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The Tracy Anderson Method Workout DVDs

Typically, workout DVDs evoke a lot of sweat, not emotion, so it’s rare for a workout DVD to cause me to swing rapidly between rage and happiness, rage and happiness. Very rarely do I finish a workout DVD and say, “Huh. I have no idea what to do with that.”

I, like most people, was first introduced to Tracy Anderson in my living room via Oprah (many good relationships are started this way—take Dr. Oz for example) during an episode where Gwyneth Paltrow shared how she got back into shape after baby No. 2. Her method of working out piqued my interest and ticked me off. On the show (and in that clip) Tracy stated that no women should lift more than 3 pounds. I could literally feel women everywhere being transported back to the early 80s in their fitness thinking. But, Tracy definitely did get results (see right), and I was interested in seeing what her DVDs were like. So, I checked out the Mat Workout DVD and her Dance Cardio Workout DVD. As alluded to before, the results were, er, mixed.

Mat Workout DVD
After a quick warm-up, this DVD goes through a full-body workout. You do about a gazillion leg lifts with a chair, followed by standing ab work that is basically a free-form dance with little instruction, and then a number of arm exercises, first with no weights and then with virtually no weight (read: three pounds). Next comes more leg work on the mat, a section of abs lying down and then a cool down. The moves are challenging, and there are no modifications shown for beginners. Boo.

You do A LOT of reps, which is pretty much Tracy’s shtick. Almost all of the moves are fluid, so you definitely work a lot of large and small muscles, but the sheer amount of moves and reps definitely takes time to do. Tracy also has this weird way of watching her own body and pouting as she performs some of the exercises, almost as if she’s checking herself out. Granted, if I looked like her, I might check myself out, too (again, see top right photo), but it’s still weird.

Dance Cardio Workout DVD
This one definitely had its fun moments. The music is techno-poppy goodness, and if you like to dance and have a little background getting your groove on, you’ll probably love the moves. The DVD is not one of those that you can pop in and go. She teaches you eight dance combos slowly and then up to speed ( she cues all of these pretty well). That part takes about 45 minutes, but there’s little chance that most people (myself definitely included) would be able to remember them all without repeated practice. From there, the DVD is just one big dance par-tay. She kicks up the music and you dance with her while she gives no instruction. She literally only says “5, 6, 7, 8,” and off you go, doing a combo for an entire song that lasts about five minutes. Then it’s on to the next combo for a full song. Repeat a total of times eight and you get the gist.

The moves are a little aerobics, a little hip hop and a lot ballet. All of the combos were fun, but I particularly enjoyed numbers one, three, four and seven. Five is too fast, six made me dizzy with turns, and numbers two and eight were just too complicated. All of the combos are high-impact though and require quite a bit of balance and coordination. Those with knee issues or lack of rhythm, beware.

The Overall Decision

She says to do both DVDs four to six times a week, equaling darn near two hours a day. REALLY? Who has time for that? Not even me, and I really enjoy working out. My other issue with it is that she constantly says the workout will make you “teeny tiny” and not “bulk up,” again preaching the-no-heavier-than-3-pound rule. I am not a teeny-tiny person. I have broad shoulders, a normal-sized fit bottom, and I like it. Not to mention that I don’t just work out to look good. I do it for health. I do it to feel good. I do it because it makes me stronger. AND, if I ever need to lift something over three pounds (say groceries, a child or even a package that came in the mail), I want be able to do it.

Now, with that being said, Tracy does have some good moves. If you can get over her checking herself out and not cuing her moves consistently, she gives a few great postural alignment tips, and the music is very pleasant and really fun in the Dance Cardio Workout. And although the DVDs are long and pretty boring in some parts because you do sooo many reps, all of the exercises are varied, and you definitely aren’t doing the same exercises that you’re used to in traditional workout DVDs.

Basically, Tracy Anderson ticked me off, kicked my ass (I was definitely sore the next day), helped me to embrace my inner dancer, annoyed me and made me jealous all in one DVD. Now that takes talent. Of some kind.

I think one of my friends, whom I forced the DVD upon to get another opinion other than my own, may have put it best when she, rather colorfully, said, “That DVD kicked my arse…and made me feel like a turd.”

Her next line? “Thanks, Jenn. I want to beat you right now but my arms are too sore to do the deed.”

FBG Rating (Out of 5):
Instruction: ★
Long-Term Likeability: ★★
Music: ★★★★
Fun Factor: ★★
Meets Expectations: ★★
Overall: ★★1/2

Fit Bottom line: Definitely not for beginning exercisers or those who dislike dancing, these DVDs are unique and get you to feel the burn, but with no scientific backing, little instruction and too many eye-rolling moments, they just can’t get the full FBG stamp of approval. —Jenn

Want to try these yourself, check them out on Amazon here and here.

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!

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58 Comments
  1. pseudostoops says:

    I was considering buying these on amazon just last night! I’m going to hold off on buying them- but if I won them, I’d definitely be psyched to try them out. (I also thought the 3 pound rule was super-annoying. Really? No more than 3 pounds? Even for large muscle groups? Come on!)

  2. Beth says:

    Ooh a giveaway! Thanks for the review. I love how you guys help me figure out which videos to try. Thank you!

  3. DomestiGals says:

    I need. Her abs.

  4. BEELifestyle says:

    I’m glad you didn’t like it- because I can’t stand the gal. But I’m sure that’s partly jealousy 🙂

    I definitely couldn’t handle two hours a day staring at someone check herself out. Even if I was gettin’ my booty kicked.

    Thanks!

  5. Merry says:

    I think working two hours a day would definitely whup my butt into shape. But the only way I can manage that with working 10 hours a day is to make my commute part of the workout. I don’t see how people manage it otherwise.

  6. Crabby McSlacker says:

    That three pound rule makes me want to smack her upside the head with something weighing substantially more than 3 pounds.

    Which I can, conveniently enough, lift, because I don’t follow some ridiculous sexist 3 pound rule.

    Yechhh.

  7. Aberiah says:

    I would love to get Tracy’s Post Pregnancy Workout! This kind of workout seems better suited for post-pregnancy anyway! Thank you for the review.

  8. JavaChick says:

    I think I will stick to Ellen Barrett.

    Thanks for the review!

    🙂

  9. tfh says:

    I loved this review, esp. since I’d watched her demonstrate some of her moves on a Self video and observed the same, bizarre watching-self and pouting that you described so accurately. (I also want to virtually high-five Crabby McS for her funny comment.)

  10. kjl says:

    I wouldn’t mind trying them out…especially the dance one! I’m a big dance fan.

  11. KH9107 says:

    I just watched a few minutes of her Stella McCartney & Adidas partnership workout on youtube. It's pretty blurry so I didn't see the pout, but the movies she was doing looked interesting and challenging. The dance one sounds like fun. If I don't win, I'll definitely try to get these from the library or maybe netflix just to try them out. I'm always looking for something that I can ENJOY and not feel like I'm suffering through.

  12. Amanda says:

    I’ve actually never heard of Tracy Anderson, but I wouldn’t mind looking like her. Haha. The dance workout sounds like a lot of fun! But then I love to dance.

  13. alexis says:

    The other downside to avoiding heavier weights is that you’re probably not building bone density like you would with a more strenuous weight training regime. And frankly, if you’re THAT skinny, bone density can be a serious issue as you get older.

  14. Dara Chadwick says:

    I’m glad you reviewed these. I, too, saw Tracy on Oprah and was intrigued. Shape or Self also ran one of her workouts, which I tried and found incredibly time-consuming. I wondered if the DVDs would be better.

    It’s an interesting concept, the 3-lb. limit. Then again, I’m used to Cathe Friedrich, whose workouts I love, so 3 lbs. is a big change.

  15. Oh She Glows says:

    That was such a kick ass review! You rock.

    I loved this part:

    “Tracy also has this weird way of watching her own body and pouting as she performs some of the exercises, almost as if she’s checking herself out. Granted, if I looked like her, I might check myself out, too (again, see top right photo), but it’s still weird.”

    LMAO!

  16. Stephanie says:

    Isn’t it funny how every trainer preaches to a different tune? No weights over 3 lbs and tons of reps? I’m currently doing a new DVD program by Chalene Johnson called “ChaLEAN Extreme” and she promotes HEAVY weights with few reps to get lean…. I just started a couple weeks ago but I’m definately feeling stonger!

  17. Every Gym's Nightmare says:

    is ti weird that i dont like my DVD instructors to have personalities? it runs the risk of me dispising them.

    Kelly Turner
    http://www.everygymsnightmare.com

  18. megankortepeter says:

    I could wear my Gracie sports bra while I do these dvds

  19. Krista Moretz says:

    Your friend must be a comedian… I laughed my arse off. Seriously… I did. Hey, where’d my arse go?

  20. Tish says:

    she forgets to keep up the count so you’re sitting there DYING with no hope in sight. it’s a mental hell lol she’s a workout beast i say!!!

  21. Charlotte says:

    Oooh, I am so glad you guys tried these out! I've been dying to try her workouts ever since I read about them. I did her weight workout that she published in some magazine but I always wondered if her "real" workout was different. She sounds like she'd annoy the crap out of me too & yet I still really want to try these out! Pick me??

  22. Laura says:

    I need a kick in the butt. From working out, not literally. Thanks!

  23. moonduster says:

    I never say no to a freebie, so I might as well enter to win. 😉

    I’ll probably never have abs like hers without surgery, but I’m always looking for new workouts to change up my fitness regime with.

  24. Ambs says:

    I’d be interested to try these DVDs and see if she annoys/kicks my ass as well!

  25. Brooke says:

    I want to look like her!! WOW!

  26. Lindsey says:

    I’m not sure about this, when I’m doing a workout dvd I want someone to push me to work harder when I feel like giving up – I think I’d probably just turn Tracy off! I’ve watched a couple of clips of her online and I can’t stand the woman!
    I completely agree with Alexis -The 3lb weight rule seems a little ridiculous. The reason why I work out is to become stronger and healthier, not to become ‘teeny tiny’.

  27. Margaret Phillips says:

    Great review. I have the Post-Pregnancy DVD and I really love it. I have taken most of the moves in the video to the gym now and do the video at home a few times a week. I don’t think everyone has the time she stresses to commit to her routine but I agree, she has great moves. I have really noticed a big difference in my body since starting the video, I also run about 9 miles a week, eliptical and lift weights so adding her workout in has really helped.

  28. Robin says:

    I think it’s amazing how many semi-famous people have workout DVDs! Most of them (except for the lady from the Biggest Loser, or actual celebrities like Carmen Electra), I’ve never heard of!

  29. Reva Skie says:

    I am a workout video junkie!! Thanks for the chance to add to my collection.

  30. samsam26 says:

    Thank you for the chance to win this W/O DVD. It looks like has potential for a great workout!

  31. Linda says:

    This is so exciting–thanks so much for the chance to win this!

    From: a gal who needs it!!

    xoxo

  32. Melissa says:

    I’m a fitness intructor and would be pysched to check out her style in hopes of “borrowing” some of them for my students…

  33. Jennifer says:

    I have been doing Tracy Anderson’s Mat workout DVD for 6 weeks(5 times a week). Yes, her instruction(or lack of it) is different, and she does pout alot, but my body is transforming. My arms have definition that I have never been able to acheive with weights and my hips and thighs have become much more balanced. The best thing though, is that the cellulite on my legs and tush has dramatically decreased. Believe it or not. The tape works.

  34. Bree says:

    I have been doing the TA (Ha!) method mat workout dvd for about 3 weeks and agree with Jennifer, IT FREAKIN WORKS! There are some elements that would make the video much better: more talking and instructions/reminding what to do, more camera angles to see exactly what she’s doing. While I laughed at some of the review and comments about Tracy’s checking herself out and pouting — I would rather follow a workout routine of someone that has a body like Tracy’s than someone who is self conscious and way to happy. The 3 lb weight thing came up a lot in the comments. It is not a strength video in the sense of building muscle mass, or increasing bone density, it is a toning video that will actually give you arms that have nice lines and definition. and if you do the moves right, it will be much harder than lifting 15 lb weights! Total fan.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been wanting to purchase these dvd’s as well but have been skeptical because of all the bad reviews. But so many people that have been using the workout for several weeks say they are really seeing a difference. Pick me! I want to try them!!!

  36. Yvette says:

    Hilarious review – thanks!

    I’ve done this workout 6 times and have better definition in my arms than I got in 7 years doing weights. I’m also getting those ‘swimmers’ lines’ on my abs as well. I’m hooked.

  37. Maeri says:

    I am very intrigued! Thank you for the review, though lukewarm, I am still aching to try the DVD’s (no pun intended!)

  38. LobotoME says:

    hi i’ve done the mat one and love it but would love to try the dance ones!! thanks ~ jen

  39. Anonymous says:

    ;ive been going to the gym now for 1 year and I was feeeling healthier but my body even though i’m quite skinny, had very little defintion.
    1 month doing the mat workout and the change is amazing my legs are super toned and my arms look pretty good .My whole body looks much more balanced and i feel taller!I’d really recomend it and i’m gonna stick to it!

  40. JulsieDink says:

    I have both the mat workout and the dance cardio. I think the mat workout left me more sore than I was when I started heavier weight work. I agree with tracy that the heavier weight work kind of bulks you up. This gives you leaner definition.

    The dance cardio is just too difficult for me. I can’t keep up with her. I did all of the tutorials to learn the steps, but when she actually does the dances, my feet just don’t move fast enough to keep up. It’d be nice if she did a slower, easier version for those of us who can’t handle the fast footwork yet. 🙂

  41. Lace says:

    I have her First dance Aerobics and her mat video, i use them 5-6x a week and my god the results are amazing and very fast! Id much rather perfer a dancers body, than a “muscle” runners body. I dont want to look like i work out at the gym lifting tons of weights!! i want to look small, and have sexy definition,and this is what these videos have done for me! Ive also found 2 Tracy Anderson Support groups, one on facebook, and one on Cafemom.com/group/TracyAndersonMethod Awesome groups with good information!

  42. Elizabeth says:

    I bought this DVD, impulse buy for sure. I did this once and did not enjoy one minute of it! The repetitions got old and she was pretty darn annoying to watch. I somehow hurt my lower back during it too and it lasted for over a week!

  43. Sage says:

    I have both of Tracy's dvds (mat and cardio dance) and have been doing the mat dvd approximately 5 days a week for the last 2 weeks. Even having to take breaks, because quite frankly, she does kick your ass, I have lost 5 pounds from doing this dvd.
    I personally like that she doesn't talk or give a lot of instruction. If you're doing this dvd 6 days a week as she recommends, who wants to hear a super-psyched trainer going, "You've got it! Feel the burn! And 1 and 2 and 3 and 4!" The fact that I'm watching this tiny girl do hundreds of moves without breaking a sweat while I'm doing half as many and sounding like a large animal dying pisses me off enough to keep doing it. Even if I'm cursing at the tv the whole time, I'm seeing major results. I've tried Body for Life for Women, which bulked me up. This made me hate the 3-pound rule. Nobody should do the moves SHE'S doing with more than three pounds, but in order to get true muscle definition, go ahead and lay on the big weights so there's something there to look at when her moves give you that tight lean body.

  44. Ian says:

    Nice Comments,This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are unanimous and needs to be appreciated by everyone.
    Elenora

    workouts

  45. lorrwill says:

    This is a really good review. I saw Tracy's You Tube and got curious so I am doing some research before investing any $$. Thanks for the candor and humour.
    (The comments are good, too.)

  46. Katti says:

    Wow, seems like you really don't like the TA Method much…I must say I began the Dance and Mat DVDs on June 1st, and people are noticing huge differences in my arms, legs, abs…I think my bottom is transforming too, but of course seems to be lagging the other body parts.

    I am tracking my progress by weight, body fat each day…although I've taken three days off now since my knees/ankles are starting to get tender. The only change I've made in my diet is to cut out alcohol for one month.

    Check out my blog if you want another viewpoint. BTW, I've gotten all three of her Malawi downloads and those are a killer! It is true, TA is not for the beginner or faint of heart!

    keep moving…!

    http://wantandreceive.blogspot.com/

  47. misreadhead says:

    I have to say, the results do happen in a way that shocks me. I have been working out 17 years, I love working out, I am a recovered gym junkie, an ex-yogi, and now I am mostly a runner- and then this came along. I see total results when I do it, and admittedly I only do it about 3 times a week (but I am already fairly fit, sorry ladies). I was totally wowed how quickly my abs popped out and my but lifted and my arms tightened- it is almost as good as my bosu board (but that's another blather). Although as for teeny tiny, my arms did not go smaller, just toned. In fact the one week I did it four times I was convinced they looked bigger! But yeah, 1) it re activated all my old sports injuries BIG TIME- anyone with problems, seriously beware! I put my hip out the second time trying and was down for a week. These moves are seriously hardcore on joints. I have instinctively realized to bend my knees slightly for a lot of moves, helps. She really does NOT do a good warm up, it's way to jumpy, not holding any position, and her warm down- which is even more important if you have injuries-is merely a slower dance routine rather than anything to properly stretch muscles. I always take time to do my own warm down. and 2) it is dead hard to learn. I am NOT co-ordinated. It took me ages to learn and I cussed and felt like a giant failure. But now that I have the routines down pat i feel like a star and i love it. It has given me a massive sense of accomplishment. I would also say this- I use whatever of her exercises I feel I need. Like sometimes I skip through and do just the legs and the butt and then on alternate days do her newer routine on youtube, the reebok promo- those leg exercises are on all fours, way better for hips and backs, and i find actually more effective! Anyway she has changed a lot of my workout thinking and if she was in the UK I would get a side job just to train with her, despite some flaws. I wish she'd put out updated DVDS as I suspect some of her methods are getting better comparing the mat dvd and the reebok routine.

  48. Katti says:

    Hi, just an update – I had to stop all exercise as my knees and ankles were in serious jeopardy from all the intense workouts. I have taken 3 weeks off, and found the rest has been good for my joints, and has not caused weight gain – so that's the good news.

    However, in my research to find out what was I doing wrong – besides just overdoing it – I found two important items to consider: your shoes, and your floor type. I was dancing around in running shoes, which are great for forward motion, but not at all helpful in lateral and twist motions – hence my knees and ankles took a severe beating. Add to that my floor – hard tiles with a persian carpet on top of it. The rug causes some friction on turns and spins – which coupled with my poor support shoes, means my joints worked even harder.

    So, the recommendation is to first get the right shoes for this type of workout. Then, if possible, work on a hard surface, like tile or wood – so you can spin and twist freely.

    As for the larger vs teeny tiny muscles – for sure when you work muscles they will expand (swell) for a few hours after a workout. Why do you think men pump themselves up before hitting the beach? Over time, the muscles will elongate – but Tracy is right, you can't do other methods or it will run counter to her technique. So no running girls, if you want slim thighs!

    Keep up the work out, tis worth it!

  49. Tamara says:

    I think TA's fantastic!
    I am usually lazy when it comes to working out – I have worked out on occasion but only because I felt I should for my benefit and not because I looked forward to it.
    But TA changed my mind completely! I discovered her DVDs by accident and after only 3 workouts with her Mat Workout alone I already noticed subtle changes in my body. Wow!
    I love her fresh, innovative system and for the first time in my life I am actually excited to exercise.
    Keep up the great work Tracy…just keep the DVDs coming!

  50. Anonymous says:

    As a former certified aerobic instructor, and one who did free weight work in a class atmosphere, I can vouch for her technique in that arena. I have to say I am blown away by the mat video – don't be discouraged by the fact that you are only lifting 3 lbs – the sheer repetitions are ensuring that your muscles and bones are getting a good strenuous work-out. And all of the arm and hip rotations she does are fabulous – my hips are already 1/2 inch leaner than normal at my current weight, as I suspect is my ribcage since I just tried on a formerly snug dress which now fits wonderfully. As a previous hard-core runner my hips have paid a price, and her accessory muscle work has taken away the pain 100% in one hip so far.

    I'd like to try the cardiodance video, but I live in an upstairs apartment and I'm not sure my neighbors would enjoy me thundering around up here. 🙁

  51. Anonymous says:

    tracy workouts are great anything that gets you results needs to be challenging and is never easy but the results are great specially if you tend to have huge thighs . i think the 3 pound weight is good its still very challenging ,i personally dont like to look like a body builder so this workout is great!

  52. I am really intrigued by her workouts but I’m pretty sure I would die trying to do the dance workout. Do you need a lot of space for that one?

    Also, if we don’t want the dance moves, is the mat DVD still worth checking out for the other exercises?

    Sorry for all the questions, I really want to invest in these but I am nervous because I am so uncoordinated. I’ve seen her moves on Oprah and Gwyneth’s blogs and there is no way I’d be able to do the dance moves with so little instruction!

  53. Anna says:

    I’m really curious about Metamorphosis. I keep an eye on craigslist, but it doesn’t seem to come up much. Maybe it will in a year or two. Not paying full price for it, that’s for sure.

  54. Patricia says:

    Good review, I alternate between the post-baby and regular workout. I hate the dancing one!

  55. Jeannette says:

    We’re women – we won’t bulk up if we lift heavy; we don’t have the testosterone. Anything under 3lb? Blimey. Isn’t a baby usually more than 3lb. I was just shaking my head.

  56. Brittany says:

    Thanks for this review! I was considering trying her videos, but after reading this review, I will steer clear for sure.

  57. Barbra says:

    The way I see it , I would probably like that she doesn’t talk much. Because once I do the video a couple of times I am saying their lines word for word and not concentrating on my moves. I would rather memorize the music and the moves that go with it.

  58. After having my daughter I went back to running – but that never got rid of my NEW trouble areas! It is hard to find anything that keeps my interest and helps me slim down/tone my new back fat and oddly located pouch. I started the Beachbody T25 workout and am loving the results. Not there yet, but getting there. You should try them and review – or come to an free fit club to try it out!!