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Tracy Anderson Talks to Teens

Tracy Anderson is a fitness and wellness expert and the author of Tracy Anderson's 30-Day Method. Her newest fitness title is Total Teen: Tracy Anderson's Guide to Health, Happiness, and Ruling Your World (Rodale Kids, paperback, $19.95). It offers a body-positive approach and includes meal plans, recipes and more than 100 pages of exercises and activities aimed at teens.

Total Teen is clearly much more than a workout book. Did you always want to create a book this comprehensive? Did you always want it to be for teens?

It feels natural to support teens so that they have opportunities to connect with themselves physically in a world that has multiple definitions of beauty and accomplishments. When teens become their own athletes, they find liberation. I've spent 20 years with thousands of women in my office who I wish had been taught to take care of the little girls inside them. I'd like to empower teens with the tools they need to prevent that sort of loss and disconnection from themselves later on.

What was the process of writing this book like? How much of a role did you have in the design of the work?

I had to fight to find the time to write because I'm so busy with my classes and family. I love how the book showcases my home life--I am a mom and I have a teenage son and a five-year-old daughter. Having them in the book makes it more authentic to me, and more relatable for readers.

The team at Rodale made the process amazing--I had the freedom to express myself and pose the moves the way I wanted to. When it came to the photos and styling, I had fun with all the different looks--I wanted it to be clear that it's okay to suit up and be yourself. Teen girls are often bombarded with photos that are very mature for their age, and it can feel entrapping, to the point where girls start to misidentify themselves. Ultimately, the book had to be something that felt authentic to me and my brand.

Why do you focus on women?

When my journey began, the goal wasn't to become an entrepreneur or to be in the fitness industry. My path was, and still is, to help people like myself who have struggled with their weight, and feel like they're expected to look a certain way. I always stay true to that journey.

At a young age, all the dancers I knew who were dealing with these issues were women--I just didn't know any male dancers. And once I began with them, I wanted to help every woman this same way: I wanted to be an advocate for all women. I felt compassion and empathy for women who had several kids, but who also felt badly about their bodies. I knew that there was beauty in these women, even if they felt physically disconnected and couldn't see it in themselves.

You say "in a world where you're bombarded daily with filtered social media images and magazine covers of photo-shopped celebrities, it's essential now, more than ever, to create a rock-solid relationship with what's real and what's beautiful." How can people avoid getting caught up in the superficiality of social media?

Social media is something we need to talk about. A lot of people create incredible posts, and it's easy for their whole lives to look incredible through social media. But sometimes, you appreciate yourself in filters only. It's a slippery slope--filters and heavy editing can seem like they are medicating--but it's instant gratification, and a temporary fix for what might be bothering you on a deeper level. To include social media in your life, you need to learn how you like to be heard, and then find a balance and a way to express that in a way that is authentic to you.

What does it look and feel like when women "click into what makes them special?"

I hope for teens to be able to use their voice in a graceful and respectful way. Teens are going through so much--exercising in a balanced method, as I show them how to do in the book, is better than trying to become someone else.

My personal goals have shifted through the years. Every woman is their own shape and size. I created my Metamorphosis program to help overcome genetic imbalances--for example, my metabolism is naturally very slow, and I've always had to work with that. This book should inspire teens to look at themselves to be as special as they can be.

What has been the best part of creating this book? What do you most hope readers will get out of it?

The best part of creating this book has been being able to have the opportunity and platform to be a service to teen girls. I think that if you haven't come into your body, you can start designing it now in a way that is healthy, balanced and connected. Then, it's almost like you can skip a chapter--the "out-of-control-with-your-body" phase, let's call it--and you can prevent yourself from ever being disconnected. Working out is so important and the book should inspire teens to form a healthy lifestyle filled with activity they enjoy. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor