I had some idea of what to expect when I walked into my first-ever class at the Tracy Anderson Method on the Upper East Side. I knew that the room would be hot, the music would be loud, and the moves would be h-a-r-d. One thing I totally didn’t expect, though, was for Anderson to be totally silent throughout her 50 minutes of instruction. And let me tell you: It was a totally new type of experience.
Instead of leading her classes using verbal cues, Anderson instead chooses to instruct using only her body. And this, she says, is for good reason. “Through some of the research I did, I found that when you open up more neural pathways in your brain and make more connections to your body, you burn more calories, you create a more balanced body, and you have a much less chance of getting injured,” Anderson tells me over the phone the morning after I (barely) survived a class she hosted in honor of her new partnership with supplements brand MitoQ. “When your head is actually in the game, you become more physically available, so then you also process stress better, [and] you’re more in tune with yourself.”
While she doesn’t talk at all during any of her classes (whether they’re online or IRL), she does give students breakdowns of her routines ahead of time, which she refers to as the “rehearsal.” That way, when they get into the “performance” (AKA the class), they have a sense of how to do the moves the right way. But even if you haven’t gotten the full 411 on what to expect (which I personally had not), Anderson says you can still benefit from the experience.
“It’s about throwing people into that experience where there’s music playing, because we’re all emotionally programmed to move to music,” Anderson tells me. And there’s science to support the idea that forming this type of connection to music can help you go harder/better/faster/stronger: A recent study from SONOS found that the majority of people say listening to music while working out helps push them further (55 percent), workout longer (52 percent) and increase their intensity (51 percent).
In addition to moving to the music, you’re also following along with Anderson’s movements. “When you try and track what I’m doing, and I don’t verbally disrupt you, there becomes a strong connection—you’re not focused on anything other than me, and there’s no other form of distraction,” she says. As someone who is accustomed to classes that are very heavy in verbal instruction and encouragement, this was admittedly jarring for the first few minutes. “How was I supposed to know what I was doing?!” I wondered. But after we got through the warm up, it became obvious: I just needed to pay attention to what Anderson was doing, and follow suit.
“It’s our business to become experts in moving in our bodies,” she says. “Because when you learn to be physically aware of where your body is, on your own, you actually own it. I know a lot about the body, but I never want to know more about how to move in your body than you know how to move in it.”
Plus, as Anderson puts it: “When Beyonce is on stage, her choreographer is not yelling stuff out to her.” Fair point, indeed.
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