Workout Review: Tracy Anderson’s “Dance + Cardio”

I first heard about fitness expert Tracy Anderson in 2013 when I picked up a copy of People magazine and learned she was the personal trainer to Gwyneth Paltrow, that year’s Most Beautiful Woman.

So a few months later, Tracy’s “Dance + Cardio DVD” caught my eye in the fitness aisle of Target. Featuring Tracy in dang-those-are-low leggings, the box promised two 30-minute high-energy cardio routines that would build strength and burn calories.

Tracy Anderson DVDAlthough that sounded good, I blanched at the word “dance.” Despite the childhood ballet lessons that were supposed to make me gazelle-like in grace and poise, I seem to have some neurological defect that only shows up in dance class, which causes me to (1) inexplicably shoot my arm out for no apparent reason and/or (2) mistake “slide to left” for “slam into your neighbor on the right.”

But I figured that any exercise method that helped Gwyneth earn Most Beautiful status had some street cred, so I tossed the DVD into my cart and headed for the checkout aisle.

I’m sorry, you were saying? Oh, you weren’t.

I felt slightly better when Tracy assured me in the “Dance + Cardio” intro that the two routines weren’t designed for dancers and would contain repetitive moves. I noticed that both routines consisted of not-too-difficult dance basics like box-steps, grapevines, and bunny hops.

Tracy also doesn’t talk or provide cues to follow, which I actually don’t mind because dialogue in workout videos tends to get tedious. So silence in this case is okay. However…the flip side of no instructions means the learning curve is much steeper.

And in Tracy’s case, much, much steeper.

Sweaty and frustrated.

The moves may be basic but the execution is inconsistent.

For example, Tracy will do five squats on one leg…and then four on the other…and then add in some jumps and then go back to doing squats…only now it’s three on one side and four on the other. The first time I did the workout, I had to rewind the DVD several times to redo moves and I ended up frustrated.

However, being the persistent type, I was determined to make this work so I began memorizing the routines. It took a while, but eventually I learned when Tracy was going to suddenly break into sidekicks or hip swivels that were apropos of nothing we’d been doing, and I spent less time flailing and more time dancing.

So here’s the deal…

Likes: What I like about the “Dance + Cardio” is that the routines are your basic, uncomplicated, old-school cardio workouts…there’s no intervals or intense plyometrics and you don’t need equipment. You just play the DVD and dance it out.

I use “Dance + Cardio” on the days I’m tired or sore and don’t want anything too intense. I’ll also do one of the routines to get everything loosened up before a long stretching session or as a prep for the more intense Tae Bo workout.

Dislikes: Along with the inconsistencies, the routines don’t contain “strength building” as promised on the box. Yes, Tracy does some arm toning exercises at the end but there’s no real strength building happening – the routines are strictly cardio.

Small but mighty.

Speaking of Tracy…”Dance + Cardio” is just one of the over 160 workout DVDs she’s both created and starred in. Google shows the 5’0 dynamo as “Tracy Anderson, Entrepreneur,” but it really should say, “Tracy Anderson, Empire.”

Along with studios in LA, London, and NY, Tracy owns her own branded clothing line, exercise equipment, nutritional products, streaming video services, and is featured regularly on TV shows, magazine covers, and red carpets. Along with Gwyneth, Tracy’s celebrity clients include Madonna, Kim Kardashian, Nicole Ritchie, and supermodels Molly Sims and Christy Turlington.

And, as if I didn’t feel like enough of a loser compared to her, she also has two small kids.

The bottom line.

Overall, I enjoy “Dance + Cardio” and would recommend it to anyone willing to work though a learning curve to get a good at-home cardio workout. (And it’s nice to know that I can actually move in a way that somebody, upon casual observation, might possibly consider dancing.)

So, People mag, I’ve mastered “Dance + Cardio” and I’m ready for my close up.

Call me.


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