As some of you already know from my previous post, I have recently been indoctrinated into the Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis workout series. Last week's post was a rehashing of my lifelong fitness quest - one that was (not surprisingly) totally lackluster - until it culminated with the discovery of The Tracy Anderson Method. Will this, my new-found passion, be the ticket to a healthy well-being?
After that first post, I had a few inquiries as to what the heck I was talking about, and what sort of guru am I hitching my wagon to THIS time? Hence, this follow-up to (hopefully!) shine a bit of light on the what's what of this program.
First, a little background (aka: what I read in the book). Tracy Anderson began developing her Method about ten years ago. Her background is in dance, and you can see the influence of that in many of the movements. She eventually became Madonna's trainer and (I think) that's when people started to notice her. She and Madonna had some kind of falling out (that was NOT in her book, THAT was found somewhere on Google), but Tracy has had a string of celebrity clients ever since. Names like Shakira, Courtney Cox, Zoey Deschanel, and her most vocal client, Gwyneth Paltrow. Gwyneth believed so much in The Method that she became a partner and helped bring the Metamorphosis program to market.
Tracy (yes, we are on a first-name basis. I am on a first-name basis with anyone I see every single morning!) initially released a few DVD's here and there. Titles like "Dance Cardio" and "Post-Pregnancy Workout." Then she released her "Design Series," which was a set of three DVDs. Then came the book (as previously mentioned) and now the "Metamorphosis" program, followed by Continuity (but I'll get to those later).
Just tell us WHAT it IS already!!!!!
OK, ok, cool your jets!
Essentially, her program consists of two things - Dance Cardio and Muscular Structure Work.
The first time I saw (and tried to perform) the "Dance Cardio," I thought, this is absolutely NOT dancing. This is just jumping around like an idiot!
Until I eschewed the icky background music on the video, and supplemented with some upbeat tracks from my iPhone that one would actually DANCE to, and my tune changed.
OH! OK, with the right music, this IS more like dancing!
But, to be really totally honest, it is a lot of jumping around like an idiot. Tracy does not even remotely look like an idiot. She is very svelte and totally gorgeous dancing around like she's doing an Irish jig. Even her jumping jacks look HOT.
I look like the idiot. Because Tracy is not terribly instructional on her videos. (And by "not terribly instructional" I mean "there's about 30 seconds worth of voice-over, and that's it!)
Don't get me wrong, it is ultimately one of the reasons I love the program so much! Part of my boredom with other videos is that it gets really old listening to the instructor say the same thing day in and day out.
BUT, that means you've really got to pay attention and be on your game. Not too bad, actually, I find that it keeps my mind focused.
To help you visualize what all this Dance Jumping looks like, I've got a handy YouTube video to share. (See, I do all the visualizing work for you!)
See what I mean??? The Metamorphosis video I have has less arms and fewer spins, but PLENTY more jumping jacks. And she wants that done 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week.
But what about that asthma you mentioned before? Isn't your body rejecting this kind of stuff???
Well, for some reason, jumping doesn't affect my lungs as much as running. Maybe because I'm moving in all directions, instead of just forward, I'm using more muscles? I don't know. I still have yet to do the whole 30 minutes without have to "walk it out" in the last half, but my endurance is really improving!
Wouldn't a good, long walk work just as well? It all burns the same calories, right?
Actually, Tracy says no. In her book she talks about the research that went into using this type of cardio, versus running, walking, or whatever else. She swears the one that made the biggest impact on her clients was the Dance Cardio/Jumpin' 'Round Like An Idiot workout. So I'm sticking with what Boss Lady tells me to do!
Onto the second half of the program - the Muscular Structure work.
I'm not even sure where to start on this one!
It has a bit of dancey-looking arms, some very different, ab-annihilating crunches, and finishes off with some1980's, Jane-Fonda-style-on-steroids leg lifts. But it's only 30 minutes!
Alright, let me see what I can find on YouTube to help you with your visualizing.
This is a great little instructional video! But let me make it clear that in Metamorphosis, there is NO instruction as to what you are doing or why you're doing it. Which is why the book really comes in handy to help with understanding the moves. Also, I am absolutely NOT doing 100 reps of anything! In this program, she does 40 reps, max. At least so far! (Oh, Lord, please let there be no more than 40!!!)
Arms are first done with no weight and movements are pretty fast. Then you pick up your 3 lb. weights, and work those arms a little more. It LOOKS easy. And I do make it through all the motions. But my shoulders have definitely felt the burn when it's time to put those weights down!
Next up is abdominals, starting with standing abs. Moving your rib cage and hips back and forth, in opposition to each other, you get to feel like a hip-hop star!
Then, it's time to hit the floor. The biggest difference with Tracy's ab work is that she like to perform the mini-crunches (lifting just your head and shoulders off the floor) with the legs straight, not bent like we all have not-so-fond memories of being forced to do in high school gym class.
If you survive abs, Tracy attempts to finish you off with leg work. This is done mostly in that old school style of "four on the floor." In other words, you are on your hands and knees with one leg at a time kicking backwards, forwards, to-the-side, and even at a diagonal. It hurts. No, I mean it, it HURTS!!! But I have had no problem with my knees or my wrists (despite having a ganglion cyst in one that should be making this unbearable). No, what hurts is my ass, my hips, and some deep place in the inner-most regions of my thighs. And yet, in some weird, twisted way, I look FORWARD to this work. I may not be able to do ALL the reps, but I look forward to seeing how many more I'm able to accomplish each morning!
Which leads me to the schedule. I don't know what she recommends on her previous DVDs - I have yet to own one of those. But I do know how it works with the book and Metamorphosis (Meta, for short).
The book is a "Bootcamp." It is meant to be completed in 30 days and is more intense than Meta. And "more intense" is really simply "more time-consuming." Tracy would like you to dedicate between 1 1/2 to 2 hours per day, six days a week. Which was why I never got around to doing the workout in the book. 2 hours?? EVERY DAY???? It sounded much too daunting. And I was a bit afraid of the cardio. And I tried some of the muscular work, but felt like I was doing it all wrong. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that the book comes with a DVD in the back. If I had popped that in, I would have felt much less confused!
Eventually, I decided I was really going to commit to a program - no matter what. And after checking out Meta for about a year, decided to take the plunge and just do it! (The rati onal side of my brain did note that there is a good resale value for the program on Ebay - just in case!) Meta comes in, what Tracy terms, "Centrics." Each centric targets your particular problem area, or where you tend to gain weight. They include Abcentric, Hipcentric, Glutecentric, and Omnicentric. I think you can guess what area each one emphasises, except Omni. Omni is for women who tend to gain weight evenly all over. BK (Before Kids) I would have been Glute or Hipcentric. But AK (After Kids) I have been gaining weight in the middle before anywhere else, so I purchased Abcentric. There is a handy dandy quiz that Tracy has posted, to help you decide which centric you are. I don't know what the differences are between the centrics. From what I understand of what others have posted, the exercises are pretty much the same, but will be in a different order, or have a couple of omissions or additions. The initial program is 90 days worth of workouts - so 9 muscular structure programs that you change every 10 days - and one Dance Cardio video. The workouts consist of 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of muscle work. One hour total. Absolutely doable! Of course, we are talking about six days a week. Admittedly, that was a little rough at first. (Super Secret Insider Tip: It is advisable that you do NOT begin this program the week of Valentine's Day!)
Once the 90 days are over, Tracy offers a Metamorphosis Continuity program. Every 90 days they will ship you another 90 days worth of workouts, in your centric, for $29.99/month. This is very exciting to me! Unlike other DVDs that come out with a handful (at most), Tracy will stay with you for YEARS!
And that's it! There you have it - The Not-So-Short Explanation of the Tracy Anderson Method! I hope this answers some of your questions. Next up, you can look forward to my thoughts on the Meta eating plan (did I mention it comes with a diet? Well, it does!) and letting you in on what has "metamorphosized" from my first 30 Days of Metamorphosis!