A Conversation With Tracy Anderson
By Christine Sampson
Tracy Anderson, the fitness expert, entrepreneur and trainer-to-the-stars, who has two children in the Sag Harbor School District, will make her first appearance at a Long Island school on Thursday, March 30, when she visits Pierson High School for a talk titled “Empowering Teens Through Fitness and Diet,” hosted by the Pierson Women’s Issues Club.
When it comes to issues affecting women today, such as the salary gap, attitudes toward sexual assault and reproductive rights, just to name a few, what do you think are the most pressing ones?
What I find the most disturbing is the fear in women still to stand up for their rights without thinking that we are against men. I’m certainly not against men in any way, it’s just recognizing that we’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go. I don’t really like these hashtags like #fempire. I’m for human rights as a whole and everyone’s equality as a whole. I think the women before us had to really silence their femininity to prove that they had as much to offer in the corporate environment as men, and I think that that’s dangerous for many reasons. Right now the part of the movement that I’m most passionate about is this sort of permission for us to be women, be feminine, be smart and be equal, but if we need to breastfeed we should be able to do that. I’m not going to shut off my feminine hormones to say I can have a seat at the table in a business with men. That’s a chronic problem, I think. We should be able to work and be there for our kids, too.
Have you ever personally experienced difficulties related to these issues?
As a single working mom of two, I am the breadwinner for both of my kids. I’m not saying their dads don’t play a part — there are circumstances where other dads don’t play a role — but I have a kid about to go to college and have a daughter who needs me a lot at home. It’s about putting my foot down and saying, ‘I have a lot to bring to the table, but I’m going to come as a woman to the table and that means that my breast milk might come out at a meeting.” The whole idea that we have to shame who we are as a woman in business is ridiculous.
When you were developing your fitness method and building your business around it, did you have any female role models who you looked to for inspiration?
I’m a huge Gloria Steinem fan. There are women in history that I think have fought in a very graceful way, really epic battles for people that have had lesser voices. Even Bette Midler. I consider what she did for the gay and lesbian community far greater than what any other performer really did … where she actually was in the community in such an intimate way showing that there aren’t lines. We’re all human. She showed such compassion and grace. I’m also a huge Tina Turner fan from the domestic violence standpoint and how her spirit kept producing such magic and no one could dim her light no matter how much they tried. Jane Goodall in the animal community. There are so many leaders like that.
To what extent do you believe healthy fitness habits and goals can be used to combat the negativity that many women may feel?
It’s huge. The worst thing you can do is think you don’t have time to exercise because you need to study, cram for an exam, prepare for a presentation or any of those things because so much mental clarity comes to you. These happy hormones like serotonin, managing your hormones, clearing your brain, processing your stress — all of those things happen while you’re working out. Especially if you’re working extra hard to be seen and to be valued, it’s important to be strong and connected in your physical self. You don’t have to work out to look a certain way. It’s just to feel a certain way.
Ms. Anderson’s appearance is Thursday, March 30, at 7 p.m. in the Pierson auditorium. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. Call 631-725-5302 for more information.