Tracy Anderson has a lot going on in her life — both professionally and personally.
The 43-year-old fitness entrepreneur, celebrity trainer and author, who has two children from two ex-husbands, has been in the news this week as a result of the break-up over the weekend with her fiancé, financier Nick Riley, and the recent revelation that she’s pregnant with their child and in her first trimester. Anderson declined to confirm the pregnancy, but did confirm Tuesday that she’s no longer engaged. Instagram went into overdrive Monday when the news of her split broke, with “We Love Tracy” posts from her fans.
But a few days before those personal revelations, Anderson was upbeat and active as she talked with WWD about the continued growth in her professional life, which includes a collaboration with activewear brand Heroine Sport on a line of workout apparel, as well as expansion of her burgeoning fitness empire of workout studios and related products.
“I started wearing all these bodysuits, and this Heroine bodysuit came to me and I was like, ‘This is the mother of all bodysuits,’” Anderson said.
She explained that her stylist, Karen Shapiro, had brought her a Heroine bodysuit and she wore it every day. “And I said, ‘I need another one. I need 10 of these because I teach every single day,’” said Anderson, whose celebrity clientele has included her business partner Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez, Victoria Beckham, Tracee Ellis Ross and Nicole Richie.
Once she met Nima Taherzadeh, designer and owner of Heroine Sport — who she said designs gear with such “thought and care for a woman’s body” — they talked about doing a collaboration together. Four months later, the collection became a reality.
The Heroine x Tracy Anderson collection will be sold on Tracyanderson.com beginning May 15 and at Anderson’s studios starting June 1. Everything is made in Los Angeles.
The collection features black and neon pink leggings; a silver splash print bodysuit; a neon pink with yellow straps bodysuit; a neon yellow with pink straps bodysuit, and a black with white splash print sweatshirt. Retail prices range from $120 to $155.
Anderson said she loves the way Taherzadeh cuts and the way the clothes feel. “The fabric is thick enough, and it doesn’t mess with your ability to sweat and breathe. You don’t feel claustrophobic in it,” she said. Anderson tweaked the original bodysuit, cutting them into a thong to wear under leggings so it’s seamless. She said it’s a Brazilian cut that works very well, and they can also be worn as swimsuits.
“I get approached a lot to do my own collection and collaborations with people. I’m very, very focused on designing women’s bodies that go into the clothes. So I’ve never wanted to take my focus off of that. But I felt this was a real opportunity,” Anderson said about the Heroine Sport collection. The deal with Heroine Sport is for one season for now.
Describing what she likes to wear when teaching classes, Anderson said, “My favorite thing to wear is something that supports you and makes you feel good and does not cut off your circulation anywhere. I like leggings that are supportive enough but not too tight. I like materials that help you to break a sweat. Sweating is healthy. We don’t need anti-wick, no sweating. You need to sweat when you’re working out.
“He [Taherzadeh] came into my office, and was so willing to take the pieces that I love — this cut of this bodysuit I’m obsessed with — his collection is very beautiful and stunning. There’s a white one, and a black one and he works with navy.”
She decided she didn’t want to try to fit into what he already had and thought, “Let’s do something joyful, and a little loud and fun.” She said her mom had a friend when she was growing up who was really into splatter paint. “I was a major Eighties girl; I danced. When I shot this collection, I splatter painted a whole background scene to Pat Benatar, Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, Culture Club, Wham!,” she said.
“I really care about women showing up for their workout like it’s a performance,” Anderson said. “Why does Beyoncé get to have all the fun on stage with her gear? This is women’s stage, where they get to dance and connect and move. Why shouldn’t they look epic?
“In the summer, with a healthy tan, who doesn’t want a little hot pink or electric yellow?” she asked. “We have the black, too, and we changed the TA logo,” she said. She pulled out one of the bodysuits to show a visitor. “You can wear this with a black, beautiful skirt out at night, no problem. It’s so sexy, what it does to your cleavage is super sexy and I love it,” she said.
Taherzadeh, who launched Heroine Sport in 2014, added, “The whole process for us was so much fun. This was new for us. Heroine Sport is known for clean lines and very minimal use of color.”
Anderson and Paltrow own the six U.S.-based studios and are about to open their first international studio in Madrid this month. The company, founded in 2006, has a robust streaming business, called the TA Online Studio, where it streams classes from inside the company’s U.S. studios to more than 50 countries. In addition, the company has created and produced more than 170 DVDs, including the popular Metamorphosis series, The Pregnancy Project, Post Pregnancy and Teen Meta DVDs. They also create and sell protein shake mixes and TA Clear protein bars. In addition, Anderson launched TA Teen Stream, an online workout program exclusively for teens to complement her latest book, “Total Teen.” She has also designed the patented Iso-Kinetic Band System, The Hybrid Body Reformer, The Super G Floor, The Sprung AB Block and The Men’s High Intensity Machine.
Anderson grew up on a little farm in Noblesville, Ind., and went to college in New York on a dance scholarship at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Anderson had planned to become a ballerina when she came to New York for college. “My mom was a ballerina and still owns the same ballet school to this day in Indiana,” she said. “But I gained 40 pounds at school. My father fought obesity his whole life. My genetics and hormones just shifted. I wasn’t eating a ton, and I just slowly gained and I’m only 5 feet tall. It was really tough. My mom worked three jobs to put me through the other part of school that the scholarship didn’t cover. My parents went through a really traumatic divorce,” she said.
Her teachers were suggesting that maybe acting would be better for her, “but I didn’t want to be an actress. I just truly wanted to be a dancer,” she said.
Anderson felt that she was letting down her mother, even though she never complained. She tried to eat healthier.
“I would go to Crunch Fitness after doing ballet all day. I learned at a really young age that you can work out and if you don’t have the genetics, you don’t understand the formula, it’s very frustrating. You have to learn to detect where the roadblocks are in someone’s body,” she said.
At the time she put her dance dreams on hold, Anderson was married to a pro basketball player, Eric Anderson, who was participating in a rehabilitation league in Puerto Rico for his ailing back. There she met a doctor who was trying to ease the strain on the large muscle groups in athletes by strengthening the small, accessory muscles. The concept resonated with Anderson, who threw herself into his research. She wanted to activate the small muscles to keep them consistently challenged, and based on her background in movement, she tried to figure out a way. After years of research and self-testing, Anderson transformed her own body, and that was the beginning of the method. She took her findings back to Indiana, where she assembled a test group of 150 women, created a strategic muscle exhaustion sequence that changed every 10 days for every single woman, and their bodies changed. “I measured them all in all these different places and found where their small muscles were reacting the least and I created programs based on their coordination and tolerance to make sure they can actually do it,” she said. Her goal was to give them a dancer’s body.
She met Paltrow when she was traveling back and forth between Indiana and her first studio in Studio City. One of Paltrow’s friends was an original member of that studio and when the actress noticed her transformation and results, she asked to meet Anderson to help her following the birth of her son, Moses, and she was trying to lose the baby weight. “It was never my intention to train celebrities; I’m for every woman. She was so sweet and she was expected to start filming the very first ‘Iron Man’ movie,” Anderson said. Paltrow invited her out to the Hamptons for the summer and she trained her. “She came out in that teeny-weeny black skirt,” Anderson recalled.
“Basically, the whole operation grew out of our partnership,” she said. “We did DVDs. She would produce them, and then we would pay the production company back. We wanted it to be affordable. My focus turned then to research and ‘How can I take this vast method where I was literally getting to know you as an individual and bring it to everyone’s living room?'” She said Paltrow always respected her natural growth and “she never asked me to sell out.”
Today, Anderson’s studios are at East 59th Street and TriBeCa in New York; Water Mill and East Hampton, N.Y.; and Brentwood and Studio City, Calif. She also offers private training services in London. Membership at a Tracy Anderson studio begins at $900 a month, with an initiation fee that includes custom programming, unlimited access to Tracy Anderson Method classes and discounts on private training, retail and nutritional products. The studios offer drop-in classes at $45 a class. While she employs many trainers, Anderson teaches classes every day — and there’s a wait list for them.
“Where they go crazy the most is the Hamptons in the summer. They line up for an hour to get in and they literally get into fights,” she said.
One of her biggest challenges in running a studio are the people “who are ripping me off.”
“I have some ex-trainers who watched my content on streaming and rip it off and claim they’re creating their own method,” Anderson said.
Under her program, the routines change every 10 days, whether the person is doing the workout in a studio or in front of one’s TV. Unlike some exercise programs that only target the major muscle groups, Anderson’s Method focuses on the accessory muscles.
“My goals for the business are to continue to give my audience greater access to me, to the content, support and knowledge. For every single woman who comes to me, I’d like their lights to shine as bright as they possibly can. I think women are under a lot of pressure. I want to see them with strength, independence and self-esteem at every age. I want them to feel sexy. I want them to own that for themselves,” she said.
Discussing what additional categories she’s interested in launching, Anderson said, “I do love apparel. I love healthy skin care…I love makeup. I would only do it if it were incredibly healthy makeup you can sweat in. I’ve dabbled in food.” She has another book coming out with Crown Random House. She’s written the book and is finishing up the menus.
Anderson has been through several ceo’s, calling it a “strange position” and currently works without one. “Grace Paeck is running everything. She’s technically the chief operating officer and Samir Jasuja is the chief financial officer,” she said. She added that Paltrow hasn’t been involved in the day-to-day operations for a long time. “She’s doing so much with Goop. She’s such a good mom. I don’t own her. She’s like a sister to me and we do right by each other. We’re really good together. She’s been great to me. She’s still an owner. I call her when I really need her, but more it’s ‘You looked really gorgeous the other night,'” Anderson said.
As for how she manages to accomplish so much, she said, “If you love what you do and you stay focused and you’re doing right with what you know. I’m a real advocate for women. I don’t watch TV. My work is a pleasure, I have two kids and I work. I honest to goodness love it. I love moving with the women.”