Standing at just 5'0" tall, Tracy Anderson may not look like a force to be reckoned with, but the pint-sized fitness guru has built a training empire that's worth an impressive $35 million. That's more than twice as much as Insanity creator Shaun T's net worth, so she's clearly doing something right.
After more than two decades in the industry, 170 fitness DVDs, five gyms, and retail products that span from sportswear to protein powders, Anderson has won the devotion of fitness enthusiasts and über fit celebs (like J.Lo, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kim Kardashian). One of the reasons people flock to her is because she's actually super relatable. After she left her Indiana hometown at 18 to pursue a career in ballet, she gained 40 pounds—despite the fact that she was dancing every day. She's also gained 60 pounds during her first pregnancy and 38 during her second pregnancy with her daughter Penelope. By sticking to her self-developed Tracy Anderson Method (which was basically the basis of cardio dance, by the way), she was able to bounce back from these challenges—and she adamantly believes she can help anyone who truly wants to get in shape and change their life do the same.
Though not all members of the fitness community agree with all of her suggestions or workout methods, a good bulk of her tips are backed sound science and undebatable common sense—and those are the tips you'll find here. Pick a few from the lot below to weave into your slim down plan, and continue to fuel the fat-burning fire with these 30 Best Fat-Burning Foods for the very best results!
Aim for 60 X 6
So long as you aren't new to the fitness scene, Anderson suggests training for an hour a day, six days a week. "Do 30 minutes of cardio training (dancing, jogging, aerobics) and 30 minutes of muscular structure (weights and stretches). Do it six days a week for the rest of your life, she says, adding, "Every day that you don't work out you are gaining weight or staying the same."
At the same time, however, she recognizes that newbies need to ease into their new fitness routine. "Start with a couple of days a week. After you've been [working out] three to four days a week for a month or so, you'll be able to add a fifth day—and it's not going to be hell!" Anderson explains. And find that you have trouble keeping your head in the weight loss game, don't miss these 40 Tips for Motivation That Actually Work. They can help you get your bootie to the gym on the reg so the weight will continue to melt off your frame.
Make The Bulk of Your Diet Simple
The majority of her empire may be built on fitness classes and exercise DVDs but that doesn't mean Anderson discounts the importance of a wholesome diet. Time and time again she's reiterated the importance of eating clean, organic whole foods as much as possible. "I don't like processed foods. I eat lean proteins…as well as quinoa and brown rice," she said in a recent interview. "Chicken is the only meat I eat—organic chicken. I eat eggs. I'll have coffee with steamed whole milk, a big salad, then a snack of Eden tamari almonds or an Alter Eco dark chocolate bar (one of these Best Chocolates for Weight Loss), then fish and vegetables…for dinner." But that doesn't mean she doesn't indulge from time to time. Tracy had admitted to having an affinity for ice cream and french fries and openly admits to having a sweet tooth.
"I like for people to be not in their heads about eating. Food restriction can become a real mental game and I'm not a fan," says Anderson of restrictive, low-cal dieting. The only things off limits in her diet? Super-process foods, gluten, and farmed salmon, something we here at ETNT loathe as well. Find why here.
Only Drink on Special Occasions
Drink as little alcohol as possible, advises Anderson. "I drink wine very rarely. Alcohol slows your metabolism for three days after you drink." A little freaked out by that fact? Then you won't want to miss these 31 Things You Did Today to Slow Your Metabolism.
Skip "Ab" Exercises
Like many other trainers, the 41-year old fitness experts advises against sit-ups and crunches. Doing sit ups doesn't really burn many calories, so not only can you do crunches every day for years without seeing any dramatic results, the exercises can also cause neck and back strain. "Moves such as crunches which concentrate on the one area create an imbalance in the body and encourage bulk," Anderson says. That's because you'll be building muscle under a layer of fat. To let those abs lines shine through, add high-intensity interval training sprints to your weekly fitness routine. Not only does cardio build lean muscle and burn calories, the action of driving the legs initiates the core. The faster you go and the shorter your recovery, the more your abs will develop.
Pre-Game Your Workout
Some studies have shown that hitting the gym on an empty stomach can accelerate fat loss. However, not everyone feels like they can give it their all at the gym if they're distracted by a rumbling stomach. Plus, conflicting research suggests that not eating before you hit the gym can increase post workout hunger. So it's sort of a wash. Tracy's take on the whole issue? She says that "exercising on an empty stomach makes your workout far less effective because you'll be sluggish and won't be able to go the distance."
That said, she recommends sipping a shake made with a scoop of protein powders, water, and a bit of coconut water before hitting the gym.
Start a Diary
If you tend to get overwhelmed with the happenings of your day-to-day life, you'll probably find it challenging to make fitness and healthy eating a priority, too. "When people are stressed, it clouds their minds and makes them less productive," Anderson explains. To de-stress, so you can get on track to a healthier lifestyle, she advises taking the time to write things down that are getting under your skin at the end of each day. When your thoughts and emotions are in order, it becomes far easier to get your health in order. And science backs her suggestion. A recent study revealed that when women who were unhappy with their weight completed a one-time, 15-minute writing exercise about an important personal issue, they went on to lose at least three pounds over a three-month period while their counterparts who wrote about an unimportant topic gained three pounds. As it turns out, journaling can serve as a buffer to the stress and uncertainty that leads to emotional eating and sluggish workouts. For even more out-of-the-box slim down hacks, don't miss these 20 Weight Loss Tricks You Haven't Tried.
Refuel With Chocolate
After working out, the body needs a combination of protein and carbohydrates to repair muscle tissue and restock depleted energy stores. So while it may be unconventional and surprising, it's not totally crazy that Tracy always keeps an organic dark chocolate bar in her gym bag. If you're interested in trying her recovery method, we suggest pairing a small chunk of dark chocolate with something like fruit and nuts.
Don't Watch TV During Your Cardio
While you may think it's super annoying when people don't wipe down the gym equipment after they're done using it, Tracy's gym pet peeve is actually one that can slow your progress. "[I hate] people who watch TV or are on their phones during their workout, or reading a magazine on a workout machine—people who are projecting out during their workout and not shutting everything else out and connecting in," she says, adding, "Very early on in developing my method, I went to a sports medicine and testing and training [facility] and we hooked up people's brain activities to different monitors on treadmills. We would turn on the televisions and have them exercise, then we would switch to music and have them exercise, then I would talk to them, then yell positive things to them—and it turns out, we burn the most calories when no one is talking to us and there's loud music on." For even more ways to boost the effects of your weight loss program, check out these 25 Easy Ways to Lose 5 Pounds.
Make Fitness Fun
It may leave you drenched in sweat and so tired that you can't even think about moving from the couch, but Anderson swears that fitness can and should be fun. "Exercise can be just as fun as a manicure once you get good at it," she says. She says the best way to ramp yourself up is to slowly, but surely add on your workouts whether it be in the form of reps or time spent breaking a sweat. And if you've ever seen one her DVDs or viewed one of the videos of her classes on Instagram, you know that Tracy is the queen of making workouts fun—most of hers involve dancing, after all! If dance is what brings joy to your life, definitely check out one of her classes or videos. If you have a passion for rock climbing or Zumba, that's fine, too. The key is to find something you love and make it a big part of your workout regime.
Workout in the A.M.
"I always recommend early to bed, early to rise," says Anderson. "If you work out in the morning, you'll get it done before other things—like someone wanting to get lunch and drinks—[distract] you and keep you from exercising. [Plus,] so much research points to the benefits of waking up early." It may seem strange but science backs Tracy's claim. A Northwestern Medicine study found late sleepers—those who woke at about 10:45 a.m.—consumed 248 more calories a day, ate half as many fruits and vegetables and twice the fast food of those who set the alarm clock earlier. Do you have trouble getting your tush out of bed? Tracy encourages exercisers to stop making excuses. "You're an adult; you can set your alarm, get up, brush your teeth. You can schedule your morning." Need more specific advice? These 18 Ways to Get Motivated for Morning Workouts can help.
Add New Tunes to Your IPod
As we mentioned earlier, TA is adamant that workout playlists be fun, loud and energetic. According to her research, these kinds of jams help get people in the zone, so they push their bodies further and up their calorie burn. "I love music so much! Working out to music is something that people need to do," she tells People magazine. "On my workout playlist right now: 'Live Forever' by Travis Barker, 'Courtesy' by PRhyme, 'Divine Sorrow' by Wyclef Jean, 'Got Love' by Tove Lo, 'Dangerous' by David Guetta, 'I Own It' by Nacey, 'Style' by Taylor Swift, '0 to 100' by Drake, 'Smooth Criminal' by Michael Jackson, 'Booty (Remix)' by J. Lo, and Bleachers' album."
Find a Workout Buddy
Workout buddies are great because they keep you on target. If you have plans to meet up with a friend for a spin class or a run, the odds that you'll skip it are very low. You won't want to let someone else down. "You want a reason to not have to do it because it feels uncomfortable," Anderson explains. "Being accountable makes it happen." For more great ways to stay on track with your weight loss program don't miss these 35 Fun Ways to Lose Weight.
She may be BFFs with Gwyneth Paltrow, a celeb who's famous for regularly doing mild detoxes, but TA isn't a fan of skimping on calories. "Juice fasting destroys your metabolic rate. I see a lot of women who are like, 'Oh, I lost seven pounds and then I gained 10.' That's not what detoxification is about," says Anderson. A better way to cleanse your body from the inside out? Add these 25 Best Foods for Instant Detox to your diet plan.
Just Say No To Soda
Soda is basically just carbonated sugar-spiked chemical water, so it makes sense that Tracy suggests cutting it from your diet entirely. "It's bloating and full of sugar—or if it's diet soda, it's full of chemicals. Drink water. Not coconut water—water. Your body has no idea what … to do with the soda, so this floats through your body, [causing] inflammation."