Here’s What a goop-Approved Fitness Weekend Is Really Like

"I often survey any fitness class and see how many women of colour are in attendance because in the era of Trump, I do feel less safe in these spaces."

Few brands garner as much interest as goop in 2018: both praiseworthy and scathing. The company’s advice and prescribed way of life—doled out in newsletter, website, IRL pop-up, social media and podcast form, among others—incessantly rubs some the wrong way. But that backlash, controversy, and criticism all drives goop’s bottom line and popularity level into the wellness stratosphere strangely enough.

I’ve admittedly been a fan of the company since its inception. I chalk it up to a mix of an admiration of Gwyneth Paltrow’s talent, an incredible amount of personal curiosity and a reflex that encourages me to lean into things I’ve never done before, while others might run the other way. I’ve learned a great deal from the site, but even I have had “x out of this tab” moments halfway through a story, or a side eye at the price of a new goop product or brand-approved, out-of-this-world vacation.

And so, when goop invited me to a fitness-centric weekend in Chicago, I was beyond intrigued. The weekend is part of a two-event series (with more possibly to come) thrown in partnership with the Westin & appropriately called, “G Sport Sessions”. For $150, avid goop and fitness fans can get to workout & take pictures with Gwyneth Paltrow’s own workout coach, Tracy Anderson, have an intimate post-sweat session Q&A with the celebrity trainer, nosh on a breakfast buffet replete with oversized DIY parfait bowls, delicious frittatas, organic juices, coffee, and more. Goodie bags come in the form of quilted MZ Wallace totes that are roomy enough to fit a laptop, filled with everything from goop glow packets to a tank from the brand’s recently-debuted activewear range. Hair & makeup artists are also on-hand for post-workout touchups, though I was too drenched and exhausted to even contemplate that possibility.

If you’ve never taken a Tracy Anderson class before, you’re in for a real test of your strength. Her personal workout signatures include a mix of dance cardio and strengthening moves that utilize light weights and loads of reps. With fit and famous fans including the aforementioned Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez and Tracee Ellis Ross, the health guru has gained quite the cult-like following: people who have branded themselves as the #tamily.

In true goop fashion, the class was limited to just about 60 people—more than perhaps would be accommodated in a boutique fitness class but certainly less than would have wanted to attend given the fact that the brand and Tracy Anderson herself have more than a combined 1.2M Instagram followers. In the Q&A session, Anderson revealed the methodology behind her chat-free classes. “The reason why I don’t speak to you during the class is because I don’t want to take from you and distract you,” she divulged. “I don’t believe that I know how to move better in your body better than you do. You’ve just lost it and I want you to find it again: for yourself.” Like all trainers, Anderson believes in form, but she wants to empower everyone who participates in her classes to find it on their own. “It’s a long process: like blueprinting and architecture,” she explained.

Photography by Gerber and Scarpelli Photography

Her short talk was one of the weekend’s most revelatory moments, though working through the fatigue that comes with working out three days in a row certainly opened my eyes to living an intentionally active lifestyle. By the time Sunday arrived and our SUP yoga session had begun, my limbs were beyond exhausted—resulting in soreness that lasted well throughout the next week. But as Anderson eloquently stated, “Well-being is a more holistic approach to how each of us vibrate on our own and how we vibrate in conjunction with others.”

And that’s what I felt with each moment of the fitness-centric three days. Though admittedly, as I “vibrated in conjunction with others” I noticed inclusivity was lacking a bit in the class when it came to diversity of figure and colour. Tracy’s celebrity clientele includes women like J.Lo & Tracee Ellis Ross, thus I surely thought other curvy women would be interested in the opportunity to work out with her. Plus, it’s not like Chicago is not without women of colour.

I often survey any fitness class and see how many women of colour are in attendance because in the era of Trump, I do feel less safe in these spaces. A woman’s recounting of her yoga class a few years ago outlines some of the eerie glares I often get in rooms based on my ethnicity and shape, so I’m often apprehensive. And I never want to recommend a class in which other women of colour or shapely women would feel unsafe.

But I’m happy to report that I felt no such dread in Tracy’s class. To be honest, there’s very little time to size anyone else up or start on the road of comparison when you can barely see because sweat is dripping into your eyes. There’s also the possibility that many different kinds of women wanted to attend the session, but weren’t able to snag tickets: the class was , after all, quite small and seemingly exclusive.

The next G Sport Sessions stop will be later this month in Austin, when the fitness weekend touches down in the Texan city. For those who have specifically traveled for the event and don’t live close enough to simply attend the class, hotel packages are available starting at $289. There’s no word yet on where these G Sport Sessions will go next, but judging that both the Chicago and Austin stops sold out in mere days, I can firmly say that this is an event (and weekend) that you won’t want to miss when it stops by near you.