MIAMI (AP) — She's sculpted the bodies of Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez and runs a multimillion-dollar fitness empire with 218,000 Instagram followers, but Tracy Anderson is tired of talking about how to achieve the perfect celebrity body.
Anderson has turned down several offers for reality shows and says she no longer accepts new celebrity clients. And she's cautious about being in an industry that often plays to women's insecurities in a culture where social media photos scrutinize every body part and every calorie consumed.
She'd rather talk about what exercise can do for your mental health than how it can get you six-pack abs.
"What celebrities are doing is really irrelevant," Anderson said in a recent interview while in Miami for a breast cancer fundraiser at her pop-up studio.
"I feel like we're constantly dimming our own lights by showing there's a demand for, 'Oh my gosh, that celebrity is carrying that drink. Is she drinking it? Is that why she looks like that? I want that drink, too, because then maybe I'll look like that,'" Anderson said. "It's toxic."
Anderson, a 5-foot-tall, 41-year-old mother of two, struggled with her weight for years as a dancer. She said she never set out to be an entrepreneur.
"I really felt the personal pain from not being able to make weight as a dancer on a dance scholarship," she said. "I gained 60 pounds with my first child. ... I understand what it's like to feel not at home in your own body."
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Her mix of dance cardio is followed by what she calls "strategic muscle exhaustion" that includes rapid arm movements — often with no weights — that require rotating your limbs in odd positions for 10 to 15 minutes nonstop and literally hundreds of repetitions of crazy leg lifts while on all fours.
Her dance cardio classes, which are heavy on jumping, have drawn criticism for being too harsh on joints, and many fitness experts have disputed her claims of reducing fat from certain areas, saying fat spot reduction is a myth. Her overall method has been accused of promoting unrealistic teeny-tiny bodies.
Anderson says the bodies she sculpts are simply a design preference from clients.
Her product line includes DVDs, protein powders and bars, and an online streaming service where devotees pay $100 a month to take part in her weekly master classes. There's a five-year waiting list to join her New York City studio.
Now she's trying to build an online community of women devoted to building character traits not just sculpting their bodies.
"I wish that a big (workout) motivator for everyone is just preparedness and strength ... when you're empowered physically and sure-footed physically, it helps you push through stress and deal with stress better."
Anderson offers these five tips:
ALL MOVEMENTS ARE NOT THE SAME: " ... if you've come to a certain point in life and you say, 'I feel like my thighs are thick or I want my butt to be lifted' ... you have the opportunity to fix those imbalances. It means that you can't run so you need to ask yourself the question, 'Will I feel more balanced if I give up running but fix the thickness in my thighs or will I feel more balanced continuing to run because it makes me feel really great inside?'"
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LOW WEIGHTS, HIGH REPS: "I'm not against big weights ... but if you're going to fling around your arms in all these different quick movements and rotations I don't want you using more than 3 pounds. There's a reason why ... I see amazing results. I continuously see results. My skin at 41 after two babies is staying tight to the muscle. If you actually build your bicep out, you're stretching the skin out as you age, and you lose collagen and you lose muscle mass that you either have to keep lifting more to build out to it and then you're going to become disproportionate and the bottom is going to sag."
THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION IS LEGIT SO EMBRACE IT: "I am constantly opening up new neuropathways in your brain and its communication with the body ... if you can make your grocery list while you're working out then you're not 100 percent engaged."
TREND-HOPPING MIGHT NOT GET YOU THE BODY YOU WANT: "If you trend-hop and you go and do different trends all the time, you're lacking complete strategy. Yes, you may be working out and working out is always good, but it's a missed opportunity to really have design mastery happen with your body. ... There's not anybody's body that you can't put in front of me and, if they want to move how I'm asking them to move, that I can't make into their most proportioned self."
WEIGH YOURSELF DAILY: "Buy a digital scale and weigh yourself every morning so you have accurate data on your weight and feedback from the day before."
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Banner image: In this Friday, April 29, 2016 photo, celebrity fitness guru Tracy Anderson, front, leads a workout in Miami. She’s responsible for sculpting the bodies of Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez and running a multi-million dollar fitness empire, but Anderson is really tired of talking about how to achieve the perfect celebrity body. She’d rather focus on how working out makes you feel. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)