Let’s be honest: The true secret to Jennifer Lopez’s flawless appearance at age 47 is probably a luck-filled combination of genetics and the $360 million she’s reported to be worth. Plus, she doesn’t drink alcohol. Ever. So, our odds—yours and mine—of aging like J.Lo are pretty slim, no matter how many squats we do. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t even look like Jennifer does now when I was in my prime. That’s because I am an ordinary human, and so are you, and we will age as such. Sorry.
All of that said, I have been curious as to whether or not I can get my sad, saggy writer’s bottom—which is more of a pancake shape, to give you a solid visual—to resemble something with a rounder, perkier silhouette (think an apple or apricot). So, in an attempt to alleviate the pressure on men I date to pretend my butt is “cute,” I decided to try doing what the woman who possesses arguably the most famous backside in the world is doing, at least in terms of fitness, to firm up the glutes. Here’s how it all went down.
In what's perhaps the least surprising news of all time, Jennifer Lopez works out with trainer-to-the-stars Tracy Anderson, who is most famous for Gwyneth Paltrow's physique. If you’re not familiar with the cult of Tracy, let me help. Many moons ago, Tracy Anderson was a ballet dancer who inexplicably gained 35 pounds and could not lose them no matter how hard she trained. Her father struggled with obesity, and she assumed she was genetically destined to do the same. Then, she met a doctor who was rehabilitating athletes by targeting "accessory muscles" to ease the strain training placed on major muscle groups. Tracy dug this idea and devoted herself to the research around it. Over time, she developed a method for training anyone of any body type using the accessory muscles to create a ballerina's body (think long, lean muscles). This phenomenon was thrust into the limelight when Gwyneth found it effective in getting her post-baby body back in 2006. The two became partners, and now anyone who is anyone goes to Tracy to be trained, swearing by her ability to transform bodies, sustainably. (In the interest of balance, you can also find plenty of Tracy detractors via a simple Google search.)
For years now, I've owned one TA Method DVD, which is so scratched that it skips. However, I know I'll have to eschew my damaged tape in favor of the real deal in order to get accurate results, so I go online to book my first class and am immediately stopped in my tracks by the price tag. Each 50-minute session is $45, and you’re supposed to do the Method for a minimum of two hours per day. Meanwhile, the $2,700 that is required for one month's worth of training is more than my salary can cover, so I decide I'm going to have to compromise and just go as often as I can afford (read: not enough). Already, I'm discouraged, as it appears it takes an A-list bank account to get an A-list booty. Still, I persevere, figuring I can supplement the classes with my broken DVD and the three TA YouTube videos I'm able to surface.
At the start of my training, there's a bit of confusion. Being that my stated goal is to get J.Lo's booty, the good people at TA figure this means I'm signing on for private training, which I definitely cannot afford. Before we can sort out what's what, I've been through a $500 initial consultation about my body, which essentially makes me want to die. First, the sweet, well-intentioned trainer, who's examining me in my workout clothes, tells me I carry a lot of weight on my hips. She's not wrong, but ugh. Then, she examines my flabby stomach—which has extra skin due to extreme weight loss some years back—and determines it to be "not that bad." Finally, she gets back to the booty, about which she can find nothing even remotely positive to say. In a shame blackout, I vaguely hear something about needing a lift. As someone who barely works out and sits for at least ten hours per day, I can't reasonably be offended by her critiques, and I'm not. What I am instead is depressed. It's one thing when you look in the mirror and tell yourself your body is bad, but it's quite another to hear someone else—an expert, no less—echo your worst thoughts about yourself. So far, I think, this is not going well.
At checkout, I nearly faint at the price tag of what they think I've signed on for, so after a lot of back and forth I'm demoted to civilian status and encouraged to book my first group class. I choose one called "AtTAin Definition," which promises mat work using a range "tools and apparatuses." This sounds fun and vaguely sexual to me, so I figure it's a good place to start.
Though I'm not a consistent exerciser these days, I can safely say I've tried almost everything out there in the realm of fitness over the course of the last 15 or so years. Still, nothing prepared me for a TA Method class, which is about as serious a class as I've ever attended. Throngs of women—most sporting something akin to the Hope Diamond on their left hand—briefly greet each other like old friends before getting down to business. The 50-minute workout—which I think is actually 60 minutes—involves all sorts of leg swings and lifts and contortions, all of which are done while wearing one or two sets of leg weights. I look around the room at women twice my age on their hands and knees swinging their legs all over the place like champs as I struggle to keep from crying and have a real moment of existential despair. All of this struggle and pain, I think, for an aesthetically pleasing butt? Is this really what life is all about?!
Then, it's over, and I actually feel...effing great, to use a grossly inadequate adjective. I feel high. I want to stay and do another class, like a rich lady, but I stagger a bit on my way to the front desk, decide my booty fund can't survive the cost of an emergency room visit and defer my second class, begrudgingly, for another time.
The rest of the day I feel more accomplished than I (perhaps, sadly) have felt in quite some time, and I even—albeit briefly—consider tackling the bikini shopping I've been putting off. The reason for the latter, I think, is that there's something about the TA classes that makes you feel sexy, some combination of the beautiful instructors, the hip thrusts and the sheer amounts of money represented in the room that make you feel like, well, J.Lo or something. I feel this more and more each time I go back, though admittedly the difficulty level of the classes and the location keep me from attending anywhere nearly as often as I would need to in order to actually have a backside that didn't hang to my knees.
When the experiment ends, I doubt there are any truly measurable results (though I can't actually afford to find out). That said, I feel different—younger, more vital and (ugh, sorry) sexier. This new me is best described as J.Lo in the music video where she does the whole Flashdance thing, if that helps at all. Given that I'm a single woman of a certain age living in Los Angeles and therefore "competing" for a mate mainly with people who get paid to work on their appearance, this newfound confidence is no small thing. I'd even venture to say it's worth $45 a session, particularly as I am fairly certain that if you actually committed the resources to going regularly—let's say four or five times per week, like a sane human—your actual body would catch up with your new body image in just a matter of months. (If you aren't convinced of this hypothesis, I suggest you pop into any class to see firsthand the 60-year-old TA devotees throwing their perfectly sculpted legs around like can-can dancers.) If I ever get rich (I'm a writer, so bahahaha), I intend to find out for sure, but in the meantime I've ordered a brand new, scratch-free DVD for the price of around one in-person class and given up alcohol in hopes of one day achieving my J.Lo booty.
Just kidding on that last part. What's the point of having a perfect butt if you can't get drunk and accidentally show it off to strangers? (Said no one ever, but c'mon...let me live.)