It’s a battle of the fitness personalities—a legal battle, that is. As reported by The Fashion Law, celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson, founder of her eponymous workout method, is suing Megan Roup, founder of Sculpt Society, for copyright infringement.
Tracy Anderson, her website bio states, moved to New York City on a dance scholarship when she was 18. After years of developing, studying, and refining her workout method, she released the first Tracy Anderson Dance Cardio DVD in 2003. She opened her first studio in LA in 2005, and in 2006, she met and started training Gwyneth Paltrow. Two years later, she appeared on Oprah and has since trained celebrities such as Madonna and Cameron Diaz, to name a few. (Her bio also claims she “started the printed leggings craze” in 2003.)
Megan Roup studied dance at NYU’s Tisch Dance Program and told Verywell that she became a fitness instructor “to make ends meet” while trying to land dancing gigs. She launched The Sculpt Society in 2017 and its app in 2019, and has trained the likes of Shay Mitchell, Elsa Hosk, and Hunter McGrady.
In the court filing, Anderson claims that Roup worked as a trainer for Tracy Anderson Method between 2011-2017. Roup’s LinkedIn is absent of any mention of having worked at Tracy Anderson Method, and her biography on her website references her past as a fitness instructor, but does not specify her employer.” I spent years teaching fitness and developing The Sculpt Society method before launching in 2017,” it reads. (Betches has reached out to a representative for Roup and will update this article if we receive comment.)
In the filing, Anderson alleges Roup “capitalized on the years of research, money, and sweat equity” she put into developing the method and her business, and that shortly after becoming employed at Anderson’s company, Roup began to “plan or create the choreography routines, business plan and structure, and promotional materials that would form the foundation of and help launch TSS.” The Sculpt Society launched one month after Roup left Tracy Anderson.
“In short,” the filing reads, “Roup had access to all material necessary to replicate the TA Method and related business, and she wasted no time in doing so.” Both routines consist of a “choreography-based fitness and mat movement program,” incorporate hand or ankle weights (or other materials), and have a dance cardio component.
Anderson is also claiming that Roup violated an agreement she signed as a trainer which prohibits her from “using or disclosing ‘Confidential Information'” including training materials, manuals, and methods.
Another one of Anderson’s issue with The Sculpt Society is that she alleges it is branded similarly to her program. Both programs emphasize the respective founders’ dance backgrounds, and the abbreviations for both programs contain the letter T and the word “method” — TA Method and TSS Method. (Yes, really.) The filing also alleges the programs are structured similarly — Roup offers 28- or 30-day programs compared to Anderson’s 30-day method. (A Google search for “28 day workout” and “30 day workout” yields numerous results; neither TA nor TSS show up on the front page.)
Nonetheless, Anderson is claiming these similarities create “a likelihood of consumer confusion as to the origin, nature, source, and development of the TSS Method.” The complaint points to The Sculpt Society’s app reviews as evidence of this alleged confusion, citing reviews including “[Roup] is brilliant – don’t know how she does it – her reps and routines are genius,” “[Roup’s] movements are unique and better than I could have ever thought of,” and “I am a fellow instructor and her movements/choreography blow me away. How does she come up with such fun and creative workouts?” In other words, Anderson takes issue with the fact that people believe Roup created the workouts used in The Sculpt Society classes.
The Fashion Law notes that copyright applies to choreography “if it contains a sufficient amount of choreographic authorship.” The U.S. Copyright Office specifies that movements such as “a series of aerobic exercises,” “a yoga sequence” (a court ruled in 2015 that a sequence of 26 yoga poses did not meet the bar for copyright protection), or a “complicated routine consisting of classical ballet positions or other types of dance movements intended for use in a fitness class” are “not copyrightable as choreography.”
Anderson is seeking damages and injunctive relief.