By Cristina Greeven Cuomo
Photographs by Eric Cahan | December 1, 2008 | People
LEFT: ON PALTROW: Silk and velvet gown by Gucci ($ 6,180). Gucci, 725 Fifth Avenue, 212-826- 2600. Silk satin sandals by Gina ($678.26). Visit gina.com. Gold chain bracelet by H.Stern ($22,000). H.Stern, 645 Fifth Avenue, 212-688-0300. Necklace, Paltrow’s own. ON ANDERSON: Dress by Jasmine di Milo ($1,150). Visit jasminedimilo.com. Yellow diamond ring by Graff (price on request). Graff, 710 Madison Avenue, 212-355-9292. RIGHT: ON PALTROW: Wool/silk tube dress with embroidery by Versace ($10,135). Available at Barneys New York, 660 Madison Avenue, 212-826-8900. Necklace and rings, Paltrow’s own. ON ANDERSON: Dress by Jasmine di Milo ($4,800). Visit jasminedimilo. com. Arty small cuff by Yves Saint Laurent ($320). Available at select Yves Saint Laurent boutiques; visit ysl.com.
You think you know Gwyneth Paltrow, but chances are you don’t.
She wants to do a musical someday. As a teen, she smoked cigs on the steps of Upper East Side brownstones. Growing up, she says, she was a “theater rat.” She gets tipsy on a tour of Spanish vineyards that runs on PBS. She loves being a mom, but she doesn’t like being pregnant. And she lets herself get sweaty (really sweaty) in a workout video that aired on Oprah.
In other words, she lives life to the fullest.
I noticed that when I first met Paltrow in 1995, back when she was still dating Brad Pitt. Since then she’s added being a wife (to Coldplay front man Chris Martin) and a mom (to Apple, four and a half, and Moses, two and a half) to her repertoire. She’s also won an Oscar (for Shakespeare in Love); recorded a hit song from a film (Duets) directed by her father, the late Bruce Paltrow; directed a short; appeared in a bona fide blockbuster (Iron Man); modeled (she’s the Tod’s girl and an Estée Lauder spokesperson); cohosted a TV show (PBS’s Spain… On the Road Again with Mario Batali); cowritten a cookbook; and launched a new website (Goop.com, to “nourish the inner aspect”).
And then there’s that incredible body.
Paltrow—whose latest film, Two Lovers, starring Joaquin Phoenix, comes out in February—trains two hours a day, and is completely loyal to the “artist” responsible for the best postpartum body this side of Hollywood: her friend and trainer, Tracy Anderson. Early next year, Anderson will open her first NYC gym, the Tracy Anderson Method, where she’ll publicly debut her exercise systems.
I interviewed both Paltrow, performer extraordinaire, and Anderson, trainer extraordinaire, and soon realized why these overachieving women are friends.
ON GETTING THAT AMAZING BODY
GOTHAM: How did you and Tracy get together?
GWYNETH PALTROW: We met through a girl I know in LA, who’d read about her on DailyCandy and had started training with her, and was flipping out over her body. She said, “You have to meet this girl!” So I did, and I was really impressed. She’s funny, amazing at her job, and all heart. And once I started working out with her, I noticed such a huge change in my body!
G: Tracy trains Madonna, too—how did that come about?
GP: The first time I did her workout, I knew Madonna would flip for it because it’s so hard and so effective. Right now, if Madonna or I have a project and we’re not in the same city, she’ll work with the one who’s traveling. When I did Iron Man she was with me in California. Now she’s on tour with Madonna, so I have another trainer from her studio here with me.
G: So, what exactly is Tracy’s system?
GP: Tracy started seeing women stagnating from doing traditional Pilates, not having massive changes in their bodies. So she started inventing new moves using the Pilates Reformer, but it wasn’t versatile enough, so she built her own. She did years of research.
G: How does the system work?
GP: First she measures the client and talks about their history and identifies the problem areas. Then she designs a program—a certain number of arm, abdominal, and leg exercises, all done on the machine—and that changes every 10 days. And there’s also dance cardio, [bands, cubes, and bars].
G: Why change the routine so often?
GP: If you don’t, your muscles start to bulk out. Tracy likes to get the accessory muscles working, and they pull everything in. After my first 10 days I lost 11 inches!
G: Have you always been athletic?
GP: When I was about 25, I started doing ashtanga yoga every day. I did Pilates for a while and was always disciplined about it, but I never got the results I get with this.
G: When did you start doing her method?
GP: Two years ago, when Moses was about five months old. It got me to really move my body again. Especially doing the dance aerobics and sweating out all those hormones.
ON PREGNANCY & MOMHOOD
G: Speaking of children, are you planning to go for baby number three?
GP: In theory, I’d love to. But it’s really hard for me when I’m pregnant—I’m sick as a dog for months. Sometimes I think, Oh my God, I want another one right now, I’ll sustain any amount of vomiting or whatever. And then sometimes I think, Gosh, everyone’s sleeping through the night now. If it’s meant to happen, it’ll happen.
G: Is it true you do only one film a year now, to be with your kids?
GP: Yeah, definitely. I haven’t starred in a film since my kids were born, and I don’t think I will. I’ll never get these days back—they’re so delicious, and precious, and hilarious, I don’t want to miss them.
ON THAT HEADHLINE-MAKING HAIRCUT
G: What made you finally take the plunge and chop off your hair?
GP: I’d had it long for so long, I think I’d made it like a talisman. I kept thinking about all the life I’d experienced while the hair was growing—I’d look at the ends and think, I had this hair when my dad was alive, and when I was pregnant with my daughter…. Then one day I was doing a Vogue shoot with Orlando Pita and I said, That’s it, I can’t take it anymore. I wanted a fresh start, so he just chopped it off. And now I love it.
G: Did you have to consult with the Lauders?
GP: I texted Aerin [Lauder] and said, “Is it OK if I cut my hair? Do you mind if I do a long bob?” And she replied, “That would look great.”
G: Back when your mom [Blythe Danner] introduced you to acting at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, did you know you were going to do this forever?
GP: I always felt that way, weirdly. I went with her every summer. I did plays, and I just loved it. I loved being around them, rehearsing. I was just a theater rat—I loved being a part of that.
G: Why was Two Lovers so fulfilling a role for you?
GP: First of all, the director [James Gray] is a proper writer/director, a real auteur. He’s so intelligent and interested in exposing truth. My character was very complicated—she was a mess. And working with Joaquin was incredible.
G: Is there a character you’d love to play but haven’t?
GP: I’d love to do [Chekhov’s] The Three Sisters; I look forward to doing Blanche DuBois [in A Streetcar Named Desire] on stage someday. I’d really like to do a musical. And I’d like to do SNL again. I liked doing that.
ON COOKING, CROONING, AND COLLABORATING
G: How did you meet Mario Batali?
GP: I met Mario from being a groupie at his restaurant Babbo! Now we do the cooking show together—they want to do the second one in Italy.
G: Do you think you’d collaborate with your husband, maybe do a duet?
GP: No, no, no, no.
G: How about Madonna?
GP: I don’t think so. I don’t think the acting/recording thing really works. Maybe if you’re an urban act, but I’m not sure it works if you’re an actor.
ON BEING A NEW YORKER
G: What were your favorite things about growing up in New York?
GP: Underage smoking on stoops of brownstones, going to museums, the seasons, and how great a school Spence was—how well they prepared me for life.
G: When you’re at your summer house in Amagansett, do you feel you can be “off duty”?
GP: I work really hard there—it’s like running an inn, in a way. We have a lot of guests, which is fantastic, but sometimes I feel so tired. At the end of the summer I got pneumonia. I think I just overextended myself.
A PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE
G: Are you a religious person?
GP: Religious no, spiritual yes.
G: What’s your idea of perfect happiness?
GP: Lying in the grass on a sunny day with my kids on top of me.
G: Is there a talent you wish you had?
GP: Being more economical with my time.
G: Do you have any heroes in your life?
GP: I have a lot—a hero to me is anyone who dedicates their life to other people and forfeits personal comfort. My parents.
G: Finally, what’s your favorite role so far?
GP: Besides motherhood? Hmm….
G: So, motherhood?
GP: Yeah, motherhood.
Tracy Anderson is nothing if not motivated. Calling her a trainer would be an understatement—she’s a designer, an inventor.
Ten years of all-consuming research to find new training techniques to transform the body have led her to some inspirational and innovative methods. Today she works full time on the research and development of her method while on the road with clients, including Madonna, with whom she’s lived for more than a year. While building her new gym in NYC, which opens early next year, she’ll be debuting her incomparable Hybrid Body Reformer, and developing her system of workout bands (see cover). She’s also just released a trilogy of new DVDs (The Tracy Anderson Method Presents: Dance Cardio Workout, Mat Workout, and Post-Pregnancy Workout).
ON GWYNETH AND MADONNA
GOTHAM: Gwyneth told me about how you guys first met and how she fell for you.
TRACY ANDERSON: She’s like the best girlfriend to have. She’s got great taste across the board and she’s very giving and very intelligent and very sharing with everything. She’s one of the coolest people on the planet. And she works so hard. The first time I ever worked with her she was like, “Holy crap, that’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” But she believed in me, never bitched, and never gave an excuse for not making a session. She gave me a hundred percent and I gave her a hundred percent, and now she’s got a killer body.
G: Both she and Madonna train with you. How does the scheduling work?
TA: Video chat is the most amazing invention ever! Gwyneth and Madonna started within a week of each other. Madonna was doing the video training while I was training Gwyneth for two films, and then I switched and Madonna took the priority position. So I juggle the two.
G: What’s a normal day like for you?
TA: Right now my inspiration is Madonna and Gwyneth, so I wake up in the morning and I design for them. I’m on the road with Madonna so I train her for two hours and then go do other things; then I warm her up before her shows. After that I’m video chatting with my LA studio and with Gwyneth and her [interim] trainer…. So it’s just crazy all day long.
ON FINDING HER CALLING
G: How did you get started as a trainer?
TA: I’d been a dancer since I was three. My mom was a ballerina; she worked three jobs to send me to dance school [the American Musical & Dramatic Academy] in New York, and when I got there at 19, I started packing on weight—40 pounds, actually. And I’m five feet tall! The teachers were very critical, but they didn’t really have a solution. It was very cutthroat—either make weight or you’re going to lose your scholarship and not get asked back next semester.
G: What was your routine?
TA: I’d dance all day at school and then do more cardio—I had a personal trainer at Crunch. And my mom paid for extra Pilates classes, which in 1994 was almost unknown. That didn’t do anything for me. The only time I could ever lose weight was if I literally ate two steamed chicken breasts a day or something insane like that.
G: So, how did that all change?
TA: A few years later, when I was married, I got pregnant with my son and gained 60 pounds. That was the turning point. My ex-husband [Eric Anderson] played for the Knicks and had a bad back, so he saw a lot of physicians. I asked them if you can take any woman and manipulate her structure in a healthy way, a foolproof way. Learning about it consumed every minute of my life.
G: What did you find out?
TA: That you can manipulate the muscular structure, but to do it you have to go after these little accessory muscles, small muscles that support larger ones. I had to come up with a lot of choreography to keep the accessory muscles from getting stupid.
G: And the results?
TA: I transformed my body 10 years ago, and I’ve been 98 pounds ever since.
G: Do you and your ex-husband still stay in touch?
TA: We’re extremely close; people joke saying we’re the most married unmarried couple. We have a son [Sam, 10] together and he stays home with him; he’s like the nanny, since I’ve been on tour with Madonna for the last year and a half.
ON THE NEW NYC STUDIO
G: Tell us about the Tracy Anderson Method gym in Tribeca.
TA: It’s going to be the first place I’ll have my whole Madonna and Gwyneth collections—all my new material, plus the dance aerobics and all the bands and cubes and bars and machines. Every person who comes in gets a customized program, which changes every tenth workout, whether they’re in the cardio, the band, or the bar class. And I’ve got the most talented staff—enthusiastic, amazing people.
G: Explain the band system. And, can anyone buy them?
TA: The bands, for arms, abs, and legs, took me a long time to develop; they’re supereffective, but it’s really a science, so they’ll only be at the New York studio. I have a portable system with me on tour, but to get that into people’s homes—that’ll be down the road.
G: And there’s also a menu plan?
TA: I have menus that I give my clients when they have a lot of weight to lose—I only put them on it while they’re getting good at the exercise and the cardio, and then they get weaned off the diet and can go back to eating normally. Bring me someone who weighs 200 pounds and I can get it all off.
G: You seem confident that the system works.
TA: I don’t mean to be arrogant, but I can’t stress enough how I’ve never failed with anyone. I’ve never not gotten anyone their results. I’ve taken hundreds of pounds off people. I’ve gotten everybody the butt they said they could never have or the lines they said they could never have.
ON MAX FITNESS (AND SHORT SKIRTS)
G: What’s the minimum amount of exercise a person should do to stay in top shape?
TA: One hour, six days a week. Everybody should take a day off—even though I don’t, everybody else should.
G: Do you have a particular philosophy of exercise?
TA: Your body has to be hit from many different angles and challenged in a very strategic way. People don’t understand that they’re completely a result of how they exercise. If you spin, and your body is predisposed to gaining bulk, you’re going to have the most manly butt ever, you’re going to make your thighs bigger, and you’re not going to look good in Justin Timberlake’s low-rise jeans. So you’d better have a good “designer” because you can really design your body to be whatever you want. Ten years ago I cut out a picture of a Victoria’s Secret butt—I like that! And I like ballet arms. It’s a hybrid, I think, that most women really want.
G: So do you say to clients, “Oh, your legs look so great right now, you should wear shorter dresses”?
TA: Oh, yes. Basically, I tell my clients to be naked whenever they can and do as many photo shoots in bras and underwear as they can. I beg them. I’ll say, “What do you mean you’re wearing that? You better not be covering up your arms.”
G: Do you always know what to do when you look at new clients?
TA: I totally, absolutely know. It’s been 10 years, and 70 percent of my days are taken up with this, so I know what to do with any woman.
G: And the ultimate goal?
TA: My goal is to give people literally every tool they need to get their ultimate body.
G: What’s your suggestion for New Yorkers who lead such harried lives?
TA: They all need to hope that they get a spot in my gym!
The Tracy Anderson Method, 408 Greenwich Street, no phone at press time; tracyandersonmethod.com.
TOP RIGHT: ON PALTROW: Corset strapless dress by Escada (price on request). Visit escada.com. Patent leather pumps by Dsquared2 ($598). Available at Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Avenue, 212- 753-4000. Yellow diamond ring by Graff (price on request). Graff, 710 Madison Avenue, 212-355-9292. Necklace and rings, Paltrow’s own. ON ANDERSON: Nude and black lace bustier dress by Dsquared2 ($1,995). Visit dsquared2.com. Leather pumps by Giuseppe Zanotti Design ($750). Giuseppe Zanotti Design, 806 Madison Avenue, 212-650-0455. South Sea champagne pearl ring in white gold with diamonds by Chopard ($62,180). Chopard, 709 Madison Avenue, 212-223-2304.
styling by Maria Serra@LGA
Paltrow’s makeup by Gina Kane@Caren.co.uk
Paltrow’s hair by Peter Gray
Anderson’s hair and makeup by Rachel Wood@Artistsbytimothypriano.com