SEARINGLY HONEST, EQUALLY GROUNDED, AND CRAZY STUPID DRIVEN - TRACY ANDERSON’S METHOD FOR LIFE IS AWE INSPIRING
TRACY ANDERSON: FITNESS GURU
She might be small, but she’s got more drive than most of us combined in her pinky toe. She’s a five-foot-tall firecracker who has grown her unique fitness method into a thriving international business. With a little help from her friend and biz partner Gwyneth Paltrow, but mostly from her relentless pursuit of balancing women’s bodies, doing it HER way, and perhaps her daily glass of wine. Not bad for a small town girl from Indiana.
It’s been ten years since we met for the first time. You had your Studio City location - your only one. Since then you’ve been absolutely crushing it, Tracy. You’ve made it your life’s work to make women feel healthy, super fit and sexy. But now you’ve got multiple studios in multiple cities, you’ve grown your business and you have such a thriving brand overall. Today, when you wake up and serve your customer, what most excites you?
That’s such an interesting question, Catt. I do love our long history of knowing each other for so long and having that common Hoosier root between us. One of the cool things that you so gracefully laid out is that I have been very consistent in my career. I’ve seen the same in the way that you’ve evolved your amazing career. I think that when you are someone that is doing things from a very authentic place, it stands the test of time. I set out 19 years ago to fill what I felt like was a very serious hole in the fitness industry to help create balance where there is imbalance in people’s bodies. I have stayed completely focused on that one mission. I’ve allowed myself to grow and evolve, and create tools and support for women specifically. I have grown my studios over the years but so far I have turned down any opportunity to open 70 or 100 studios in a year. I did just go international though with my first space in Madrid. That’s exciting!
Congratulations! From Noblesville, Indiana to now being global - literally - how do you feel that your midwest roots have served you?
My grandmother used to say, “You’re not better than anyone and no one’s better than you.” She volunteered at the zoo, started as one of the volunteers at the American Cancer Society, she stayed home with my mom, they lived a very responsible life where I feel like they just had their priorities in check and really were very rooted, good people. I think I got a lot of tough love from my grandparents. As I’ve grown and been around so many influential and celebrated people in the world, because my expertise has put me into that space, it’s been eye opening. I say to my kids all the time, “You can’t buy down to earth.” I really think that that has connected me to my audience and I really am here to serve everyone at any price point, whatever their circumstances may be.
In one of your recent Instagrams, you were out in the herbs in your garden with your family. That’s the kind of beauty I want to look at. Real life! So, good on you for staying grounded!
Even last night, my friend Maria’s husband took this really beautiful picture of us and I wanted to post it but I told her this morning “I’m so sorry, I want to post that picture of us today but I couldn’t post it last night. I was catching up on the news and so bothered by what’s going on with these children, so I can’t post our pic until I post something else to try and get someone somewhere to try and make a difference.”
What’s interesting is that I think so many people are so attached to their followers that I think they’re afraid to really speak their mind on that platform. I think it’s important to speak up because it opens up very tough conversations that can get all the way to the root. If you do make a statement it does open up difficult conversations, but it’s not very different from someone who is a self-sabotager with their diet or exercise and not showing up for their health. It’s very uncomfortable to get their balance and to know what balance really means. I encourage people when they are afraid of what other people might throw at them for speaking up or speaking their truth, to take a minute, slow yourself down enough to think it through, and then I think it’s really good for people to take action. You’ve done that in such a brave way that I admire so much.
Thank you. I couldn’t agree more. I think we all suffer from some slight pressure of “Do I?” “Don’t I?” “How will I be perceived?” “Will I be judged?” I think that’s one of the beautiful things about aging. I care less and less. I know you’re probably the same. If my audience is there, I want them to be there for all of me, every ounce of me and if they disagree and they want to stop following me or supporting me that’s certainly their right and that’s what makes the world go ‘round. It’s better to act on your beliefs and just be your true self.
What kind of boss are you? What would your employees and your instructors say about what kind of boss you are and how you lead?
If I have to change the toilet paper, I’ll change the toilet paper. I am very friendly to everyone, I am very accessible to everyone, I really have always loved Tom Ford’s quote “Don’t work with people you don’t wanna go to dinner with.” My assistants become like family to me. I believe in that, I believe in collaboration and I believe in people feeling like they have a happy, fun, supportive and creative environment to come to work in and to function in. I also really think it’s tough because I’m very high functioning and because I work a lot and love what I do, so all of these amazing people that I have been working with for so many years, they end up working a lot too. But I really truly believe that they do love serving others the way that I do, and I’m not a strict boss. I don’t yell at my employees. I don’t believe in getting people to accomplish things through fear or through manipulation in any way. What doesn’t work for me or for this method I’ve created is when I bring in people and put them in the CEO position. That has been the most challenging for me, to hire or keep anyone in that position because they always want to create some kind of environment that is too corporate for what I do. With that corporate structure comes a diminishment of what I do and do so well. People come to me and they’ll try and talk me into it and I just can’t be talked into it.
I get that, it would almost alter the essence of who you are and what you’ve built already.
Yes, it would be like my audience going, “Oh Tracy sold out,” and none of them can dangle any amount of money that is big enough or attractive enough to get me to do that, and I think that’s another way that my roots have really served me well. My mom had three jobs to put me through college, I grew up with no air conditioning, five of us with one bathroom, I shared a room with my sister. I just don’t get excited about the idea of having five homes. I don’t care if I have a plane someday. That doesn’t excite me. What really excites me is the way that we improve people’s lives and the way that I can remain a teacher to them.
And by the way, don’t come to me because you want Gwyneth Paltrow’s legs. Like where somebody in fitness trains a famous person, and because of that everyone becomes hamsters on a wheel like, “Oh my gosh I want to look like that famous person so I’m gonna go to that trainer!” That is complete and utter bullshit! You know, these women should go to people because of their expertise and because they want to look like their most proportioned self, they want to feel like their best self, not because they want to look like somebody else who is a celebrity.
Amen sister! Preach! I hear you and that’s what I love about you, why I respect you so much and why I want to celebrate you. I know at the core of all that you do is your passion to help women love their bodies and love themselves the very most that they can. I’m just curious where that passion came from, where was that born, how did you decide that was important to you?
That’s a great question too. No surprise that great questions are coming out of Catt Sadler’s mouth. I think, because of the way my parents raised me, I always stayed kind to myself and because of that I’ve sort of always piled up with the people that were also struggling. I also wanted to help the people that were falling into eating disorders or drugs or other things - wanting to help came so naturally. I’ve always been friends with everybody. I was always that kind of young adult and I think that it just never left me. I really don’t like when things don’t seem fair or righteous so I’m like, “Okay, it doesn’t seem right that I can’t do what I wanna do!”
I am a natural advocate to try and always research and always push myself to create and I can relate to these women. I gained 60 pounds when I was pregnant with my son Sam and I’m five feet tall. I think I just relate to many different women in many different circumstances and as an adult, I feel like I’ve been through a lot of things. Like with many of the women that I serve in my own life, I’ve been divorced, I’ve had very very bad experiences with relationships, I am a single mom, I’ve had all of these different things that have happened to me in the past couple of years. I have kids, but I also froze my embryos. I’ve been through a lot of things that a lot of women go through. I think it’s key to have empathy and openness and realize that this is not just about getting a great butt or flat abs, it’s all about the journey and being there.
It’s the connection. You want to connect with so many types of women, the every-woman. Is that what #TAmily is? Like Family? Is that what that means?
Yes! I didn’t create it. One of the TAmily members came up with it and started hashtagging it when Instagram first came out. It really stuck. It is a family of women that are all over the world that show up each day with all different kinds of lives and lifestyles. They show up for each other and through this common connection of wanting to process things through their physical selves, be healthy, be transformational leaders, they share their internal wisdom with each other. They help people in their own right with their own consistency and their own transparency which is really beautiful and amazing I think.
So true. You came out with an apparel line which is so hot and you also have your streaming service which, I have not done the streaming yet, but thank god you’re doing this. You know I am “old-school DVD Tracy Anderson.” Since I am so busy, this will be like THE way I can do your workout. Tell me a little bit - with the apparel first.
I wear fitness gear every day to work and I love fashion. When I really love something I’ll meet with the brand and see if there’s a way that we can work together. There were two apparel lines that I just launched. One was with a brand called Heroine and I love love love their bodysuits and have worn them literally for years. They make things in very chic colors - black, white, navy. The designer has amazing taste so I asked if he would do a collaboration with me which he was totally down to do. Being a little bit wild myself and a girl who loves the 80’s, I was like, “Can we please do something wild and crazy from the 80’s?” That’s what we did and it literally sold out in no time flat. It was so fun to do.
Then I did a line with QVC with a brand called Gigli. I can lend my opinion and my style to brands that are already doing what they do so well and I can go in in an easy way where it doesn’t distract from my regular line of business and I can say what I like, what I don’t like and also have a landscape of price points.
The streaming, though, is like my everything. I wanted to get rid of the stigma that I am unaffordable, unaccessible, too difficult. We have this opportunity with technology now where people can see me unproduced and that, I love. I had a lot of opportunities to start a streaming program earlier, but what everyone was doing was getting in hair and makeup, filming stuff, and then they’re just putting it out on a digital platform for a year or two or longer or six months or whatever. What’s special about my methodology is that every single week we have a new conversation with our bodies speaking this same language, this physical language I’ve created, so I want people to be a part of that because that is where the gold is - really designing your muscles and keeping them balanced. There’s Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced and all of the content changes every single week and there are breakdowns from my trainers and myself.
It’s an exciting process to feel like I’m actually on the same page as everyone. I love that too, they are watching me drenched with sweat right from school-drop-off to my studio or whatever it is - like no hair and makeup, like whatever it’s just very real and raw. Also, I have a Premium streaming service which is where I do lectures, I do interviews, I bring forth different experts, I may break down more of a dance for people, it’s got a bunch of extra bonus things in it. That product is what I’m completely focused on. I just restructured my company in the past month and all I’m focused on is streaming and my current studios.
I love that it’s all levels and I love that the content changes. You know that can be everybody’s excuse of like stopping what they’re doing because things get too repetitive and if it’s the same, you lose interest.
Yeah, or your body stops responding, or your body starts over developing in ways that even if you see results in the beginning but you don’t see them anymore, you keep doing it. Then you’re gonna see the results of overdevelopment a year later which is not good.
I know you’re so busy and you’re choreographing and you’re streaming and you’re a mom and you’re running this empire, how many days a week do you actually work out? I know you’re always moving, but would you say that you’re working out every single day of the week because of all this?
Yeah, I do work out once a day, every day typically. Sometimes I will take Sundays off or like every other Sunday because like I just can’t leave the snuggles from the bed in the morning. You know how that is as a mom, sometimes there are just those mornings where they just need you. I do work out each day, that's when I feel the best. Once I turned forty, I stopped working out twice a day. Yesterday I filmed so I did work out more than once. Those are rare days now. We are very careful because too much exercise causes accelerated aging and too little exercise causes accelerated aging. There is a sweet spot as soon as you start to hit your late thirties.
I did two of your classes in the last week and I feel so so good.
Yeah but the main thing for you, because you are so stunning and genetically blessed, is making sure that your muscular structure stays vibrating and those transitional muscles stay awake so that the connective tissues will pull your skin and as you lose collagen, you also lose muscle mass. Those two things, if you haven’t been working out, will cause crepey skin earlier in life. So there’s just one vain reason to do it, ha!
Thanks for the tip. Work to do!
First thing you do in the morning?
Mom brain. Check on the kids first thing.
What did you have for breakfast today?
Today for breakfast I had a coffee and I had organic Ocho caramels. Oh my gosh that’s terrible but it’s true!
C: I love that you’re honest. What are the Ocho caramels?
T: Oh my gosh they’re so good. They’re the little like milk chocolate caramel things. They’re organic but they’re so good and I just grabbed them because I was running late. So I just grabbed like four or five or maybe six.
C: She’s just like us!
If you could trade brains with anyone, who would it be?
Who has a cleaner diet, you or Gwyneth?
Oh, that is a tie! There are moments that she goes cleaner than I ever desire to go these days but there are moments, like I was a raw foodist for a year when she was eating french fries regularly so I don’t know! We’ve known each other for a very long time so we’ve each had our moments but I think right now both of us are pretty balanced. We’re not too healthy and not too unhealthy either.
How many glasses of alcohol do you drink a week?
I only drink wine, I don’t drink anything else. I’ll either have one glass each night one week, or I won’t drink for four nights and for three nights I’ll have like two or three.
If you could tell every woman one thing that would change her life for the better forever, what would it be?
Do not miss the opportunity to be your best self. Don’t get distracted with what everyone else is doing. Don’t miss the opportunity to be you and nurture your strength and plow through all of your shit and your history so that you can be who you were meant to be and shine as bright as you were meant to shine.