Tracy Anderson has used her fitness expertise to shape some of Hollywood’s most notable bodies — including Jennifer Lopez and Gwyneth Paltrow — and now she’s using her research and experience to help teenage girls embrace their own bodies and get healthy in a positive way.
“After spending almost 20 focused years helping people find comfort in their own skin, I saw a huge preventative opportunity to make sure teen girls never lose their connection to being themselves and having to find it again,” Anderson tells PEOPLE about the inspiration for her new book, Total Teen: Tracy Anderson’s Guide to Health, Happiness, and Ruling Your World. “It’s hard for teens to show up for their health correctly when we live in such a trendy world.”
She suggests that teens struggling with self-esteem take media images of the body with a grain of salt, and focus on being their best selves instead.
“Slow down the noise in your head,” she says. “It’s all a vicious cycle of some editor sitting up in some tower airbrushing people to look like something dreamy. The issue is that teens need to understand that this falls into entertainment and art. It isn’t real. When you can take a deep breath and recognize a human form that has been turned into art, versus the true natural beauty of the incredible human you are, you can come to appreciate your own physical self.”
“It would be so boring if we were all the same,” she continues. “Knowing that you are enough and you are who you are meant to be can really calm the noise.”
Anderson herself is no stranger to having body image issues. As a teenager, the Tracy Anderson Method creator struggled with body acceptance after inexplicably gaining weight that left her feeling uncomfortable in her own skin.
“At 19, I gained almost 40 lbs. at school,” she says. “There wasn’t a support system for me to learn what could be happening or identify and heal this imbalance in a healthy way. I felt awkward and ashamed going to class. I felt like I was failing unintentionally, and it ultimately made me feel like the roadblock was too big for me to live my passion successfully and in a healthy way.”
Anderson says she finally got past these mental roadblocks when she met with a doctor who taught her how to find balance in her body by focusing on muscular structure.
“Studying his work initially unlocked hope for me that there really could be a solution to creating balance in our bodies before or when imbalances arise,” she says.
Anderson got to a place where she felt comfortable with her body “when I got physically available to myself on my own terms,” she says. “I feel like this is truly key. There is so much noise about what is ‘pretty’ or ‘healthy’ or ‘sexy’ or ‘trendy’ with our physical bodies that people don’t even know how to own their own body or assess what they even want.”
RELATED VIDEO: What Does Hollywood’s Hottest Fitness Guru Eat in a Typical Day?
In her book — due out in December — Anderson includes strength and dance cardio workouts and simple healthy recipes, but also shares motivational stories in hopes that they will inspire active living and positive self-image in young girls.
“It’s about physically respecting and processing what it means to be a balanced and healthy individual. I hope everyone walks away shining their lights even brighter.”