11 July 2019
Tracy Anderson Wants to Improve Your Life
The fitness icon shows us 5 workout moves for sculpting your arms; plus, she explains why working out should be like brushing your teeth, what getting dressed means to her, and why now was the time to launch her first ever line of activewear.
Tracy Anderson may be known for sculpting the bodies of many an A-list celebrity, but through her handful of Tracy Anderson Method studios and her thousands of fitness routines available online, her reach goes far beyond the Hollywood elite. “I’m just a girl from Indiana,” she says with an earnest smile. The 5-foot tall powerhouse also happens to be CEO of her namesake company, a new title that she doesn’t take lightly. “I never felt like I could be a CEO because I didn’t go to business school. But, you know, to every woman out there, and man, who starts their business, creates a space, invention, or service—who creates something because they see that there’s a hole or a space to fill, they should be their own CEO too.”
Soft-spoken and hyper focused, the conversation with Anderson often leans towards motivational speaking. Her drive to better people’s lives through fitness stems from her own story of self-improvement, and her passion seeps through everything she does—including her latest collaboration: Barneys New York x Tracy Anderson. She applied the same level of research and refinement of her ever-evolving fitness routines to the workout clothes, which mix vintage inspiration with vibrant colors and motivating slogans. Below, she elaborates on why now was the time to launch her first ever line of athletic-wear and why getting dressed matters.
The Window: After so many years in the business, it’s so surprising you hadn’t done a line before. Why not?
Tracy Anderson: It’s been challenging over the years because I’ve almost had this feeling like a kid sent to their room. I sort of parented myself many years ago—even though I knew I had the ability, talent, and passion to do a lot of different things, I told myself, if you want to be an expert, you have to focus. So, I focused and didn’t build multi-platform businesses because I didn’t want to be a shallow, knowledgeable person in a lot of things. Instead, I focused on the core of my business in order to be the best in my field. That’s what I aspire to do every day—not in a competitive way, but I am positioned to do this, so I should do it. But I love fashion, and I can’t ignore that the way you get ready to workout has a lot to do, scientifically, with the quality of your workout. If you’ve ever played sports a kid, you remember when you get this hope in your mind, “If I do well, I might win the game, and we are going to do this together as a team.” Getting in your uniform actually ignites you in a way.
So why was now the time? How did it come about?
I feel like there’s a certain amount of humility that I’ve always had, where I tell myself, you can’t always be an expert in everything, right? But I told Steven, my Chief Communications Officer, that if there was an interesting opportunity to do a clothing collaboration with a brand who would take it seriously, I wanted to do it. He created this opportunity. There is this synergy between Barneys and Tracy Anderson Method that allowed this to happen so easily.
Why did Barneys make sense?
I shop at Barneys, and I have forever and ever. To me, it’s a strong statement between two leadership brands. It’s something to help people feel good about getting ready for their workouts. It excited me, and I also do recognized that the athleisure business is a multi-million dollar business, but the amount of people who are actually exercising compared to the amount of stores that are opening—the demand for athleisure wear doesn’t add up yet. I felt this responsibility to actually have the content to make people move—not just buy the gear, but actually start moving in it.
You’ve worked out pretty much every day for decades, so you would definitely know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to moving in clothes. How did that inform the collection?
I have worn exercise gear to work, as someone who loves fashion, for over 20 years—so, I have some opinions for sure! What was so cool about the Barneys design team is that they wanted to know exactly what I wanted. I brought in all of my favorite things, and I commented on each piece, what I’d want to be different or what I loved about it. I was actually blown away by on how spot the resourcing was. For example, I love vintage-style sweat material, and they went out and got the perfect vintage-style sweat material.
What about the fit?
This is not the time to hide who you are. This is the time to be honest about who you are and where you’re at. When you put on exercise gear to hide or constrict, you are actually further distancing yourself from being in tune with the signals from your body that you need to be in touch with to move. So, I don’t like anything that is poking or is overly supported. I want people to feel free but supported. It feels very close to your skin. I’m also very careful about choosing colors that are flattering for everyone because when you’re working out and looking in the mirror, you want to look good and athletic. It’s not the time to be wearing some thin white material that creates weird shadows as you move.
Tell us about the phrases that appear on some of the pieces.
I think colors really motivate people, and I also think that statements do too. Statement shirts can be immature, but I do think that when you identify with a statement, it’s nice to express it. I think that’s why we also have like team names. I also didn’t want like my name all over the pieces, so I chose phrases instead, like “Tabula Rasa,” which means wipe the slate clean. Maybe it’s in red, white, and blue because we need to wipe some slates clean. The ”Love Can Fix” is also in patriotic colors. In a lot of ways, we are divided, and that is not very team building. It’s also about wiping your own slate clean—if up until now you were living an unhealthy life, love yourself. It can fix it. Really it’s a statement that is both inward and outward.
Many people only ever see you in workout gear. Tell us about your approach to getting dressed outside the studio.
I’m a mother of two. I have a 20-year-old son and a 7-year old daughter. Even if I have a preconceived notion of what I’d want them to wear, I always encourage them to wear the things that they want to wear because self-expression is the key to fashion. We live in an overwhelming, overstimulating, consumer-driven world, where everyone is telling us what is trendy and what looks good. I try and slow down and ask, do I like that? Or, how does that make me feel? Am I wearing that because I think Hailey Bieber is cool and she is wearing it? Maybe, sometimes! But I would only do that if it makes me feel good.
Listening you speak is so motivating! How do you use social media and your platform to create a positive space?
I think if instead feeling like we are under a microscope with social media, we reframe it as something we choose to participate in and an opportunity. It’s a platform—other people can see it, so we have to be prepared that it means taking down a wall. It’s like not just taking your front door off, it can be like taking the whole front off of your house and telling people to come on in. Some people literally take the roof off too—people who like to document and share everything that they do. If you’re going to do it, you can’t get caught up in the need to post. It becomes toxic when you are in an overstimulated state. I think it’s important to know when to unplug and when to plug in. For me, sometimes I share things that are really personal and then for a few months I may only want to share about my business. Again, it comes back to asking yourself how it makes you feel.
Your level of fitness and confidence can be intimidating. What do you tell people who are hesitant about working out but want to start?
Working out needs to be like brushing your teeth. It’s not just about weight, it’s about mental health, your processing, your sleep. We are meant to circulate. We are meant to move our muscles. It’s something that you have to do for your health, and it is the only thing that every area of research and disease can agree on—it’s not like should you eat avocados or not or should you drink wine or not. It’s exercise. Daily. It’s an overwhelming world, and we think that we don’t have time, but you will be so much better at your job and your relationships if you do it. Even just 30 minutes.
You recently became CEO of your company. What’s next?
There is nothing next for me other than the same thing that I’m doing. More research, more content creation, getting better, smarter, and faster at delivering what I do for people all over the world. For me, you know, I don’t believe in reinventing yourself. Being true to yourself is a stronger example in a lot of ways. I don’t feel like I need some gimmick to be next. I’m going to stay in fitness and keep researching and discovering new things. My intention to create has never been, look at these cool moves that I can make up. Everything has a purpose that I know is going to serve others and improve lives.