on the beach. I struggle to appreciate it actually — it has a really cool culture here, but I’m a safety freak mom so I have to kind of struggle to appreciate it.
I have some stores and some restaurants that I love there. There’s a little boutique called Undrest by the Sea that is really cool. They have swimsuits that are their own brand; they are knit and are really neat. They have specialty lingerie. They’ve got wonderful clothes — sweaters and things. I do love that little shop. I do like Abbot Kinney, too — it’s a really cool street.
My son likes to go to the skate park in Venice and watch the skaters. It’s actually pretty spectacular.
Photo Courtesy of Tracy Anderson and MTurin