When Tracy Anderson tries to convince me to do something—say, give up yogurt or kick my leg over a metal bar that’s almost as tall as I am—she invokes her two most famous clients as though they were the gospel. “Madonna would never do dairy,” she tells me at our first meeting. “I’m giving you Gwyneth’s legs right now,” she promises another day, when I am on the verge of collapsing on top of an aerobic step.
Since I am among the millions acquainted with the now frequent sight of Gwyneth Paltrow’s bare upper thighs, this prospect has me elated. But unlike Paltrow, I am not the willowy sort—more like pushing five feet three and pear-shaped—and my primary form of exercise is a monthly yoga class. That is, until I meet Anderson, 34, the hottest celebrity trainer since Radu, with a gym in Los Angeles and a brand-new location opening in New York this spring (Paltrow is a partner in the latter), three DVDs and a growing list of A-list clients (Penélope Cruz and Sarah Jessica Parker exercise with her staffers).
Anderson is convinced that after seven weeks of 90-minutes-a-day, six-days-a-week workouts with her, I’ll be a different person. Naturally, doing any type of activity for that long would yield some result, but Anderson’s method has become famous not just for trimming bodies but also for transforming them. In January I sign up to become an “Android” in the hopes of answering a question that has elicited much debate in the W offices: Can you change your body type? Sure, you can lose weight and tighten up, but can you alter your genetic destiny?
On the first day, Anderson—who arrives looking like Malibu Fitness Barbie, complete with sparkly purple outfit, honey-blond ringlets and a small entourage—starts by taking my weight (127 pounds) and measurements (see sidebar). She pushes in my hips and lifts up my butt with her hands, like a sculptor who can envision the finished piece underneath all that clay. Scrutinizing my bum, she says, “All this has to be gone.”
To achieve her vision, Anderson creates a digital image of my body with a custom computer program and plays with it as a retoucher would; then, with her sister, Kyley Hooper, who works for her, she devises a series of movements that will yield the desired results. At her TriBeCa studio, every client will undergo a similar analysis. (Initiation fees run from $787.50 to $1,500, depending on the length of membership, and the $900 monthly dues include unlimited classes and semiprivate sessions. Anderson defends the steep fees, saying, “It would cost someone that to have a private trainer.” Despite reports of low sign-up rates, she adds that, as of press time, only 20 out of 600 spots remain.)