Image Source: Nick Gerber
The method behind the Tracy Anderson Method is a unique one: the temperature in her dance-cardio classes is cranked up to 86 degrees with 69 percent humidity, and Tracy provides zero instruction. Now, if you've ever taken a group fitness class, you're probably accustomed to motivational speeches in between sets or even military-style abuse. But the celebrity trainer, who's also Gwyneth Paltrow's longtime friend and business partner, simply tells you to move as she does as if you were playing a video game. I recently got a taste of Tracy's class (minus the heat) during the Chicago stop of G. Sport Sessions, a fitness experience by Westin Hotels and Goop, and I actually appreciated her silent style.
After 50 minutes of sweating it out on the mat, Tracy sat down for a Q&A where she explained the reasoning behind her class format:
"I speak with my body," she said. "The reason why I don't speak to you during the class is because I don't want to take from you. I don't want to distract you. I don't believe that I know how to move better in your body than you know how to move in your own."
She then went on to explain how she conducted her early research and the impact it's had on her method. She studied how different stimulus affected participants as they exercised by hooking them up to machines and allowing them to watch their favorite shows on TV as they walked on a treadmill. She continued to experiment and monitored the effects of different coaching methods, from motivational orders to bootcamp-style yelling, until finally, she landed on one that worked.
"Then I turned on music — the louder I turned on the music, the more neural pathways opened up," Tracy said. "Then I put my treadmill in front of their treadmills, and I shut up, and I turned up the music, and I said to mimic me. And their brains just opened up the craziest number of pathways by doing that."
She found that the key was to avoid stressful instruction and to allow class-takers to figure out the movement on their own rather than providing predictive cuing.
"It is not my responsibility to go, 'Shake it, girl, you got it!' or 'You're such a wimp!' It's terrible," she said. "How are you supposed to connect to your spiritual self during that? How are you supposed to process your emotions? How are you supposed to get to know yourself? How are you supposed to find yourself?"
As a result, you're more present and challenged. And honestly, I wouldn't mind if more instructors followed this way of teaching. Namaste.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Nicole Yi