Good Sweat

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What a $900 monthly gym membership gets you

tracy anderson body bikiniWhen I heard that Tracy Anderson, the trainer credited with Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow’s already stunning physiques (not exactly “The Biggest Loser” transformations here), was opening a Tribeca fitness studio with monthly dues of $900 (on top of the $1,500 initiation fee), I chalked it up to out-of-touch pre-Recession thinking. Today I stopped by for a “consultation” (really, a tour and dues explanation) at their gleaming third-floor studio on Greenwich and Hubert. The space, more art gallery than gym, with white laminate floors and modern paintings, had a friendly, appealing vibe, as did the staff. I didn’t hate the place. Not at all.

Although a budget-breaker for most New Yorkers, it turns out that $900 a month buys you unlimited personal training and fitness classes. So if you’re someone who already does any kind of personal training twice a week or more, then the rate might actually represent some savings.

Your customized program, supposedly tweaked by Tracy herself, includes a cardio dance-based component and private sessions on Tracy-invented Pilates-style equipment. No weights. The Tracy Anderson Method is all about working “accessory muscles” instead of larger muscles groups like the quadriceps. This promotes a lean, sinewy look, explained Brice, my tour guide, while weight lifting and running, my current modes of working out, promotes bulking up. (He warned me about getting big quads, but show me a bulked-up marathoner and then I’ll worry.)

gwyneth paltrow workout with tracy anderson

I’ll admit I found it all much more appealing than I expected. If my budget included a $900/month line item under physical activity, I’d be seriously tempted to join. But there is a rub and here it is: Anderson’s acolytes recommend devoting 10 hours a week—which translates into six sessions per week that range in length from 1-2 hours. But if you devoted this much time to any form of exercise, you’d achieve amazing results, at least that’s what two personal trainers I surveyed later suggested.

They also said it’s downright inefficient to work out this much when you get the same results more quickly with weight training. One of them wondered about osteoporosis, a major concern among Caucasian and Asian women, which weight training is proven to combat.

That said, Tracy Anderson is clearly breaking new ground in exercise methodology—as well as price—and we look forward to hearing what studies by exercise physiologists say about it. We laud her for making her workouts available to those outside of her zip code and income level through Tracy Anderson Connect. Download her dance moves onto your iPhone and let loose at New York Sports.


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