Hollywood’s most sought-after trainer reveals why health gimmicks flop, and why celebrities shouldn’t be confused with health experts.
If you’ve ever admired a celebrity’s lithe, bikini-clad body on the pages of a tabloid, there’s a pretty good chance that Tracy Anderson had something to do with it. The celebrity fitness guru—and creator of The Tracy Anderson Method—has helped shape many of Hollywood’s hottest bodies, from Madonna to Nicole Richie to Gwyneth Paltrow.
When she’s not helping A-Listers maintain red carpet-ready figures, Tracy is inspiring the everyday woman to transform her own body. The superstar health icon recently teamed up with client and pal Gwyneth Paltrow to launch The Restart Project, a life-affirming, 10-episode AOL On web series that documents the stories of real-life women who have overcome adversity and found salvation in exercise. Proving that healthy living goes deeper than merely fitting into one’s skinny jeans, the series is a poignant celebration of transformation, hope and the healing powers of exercise.
Below, the celebrity trainer takes a breather from her jam-packed schedule to chat with us about her upcoming online TV project, her tips for sticking with New Year’s resolutions, and why she believes that juice cleanses are horrible for health.
Spry: Your upcoming series The Restart Project focuses on women whose lives have changed thanks to diet and exercise. Why do you think leading a healthy lifestyle is so powerful and transformative?
Tracy: Being healthy through diet and exercise is all we have to really feel our best. It’s science; it’s proven. We have so much power and control over how we function, what we look like, how we behave. I just think that people always want to hear the easy way out, because unfortunately that what’s most accessible to us. That’s what’s shoved in our faces—from unhealthy foods to packaged foods to fitness gimmicks to beauty creams and all of the above. It’s like, we know the truth but nobody wants to accept it. So I think it’s important for people to really understand that gimmicks don’t work and to hold themselves accountable for their own health.
The Restart Project focuses on women who have transformed their lives—not through gimmicks, but by actually showing up and making changes. These are women who have had really tough circumstances in life, and very little resources, but they changed their health purely by showing up for themselves. And I think that’s really key and a great message for everybody. You’ve got to show up for yourself.
Spry: The Restart Project is about overcoming adversity and setbacks. What sort of obstacles have you faced in your own personal journey?
Tracy: I’ve found myself in challenging situations and challenging relationships. Those would be my two biggest setbacks in life. I was filming The Restart Project during my separation from my husband, so I think it was really great for me to be able to witness other women who were also going through challenging times in their lives, but with fewer resources than I had. One of the women on the show had lost one of her children, which is every mother’s worst nightmare possible. It kind of helped put things in perspective, you know?
Spry: With the New Year upon us, a lot of people are resolving to jump-start their fitness regimens. What advice would you have for people to stick with it, rather than fizzling out after a month or so?
Tracy: There are a lot of gimmicks out there that don’t work. So when people jump into a health or fitness trend expecting quick results and don’t notice a lot of change, they get frustrated and give up. It’s key to make sure you’re not following a trend. Women need to learn to love themselves and to want to really take care of themselves—that’s where it’s really at. Who cares what this person is doing or what that person is doing. I think that it would be great for women to identify what they want to achieve in life based on their own unique individuality, rather than caring so much about what other people are doing.
Spry: While we’re on the topic of gimmicks and trends, you’ve been quoted for famously slamming juice cleanses and comparing them to Twinkies. Why do you think juicing is so bad?
Tracy: I mean, making a green juice at home from fresh veggies and drinking it right away—that’s one thing. The science behind that is that your body can take and use those nutrients. So yeah, that’s valid. But the mail-order juice cleanses where people are ordering juices that are basically sugar water—that’s not healthy. It’s mentally exhausting for a woman to be on a cleanse and off a cleanse. It’s confusing to your system; it’s not healthful. My point is that a processed Twinkie has just as much sugar as those unpasteurized juices. So when I made that comparison, it was more speaking to the sugar contents of juices. A lot of people label quick fixes as healthy. The beauty and weight loss industry is a huge moneymaking industry, and people have to be cognizant of that.
Spry: You’ve trained numerous celebrity clients over the years. What is the key for lasting success?
Tracy: Another message that I’m trying to get out is for people to not confuse celebrities with experts. And to understand that just because a celebrity is eating something or drinking something or doing something doesn’t mean that that’s the picture of health. There’s a lot of confusion about this. Because of the way in which celebrities are positioned, women think that celebrities have all of the answers. I’ve been in this industry for a long, long time, and there are very few celebrities who I haven’t had walk into my gym. And I can tell you there are very few celebrity clients that I will celebrate as truly good examples of women who overcame adversity or body challenges, or who took care of their bodies in very natural ways.
Tune in below to watch an episode of The Restart Project: