Language Matters: Motherhood Visibility in All Its Glory
(As originally featured in the Spring / Summer 2023 Issue of Tracy Anderson Magazine)
Annie talked to us about her career as a proud senior TA trainer over the past nine years, and the life-changing experience of becoming a mother to her beautiful son, Artie. Learn about how to balance motherhood with working out, finding strength in maternity, and the powerful effects of the Tracy Anderson Method throughout all stages of pregnancy and life.
How has the method helped you pre- and post-pregnancy?
100%! I think I’ve told every single person that it was Tracy who made my pregnancy amazing. I didn’t have morning sickness. I was ready to go. I was still working out and feeling good with my body. And then afterward, I couldn’t wait to get back to moving my body. It was amazing-I’m so thankful that I had the Tracy Anderson method to get me through my pregnancy, and then be able to come back to it when I recovered from my cesarean.
How did your relationship with the workout change as you went through this life-changing experience?
First off, I would say, the connection to my body. I always thought I was connected to my body through dancing, I danced for years. After my c-section, I understood that I couldn’t use certain parts of my body, like my abs, it’s a super cognitive connection. I also was in tune to not push myself too far, I listened to my body. Obviously as a trainer, I had a different experience than someone else who’s pregnant coming to do Tracy. It’s about listening, really having that conversation with your own body. When your body tells you what’s too far, what’s enough, I just felt it was amazing. I always thought I was connected, but I feel so much more connected to my body than I did before.
So adapting to pregnancy has significantly evolved your approach to working out?
Yes, yes, there has definitely been an evolution, and that is what Tracy likes from the beginning. When I was in training. I remember her talking about a growth mindset, and that was the part of the Method I most gravitated to, because I’m a bit of a student. I really enjoy learning. I like the Tracy Anderson Method because I’m constantly learning new information, and adapting to be flexible with myself.
The growth mindset is about creating strength, and that is exactly what happens in pregnancy. Ok, so you’ve never been pregnant before. Growth, mindset. Your body is changing and as a woman that’s a beautiful thing. This is like the most amazing experience. My body was growing and I had to adapt. Somedays all I could do was arms, and maybe 10 min of cardio. That’s the growth mindset-what your body needs today, that’s what you can do. Learning to not be my own worst enemy, and judging myself like, “Oh, Annie, you could normally do all of this, why can’t you do it now?” No, I just kept moving with myself.
You’ve worked with Tracy for the past 8 years, what are some of your biggest takeaways?
Number one is that she’s a student of her own method. I remember telling her this, during ViTAlity Week, how amazed I am by the fact that she is constantly evolving. She never acts as if she’s mastered her own method. Tracy is still very, very present, and whatever we do, she is always physically moving with us.
Another takeaway is that it’s not about reaching a plateau. It’s more of a lifestyle, and I feel like often, and especially for women, we’re looking for the quick fix. You might want to look great for a wedding, or some event that’s coming up, but you’re not really embracing the lifestyle of showing up for yourself in your health and your fitness. Because this lifestyle goes beyond just what we do physically.
Tracy is always talking about creating balance. The main issue for me is sleeping. Not that I get much as a mother, but sleeping is where I’ve had the most imbalance in my life. I would sleep for maybe 2 to 4 hours a day, and I was wearing that as a badge of honor, that I could still function with very limited sleep. It’s not good for your health, because our bodies need that time to recoup, to heal. All this time I’d been showing up for my health in one way, but hindering my health in another way. As a teacher, Tracy recognizes that need for balance in herself, and she’s just so real. She walks in, she’s a mom, she’s a wife. She’s totally leading by example. She models for us how to show up for ourselves.
Can you speak about how the Method propels the mind-body connection?
New people attending classes ask why don’t we talk them through classes? Why is it so loud in the studio? I always say that the world is loud and noisy, and we have to learn to look inward, and pay attention to ourselves, which can be very hard to do. We have to learn to give ourselves grace.
We’re taught to compete against one another as women, but also against ourselves. Coming to the studio and taking class is a conversation with yourself, and a deeper understanding of your body. Every week offers a new challenge, and we are able to accomplish them, time after time.
The Method propels you into the rest of your day, stress at work, or even in your home environment. You’re learning how to face challenges, and it’s really rewarding when you tap into your emotions while moving. I felt this when a close friend of mine passed away. I was into music. I was present, truly present. It was so rewarding to be able to express the feelings that I was having while working out, I felt balanced. I always advise people—in prescription or coaching— this is 100% about you.
So you’re a new mother (your child is adorable!). A lot of new mothers talk about the importance of feeling like themselves again after a pregnancy, what was your experience?
I did not have a natural delivery. I had a C section, and you’re supposed to wait 6 weeks before dancing again. So I waited until the doctor gave me the okay to move again.The word that comes back to me is grace. Okay, Annie, you’ve never had a kid before, so the grace you need to show up and move your body again is patience, and just be present with what you can do versus focusing on what you’re not able to do. So I did a lot of arms. I joined the live classes to feel the energy of our community and see my teammates, because I missed my fellow trainers while on maternity leave. I could identify with that week, and modify when I needed to.
During your journey through motherhood, how did you make sure you had active time for a workout?
While I was on maternity leave, I waited 6 weeks before I did anything, and 2 more weeks before any heavy lifting. Then I’d go for walks, get some fresh air, and do some morning arms or an evening stretch. The online studio was truly a godsend, I could feel the energy of the class.
You went from being a trainer to an online studio member. Did you feel like part of the TAmily community?
I think that experience was special. It made me appreciate how much we give as trainers to the online community. I loved having the energy of that trainer coming across to me on the screen. It was great.
Training is one of those jobs where you touch people in a very intimate way. I tried different classes, with Shane, or with Kristen. Seeing their different energies and personalities, and how they express themselves in their music. It was humbling. Teaching the Method is humbling, because people always tell me how it has changed their lives.
How do you help people trying Tracy Anderson for the first time? Do they find it intimidating, even though it’s such a good thing for the mind, body and soul?
You know they do get intimidated, and I tell everyone you have to learn to crawl before you walk, or run. My ABC’s of Tracy Anderson. Understand that each part of this is designed to benefit you. Not talking is designed to benefit you, so that you can be fully present, because the minute someone says 5 more. it takes you out of what you’re doing. It takes you out of your experience.
When you’re in the experience, I want you to think of it like being on tour. You are the new Beyonce, and I’m your biggest fan. So the warm up is an opening arm ceremony. Then, when you get to the legs, I want you to learn this choreography. I want you to then find those little details in this choreography, and then I want you to throw everything else away and perform it.
Each week you’ll start to see and learn things, new attitudes. To start you just have to have the mental ability to say I can do this. Just get out of your own way and take your first step, and realize that perfection is not a thing and showing up is the hardest part. Just show up and have fun connecting to yourself.
You always have a fan within Tracy; the coaches are all here to cheer you on. You have a community, a TAmily. If you’re feeling a little discouraged, when this week’s intermediate was really rough, someone else might say, yeah, I had a hard time, too. It helps make you show up for yourself because you’re not alone.
Why is that important for the choreography to change every week?
We never want to plateau, and we should always be growing as human beings. I am not the same as I was yesterday. But with the choreography changing, it’s similar to education, you get bored if you’re still doing ABCs in college! Sentences to paragraphs, to dissertations, your workout should reflect the same growth.
What’s one thing that you love about your post-baby body?
I am really in awe of being able to get back into my workout after carrying my son. At first I wasn’t sure if I could go back to teaching. I felt tired after just doing 30 minutes. But then I got in front of my class and was like riding a bicycle again, and my body was able to show up for me.
You have to focus on yourself to make sure you’re not pulling into major muscles, you’re using the intended muscles. No sneaking around.
It took such a short time, maybe 8 months. Everyone here knew that I’d just had a baby, and they had my back. Instead of doing 25 reps I did 15, because I was honoring where I was that day. They supported and moved with me, and they still had a Tracy workout. And now I’m geeking out about it, because my body is just as active as before. Here we go!
That’s a beautiful physical benefit. Can you give us one major benefit of the method that isn’t physical?
Embrace every moment. I take tons of pictures of my son—my phone is overloaded—just being present. I feel energized about life.
Can you talk about your experience as a MYCOACH?
Being a MYCOACH is basically like being a personal cheerleader, helping you to reach your fitness goals. I have a team of clients who own Tracy’s newest apparatus, MYMODE, and we start by reviewing things like the state of their lives, stress levels, diet, all of that. Then we establish goals. Often I’m just encouraging people to not judge themselves, and to not come in with these preconceived notions of getting Gwyneth Paltrow’s body, or J. Lo’s body. It’s about being really really proud of their own body and being comfortable in their own skin. So I’m basically their towel boy. If something isn’t hitting right, I’ll share what I’ve learned from Tracy, and I’ll go to her too, and say my home girl is having an issue. Coaches are handy, happy helpers, we’re here to give you a prescription for your MYMODE workout, just like in the studio.
What are some results you have witnessed as a MYCOACH?
I’ll give 7 days of workouts and would love it if you show up for 5. I have one client who hasn’t taken a day off since January 1st, she’s having such a good time. MYMODE really strengthens the core. Mat performances improve, they send me their photos and videos. And I ask them how they feel, and they feel great. They’re showing up for themselves.
The reviews are absolutely glowing, and I humbly say it ain’t me. MYMODE is an investment, this is Tracy’s whole philosophy about your primal right to move.
What’s the difference between MYMODE and the mat?
It’s essentially a leveling up. If you’ve been doing the mat for a long time, you might want to consider MYMODE, because it goes deeper and quicker than mat work. And we can do elements of cardio with that.
Also, if you’re not really into dance cardio, you can get into MYMODE. So with the box itself there are different levels of that. The box can be on level one, and even a small change can make a difference if I’m doing a plank. Deeper into the muscles, deeper contractions, and faster results. It feels like cutting the time in half. It’s the same when you use the staff.
Tracy often talks about knitting and that stitching on the mat, and with MYMODE you’re able to actually physically see it. And level up. Why are you waiting? There’s so much more we can do, because Tracy is still developing and creating. But there’s so much more that you’re going to be able to benefit from by adding this little element.
What is one lesson you’ve learned at the Tracy Anderson Method that you’ve taken into your daily life?
Just one?! It is a true blessing to be able to move your body, and it should never be taken for granted. The lesson that Tracy and I share is that you need to be flexible. Today was a hard day, but you were able to move your body growth and mindset with grace.
How important is the connection between the method and our spine?
You can be 100 years old with a healthy spine. The Method is so focused on your spine, as Tracy says, getting back to primal. I think of opening up the chest, really thinking about working all of those muscles going down the spine. Keep it primal.