I have to admit, I'm a secret fan of Tracy Anderson. The hyperactive elfin exercise guru is a little bit scary, but I kind of love her DVDs. So I was super psyched when the announcement came that Gyneth Paltrow and Anderson were opening up a gym venture in New York City. But things haven't been going well. A spy told the NYPost the gym is having a terrible time signing up new members, cold-calling them to come in for a meeting. And from my dealings with the venture, I can tell you why...
Right away, I signed up for the mailing list, and soon was inundated with emails and calls inviting me to an informational session with Tracy. Being that my budget for extras in life has gone WAY down over the past few months I decided to call them up before heading over. I anticipated the classes being expensive, considering a friend of mine in L.A. said the studio there charged about $40 a class. She said it was a huge rip-off, as the classes were basically just a form of Pilates. But I was a fan, and figured with the economy the way it is, maybe there's some sign-up special.
So I called up and inquired. First of all there's a $787.50 initiation fee for a six months membership or $1,500 for a year membership. A limited amount of first sign-ups had the initiation fee waved, but they wouldn't tell how many. This includes some kind of body analysis and diet advice. Then the membership fee is $900 a month, the man on the phone told me with no irony. Excuse me...$900 a month? Are you kidding me?
I couldn't think of anyone who could afford that right now, except for, well, Gwyneth and Madonna. OK, seriously, it's a fun workout and there's a high chance that it will transform your body, but really? I asked if you could just try one class and the man told me, no, because of the program you have to commit to a six-month commitment. Ok $6,187.50 for a half-year of training, without even sampling a class, or my $30 DVD. You can guess which option I chose.
Still, I keep receiving e-mails claiming, "We have limited memberships remaining and Tracy will be leaving the City this weekend to rejoin the set of Iron Man II." They name-dropped Iron Man II when I called as well, telling me Tracy was flying to L.A. to train Gwyneth, so I had to act now. Tabloids thrive on telling the average woman diet and exercise tips on how to achieve a celebrity body. Gwyneth Paltrow's new gym venture affirms the notion that you don't have to be rich and famous to look like a celebrity...you just have to be rich.
Anderson has developed a nation of devoted women who swear by her method, based on repetitive movements that challenge your accessory muscles, all while lifting no larger than 3-pound weights. The idea is to develop a dancer's body, instead of a bulky muscular body.
The DVDs are not so high-end. In fact they are very sparse. There are no track listings, and at $30 a pop, you'd think she could pay for some post-studio work. And Tracy can't count her way out of a box. She'll do 23 leg lifts on one side and 37 on the next, which we all know doesn't lead to a balanced body. But seriously, who wouldn't want to work out to the same trainer that Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow swear by? (Don't worry, there's no way you're going to get Madonna's freaky arms with this).
Paltrow is not going to win any popularity contests with her absurd new gym. She's been ridiculed in the blogosphere for her condescending e-mail blast GOOP. And she recently told UK Elle, "F - - - the haters. I am who I am. I can't pretend to be somebody who makes $25,000 a year." Technically Gwyneth, someone who makes $25,000 a year could afford a $30 DVD and get, albeit a redundant DVD workout, your workout.
And I'm no Gwyneth hater. But if you're going to pretend to be the perfect model woman we all can aspire to, Gwyneth, please at least copy edit. A March 12 GOOP newsletter included DVD recommendations from her favorite directors, one of whom she worships. "Sophia Coppola makes some of my favorite movies. I have never worked with her but I thought it would be cool to hear her picks, as she is not only incredibly talented, but a woman as well!" Gwyneth, your hero's name is actually spelled "Sofia." Her website now reflects the correction.
If you're looking for a good recession workout, I highly recommend dropping your gym and buying the DVDs. But seriously Tracy, it's time to release some more to the series, this time with higher production quality, and balance in your counting. A set of DVDs will give your non-millionaire fans the perfect variety they need to follow your method. And I'm guessing that selling hundreds of thousands of DVDs will rake in a much higher profit for you and Gwynnie than a few $900/month memberships.
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