Where: Tracy Anderson Studios, 24 Hubert Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY
Tracy Anderson Studios: We Know You Wanna Know
Over the magic of the internets, Lactic and I have gotten to know one another a little. (Mostly this has entailed my being a shameless RateYourBurn fangurl and Lactic tolerating it, but I digress). In any event, when I came clean to her about my past - that I was a member at Tracy Anderson Method - she basically drooled on herself. By "drooled on herself", I mean "asked me to write a guest blog post about the experience."
TAM was my first boutique fitness experience in New York. I know that sounds odd, because most people probably start out with more reasonably-priced class based programs like Physique 57 (see Lactic's post on P57 being a gateway drug) and then work their way up the group fitness obsession ladder, but I jumped straight from Equinox to TAM, with no idea what to expect.
I'm going to lay this right out, because it is invariably the first question I get asked. Yes, it's THAT expensive. It runs about $30 a day, or about $11,000 a year. Backing that out, it's the equivalent of taking a SoulCycle class on every day of the year. But I don't think I know anyone crazy enough to do that. (interjection from Lactic: I know plenty of crazies who do this, actually. I<3 you, crazies. You know who you are).
The aformentioned cost is just for the membership, which doesn't cover the initiation (I think it's about 10% of the annual fee...TAM's member policies are quite opaque). It also doesn't cover private training, which is roughly $250 per hour. What it does cover is unlimited group classes and semi-private training.
TAM members are measured when they join, and then are supposed to be measured every month. To judge “progress.” Many members use this option, but not all. TAM doesn’t track weight.
Here's how TAM works.
There are two fitness options: the custom program, and group classes.
The custom program is designed for you by Tracy's head trainer, the fabulous Katy Fraggos, which you do for 10 days (ideally, 5 days over two weeks). It generally takes about an hour to complete, and takes place in a semi-private training environment. Over the course of my time at TAM, that meant I was either totally alone with a trainer, or had 1-2 other members with me. You get a LOT of personalized attention.
- This takes place in what vaguely resembles a medieval torture chamber; a room with movable barres, suspended cubes (weighing ~ 40 lbs) and modified Pilates reformers. There are also resistance bands attached to the ceiling. You do a series of leg lifts, kicks, climbs, pulls, and other exercises while either suspended in a cube, climbing on a bar, or sometimes, blessedly, just standing on a box.
- Extremely difficult.
- Most custom routines require an extraordinary amount of balance and upper body strength.
Somewhere towards the end of the video below, Tracy demonstrates to Kelly Ripa. Trust me - pushing the cube while doing high kicks is awful. Effective, but awful.
Clients are supposed to follow custom with Dance Cardio (or vice versa depending on their body type). What this means is that most women are there 2 hours a day. It's a huge time commitment.
- Exactly what it sounds like. It takes about a month or so to learn the routines.
- The classes take place in a studio next door to the custom room with a sprung floor so the impact on joints, although still significant, is lessened.
- They can get crowded - which in this space means almost 30 women. They also get HOT. Tracy keeps the studio at 87 degrees, so when the sun is beating through the windows plus 30 sweaty bodies, it gets pretty slick.
- This class takes place in the same studio.
- Similar series of movements as the custom program, but in a group setting; frequently involves pulling down on the resistance bands (Kelly Ripa also demonstrates this in the video above).
- Not easy.
- Frankly, nothing about TAM is easy.
- Size: The studio itself is not that big. I would say the two rooms together (custom and cardio) are about 1.5 times the size of the Barry’s Bootcamp Studio. Maybe a little larger. The surrounding space – office, bathrooms, locker room - is smaller than Barry’s. There’s no real waiting area.
- Hydration: There is a water filter for free water. You can buy coconut water and Neuro water.
- Towels: You don’t have to pay for towels (that would be insulting).
- Lockers: You do have to bring your own lock.
- Decoration: It’s also decorated with a couple of paintings Tracy’s little son did. Which is kind of awesome.
- The members at TAM are almost entirely women. There are a few gay men scattered about, and the occasional male celebrity, but I would guess the membership is about 97% female.
- These are New York's power women. On the whole highly educated, very hard working and enormously intelligent.
- Many of them are also stupidly good looking (I'm not referring to the supermodels*, just the normal clientele).
- They're not, however, nearly as Lulu-ed out as the average P57 or SoulCycle girl. They come to sweat, not to look good.
- I have no idea how many people actually belong - a lot of the members never show up (we’re talking the super-rich here) and many are privately trained in their homes. Also, there is some NY/LA cross-pollination (you can work out at either once you’re a member) and some are bi-coastal. As at any gym, you tend to see the same people over and over again.
*A note on supermodels: yes, they work out there. And yes, dancing next to Giselle Bundchen will make even the most self-confident woman feel like a schmoo. For those of you that don't know what a schmoo is, please see here.
- There are, as anywhere, certain uber popular trainers and time-slots, for which you need to sign up in advance. I think they’re capped at around 26 for cardio and 14 or 15 for muscular structure when the bands are necessary, since the band spaces are limited.
- You have to sign up individually for custom. There was theoretically a late cancellation/no-show charge when I was there, which I think they’ve started enforcing more rigorously.
- Tracy herself almost never teaches. It’s an EVENT when Tracy teaches. Generally she’ll teach multiple master classes on back-to-back days. On occasion she will show up and take over a class.
- The trainers are all dancers, 98% female. Pretty much a prerequisite to be hot to work here. I have heard rumors that she requires head shots before auditioning, but I don’t know if that’s true.
There’s a fair amount of turnover at the studio. Many trainers I knew have branched out to do their own thing, others have joined boutique studios. For example:
Notably, many of these trainers are now teaching methods that are heavily TAM-influenced (Body By Simone even offers a class called “Dance Cardio”)
Below is an example of the current schedule.
Band Re-Design This class utilizes the band system created by Tracy and is only offered to Tracy Anderson Method clientele. Using specific resistance bands to engage the accessory muscles through a total body muscular structure redesign, this class is created to target and promote healthy skin that pulls tight against the muscle. This class is open to all levels and is best when paired with a cardio component
Cardio Freestyle Dance cardio is the best compliment to the Tracy Anderson muscular structure work. We use dance cardio to keep your mind engaged which ensures optimal results. This class will start with 30 min of nonstop high intensity cardio "freestyle" movement, (you'll be following along as the instructor leads you through basic dance steps to keep your mind guessing while also working up a sweat). This will be followed by a 30 minute instructor led breakdown of the Tracy Anderson choreographed dances. This class is open to all levels, and paced at beginner/intermediate. Best when paired with a one hour muscular structure class.
Band Freestyle Using the bands to knit the body together this class is ideal for those that want the experience of Tracy's one-of-a-kind band system while scaling up in cardio. The 30 min muscular structure will focus on pulling the skin tight against the muscle and the easy to follow cardio will focus on agility and freestyle aerobics. This class is ideal for those that only have an hour for their total body workout, want the connective resistance of the bands, and are working to scale up in cardio. Appropriate for all levels beginning to advanced.
Method Boost This hour long class is packed with everything you need in the method. It is a total body transforming class complete with 30 minutes of muscular structure (including abs, arms, and leg) and 30 mins of nonstop dance cardio. This class is ideal for a busy day when you can only fit an hour into your schedule. As always, the class structure will follow the philosophy of the method and change every 2 weeks just like your custom program. Perfect for any level.
Muscular Re-Design One hour full body muscular design including the abs, free arms, arms with weights, and specifically designed leg series. This class will focus on the blueprint of your perfect proportion body and the foundation for all the method has to offer. This class will feature Tracy's most recent apparatus and newest movement vocabulary. We welcome all levels, intermediate/advanced paced class.
From the Tracy Anderson Studios website: The Tracy Anderson team is committed to helping women transform their bodies and their lives. Check out TracyAndersonMethod.com for information about Metamorphosis by Tracy, and so much more! It's time to get ditch the fad diets, the gimmicks, and the one-size-fits-all approach to getting a better body. With years of research based on her former training as a dancer, Tracy has developed her very own unique approach to fitness. Her method for transforming the body is based on targeting the accessory muscles (the small muscle groups). Strengthening the accessory muscles help to create a tight knit group of small muscles that actually pull in the larger muscle groups. Strengthening the accessory muscles help to create a tight knit group of small muscles that actually pull in the larger muscle groups. This results in a lean figure without the extra bulk - which gives women a tiny dancer body and men a skinny ripped body.The Tracy Anderson Method is it's own unique program: truly a hybrid of movement, that can help you start sculpting the body you've always wanted.
Find out more about Tracy Anderson Studios at www.tracyandersonmethod.com
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