flailing arms fitness

Last month I fell for some very expensive celebrity fitness nonsense: The Tracy Anderson Method. Not so much even fell for it, but intensely rationalized to myself that the ludicrous cost justified the simple program (oh it’s so easy to do anywhere!), the amazing results (omg she’s around my age and has those abs!) while drooling over the luxurious amazingness (aka amazing marketing and photography team and celebrity connection) of it all.

She proposes for users to do the program 5x-7x a week for optimal results. The immediate problem with this is it is literally the same workout every single day for 7 days. This goes against everything good I know about fitness. You should alternate body parts, you should have rest days, you should mix it up for the health of your body and your mind. T.A. is having absolutely none of that.

The T.A. program posts a new set of videos once a week (beginner, intermediate, advanced). Each one is a video of Tracy leading a class in one of her studios – maybe L.A., could be Madrid, perhaps NYC. While it is technically a new workout, it doesn’t feel like it. It’s the same sequence of body parts with slightly different moves. The beginning of most videos is the arms flailing with 3 pound weights and no more than 3 pound weights. Another red flag for me. Heavy weights are sculpting machines for our bodies. But, for the purposes of this program, you would certainly injure yourself if you held anything over 3 pounds due the to lack of form with arm movements. It appears to be a combination of dance moves, stretching, pilates, and general freeform movement.

She doesn’t speak during the workouts, so even the people in the studio are a step behind Tracy. She has said the silence allows you to be in tune with your body, but all it did for me is cause me to be 5 steps behind her and crane my neck in injury-inducing positions to see what she was doing on the screen.

The whole experience reminded me of the saying that goes something like: You can convince anyone of anything if you say it with confidence.

I lost interest quickly, not to mention respect for the entire concept. I started doing more research online about the program, the face of the brand and the experience of others who had tried it. I stumbled on this post by this rad strength and nutrition coach named Nikki. Just look at her photos on her site and you’ll probably also want to be friends with her and her cute dog.

After I read her post, I left the longest rant-ish comment that I ended it by noting that I was going to make it a blog post because that is how long it was. I encourage you to go read her post (if you have experienced the T.A. Method and are remotely interested) and then read my comment below. It was so long, I definitely thought she was going to block me from her site lol. But she didn’t and she said it was funny.

This all leads me to wonder if we, as a nation of consumers, view fitness as a product, a brand, another thing to consume. I know I do. Looking back over my life, I have often sought out fitness things I think will ignite me. Even as a marketing person, I still get sucked into all the marketing language, beautiful photos, the promises. So much hooplah when I really just need to take a walk. Or just move. Or do a YouTube yoga class. Or a plank – yes a 60-second plank. That’ll do. I’m still on the search for simple movement in my life that isn’t overly complicated and just feels good.

What is it in your life that you create a fuss about when it is actually really simple? Super curious.

And, I’ll leave you with the very long comment just below in italics. Enjoy your day. :)

This is a great post. I tried TA for a month and was appalled at so. many. things. I thought I was hallucinating when she said in a recent weekly class something like: you can’t get injured in these classes because the moves are so close to the ground and if you lose balance you’ll just fall to the mat and be fine. I think my mouth dropped open.

The mere concept of flailing my arms around with weights (albeit 3 pounders) in my hands makes me feel injured. I never bought the weights. I was embarrassed to buy tiny 3 pound weights and thank goodness the ones I found at Target were a weird, sticky texture and I didn’t get them. I’m from the school of good form, slow and steady weight-lifting, no flailing allowed.

The concept that cue-free, music-only classes help center your brain is absolute nonsense, while I’m in my living room twisting my neck around like the Exorcist trying to keep up with her. Is there a thrill in knowing you’ll never quite catch up to TA, like restaurants whose waiters treat you badly and it’s a treat?

Hmm what else felt insane? Oh, the idea of doing literally the same workout 5-7 days a week. Then, the next week a “new” workout is released that is only slightly altered from the last one and still essentially goes in the same sequence. Every. Day. Of. Your. Life. Nothing about this makes logical sense.

Yet, you’re so right. All I remember is being in a celebrity trance and thinking TA and I are around the same age and she is hot and I want to be hot too and, sure, the $90 is a completely revolting amount of money to pay for 30 days of basically the same workout … but she’s so lean and toned! and I want to be like her … and if she has gotten to the point in life that she can charge this extraordinary amount of money for her services then there must be some magic or secret or fountain of youth that will be revealed during the classes!!! No. Nope. No.

The Malcolm Gladwell theory is so solid. Because of it, I convinced myself that magic exists and that TA workouts are worth their weight in gold because of the luxury price tag.

I clicked the “Request Cancellation” button on Friday, which led me to a “Before you go!…” buy my DVDs page. The cancellation never went through because apparently there is a confirmation button buried at the bottom of the products that I couldn’t find. I sent an email telling them the user experience was terrible. They just wrote back to confirm the cancellation and proceeded to include a full paragraph about the DVD collection. An idea that will keep me up tonight: who still owns a DVD player?

Thanks for letting me pour out all of the things here. I’ve basically just written an entire blog post, which I may now post to my blog because people need to know lol. #themoreyouknow Now going to check out your workouts. I must replace the flailing with something awesome.

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