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When news broke that Gwyneth Paltrow and her business partner (and trainer) Tracy Anderson were getting their own TV series, we were intensely curious. It was clear that fitness would be involved somehow. But what role would each woman play, and would be be able to see the inside of Gwyneth's house? Sorry, that went to a creepy place. Anyhow, the show, titled The Restart Project, debuted today. Each micro-episode is focused on one woman who has managed to live-through, thrive and improve her health despite horrible circumstances. Racked chatted with Anderson by phone about the project on Friday and learned why she said yes, her thoughts about fitness motivation in America, her new workout for the Xbox One and much, much more.
What about this series appealed to you?
"Right now I'm really focused on what happens before people commit to an exercise program. The steps before, the reasons, because—I've been in this industry for a very long time and I've created tools that really can transform people's bodies into their best selves—but what I see all of the time is such a epidemic of self-sabotage. I think it's so interesting how women want to believe the delusion that there is a quick fix, or that trends work, or gimmicks work, or that achieving your best self is any different than achieving the best in your career or your relationship.
I get opportunities like this a lot, and I turn them down all the time because I think they don't create a conversation that's really going to help people get inspired and motivated or to have the really tough conversations with themselves like, why don't you show up for yourself?
When this series was brought to my attention, I loved the idea of it not being about my message, per se, or quick fixes—but more about how we are all given difficult circumstances in life, and look at the challenges that each of these women have faced and how they very few resources to tap into to better their lives. They all chose to connect with themselves more physically or invest in their health to help them heal. None of their motivation came from vanity. That was an interesting space to start the conversation of—look at these women, look at what happened to them, look at what they achieved—and [for viewers to] really look at themselves in the mirror and figure out how they can show up better for themselves, and be better to themselves and be more balanced."
What type of stories do you explore?
"[One focuses on] a woman who had to face the unthinkable, she lost a child way too young, and she chose to go back and become a black belt in martial arts because her son loved martial arts. Stories like that, like losing a leg or being given a small percentage of a chance to live after fighting cancer or one woman who was sleeping in a car at one point in her life. What do you do in that situation? It's a series where the women are the focus and Gwyneth and I are there to hear them and recognize them. It's that simple and that important."
What do you hope that viewers will take away from the show?
"Hopefully [they'll] get the message of not wanting to crumble under any circumstances they've been dealt, whether their boyfriend breaks up with them or their best friend disappoints them or they don't get recognized at work. Or, that they may have no reason in their life to not be achieving and that they're really not bringing their best to the table. I hope women [realize] it's important to take care of me for myself and I would really love to turn the focus away from the noise of [celebrity bodies]. It's hard in this position that I sit in because I watch so many women who are such beautiful people and have such beautiful potential telescope their desires and just dim their own lights every single day because they're so focused on what's in magazines (that's not even real) or what it is on their body that they don't like (but yet they don't really want to show up for themselves to change it in a sustainable, natural way). It brings the human aspect of why we should take care of ourselves into focus."
Exercise is only one part of the equation when it comes to being healthy. Do you touch upon food in the series?
"Yes, we do. One woman who had cancer now educates at Whole Foods, and she is so inspiring. She is gluten-free and organic and changed her diet dramatically. Not even inspired by the doctors that she was seeing, but just with her own motivation to want to take care of herself and breathe life into herself. She did it with very little money, too. You hear people saying all the time, oh, organic is too expensive. Well, what is expensive when it's the price of your health?
But it does raise a bigger issue: that organic food is too expensive, and what are we going to do about it? And the people that can afford to buy organic, they need to be buying organic without fail so that the prices of organic food come down, because it's something that everybody deserves. I just found out recently that I have a very high count of the pesticide DDE in my body which is the sister chemical to DDT. And I didn't ask for it to be in my body, it's just that where I grew up in Indiana in the early '80s, the pesticide was being spread everywhere and I grew up on a farm that was next to a corn field.
These conversations that might seem small start much bigger conversations and I think that the people who have the resources to do things such as improving people's support systems, quality of life and where follow-through comes from—it's important that they're being showcased."
In the trailer, you mention that the women you profile aren't trying to 'fit into their skinny jeans,' they are trying live their best lives instead. Fitness and health are such touchy subjects in America these days. Is it tricky to get your message out?
"I've been in this industry for 15 years and [worked hard to design programs] so that people could actually create more balance in their body, get rid of their problem areas and be their best…in a real way. And people just want to know how to get red-carpet ready in 10 days. They want that bikini body in two days. Do you want to hear about health or do you want to hear about vanity? The celebrity-obsessed aspect of our culture is a curse. A lot of these celebrities are not healthy in real life. Why they get put on the cover of a healthy magazine like they are the picture of health or why they get airbrushed in half to look like they achieved something that isn't realistic? I think it's disgusting; I have major issues with it.
People are afraid of improving themselves. They're afraid of what it actually takes to have to look at themselves, and change habits, and show up for themselves. People say, oh, I'm too busy or my career or this or that. Well how can you give to so many people if you're not even giving to yourself? And your clock for giving to people is going to be cut really short if you don't start giving to yourself. You have to connect to your body with exercise four to six days a week. And if you care more about really achieving and you always want to have a bikini-ready body, then it's six days a week. That's just the reality, unless you're someone who is very genetically blessed."
How does your new men's program differ from your workouts for women?
"I'm really mean to them. Just kidding [laughs]. Well, men and women are very, very different. Our connective tissues are comprised differently and women go through four hormonal changes in their lives and men go through one. However, the science I developed my content off of—which is that ability to keep the brain's connection to firing over 600 muscles in our body in a unified way—is incredibly valuable to men who notoriously compartmentalize strength. They do it in a way that causes their bodies to become injured and they have inflexibilities. My first research for my program was actually done off of muscle biopsies of male athletes. Even though I transferred it to women because I felt like it was needed for women, men is something that I've wanted to do for a very long time.
This is the first time I've done any content for the gaming industry, with the Xbox One, because I did not feel like the technology was at a place [to be effective]. Microsoft invited me up to Seattle to see one that they were about to release and I was absolutely blown away and thrilled at the new technology, which is truly amazing. It actually allows me to understand if someone is bringing the right level of force, momentum and form to the table. I built out an entire product called Transform on the Xbox One, all of the content is only for Xbox One, and it's for men and women."
· The Restart Project [AOL]
· That Gwyneth Paltrow and Tracy Anderson AOL Show Is Here [Racked]
· Tracy Anderson and Gwyneth Paltrow Filmed an AOL TV Series [Racked]