When it comes to Tracy Anderson I always seem to have a lot to say. After doing The Perfect Design Level II and The Method Mat Workout I felt compelled to sample her advanced offerings. In Level II and The Mat Workout I thought the lower body work was excellent and I also liked the mat core work in both workouts as well. In Level II, the cueing was horrible to non-existent and her “arm” segment was absurd and impossible to follow. In The Mat Workout the cueing was better (but still not good and still sometimes non-existent) and the arm segments were also better and could be followed fairly easily, even if there was no cueing. So, in summary, I have thus far found Tracy’s workouts have a lot of negatives but one positive that, IMHO, outweighs the negative–her lower body work.
So… The Perfect Design: Level III is definitely an advanced workout. Let’s start with the positive; as expected, I liked the lower body work. However, in spite of being extremely challenging, I did not not like it nearly as much as I liked the lower body work in the other two aforementioned workouts. The main reason for that is awkwardness. The early lower body exercises were challenging but doable (and also very high rep), but as the lower body segment progresses, the exercises become more and more awkward. Now, this awkwardness also increased the difficulty level so I’m not sure what to think (or if perhaps that was her intention?). The more difficult a move becomes the less reps you do until you get to the final lower body exercise in which you only do 5 reps. That final exercise was so challenging that I had to modify it. Now, this did not stop me from liking this workout or wanting it. I have, in fact, already ordered it. I spite of the awkwardness, it worked my lower body hard.
Now, on to the negatives. Everything else in this workout. I hated everything else about this workout. Her cueing was horrid and again mostly non-existent. Like Level II it was done voice-over, which is not a strength for Tracy. The warm up is nearly impossible to follow. She is doing her own bizarre thing that changes constantly–so even if you catch on–TOO BAD FOR YOU! Because she is now doing something completely different. The core section is the same. Poor to zero cueing that, when it comes, it comes after the move has already started, there are few reps so by the time you catch on, it is moving on to another move making it difficult to impossible to follow, plus she is doing really weird stuff in the core work. At one point she is just tapping her heels on the mat in some mystery rhythm in her own head. Oh, and she has weird arm stuff going on during the core work, too. She does warn you (in the middle of the core section, not the beginning when it would be most useful) that she will be moving fast and doing few reps so it would be beneficial to watch the core section once before doing it. But trust me, even viewing it a few times isn’t going to cement this routine in your mind. The final segment is Tracy’s seizure arm fun that is impossible to follow and uncued. The workout ends with a cool down-type… thing that is, again, uncued, changing constantly and impossible to follow.
Because of this, the only section I will break down is the lower body because it is the only thing I will ever return to. As usual, I feel the need to share some of Tracy’s unique commentary. She notes during the warm up that by the time you have reached her advanced level workout you are familiar with her arm movements, rib isolations and that you are familiar with her method so she can go right into warming you up as she would any one of her private clients. Because in Level II she took the time to warm you up with proper cueing, right? WRONG. There is no difference! And the warm up is different from Level II, so you are not learning it via repetition, but maybe she assumes that by the advanced level the psychic connection has been formed and you can intuit it from her. Or, to be fair, maybe she actually taught something in Level I. But since the warm ups in Level II and Level III are completely different, it really doesn’t make sense that anything learned in Level I would teach you how to follow uncued, constantly changing choreography. She also notes that every move she does has a purpose and she needs for you to perform “every single one of the moves.” How, when she doesn’t bother to cue? She even said at the very end (during the arm segment) that every time she does it, she does it in a different way with a different pattern and “that content (the differences?)is very valuable to your results.” You are also expected to “mimic everything” she does (remember–she does it fast and it’s constantly changing with no cueing) including her finger, palm and wrist placement and direction.
The Perfect Design: Level III Advanced is 51 minutes long; 4 minute warm up, 36 minute lower body, 5:30 minute core, 4:30 minute seizure arms and 1 minute “cool down.”
Lower Body; you need a chair and a mat; all moves done standing with the chair you will keep the working leg at hip height.
- Stand behind chair with both hands on back of chair, heels together and toes open (first position); deep plie (grande plie in first position), lift right leg in “attitude” (bent knee) around behind you, bring back around and swing it in front of left leg, turning body the left slightly;
- Still standing behind the chair, swing right leg over the chair back (knee is bent), then swing it back around behind you hydrant-style, maintaining the knee bend;
- For this move you will be leaning over the back of the chair slightly; bring bent knee to the front hydrant style, then kick back behind you, bring straight leg to the side, the swing it back behind you; alternate these two move pairs;
- Get on the floor in crab position facing the front of the chair; raise the right leg off the ground so you are balancing on hands and left foot; bend/crunch right leg in and extend/point it to one side of the chair, bend/crunch leg in and extend/point to other side of chair; keep alternating sides;
- (this is where the awkwardness begins) Imagine lower body mat work in which you are on all 4s, except you are facing the front of the chair and one hand is gripping the chair back; bend/crunch knee underneath you while pulling the chair back down (the back legs of the chair are off the ground), then push leg out straight behind you; this will eventually change to knee crunching into the side hydrant-fashion and kicking out behind you (while still doing chair thing) and it ends with pulsing the leg straight behind you while just holding the chair back;
- (this was very awkward and difficult, but the chair I was using could have made this more awkward) get on all 4s with back of chair behind you, left foot is under the chair and right hand is reached back holding the chair back; bring right leg up hydrant-style and bring it back so calf/foot wrap around chair back then bring leg straight to side, do the hydrant move around chair back again but this time you bring the right leg forward into a deep lunge; alternate these two move pairs;
- Get into straight arm plank with feet on chair seat; bring right knee in under body then lift and raise in a diagonal;
- No chair needed; get on all 4s; lift right leg in hydrant, bring leg around behind you kicking it up and straight, bring it back to hydrant position then lower;
- (extremely challenging–I had to modify this move) No chair needed; get into side plank; extend right leg straight in front of you, to the back, to the ceiling then lower right leg behind you, bending the leg and placing the foot on ground and dipping bottom toward ground.