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Effinger trains many a star, including Sela Ward, Renee Zellwegger, and Jennifer Stallone.

June 5, 2002:

Abs to the altar
Fitness trainer, Tracy Effinger '91 offers workout advice to soon-to-be-marrieds

For anyone who wants to shed extra weight and tone up, you can find a practical roadmap and a great pep talk in Tracy Effinger '91's new book, The Wedding Workout: Look & Feel Fabulous on Your Special Day. Even though it's written for brides-to-be, The Wedding Workout could be used by anyone desiring a more intense regimen. The book encourages readers to "make [exercise] a fun part of your life, not something you feel controlled by or negative about," says Effinger, who has been a fitness trainer in Hollywood for seven years and owns the body to prove it.

Over the years, she has helped many a celebrity get in shape for their latest film or TV appearance, including Amy Brenneman and Renee Zellwegger. She boosts Sela Ward's energy during their mid-day workouts on the set of Once and Again, and she trained a pregnant Jennifer Stallone up until a week before her baby was due. "I get people in shape. That's what I do. I don't take it lightly," says Effinger. "If you are ready to work, we're going to get to wherever you want to go."

Effinger, who is single, and one of her noncelebrity clients, Suzanne Rowen, decided to write The Wedding Workout as Rowen herself was trying to get in shape for her own big day. The authors offer readers a workout schedule, encompassing stretching, weight training, aerobic activity, and nutrition, that, if followed by brides-to-be, will make them look and feel better in time to walk down the aisle.

A psychology major at Princeton, Effinger is part therapist as a fitness trainer and author. The Wedding Workout "has a spiritual approach to it as far as what's healthy for each person," explains Effinger. "A realistic goal is to become a fitter, healthier you, — not to expect to look like Claudia Schiffer," write Effinger and Rowen. Their book "encourages women to embrace their femininity, to strive for the body they want in order to feel sexy and confident," says Effinger.

Known for her isometric class that uses little or no weights and relies primarily on one's own body resistance, Effinger has been featured in dozens of magazines as well as on morning TV shows. Los Angeles Magazine's "Best of LA" issue tagged her class as one of the top 100 things to do in L.A. "It's a full head to toe workout," says Effinger, who teaches six days a week at Workout Warehouse in West Hollywood. "It's very deep and very thorough. I emphasize posture and elongating muscles and working from the inside out." She pulls from ballet, yoga, weight training, martial arts, military training, and other fitness maneuvers. "My class is intense and difficult. It's kind of like a metaphor for life," says Effinger, who competes in 5Ks and 10Ks. "I like seeing people change and grow in their self-confidence, and I like being a part of that. You can change somebody's life through fitness."

Sports and fitness have been a part of her life since she was little. Before attending Princeton, she played soccer and basketball and ran track. But a shattered ankle kept her from competing at Princeton. The injury "was sort of a blessing in disguise," says Effinger, who explored painting and acting at college. After college, she pursued acting, heading to the Actors Theatre Louisville, one of the top regional theaters in the U.S., and then to California. To make ends meet, she started teaching fitness and loved it. Although she still lands guest spots — last year she played a martial arts instructor on Judging Amy — acting hasn't "evolved" for her, she says.

A modern Renaissance woman, she paints, mostly in oils, every day, and has shown her work in two galleries. After September 11, she organized two art auctions, Art Heals, in Los Angeles and New York, raising almost $300,000 for the victims of the attacks.

With her book selling well, she's already looking to other projects. She's writing a talk show on body image issues, and she's brainstorming on ways to combine art, fitness, and charity. Says Effinger, "I'm really good at all different things and a single achiever in none. I've made a career out of doing all different things."

By Kathryn Federici Greenwood