The Shape Issue: We Tried the Tracey Gardner Method

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

The Tracey Gardner Method is weird. The moves are strange, like a cross between yoga, aerobics and repeatedly flexing your muscles. The environment is trippy, thanks to a nearly pitch-black room heated to 103 degrees and pumped with steam and strong aromatherapy scents. And it's unclear whether the fitness method has any real benefit, as it was developed by a woman who was bored with traditional gyms and, with no formal training, opened a studio in 2010. But it is a monster hit.

Gardner's studio in a New Albany strip mall was packed on a recent Saturday morning for a sold-out class she was scheduled to teach. (Unfortunately, Gardner was ill. I had been really excited to meet the creator who, in photos, is totally ripped). When I proffered it was my first TGM experience, the woman next to me raved excitedly about the workout and told me she was addicted. The uber-fit instructor advised other newbies to move at their own pace and take water breaks. (I went through 20 ounces and wished I had more; I can't stress enough just how much you will sweat in this class.) The music started playing, and I understood why people are hooked. The playlist-mostly dance remixes-was fantastic. The workout itself, done on a yoga mat, was harder to love. Some moves, like quick-repetition squats and modified pushups, felt natural, while others were overly complex. During some of the wackier moves, I held a plank instead. The class ends with a Namaste and a refreshing blast of cool air. I can see how this workout could produce results over time-you're constantly moving. But I'm not ready to drink the Kool-Aid yet.