Monday, March 4, 2013

The Tracy Anderson Method Mat Workout: Unconventional and Effective!

74073_497229581487_5025332_nSo I finally did it, I invested money in a Tracy Anderson DVD. If you're as obsessed with all things entertainment industry related (Like where the stars buy their handbags or what blow out bar is the hottest in L.A., not stuff like Oscar winning movies. Think Kelly Kapoor, not James Lipton.), then you are probably familiar with Tracy Anderson, trainer to stars like Gwenyth Paltrow and Madonna. I first learned about Tracy Anderson while watching E! news, I was at the height of my workout DVD obsession and I saw Cat Sadler in the Tracy Anderson studio learning some workout moves. Of course, I did get in front of the television and start doing the moves along with Cat and I was intrigued with just how different her moves were. It was kind of like Pilates, but maybe combined with some ballet. 

So immediately I went to the Internet to look up her DVD and came across Metamorphosis which cost a whopping $100! What? All my Jillian Michaels' DVDs were only about 12 or 15 bucks, but 100? Definitely not buying that. So then I was consumed with trying different workouts on Exercise TV and forgot about the oh so chic celebrity exercise guru until Exercise TV went kaput.  And so I was back to finding new workouts and saw Tracy Anderson in her weekly segment on E! News. 

And so I went to YouTube to find some of her videos and I must say, her style is strikingly different than other routines I've seen. And through Exercise TV I have participated in quite a slew of workout routines, from piloxing (Yes, that's Pilates and kickboxing combined) to Bollywood dance moves, but I had yet to see anything similar to Anderson's style. She combines high impact dancing with mat work to get the biggest bang for the buck. Her goal is to get lean and toned without bulking (Think Victoria Secret Models, but without large endowments.).

Interestingly, she preaches from the same choir as both Jillian and Bob Harper who say that you can't "spot reduce fat" you have to do cardio to shed fat and then strength training to gain muscle, yet Tracy's moves do not include squat jumps with 8lb weights or standing mountain climbers. Instead she's doing high impact ballet moves, combined with jumping jacks and leg work on the at-home barre, or a chair. She advises to combine both the dance dvd and mat workout dvd to do every day, but who has two hours a day seven days a week to workout? Her celebrity clients whose careers rely around having bodies that the masses are envious of! Jillian, on the other hand, does not recommend working out for long periods, she is much more relatable to the average person who is unable to invest an entire workday to exercise. And thus I was hesitant to invest in a Tracy Anderson DVD.

So I tried a couple clips of her workouts and rather than explain to you, you just have to see it. So here is one of the webisodes she posted on her website awhile back.

As you can see, she uses some choreography that when done by her appears impressive and quite frankly bad ass, but when you see the big ogre in the background do the same, it makes me ponder if I look that neanderthalesque when doing the same moves?

And then she has the literal mat workout where she takes conventional Jane Fonda moves and spices them up a bit.

And of course there are her notorious dance workouts. If you watch the video below, no she is not recording herself dancing to submit to Lady Gaga in hopes of being in her next video, this is the routine you are supposed to follow along to! She has a tutorial clip that you follow first, but other than that it's all you! In her tutorial she specifically states that you have to follow the exact moves to hit the correct muscle groups and not to flop around. Ooops, I guess I should have watched that tutorial before I did the dance. And can I say that flopping is a polite way of describing whatever it was I was doing.

As you can see, I was hesitant to purchase her DVD for both price and for my own ability to do the workout. And so recently I've been in the mood for another kickstart to my workout routine so I thought I'd try her mat routine because my two left feet would rather do jump squats for cardio rather than choreographed moves from a Nelly video (Did I just date myself? Yah, I did) and I saw that the DVD only cost $15. Winner.

Can I tell you that I absolutely love the DVD?! It's kind of a combination between ballet and pilates. She hits small muscles that don't usually get hit, but in a peaceful way. At the same time it really stretched out my body, by the time I was done I felt like I had just finished a yoga DVD!

So the DVD starts with a warm up which is a combination of light dancing and yoga. Pretty simple, but gets the heartbeat up a little bit and stretches out the body really well. I love the song in the warm-up, sounds like a Madonna song. Initially I thought it was some type of hippie-tranceesque type of music, but I guess I was absorbed into the trance, because I was singing the song by the end. High class elevator music, yeah. That's it.

And then she gets into leg work with a chair. She's so blase, show's no pain on her face and doesn't drop her leg once! Me, on the other hand, was in pain and had to put my foot down between moves. Yet still, she didn't make me feel intimidated, which I thought she would.

After legs she gets into a standing core routine which is literally like gyrations from a rap video. I am thankful Hubby was asleep the two times I've done this DVD because I always thought I knew how to booty dance in the clubs, but trying to immulate a professional dancer was no small fete for me.

After the Shakira dancing it gets into an arm workout. I absolutely love her arm routine. She basically keeps your arms flailing in the air for a good 10 minutes (possibly less, but it felt like an hour.) It was pain, pure pain. I can't even pinpoint which part of my arm hurt, it all hurt!

And then from free arm work, she goes into a routine where you use 1, 2 or 3 lb weights. She says not to go any higher because then you will bulk. (According to Jillian and Bob women don't bulk, who to believe?). I had nothing less than 3lbs and it wasn't ridiculously difficult except for one part where you have to leave one arm at a 90 degree angle and the other one is doing some type of Britney pre-breakdown moves.

After arms is the mat work on the floor. First she starts with leg work. She does some moves that definitely hit some muscles I didn't know existed, but my greatest frustration with this part, and really with the whole DVD, is that she gives very little instruction, so your form could easily be off but you wouldn't know until you started having pain. In the standing exercises it's easy to just watch her and follow along, but in the mat work, when your on the floor it's hard to look at the tv screen to follow the form. I started having pain and didn't know if it was muscle pain or I was doing something wrong!

After the leg work she moves into abs. The ab work is like conventional crunches, with a twist. This section was very refreshing, it was like adding some flare to routine ab crunches. She gives a little more instruction here to heed off any back pain. Only complaint is that the section was short.

And lastly she concludes with a warm-up...err cool down. Yes,  her cool down is symmetrical image of the warm-up, which includes stretches and dance moves. It seems a bit unconventional to have fast movements in the cool- down, but it did feel like a good stretch at the end. Throughout the DVD your heart rate never gets that high, so the faster paced movements don't feel too tiring.

Overall, the feeling at the end of the workout, for me, was sore arms and just a feeling of peacefulness. I was worried that since it was all mat work I wouldn't feel like I had a workout, but it was a great compliment to a cardio routine. Per the interview at the end of the DVD, Tracy recommends that you only do her mat work and her dance cardio DVD in order to properly obtain the super skinny body type she is aiming for in her routines. Sorry, I don't need to be super tiny, I just want to be healthy and fit. So for me, I think continuing this workout in the mix of all the others I do would be a great addition. On days where I'm not feeling like heavy cardio, but something lighter that is going to work my muscles this is the perfect workout to do.

I've toyed around with getting her dance cardio routine, but from the lack of instruction in this DVD, I don't think I am coordinated enough to figure out the moves on my own. I'll just have to keep my Sasha Fierce alter ego back in 2002 on the dance floor of the clubs.

Click below for image sources.


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