In Tracey They Trust
Columbus woman builds fitness
By Erika DellatorrePublished April 1, 2011
It’s 6 p.m. on a Tuesday, and there are just two cars in the parking lot – Tracey Gardner’s and mine. It won’t stay that way for long.
Soon cars will start to flood the lot, filled with devotees arriving more than an hour early to snag a spot for the 7:30 p.m. ritual known as the Tracey Gardner Method.
“I wanted to create a workout that people craved, and I’ve been told that my classes become addicting,” Gardner says confidently.
Addiction is something she knows all too well. Cigarettes, alcohol and prescription pills were all present in the fitness guru’s past; Gardner is open about how she used them all to cope with depression, anxiety and the confines of a bad marriage. It’s a bittersweet time for Gardner, who openly blogs about the successes she is currently enjoying amidst a fierce divorce battle. “Although many people warned me about being so open, it’s not in my personality to hold back and I have found just the opposite to be true,” she said. “My story has been a source of strength and inspiration for many people.”
As I follow Gardner, who walks confidently into the building’s softly lit reception area, she bears no resemblance to a broken woman. The New Albany studio is an urban oasis in the middle of suburbia, and she eagerly describes the inspiration for its design. Distressed workbenches and rustic window shades are juxtaposed against chandeliers, while cardstock with inspirational messages graffiti the walls. The space is warm, inviting and oddly glamorous.
As we make our way back into the workout space, a rush of warm air meets my face. The room is dark, apart from for some perimeter lighting and a few candles.
“I remember taking fitness classes in the past and being overly self-conscious about people watching me work out, so I wanted to create a no-pressure environment,” she said. It is essentially the Tracey Gardner mantra: no pressure, take breaks and allow yourself time to master the moves.
Gardner’s tightly toned physique is solely a product of her own method – she doesn’t believe in lifting weights or running. Much of her trademarked workout actually developed after she suffered injuries from those very activities. Additionally, having studied yoga for more than 10 years, TGM is loosely based on yoga and largely based on Gardener’s own mind and body connection and a bit of rule breaking.
For starters, Gardner assures that her class will be anything but relaxing. The heat is cranked up and steam fills the air, promising to help you shed between 900 and 1500 calories in just one hour. No two sessions are the same as Gardner is constantly re-inventing the workouts and the music. Instead of the sounds of “ujjayi” breathing coming from the yogi next to you, one can expect to squat, dip and hold to music by the likes of Kanye West, Madonna or The Killers. The studio even hosts a live, in-house DJ once a month.
As I sit on my mat waiting for class to begin, I can’t help but be in awe of the one-woman army who has built a local fitness empire in just a few short years. Once Gardner enters, the room falls silent and everyone in the packed house rises to sweat out the stress of their days.
I exit the studio looking like I’ve jumped out of a swimming pool, but feeling more accomplished than I have after any other workout in years, full of the natural “runner’s high” Gardner had guaranteed.
With such an empowered leader sharing this mentally and physically fulfilling experience, it’s easy to see how the masses have become hooked.
The TGM studio is located at 5165 Warner Road in New Albany. For more information about the Tracey Gardner Method, visit www.traceygardnermethod.com or call (614) 855-8240.