Tracy Anderson is a celebrity personal trainer and guru who offers staggeringly expensive training and food programs to Hollywood and other celebrities. As a fitness guru, she does what fitness gurus do: claiming to have unlocked the non-existent secret of weight loss and getting in shape, by offering standard fitness advice with some nonsense personal twists for marketing purposes (she trains “accessory muscles” (?) instead of your large muscles, offers exercises to pull skin tighter to the muscle and warns women not to lift more than three pounds (or to run) or they’ll become bulky, with lots of vague woo and nonsense fluff and bullshit nutritional advice, and plenty of opportunities to pay her by using products she endorses for kickbacks. Some of the advice she gives will probably give you results, some won’t, and if they do give results it will rarely be for the reasons she suggest. She doesn’t really have the faintest idea when it comes to physiology, fitness or nutrition, or she just doesn’t care (there is a good takedown of the nonsense of her recommendations here, here and here). Just like most fitness gurus, really. The first law marketing is to tell people what they need, and then make sure that your product is the only offering that fulfills the need. Of course, since there is no secret to weight loss and exercise, it’s all about packaging. Anderson is good at that – she’s even made it to Oprah.
That the diet advice of the “Tracy Anderson Method”, as highlighted for instance in books like The 30-Day Method, will lead to weight loss is hardly surprising, since it’s basically just starvation: people should restrict their calory intake to 700 calories per day. Any other bells and whistles Anderson adds to make her dietary schemes stand out really don’t matter. Of course, some of her additional claims are downright dangerous. According to Anderson, most foods are dangerous and lead to allergies (“I can’t even eat yogurt, nor can I have a tomato or a strawberry! They all cause allergies!”). Needless to say, following Anderson’s advice is not how you develop a healthy relationship with food or anything resembling long-term health, but you didn’t think she cares much about that, do you? And then there is of course the relentless view of what women should look like underlying allher advice.
There is a decent takedown of her particular advice here. As for the nonsense fluff bit, Anderson says things like “[i]n research, the number of muscles in our body keeps going up because [scientists are] starting to look at smooth muscle differently. We need to be connected. Everything needs to be called into action, and our brains – which remain one of the most mysterious objects in the universe to this day – have got to participate.” Yes, scientists. And research. This is prime guru talk.
Anderson is perhaps most famous for being a trainer and fitness advisor for, as well as business partner of, Gwyneth Paltrow, and she has participated in Paltrow’s summit and conferences warning people for some reason to avoid cross-training and boasting about working with Microsoft to access people’s “neural pathways” so they’d connect with her online presence. She has also become known for questionable financial practices.
There is a decent resource on Tracy Anderson and her charlatanry here.
Diagnosis: We’ll designate her a loon. The alternative, which is hard not to characterize as “vastly more likely”, would make her a truly horrible person. In any case, Anderson’s got plenty of fans, since her advice works as well as anything other health and wellness guru advice and because those who fail to achieve results tend to shut up, and of course because her marketing is glitzy.