As a bit of a fitness junkie and ClassPass graduate, I am always looking for new ways to stay active and live a healthy lifestyle. While finding a great sweat sesh has never been an issue, I’ve always struggled with the mental component of health. I envy the yoga enthusiasts and die-hard meditators because they seem to understand the meaning of life. For me, though, by the time I’m on the second round of Warrior Three, my focus moves to the The Real Housewives of Orange County and why Tamra and Vicki can’t get along. So when I heard about The Class by Taryn Toomey, a practice that purports to enlighten you as you break a sweat — and a Naomi Watts fave — it was definitely something I wanted to try.
“[There is] a lot of freedom and space to do whatever you want,” Toomey explained to HelloGiggles of her signature workout.
“[It] is a vigorous workout, but people at all fitness levels are welcome to participate. Our instructors cue students to listen to their bodies and work at their own pace. All classes are open level, and with every class you will realize that you are much stronger than you thought.”
In L.A., The Class is offered at Wanderlust Hollywood, MNR Dance Factory, and Yogis Anonymous, with a single class priced at $25 and packages ranging from $120-$420 (it’s also available in New York, Nantucket, The Hamptons, and Vancouver, Canada). Because Toomey’s brand-spankin’-new activewear collab with Lululemon just dropped, I got to attend a celebratory class in Hollywood led by the master herself.
Here’s what The Class, an intense, 65-minute workout, was *really* like.
I arrived at Wanderlust ready to have my mind blown, and it was a completely packed house. Yoga mats covered nearly every inch of the floor, and the smell of sage mixed with the energy of the room relaxed me immediately. As soon as Toomey hit the stage and started speaking, the lights lowered, the crowd quieted, and class began.
There wasn’t a long period of “easing into it” — Toomey led the movements, and everyone followed her cues. Because we repeated each movement for several minutes, it was easy to focus on what she was saying and apply that to our workout or situations outside of the class that were on the mind. There were rounds of jumping-jacks, burpees, and more squats than I’ve done in the last month, but throughout the entire practice Toomey spoke straight through the pain and into your desire to give up.
Rather than trying to distract the class from the discomfort of the exercise, she addressed it and built a parallel between the physical pain and the challenges we face in life. That kind of encouragement made me fight to stay in plank and keep jumping when it would have been much easier to stop and grab a drink of water.
One of my favorite things Toomey said all night was that you will fight through it and in the end, “you get to keep the strength.”
The tempo of the class was aligned with a carefully curated playlist; mixed in with the more traditional exercises were moments to literally scream until you cried, shake out the bad energy, and breathe in the good. Just as I thought the class was winding down, Toomey led us through one last tricep movement that rounded out the intense, sweaty workout.
I left Wanderlust in a state of bliss I’d imagine is only felt when you take your therapist to the gym with you. Between the music, the sweat, and the energy of the room, I was ready to walk out into the world and fill it with all of my new, positive vibes. Imagine my disappointment when I was greeted by L.A. traffic, forced to talk myself out of honking the horn every five minutes. But not today Satan, I was in the stillness.
The next day I tried meditating, because Toomey suggested making that part of our daily routine. It wasn’t easy, but I was happy to get through five minutes of mediation, which I’ve been told is acceptable for the first day. Later that afternoon, I noticed the soreness in my butt and calves kicking in as I was saging my apartment and checking L.A.’s The Class schedule for the following week.
Because I was so intrigued by The Class’ structure and effectiveness, I needed to know more, so I went straight to Toomey herself to get a little behind-the-scenes info on how this baby was born. And, by the way, yes, she is really #goals.
HelloGiggles: What led to the development of The Class?
Taryn Toomey: I spent years in the wrong industry (corporate fashion) feeling out of place and constantly craving movement. After some soul searching, I decided to take the plunge, quit my corporate fashion job, and enroll in a yoga teacher training. After a few years teaching yoga, I realized I needed more FIRE in my practice. I needed to shake up and clear “stuck” energy, emotion, thoughts, and residue that had accumulated in me throughout my life. The Class slowly and organically developed from there.
HG: What should someone new to The Class expect for the first time?
TT: A lot of freedom and space to do whatever you want to. The Class is a vigorous workout, but people at all fitness levels are welcome to participate. Our instructors cue students to listen to their bodies and work at their own pace. All classes are open level, and with every class you will realize that you are much stronger than you thought.
HG: There are so many powerful moments throughout The Class, what is the underlying takeaway you want students to leave with?
TT: That you have choice. You choose. Circumstances are one thing but you have a CHOICE when it comes to physical, mental, emotional discomfort. I often say YOU CAN. And I don’t mean “you can” in a trite way — I mean you CAN DO anything: reroute yourself; believe; hate; unite; shame; blame; heal; feel. You can do whatever you want to. It’s up to you. All you need is a willingness and [yourself].
HG: What is your favorite mantra?
TT: Let yourself feel it.
HG: How important is music to the experience?
TT: Music is of the utmost importance: I consider the music to be my co-teacher. In The Class, we work with the theories of contraction and expansion in the body. That also applies to the way that we plan the playlists. If one or two songs are quiet and emotional, the next song will be explosive. This strategy paired with movement, breath, and sound helps to create surges of endorphins that help to clear and flush whatever emotions come up in the body.
HG: Any favorite artists you like to incorporate?
TT: Some of my favorite artists are Florence + The Machine, The XX, London Grammar, Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac), Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Sleeping At Last, and a new artist I just started listening to named Maggie Rogers.
HG: What practices do you do in your own time to help you beat away stress and anxiety?
TT: MOVEMENT. Shaking, jacking. Anything to pump the heart and bring fresh oxygen to the brain. I wouldn’t recommend using food or drink to shift a mood.
HG: You just had a dope collaboration drop with Lululemon. What are your favorite pieces?
If you’re seriously feeling the inspiration, check out The Class by Taryn Toomey’s Instagram page for nuggets of motivation on the reg. Tip: most of the gems are in the captions, so don’t skip them.