2013 Update: If you are looking for a DVD program to tone, tighten, and help you achieve a dancer-like body, I recommend trying Physique 57. See my review for more details.
I have been doing the Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis (hipcentric) exercise DVDs for 6 weeks now. I haven’t seen any startling results but I have lost two pounds and a couple inches. I only have six pounds to loose so I’m 1/3 of the way there. There are some things I really like about this program and of course some dislikes too. I decided to list my pros and cons in a fairly in depth review for anyone whose interested in purchasing these DVDs.
- The Metamorphosis program consists of a 30 minute cardio dance DVD and nine 30-35 min strength training, aka “muscular structure work,” DVDs. You’re supposed to do each strength training DVD for 10 days and then move onto the next. The variety in music and exercises is very nice.
- I have been exercising religiously for almost two decades. I feel like I’ve seen most exercises out there. But Tracy offers many new moves, for abs, arms, and your glutes. It’s really nice to do exercises I’ve never done before.
- Her philosophy of completely fatiguing one leg before moving onto the next is great. You literally do ten minutes of leg lifts on one leg before moving to the other. She often does 30-40 reps of each exercise. I’m much more able to work through the burn and discomfort of exhausting a muscle group than I ever was before.
- I like that she tries to exercise all the smaller supporting muscles to help tone and tighten. This is a premise of Pilates as well.
- I like the music. I like that there is a new collection of songs on each DVD (mostly new, there are definitely some repeats by DVDs 4 and 5).
- I like the emphasis on dance and many of the dance-like moves.
- Has Tracy ever taken any Exercise Physiology courses? Does she really understand how muscles work? My B.S. is in exercise science and I was a certified Strength and Conditioning coach eight years ago, and I frequently hear her spout off things that are simply untrue.
- She insists that you never use more than 3 lb weights. Why? Fear of bulking up? Fear of injury since her moves are so fast? After the third DVD, my arms just didn’t feel anything during the five minutes of arm exercises. I either need to up the weights or do the arm movements for more than five minutes.
- While it’s nice that every ten days there’s a new strength training routine, I expected them to become progressively more difficult. This doesn’t appear to be the case (at least not up to 5th DVD). In order to continue to see results, muscles need to be challenged with not just new moves but harder moves. I find myself adding ankle weights, doing two DVDs back to back, or adding on moves after the DVD is over. This is not especially time efficient and I’d rather just do really hard moves for 30 minutes than have to do more of them.
- So far, all of the leg work is done on all fours. I would like more variety. The leg work also only focuses on the gluteus medius and minimus, with some TFL and hamstrings. This no doubt will lead to a small perky butt, like Tracy has, but leaves me wanting more. What about the quads and inner thighs and calves? There is also nothing for the chest and back muscles. This program is not a complete body workout, but Tracy discourages doing anything but her DVDs.
- I can’t do that one dance cardio DVD for 90 days. I couldn’t even do it daily for a week. It’s very bouncy and hard on the joints and shins. It also just gets boring after a while. I find myself doing my own cardio (running, going to a step class, turning on good music and dancing with my own moves).
- When Tracy does her abdominal exercises, her form is poor. She lays flat on the ground and arches her back, pulling it off the floor. This disengages the abs and could injure the back. When she lays her head back before lifting it for the next exercise, you see her rib cage pop up. This exaggerated movement is much less effective than engaging the core muscles and brining your rib and hip bones together. You know you’re doing this correctly when your lower back is pressed into the floor. Look to Pilates DVDs for proper, more effective form.
- I dislike the lack of instruction. Basically her instruction is to watch her moves very carefully and mimic them. But unless you have a mirror next to your TV, it’s hard to know if you’re mimicking her properly. There’s little to no explanation of why you should do certain moves the way she recommends, what muscles they’re working, where you should feel it, etc.
- I prefer to really work a muscle group hard, then rest it for a day. Tracy’s philosophy is to work all your muscles for five days in a row, resting on the sixth. I do not know if this is effective from an exercise physiology perspective. It certainly is not a format I have learned about from any credible source. However, most dancers and athletes work their whole body on consecutive days with great results. So maybe there is something to this, but I’m not convinced.
- The diet is a joke. I do not like such specific diet requirements and it seems way too low on the calories.
I would not recommend this program to novice exercisers. But for those of you that have good form and have been working out for years and want a little change, this might be worth a try. It certainly is convenient to be able to exercise at home with my children playing nearby or while they’re napping. I’ll be interested to see if I get more results as I try to up my cardio, watch my diet, and add intensity to her strength training.
Update: You can read my full review of the Tracy Anderson Method after completing the 13-week Metamorphosis DVDs here.