Last night on the Twittersphere, I came across something that made my blood absolutely boil. It was an image of a magazine article in which Tracy Anderson, trainer to the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and others details how “To step into the tone zone”.
First of all, the word ‘tone’ is a complete nonsense in the first place and needs to be outlawed, not condoned. Muscles simply grow or get smaller – they do not ‘firm up’. The “tone” that people want comes from growing the muscles and lowering the amount of body fat so that the definition and shape of the muscle can be seen. So the title of the piece is rubbish in its self.
All the tips that are published are, as @goldilocksruns put it so perfectly, “complete b*llocks” and it is shocking that a) she writes this tripe in the first place and b) a magazine publishes it.
So how do we ladies get in the ‘tone zone’ and look like Gwyneth? (I would like to point out at this stage in proceedings that most of us have not a hope in hell to look like Gwyneth Paltrow, due to genetics and unchangeable things like that. Sorry to disappoint anyone.)
The number one tip for entering the elusive ‘tone zone’ is to do “dance cardio”. “Dance cardio”?! Huh? If you are not a dancer, like the majority of people taking part in “dance cardio”, the majority of time is spent bouncing around trying to work out what is going on. Yes, dancers have slim, beautiful, lean bodies but this is because they dance for hours and hours and hours, and spend time in the gym too. You TRAIN to be a dancer: you don’t just rock up to “dance cardio” and be one.
The next thing that we are told to do to enter the ‘tone zone’ is to lift weights no heavier that 1.5kg. Yes, you read that correctly. 1.5kg. Decimal intended. Otherwise, Anderson warns, you will get bulky. My rucksack weighs at least 3 kgs every time I cart it up to Uni, and I am pretty sure most handbags weigh at least 1.5kg. Carrying home the food shopping is bound to weigh at least 4 times the amount that will induce bulking. That being said though – we should only be eating about 500 calories according to Tracy, mostly in juice – so maybe the food shopping thing isn’t so much of an issue. Lifting heavy weights makes the muscle GROW and this is what makes a ‘toned’ appearance. Lifting heavy weights can also increase your MET rate: basically increasing your metabolic rate and thus increasing the amount of calories you burn day-to-day. If that’s what you are after.
Tracy Anderson also tells us that if we lady-folk are prone to putting on weight on our bums and legs, to avoid running or spinning, as these will bulk you up. I cannot tell you how CROSS this makes me. You are supposed to have muscles in your legs and bum – it is called being human. Having larger glute, hamstring, quad muscles means you are a stronger human. She is putting ideas into our heads that it is unattractive to have excellently functioning muscles. Of course if you use them more they will get bigger – but that is NOT a bad thing. I recently tweeted “Skinny jeans #FitGirlProblems”, and I was not lying: skinny jeans are a real pain when you have wicked leg muscles that need encasing. I went through a stage of being pretty wee in the leg department, and skinny jeans kinda hung off me. Now I have to yank them over my calfs and hammys but I DON’T CARE. Since I have taken up running and spinning and lifting more than 1.5 kg, my jeans look rockin’, and, incidentally, they are the same dress size as when I was ‘skinny’.
The penultimate piece of advice she gives us, is to “beware Bikram yoga and pilates”, as they can make you “square”. I do Bikram yoga, and my yoga teacher is the most un-square person you are ever likely to see. You can view her here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGi7w6rZERc and marvel at how bendy and not square she is. I am very keen on Bikram as a form of yoga: although it may come across as not only a bit mad, but also a bit ‘cultish’ to start with, I think it really teaches you to focus your mind and push yourself beyond what you think your body is capable of. It has helped my running by not only making me (a tiny bit) more flexible and stretched, but has given me extra mental strength in tough runs and workouts. I have never tried pilates, but from what I have heard it is an awesome way to boost your core strength, and can be a great injury prevention tool. I have met a lot of people that practise pilates and I would not describe any of them as looking remotely “square”.
Finally, Anderson warns us that we must all be prepared to workout for 90 minutes a day, 6 days a week if we want to see results. This is such a load of cr*p. First and foremost, who has time to do “dance cardio” and lift Barbie weights for 90 minutes virtually every day? Second of all, you are wasting your time if you spend 90 minutes of your life doing “dance cardio” and lifting Barbie weights for 90 minutes ever – let alone 6 times a week. OK, so when I am training for a marathon (and making my bottom half incredibly bulky in the process, I know: but it makes me feel like I can conquer the world when I’m done) I run for hours and hours on end. Once a week. The majority of my training sessions are under an hour long: 90 minutes would be a long ‘un and very rare. Professional athletes train for 90 minutes at a time and much more, obviously, but for some reason I don’t think the likes of Jess Ennis or Laura Trott are followers of the Tracy Anderson method…
All in all, that small section of a magazine has made me very angry and incredulous that it is in print at all. What makes me super cross is that some women will believe this rubbish, and waste 90 minutes of their day doing exercise that won’t change a thing about their bodies. Any exercise program that requires a severe reduction in calories in order to see results is wrong. Of course people are going to need to change their eating habits to change their bodies, but this does not mean surviving on 500 calories a day. I hope that women reading these ‘tips’ as spouted by Anderson will have the same reaction as Twitter did, and recognise how ridiculous this woman is.