The Class by Taryn Toomey is an exercise experience that combines meditative movement with cardio, encourages students to yell, and uses a carefully curated playlist to help foster a mind-body connection.
“In The Class, we ‘work out’ mental and emotional behaviors to create new tools for experiencing life,” Toomey told NBC. “The vibe is very ethereal, contrasting our training in strength, resilience and fortitude of the mind through the body. It is a wringing out, literally and figuratively, of the body, mind, and soul.”
The Class is taught in New York City, the Hamptons, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver, and most recently, Miami. Classes, which range in price from $15 to $35, are shaped around repetitive calisthenic and plyometric movements, and strength-based exercises.
Each class begins with a clearing of the body to stabilize the mind and ends in a meditation to honor the work done. Students are encouraged to embrace their response to whatever arises during the movements, whether that is physical discomfort or unexpressed emotions.
“Once we’ve created the fire (through cardio), we’re able to access stagnant ‘layers’ in the body where stress, tension, memories and emotions are stored,” Toomey said. “We use cardio bursts to dislodge and flush out old thoughts, patterns and behaviors and create room for fresh, fertile energy.”
Throughout, instructors call out mantras to empower students to believe in their strength. The goal is not to complete the most burpees, but for students to understand that they have full control of their efforts and can stick with their experiences through self-belief. That realization, says Toomey, is when The Class will have a lasting impact on one’s life.
She notes that the same internal dialogue that arises during The Class also shows up off the mat. The Class’ methodology helps students to work with these feelings through expression: by allowing them to feel vulnerable yet strong, and soft yet fierce.
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Natalie Kuhn, a founding teacher of The Class and vice president of programming, says she loves teaching because the experience affects not only the student, but also the ways they work, live and love.
“The Class is about one’s infinite capacity to evolve: in body, mind, and spirit,” Kuhn said. “I have no doubt that students return because they taste their evolution in each and every Class.”
Dimitra Katsina has been attending The Class since October and said that she continues coming back because of the feelings of clarity and peaceful energy that she experiences after.
“It is not a typical workout,” Katsina said. “The Class gives me a sense of empowerment and makes me feel focused to listen to my inner self and body. It enables me to create space within me and let go anything I don’t need.”
Students are not the only ones who have seen positive changes in their lives through their time with The Class. Toomey said her journey with The Class has taught her to trust her gut, while Kuhn has found strength and healing in her experience.
“After I experienced a life altering death in my family, The Class took on a completely new shape,” Kuhn said. “It helped me connect my body, mind, and emotions in a way I never knew before.”
The community that The Class has created is shaped by its mission: to empower people through physical and mental transformation. Toomey says that her instructors value kindness and integrity, honor honesty, practice with gratitude and use humor.
“We look for people who can understand and embody this work as opposed to just intellectualizing and speaking about it,” Toomey said. “You can usually feel it right away when you meet someone.”
The company’s goals are to continue expanding its, specifically through digital platforms. Toomey aims to reach as many people as possible and continue to impact lasting change.
“I don’t know what type of work could be more fulfilling than helping people understand that the answer is within them,” Toomey said. “Often times people will thank me, but what I tell them is that they are the ones who are doing the work. I’m just holding that container for people to experience themselves and understand free will and choice.”