Tracy Takes On….

Tracy Anderson turned a passion for health and wellness into one of the most successful fitness businesses on the market. Here’s how she did it.
Anderson in 2013 at home with her daughter. Balancing both her business and motherhood is a priority for the fitness entrepreneur.


“I never cared to start a business,” Tracy Anderson tells me point blank when I ask about her superstar-level success. Yet, the 45-year-old fitness guru did in fact start a business—and an incredibly successful one at that. So, how did what began as a genuine passion for health turn into one of the most recognizable fitness brands out there? What’s the secret sauce that led to international exercise studios, legions of celebrity fans, and countless devoted clients streaming her workouts regularly? Let’s wind it back to the beginning.

In the late 1990s, Anderson was newly married, helping her then-husband, a professional basketball player, rehabilitate his bad back in Puerto Rico. It was there that she met a doctor who had developed an innovative new way to help support and train small, transitional muscles in the body. The idea fascinated Anderson, whose sole focus at that point was simply helping her husband. She worked closely with the doctor, calling on her background as a dancer to choreograph various moves that would complement this methodology. “I didn’t want to be in fitness. I wanted to help build out this doctor’s science and provide a new kind of support that didn’t exist to help athletes’ bodies,” Anderson says of her initial motivation.

Flash forward a few years and Anderson was in the midst of conducting a full-blown scientific study, tracking 150 women over the course of five years to determine how these newfound exercises would transform their bodies.

Anderson began to study fitness with a passion. “I got every certification you could imagine,” she says. She even created her own workout machine, a hybrid body reformer, along with 3600 accompanying moves. As she had done in Puerto Rico, the goal was addressing the smaller, accessory muscles in the body, ones that are often overlooked in more traditional forms of exercise. By targeting these muscles with constantly changing movements, Anderson developed a method that sculpted and toned long, lean bodies.

Slowly but surely Anderson’s notoriety in the fitness world grew, skyrocketing when she began training Gwyneth Paltrow in 2006. “She has kicked my formerly saggy ass into shape, and I will forever be grateful,” Paltrow has said of Anderson in a Goop newsletter. (Paltrow is also an investor and partner in the company.)

Tracy Anderson and the Tracy Anderson Method were now a full-on brand, with a fitness studio, DVDs, and more. “The demand of people wanting what I do was undeniably huge, and they propelled the awareness to epic proportions. Suddenly, there was a business,” she explains.

But with this exponential growth came more than a few growing pains.  “There are people that want to get into an industry from a business perspective or for financial reasons. And then there are a people that have a naivete about the business side and do things out of passion,” says Anderson.

A self-admitted member of the latter camp, Anderson initially outsourced the business side of things, a choice that, in retrospect, she says was a mistake. “My mindset was, Oh, I don’t know anything about business so here, you take the keys to the car. And you take the keys. And you. And, finally, there were enough people totaling the car that I decided no one else is taking the keys,” Anderson says. “My biggest regret is that I didn’t take the time to acquire the skill set I needed sooner and understand that the other half of serving people isn’t just about the content I’m creating, but about making it a business.”

“Starting your own business is like being in a marriage. There needs to be a magical amount of chemistry and nothing in you that could just abandon it. If you don’t have what it takes to fight for it, it will never work.”

It’s something she suggests any entrepreneur keep in mind—it’s okay to hire people who have skills you don’t have, but make sure you understand all the parts of the business. And don’t let those people boss you around.

Ultimately, Anderson’s priority is maintaining and respecting the reverence of the Tracy Anderson Method. “Everyone sees a business opportunity, but I won’t do something that will do wrong by the Method,” she explains. It’s reflective of a deep and passionate commitment that aligns with a major piece of advice Anderson offers anyone starting any type of business, fitness or not: “Starting your own business is like being in a marriage. There needs to be a magical amount of chemistry and nothing in you that could just abandon it. If you don’t have what it takes to fight for it, it will never work.”

And, indeed, the past year did prove to be a bit of a fight. While many fitness models only pivoted to the digital space when forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, Anderson already had a strong foothold when it came to streaming content. The Tracy Anderson Online Studio has existed since 2014, a pillar in the brand’s ability to reach clients across the globe.

For Anderson and her team, the focus became what else they could do in the new normal that was 2020.  “The faster you accept and align with something that you know is going to be challenging, the more success you’re going to have getting through it,” she says of coming to grips with the pandemic. “We aligned with the reality of the situation fast and weren’t dreaming about the virus going away. Instead, it became about helping people move more and move better while also creating a sense of community.”

Tracy’s Desert Island Must-Haves

Anderson weighs in on five must-have essentials. (FYI, we said she could take her family along as a freebie.) 

Chase, Chance, and Creativity: The Lucky Art of Novelty

“I feel like I’m lost without books. I’m currently rereading this one for the fourth time.”

Any Jack Antonoff music

“My musical taste is all over the place, but if I could pick just one artist it would be anything that Jack Antonoff has had his hands in.”

C & The Moon Body Scrub

“I’m 45 and I take the skincare routine for my body seriously. I’m obsessed with this organic option, there’s no other body scrub like it.”

Skin Sequence by Tracy Anderson and Dr. Doug’s Body Balms

“These are my own body balms and they’re a must for post-scrub slathering.”

Domaines Ott Rosé

“Wine, obviously. Since it’d be hot on a desert island, I’d bring my favorite rosé. A lot of it.”