Every Sunday, no matter how non-virtuous my behavior the night before, I scrape myself out of bed at 8 a.m. to make it to a 9 a.m. exercise class. I do this not because I love to work out (I do not), but because it is the only time in the entire week I can catch The Class by Taryn Toomey (who happens to also be a Well+Good Council member) near my house in east L.A., and I gotta have it.
If you know The Class, you know The Class. Trying to describe the yoga-HIIT-dance hybrid always makes me feel inadequate as a wordsmith, because it’s really different than anything else out there. Much of The Class is focused upon the principles that you can build long, lean muscle by focusing on working fast-twitch muscles. You do this by repeating small, dance-like movements for what feels like for-e-ver. It’s emotional, raw, and plain-and-simple: effective. And it’s gained enough of a reputation outside of the New York City and Los Angeles bubbles that the brand felt like it needed to take Toomey’s show on the road.
In an initial attempt to meet nationwide interest, she’s kicking off a seven-city tour this October. “Every day we receive emails and DMs from students near and far that are asking about when The Class might come to them, whether that’s in Midtown or Nashville,” says Toomey. “So we decided to bring it to cities where we’ve never been, but heard a lot from: Boston, Philly, DC, Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta but of course, kicking things off in our hometown of New York City.” The Tour is organized by The Class who has partnered with City Winery, making the whole thing part rock show, part workout, part full-on workout.
“You are having to marinate and deal with the frustration, irritation, strength, and whatever else comes up,” says Taryn Toomey.
“Through a series of repetitive, simple cardio and strength-based exercises, students are invited to witness their response to whatever arises during the movement. This can be anything from physical discomfort to unexpressed emotions leading the participants through a journey of engaging with the body as a lever to the mind,” she says. “More often than not, the same internal dialogue that shows up during The Class is also showing up off the mat. It is a wringing out, literally and figuratively, of the body, mind, and soul.”
I never realized it before, but the simplistic (which is not the same thing as easy!) movements that accompany the songs are intentionally monotonous and choreography-free. Toomey believes this frees the mind to do work alongside the body. “You are having to marinate and deal with the frustration, irritation, strength, and whatever else comes up,” she explains. Often, this work is helped along by the evocative words from the instructor and it’s this combo that has, on occasion, made me cry. (In a good way!) While there might not be a lot of flair once you get into the exercises, this stripped down experience is what lays you bare.
It’s no coincidence that The Class, as a result, can feel like the ultimate in one-stop-shop self-care; Toomey tells me it was born of the simple desire to heal herself from childhood trauma. “I taught the method for two years with no name and really with the intention to track what was going on inside and connect the dots,” she says. Perhaps because it is so personal, or because its particular magic is so hard to describe, let alone recreate, The Class sits more or less alone in its space—which is why Toomey now seeks to make it more accessible.
If you’re still—understandably—confused as to what makes The Class so special, I encourage you to join the 150 or so other souls in the town of your choice for what promises to be, as Toomey phrases it, a “potent” experience. The rock show-cathartic exercise experience will be accompanied by healthy, The Class-cleanse approved (gluten-, dairy-, refined sugar-free) brunch items, a pop-up shop, and a portrait studio for complimentary snaps. Tickets go on sale today, and you can nab yours here.
Curious, but anxious about trying this vaguely cultish phenomenon? There’s great power in feeling uncomfortable, and Toomey explains why. Plus, since The Class incorporates HIIT training, here are six things newbies to the practice should know.