The Tracy Anderson Method: Mat Workout is the second workout I have done by Tracy Anderson. And this one is different from The Perfect Design. Just like with Perfect Design I have a lot to say about this workout. I actually like it more than Perfect Design. Mat Workout is a total body workout (though it barely works your back or chest but it does give your arms and shoulders a good run) and like Perfect Design it hits the legs hard. Again—that is where the gold is in this workout, the lower body. However I felt it everywhere. This workout is not done with voice over (unlike Perfect Design). The set is a very nice room with a winter evening visible through the window behind her. She is dressed in normal workout clothes and she cues better. Let me add that “better” doesn’t equal good cueing. She still doesn’t cue well and frequently doesn’t bother cueing at all. However, even those segments she doesn’t cue are generally easy to follow and copy. The standing ab section has no cueing and is still very difficult to follow. It’s stupid anyway and I’ll always skip it in the future. Actually, her cueing sucks in the mat abs, too—but in all the leg work it is better, plus, just like in Perfect Design, the leg work itself is simply easier to copy and follow, so good cueing isn’t as essential as it is in other areas.
The menu for this workout states that the workout is chaptered—but it isn’t. There is a one minute intro to the workout in which Tracy instructs you to do this workout 4-6 times a week in order to get “amazing results.” There is a one minute interview with Gwyneth Paltrow in which she discusses how challenging Tracy’s workouts are, how sore she was after doing them the first time and how everyone needs to find time to exercise. And finally, there is a 3 minute interview with Tracy. According to Tracy, her program can take “any woman from any genetic background” and turn her into a “teeny-tiny dancer-type.” She states that she has tried everything–pilates, spinning, step aerobics, cardio, even diet and nothing worked for her (she doesn’t mention actual strength training btw). In order to see results you have to do the mat work and the cardio work (her dance aerobics) and she doesn’t want you to do any other workouts.
I have so many thoughts about this workout. First, let me say that I haven’t been brainwashed and now think Tracy Anderson is the fitness guru she thinks she is. I do not. But I do think I’d like to find a place for workouts like this in my rotations. She works the lower body really well. Even if I do nothing else except the lower body portions of her workouts (well, the two I’ve done so far–I cannot speak for the rest of her DVDs) it is money well spent. Her standing abs is stupid IMHO. I will always skip that. However her mat based ab work in both Perfect Design and this workout is very good. It is unique and challenging. In Perfect Design the arm flinging she was doing was ridiculous and impossible to follow. Apparently that was some form of what she presents in the arm portion of this workout, except in the Mat Workout she does it in a manner you can easily follow. Now, it is obviously nothing like the type of upper body work I am accustomed to doing but that doesn’t mean it has no value. I would never abandon dumbbells for Tracy’s method, but I won’t lie—I felt her arm work. If you can actually follow her arm choreography (which you can in this workout), 16 minutes of it really burned my arms and shoulders out big time. She went through all ranges of motion, too. So I don’t think it was worthless. Will I ever actually do the arm segments of this workout again? I honestly don’t know. Part of me wonders if alternating this type of work with the heavier lifting I normally do would enhance my fitness.
On to the breakdown. I will give a very brief summary and segment break down for the workout, then for some of them (the lower body segments) I will break it down further below. Unfortunately, this workout truly isn’t chaptered. By that I mean, some workouts, even if they don’t have a chapter menu, are still chaptered so it is easier to skip forward to segments. Not this one. To skip unwanted segments you will have to utilize fast-forward. The lower body is really the best part of this workout but the warm up and cool down is good too (tho you have to keep your eyes on the tv–difficult to do when she frequently has you bent over), so if you want to do a lower body workout (both segments), with warm up and cool down, it is 32 minutes total.
Mat Workout is 57 minutes; you need a chair, a mat and 1-3 pound dumbbells.
5:30 minute stretch warm up is dynamic and easy to follow
Standing leg/barre: 15:30 minutes (see below)
Standing abs is 3:30 minutes; this consists of rib/hip shifting dancing type moves—according to Tracy her ab work doesn’t give the 6 pack abs which she doesn’t like–it gives you “sexy lines.”
Unweighted arms is 8 minutes; according to Tracy, her standing unweighted arms will make them “as tiny as possible with great definition” and give you “beautiful ballet arms.”
Weighted arms is 8 minutes; Tracy says you should never use heavier than 3 pound weights because then you will just bulk and bulking creates “more space for loose skin later on.”
Mat lower body: 7 minutes (see below)
Mat abs is 5:30 minutes; you are laying supine with legs straight and wide in a V for almost all of crunch variations.
Cool down/stretch: 4 minutes of dynamic, flowing stretching that is similar to the warm up.
Standing/Barre Legs (15:30 minutes) (you need a chair):
- stand behind chair with both hands on back of chair; raise knee up to shoulder;
- lift leg to side with “attitude” (this means leg is bent);
- lift leg behind you with attitude;
- keep leg lifted behind you, bring knee out to side of body (keeping it high) and then push leg/foot out straight behind you;
- hold leg straight behind you and pulse.
Repeat all 5 moves on other leg.
- lift straight leg to side (no attitude), point when lifting, flex when lowering;
- hold leg out to side and bend with attitude; rotate at hip, lifting knee up then twisting it back down;
- pulse bent knee up at side of body;
- turn to the side so you are no longer facing the chair back but it is beside you; bring knee in the kick leg/foot behind you.
Repeat all 4 moves on other leg.
Mat Lower Body (7 Minutes) (you need a mat):
- lay on your side, leaning on elbow and bottom leg bent, top leg out straight; bring knee to shoulder and straighten;
- move your torso forward so weight is partially resting on hands in front of you, bottom leg still bent; bring top knee to side and push out straight behind you;
- hold leg out straight behind you and pulse to ceiling;
- rotate so you are lying on your side, weight on elbow; you are going to a scissor type move with your legs; bring your top knee in then straighten it while pushing it back behind you, while you are pushing your top leg back you are bringing your bottom leg forward slightly and straightening it;
- lay almost on stomach/chest (torso weight supported by hands), bottom leg still bent; raise and lower top leg to ceiling;
- lay completely on your stomach, knees wide and bent, heels pressed together; raise and lower feet/knees toward ceiling.
Repeat all moves on other side of body.