There are a few things that make living in NYC really exciting: the cheap and excellent shoe repair, the prolific doughnut and cupcake bounty, and really fancy and expensive fitness classes. Lately, in the depth of winter, my ability to achieve an approximation of the Tracy Anderson fitness lifestyle has been really keeping me afloat. The tendency of Tracy Anderson’s trainers to leave and start their own businesses makes her despair for humanity, but it allows me to walk the Tracy path. A dream that was rekindled by my recent butt-grabbing experience. Especially now that many of these fitness outlets are part of my Classpass package (a model that is now spreading to Boston and will surely thrive everywhere else).
So here is what that the Tracy apostates have to offer (*updated):
Body by Simone: For non-fancy people Simone has a lot to offer because she lets normal people into her temple of celebrity and wealth. You can walk into her studio and sit with Matt Damon’s wife while you sip cucumber infused water and wait for your class. Then afterwards, they let you take a shower! Really smelly face and body products from Red Flower were strewn around the gorgeous counter top and the lady next to me watched in horror as I applied them ALL.
Level of Tracy-ness: Simone’s workouts are mostly indistinguishable from Tracy’s except that you will do less repetitive leg lifts, take more breaks between movements and do more conventional movements (like pulsing your leg on your side). The dance is where they really shine. Like Tracy they do it separately from the strength training and the choreography is super basic with an emphasis on bouncing up and laterally while doing sassy hand movements. There is always a lot of skipping backward and forward, which in a class with a dance-crew of fellow ladies is possibly the most satisfying thing you will ever do. It is the Reservoir Dog walk of dance cardio. Simone also offers bands ala’ Tracy but they are hung on the walls instead of the ceiling, for which I deduct -5. It means you can’t really use them to support your body weight/de-stablize you while you do other movements.
Katia Pryce doesn’t have her own dance studio, but she rents the most satisfyingly-FAME esque dance studio. It is completely lined with windows and thus has actual natural light. Katia is also pretty orthodox in her Tracy-ness: no quad or hamstring work at all, and she tells you to only focus on your butt and abs. She does the most Tracy-esque arm flapping of all ex-Tracy trainers. Her real strength is that she has different choreographed dances for every song, so that if you went all the time it would not be boring or repetitive. Her dances also range from low and funky, slinky and slow, and peppy and jazzy. I kept hoping we would transition to Modern Dance floor-work, but maybe that’s coming later. Do yourself a favor and follow her on Instagram where she posts videos of her dances.
AKT in Motion:
AK in AKT is Anna Kaiser and she is the most successful of all the Tracy sectarians. She is also an original apostle of Tracy’s so she might have actually created all the Tracy moves in the first place.
AKT has a super fancy studio of her own, but alas unlike Simone she does not encourage normal people to enter, so I take the classes that are open to non-members at a rented Soho studio. Sarah Wolff is my trainer there. I say MY trainer because often people do not show up for my class and I am the only one there. This is intense because the AKT method is the most committed to SCIENCE, and that means that the class uses dance as part of a “High Intensity Interval Training” routine. Starting with 10 minutes of planks, then going to 5 minutes of dance cardio, then 5 minutes of arms, 5 minutes of dance etc. The dances themselves are complex, by the AKT method has perfected the art of keeping your heart rate super high while breaking down the steps.
Body Conceptions does not have its own studio, but Mahri Relin and her trainers work out of a nice dance studio in midtown. Their spin on the Tracy legacy seems to be the recognition of quads as a legitimate muscle. There are some barre-flavored pulses and lunges that really burn, which makes sense because Mahri also used to work for Flybarre. But the butt work is total Tracy ala’ Perfect Design and Meta (including no breaks!). The nice twist with this method is that the cardio is much more like Tracy’s Meta dvds with no choreography, so if you hate choreography, this is the class for you.
Bari will satisfy many of your Tracy yearnings. They frame the studio as a “membership” studio, although you can take a la carte offerings, but that means if that if you love the all-encompassing Tracy cult experience Bari is ready to deliver it with nutritionists, blogs, constant supervision.
Bari emphasizes some of my favorite Tracy elements: bungees from the ceiling and rebounders.
Although, if you have ever used the rebounders that Tracy sells at home or Body by Simone’s variety you are not prepared for the unbelievably difficult Bari rebounders. Unlike the Tracy variety they are super loose which means it takes more effort to jump.
Everything about Bari is like the ruthlessly efficient version of Tracy, with less choreography (which means less fun jazz hands) and more difficult jumping during dance cardio. More tricep pulses and less flapping.
But, like Body by Simone, you get lots of free towels, free water (in cool reusable water bottles) and showers.
MOVE at The Movement:
Katherine Greiner used to teach dance cardio at SLT, but she has now developed her own class at the confusingly named boutique studio The Movement. MOVE is their full-on Tracy approved dance cardio and toning workout. The studio does not have showers, but they have a pretty and open changing room and they are located next to City Bakery. So I will deduct 5 points for lack of fancy body products but add 8 for proximity to whole wheat croissants.
If you have been an at home client with Tracy, you have been training for this class for years and the sense of top-student-in-class will be so overwhelming that you might need to wipe the grin off your face. Or keep it while you do half an hour of totally reasonable dance cardio that is basically the perfect balance between choreography and follow along (think that elusive first Tracy DC video where she has the spangly green top). Then you go to the floor for totally Tracy-approved moves that, Tracy style, will ignore your quads and inner thighs. There are no intervals, and the cardio and toning are totally separate, which makes this both kind of easy but also reminds you why that aspect of Tracy is fun. By separating the two, you can really get your runner’s high dance cardio experience.
I cannot emphasize enough that the greatest thing about this class is that it is heavily air-conditioned. If you are going to break with Tracy on one thing, have it be this.