Tracy Anderson’s Intense Exercise Classes Caused Bacterial Vaginosis & Athlete’s Foot, Report Alleges

A Business Insider report on the faulty fitness empire reveals a rotten core. (Literally—the buildings were moldy.)

Tracy Anderson’s Intense Exercise Classes Caused Bacterial Vaginosis & Athlete’s Foot, Report Alleges
A Tracy Anderson Method class lead by none other than Tracy herself. Photo:Darren Gerrish (Getty Images)

You don’t need to be a fitness devotee to have heard of the Tracy Anderson Method, a workout that has achieved cult status among people who enjoy multiple vacation homes or have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. What you might not know, though, is the slimy underbelly of the exercise empire is chock full of lawsuits filed by Tracy Anderson herself, and miserable work conditions for its employees. The environment described in a Business Insider report published Thursday morning undermines the studios’ promise of promoting health and wellness.

“The dance based workout” takes place in “a room heated to 95 degrees with 75% humidity,” Insider described. Woof. Instructors, who were often underemployed dancers, were paid minimally and forced to complete each intense workout they lead—which sometimes added up to four hours of working out a day. They “were never allowed to stop dancing, even to walk around the room to check on clients, former trainers said,” according to Insider.

So what happened when people were made to sweat profusely for up to four hours with little time to change outfits between classes? If you’re crossing your legs in knowing anticipating, I’m sorry to confirm your fears. One New York trainer explained that, “In addition to her period stopping, she frequently developed athlete’s foot and bacterial vaginosis that she attributed to the constant sweat from teaching in the heated room.” While I want to joke that Gwyneth Paltrow would never endorse such gnarliness, she is also the woman who’s told people to put jade eggs in their vaginas, something gynecologists have warned could also cause BV.

Along with the physical toll, Anderson’s firm and often paranoid insistence on protecting her studio’s proprietary methods lent itself to a number of lawsuits against former employees. One former trainer told Insider, “I have no doubt she feels very vindicated. To the rest of the world, it looks like you don’t support other people in your community and you don’t stand behind your product.”

(Another thing that didn’t keep up with Tracy Anderson’s grueling methods? The buildings that housed them. The heat and humidity caused mold to grow in several locations. “It was so humid — like a breeding den of bacteria,” a former employee told Insider.)

I wish this exposé was as surprising as it is upsetting. The neglect of worker safety; reports of clients threatening staff members to try and get into classes led by Anderson; mold-infested studios—it all seems to stem from the toxic, status-soaked environment that made Tracy Anderson such a phenomenon to begin with. What she’s selling is less an exercise regimen and more an idea that you, the woman sweating it out in front of a dance teacher who may be contracting BV at this very moment, are better than other women walking by the studio, who don’t have the stamina to make it through this hour-long class without collapsing, or the $900 to pay for a monthly pass. And these things you have that other people don’t will help you reach your most optimized self.

Anything that promises it can help clients reach “their most healthy and ideal versions” (as Anderson’s classes do) for that price but is allegedly harming their employees this much is not promoting health. And if you’re able to look past the glitz and glamour of celebrity clientele and the distraction of thumping beats, the precarious conditions that the empire is built on are obvious. As my colleague Emily Leibert, who has attended a few Tracy Anderson classes, wrote in December: “Nothing makes me feel like I’m living in the dystopian upside down quite like the Tracy Anderson Method.”

To put it in language Ms. Anderson would understand, that sort of environment and behavior simply is not worth the calories.

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