Trainer Tracy Anderson at her exclusive Brentwood studio. (Christina House / For the…)
Tracy Anderson added to her fitness empire of studios, workout DVDs and other products when she and her business partner, Gwyneth Paltrow, opened the serene, members-only Tracy Anderson Studio in Brentwood in April. Anderson, one of the best-known fitness instructors, grew up dancing and hoped to become a professional. But she gained 35 pounds when she moved to New York to study and turned to fitness -- which became her career.
Tell me what people should consider when they're deciding where to work out.
They need to make sure that it is attainable in their lifestyle, not for a short period of time, so I always tell people they need an at-home option and a destination option. Because sometimes the energy of being around other people or the expertise that you can get is unsurpassed at pushing you to your next level. ... The worst thing you can do when you are really starting to make exercise part of your life is set yourself up for failure and loss of momentum.
Clearly, when you look around, people are failing. Why is that?
I think that the industry and the publications are too concentrated with diet instead of really helping people understand their bodies. We were put here to be moving living creatures; we're capable of a lot physically. Our bodies, and our mental health, perform a lot better when we are physical. Our bodies digress really quickly when we aren't. ... If you are going to start and you don't have any endurance, any strength, it needs to be 15 minutes, six days a week. And then the next week, it's 10 minutes more ... until it's one hour that's totally blocked out. ... An hour six days a week is a good amount.
You said your dad was overweight. Were you able to influence him?
He's still obese. It's sad, because I do believe in life ... it's important to know yourself on a lot of levels. Because my dad is a wonderful, very, very smart man, but ... he was like, "I can do 10 different things and I am going to do 10 different things." And you can't really do 10 different things. He's responsible for my career in a lot of ways, because I said I am going to do one thing and make sure that I do it really well.
What's your approach as a parent?
My son is not allowed to be a season without a sport. ... You really can't let them take breaks where they're inactive, where they go, "It's not basketball season, it's video game season." That should not be a season. As parents, being aligned is really key. It's very difficult if one parent cares about physical health and the other parent is not supportive of that. Kids need to know, like brushing their teeth, taking a shower, working out 60 minutes a day is part of your health and working out 60 minutes a day will make you a better basketball player. ... I'm OK with balance. I don't not let my son watch TV.
Did you learn about health growing up?
My mom was really health-conscious when we were growing up. She was ahead of her time. We had free-range chickens. I was born in 1975, she always grew her own kale and veggies and all that, made our own whole-grain bread. But guess what I did? My friend's house had a Ding Dong drawer. ... I would always want to play at her house. And when I hit the door, I would run to the Ding Dong drawer and gorge myself sick. And now as an adult, I have a massive sweet tooth.