The fitness guru who's given the 50-year-old singer the body of a 25-year-old
She's nearly 50 but has the body of a 25-year-old. How
does she do it? Lifestyle spoke exclusively to Madonna's fitness guru
to find out...
Love her or loathe her, you have to admit that Madonna looks
incredible. Set to turn 50 this year, the striking blonde could be a
woman half her age.
Whether posing provocatively in a T-shirt with Justin
Timberlake or slumped against the ropes kitted out in boxing gear, she
looks ready for action.
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Take a bow: Madonna looks fighting fit for the launch of her new single this week
Her arms are toned and sinewy, her stomach harder than concrete
and it is impossible to spot anything that looks as if it might ever
wobble. As the first single off her new album, Hard Candy, comes out
this week, people are asking: how does she do it?
The paparazzi photos tell part of the story. As a lithe and
lean Madonna is pictured making her way out of yet another gruelling
work-out session, there is an increasingly common fixture at her side.
A petite and pretty blonde is regularly spotted walking
silently behind the Material Mum in London, New York and Los Angeles.
She is fitness revolutionary Tracy Anderson and she is quickly becoming
the secret slimming weapon of the A-list.
It was Madonna's friend Gwyneth Paltrow who found her first.
After giving birth to baby Moses in 2006, the health-conscious actress
was confronted with a weight gain of more than 21/2st.
a strict diet, the star managed to shift half of it within several
weeks, but that last stone proved to be impossible; and for months she
resorted to wearing two Spanx girdles at a time.
Guru: Tracy Anderson
With the start date for her latest film, Iron Man, fast
approaching, Gwyneth made a last-ditch attempt to get her body into
shape, and called on Tracy. It worked. The actress noticed results
immediately and now appears, even after two children, to have the best
body she's ever had.
As for what it's like to train with Madonna, the Celebrity
Queen of Fitness, whom she has been working with six days a week for
the past year, Tracy will say only: "It comes down to whether or not
you are a hard worker and someone who puts in 100 per cent. I prefer to
train with the dedicated and these women aren't afraid to work."
She is less a trainer than an inventor; in fact, Tracy doesn't
believe in the old-fashioned work-out at the gym: "Through years of
research and practice, what I have developed is a method that goes
against a lot of what's being taught today in gyms."
She laughs: "In fact, you put me in a gym and it's a nightmare;
it's certainly not where I want to be. I've tested all those machines -
they made me bulky and were hard on my joints."
Today's trainers are taught to work the large muscle groups, with exercises such as biceps curls or hamstring presses.
"Those things are the enemies of what I'm trying to achieve,"
Tracy says, adding that if you work out at the gym using the
traditional weight machines, "you'll get tighter and toned but you're
not going to go down a size. I'm doing something totally different."
Looking at Tracy now, it's hard to believe that she ever felt
fat. But she did. At one time the 5ft blonde packed an extra 2st on her
tiny frame - even as a dancer!
She grew up believing she was genetically doomed to a lifetime
of fat. "When I decided to do this research it came from a very
emotional place for me. My dad is obese," she admits.
"As a young dancer, at 20 years old, I gained 21/2st. And later, I packed on 4st when I was pregnant with my son."
And as hard as she tried to lose weight, nothing seemed to work.
Inspired by the dancers she saw every day, she began to experiment and
create her own work-out methods, leading to a transformation of her own
body. Achieving a thin, healthy body was so lifechanging that she
decided to help others. "What it boils down to is, I love food," she
says. "That's why it was so important to me to have a work-out that
allows me to eat and still look good."
And it's not just for Hollywood's A-list. "My approach is not
limited to an elite group of people," says Tracy. "This is for
everyone. I'm trying to be a voice that's out there saying: 'Hey,
there's a new way to do this'.
"I set out to see if I could take any woman from any genetic
background and give her a dancer's body. And guess what? It's
definitive - it can be done."
Variety: According to Tracy, a lot of what's wrong with your work-out is repetition.
"Any time you are doing the same movement over and over you are
building and bulking your muscles," she says. "It is very important to
change your rotations and hit your muscles from different angles."
With celebrity clients such as Madonna and Gwyneth, Tracy
says, "I constantly have to invent new things and new systems for each
and every work-out.
"I'm making up new ways to keep them motivated and the results
constant. You have to really look at what is going to happen to your
body as a result of the work-out you are doing."
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Madonna after workout session with Tracy Anderson
With clients, Tracy uses a custom made Hybrid Body Reformer
machine she has designed. But whereas the traditional Pilates reformer
machine is designed to hit the muscles from one angle, Tracy's can get
at muscles from multiple points. This allows her to create more than 40
new moves a month.
How to start: If you are on your own at the
gym, here's Tracy's advice. First make sure you have 30 minutes of your
favourite songs on your iPod.
Then find yourself a treadmill. Sprint for one song, skip for
one song, and gallop for one song. Work up to a 30-minute work-out.
Then move on to toning. Start with 10 repetitions and work up to 100 -
these should be done every day. If in any doubt about your health,
always check with a doctor.
Arm Raise: Using 3lb weights, stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly move arms together straight up into a V above your head.
Elbows and wrists are bent slightly. Then gently lower your arms
back down to your sides and without pausing go straight back up again.
Work up to 100 reps.
Single arm overhead pulse: Using 3lb weights,
stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides. Raise one arm
above your head with your elbow slightly bent and then straighten your
arm completely over your head. Pulse like that, up and down. Work up to
100 reps on one side and then the other.
Ballet Grand Plies: Stand with heels
together, toes slightly apart. With a straight back, bend at the knee
as low as you can, then go back up again. Work up to 100 reps.
Abdominal Crunches: Lie on the floor with
arms at your side, your legs in front of you. Raise yourself slightly
until you feel a "crunch" in your abs and then lie back down. The key
here is to do it with your legs straight out in front of you, as that
will really work your stomach without bulking it up. Work up to 100
Piking: Lie flat on the floor, arms at your
sides. Lift straight legs up to ceiling to 90 degrees and then gently
lower. Without pausing, lift them back up again. Your upper body should
remain flat on the ground.
Both arms and legs should be straight with your toes pointed. Work up to 100 reps.
Advanced Piking: Lie on the floor, legs straight out in front of
you with your arms on the floor stretched out over your head. Hold onto
a 3lb weight and bring your hands up to meet your legs when you raise
them to a 90-degree angle and lower your arms and legs back down to the
floor at the same time. Both arms and legs should be straight with your
toes pointed. Work up to 100 reps.
DANCE + TONING - THE WINNING COMBINATION
Tracy advocates a combination of toning with a high intensity
cardio work-out. In addition to her toning and stretching exercises,
Tracy also uses a cardio dance aerobics programme she created to help
clients lose fat. And it works. Many clients lose 9in in the first ten
Start with: Tracy recommends supplementing
toning exercises like the ones above with intense cardio work-outs -
it's this combination that will get you the results you want to
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The Queen of Pop showcases her latest reinvention on the cover of her new album
If you have access to a gym, you can alternate a resistance
class with an intense dance cardio work-out. Tracy also suggests taking
a ballet bar class, but doing it with 2lb weights on your ankles.
As for the cardio Tracy says: "You can go out on the street
and alternate sprinting, skipping and galloping - the important thing
is that you mix it up and are not just running all the time."
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE ACCESSORIES
Tracy believes in building "in" instead of "out."
"Instead of over-using the major muscle groups, I focus on the
smaller muscles around them," she says. "When the accessory muscles are
properly developed, they pull in the larger muscles, creating a smaller
body structure. In this way you can reshape your body."
She adds that if you want to work your accessory muscles,
"don't go the gym and do tons of leg presses. Better to stay home and
do 100 plies or something that's not going to bulk you up."
Start with: Ask a personal trainer to help
you design a work-out to move away from the large muscle groups and
steer clear of heavy weights and traditional moves.
If you don't have access to a trainer you can do toning exercises and cardio at home, but remember these key points:
• NEVER lift anything heavier than 3lb.
• ALWAYS do abdominal crunches and leg lifts with straight legs out in front of you.
• MAKE sure you include both cardio and toning in each and every work-out.
And accessories love change! When you are lifting weights, you
need to get creative, moving them in different ways. This will wake up
your accessory muscles and keep them working. For example, holding
weights, lift your arms out to your side and then raise them up to your
head and then immediately bring them back down to your side.
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The stunning singer at her initiation into the Music Hall of Fame
Then while your arms are out at your side, do arm circles and then
bring them in as if you're scratching under your arms. If you change
rotations all the time you will keep your muscles lean.
"Dancers have been working out in warm rooms for a long time.
Typically because they didn't have funding for air conditioning! But it
actually makes a difference," says Tracy.
"As a dancer I would notice that when you were sweating in a hot room, it really did increase performance.
"I have worked with doctors and discovered that there is science behind it. It keeps your muscles more flexible.
However, Tracy is not a fan of Bikram yoga, where practitioners
turn the heat up to as high as 40C. "Bikram yoga, now that's too hot,"
she says. "I think if you work out at those temperatures it will
actually decrease your performance because you get tired or even
Start with: "I like a room to be 80F (26C) but that might be too warm to start out with for everybody. Just work your way up."
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MOVE EVERY DAY
Madonna spends at least two hours every day working-out and
Gwyneth Paltrow has her own personal Pilates machine at each of her
several homes. Not everyone has this kind of time and money. But you
can move every day.
Tracy says: "I'm a big believer in six days a week. You should
work up to 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of toning each time. If
you don't work out, your skin tone is going to be lousy and you will
"Because people can cover up not exercising a lot easier than
they can not brushing their teeth, for example, they think they can get
away with it, but in reality you're not getting away with anything."
Stop making excuses - just do it.
• If you want to work out like Madonna, you can. Tracy's
Dance Aerobics DVD is available at www.tracyandersonstudios.com. She
says: "Cardio work-outs are essential in fitness. You have to lose some
fat. My DVD is dance aerobics cardio, and it won't bulk you out at all.
It is the cardio workout I use with clients."
Tracy also has Mat workout and Post-Pregnancy workout DVDs out this summer.
SOURCE: UK DAILY MAIL