“I wonder if we’ll cry?” my editor Becca texted me the night before our first visit to the class, the 75-minute exercise session developed by Taryn Toomey (TT) advertised to be a “mind-body” experience. From what we’d heard, it’s not uncommon to shed some tears during the transformative experience, and celebs like Naomi Watts and Gisele Bündchen are way into it.
But was it going to be hard? On The Class’ FAQ page, it says, “The class is a vigorous workout. All fitness levels are welcome and you can go at your own pace. All you need is willingness.” Willingness?? I’m the kind of girl that uses two-pound weights in Pure Barre. But I digress.
How they explain it
Described as “a 75-minute cathartic mind-body experience” on the website, I walk into the dark room (two minutes late, natch) as the class is starting off with a yoga-like meditative sequence that quickly devolves into a crazy wiggling of the limbs that didn’t feel unlike doing “the Bernie”. Honestly, it felt kind of awkward. And TT clearly saw us being awkward, because she told us to, “stop thinking so fucking much about it.” TT does not hold back on her foul language, and it’s amazing.
TT is a superfit glamazon (and mom, as her Instagram will quickly tell you) who quit her fast-paced fashion career, went to study with Peruvian shamans, and combined their teachings with a yoga background to come up with the unconventional-yet-really-fucking-hard methodology for the class.
Returning to my flashback, we start doing squats to a very loud remix of Adele’s “Hello.” TT instructs us to “let everything go,” to get rid of all the “gunk” and “sludge” which we’ve accumulated in our bodies (is she talking about the bag of gummies I crushed post-lunch?), and encourages ugly screaming. This is the method: Challenging physical movement that allows you to come face to face with your demons and imperfections, which TT talks you through as your forehead is beading with sweat. As I heard everyone around me yelling along to the lyrics “hello from the other side,” I start to enjoy myself, but the novelty quickly wears off.
Let me explain by saying that TT’s class isn’t complicated. She teaches you a movement, which you repeat over and over for the entirety of a song with some varying degrees of intensity. But at this point, I didn’t know that. We all turn to face the windows, so that I’m in the front row, and she gets us all down in lunges, one leg forward, opposite knee tapping the floor, with arms raised overhead. I start off pretty aggressively, as some vaguely recognizable indie song carries us through the next sequence, and I know very soon that I’ve made a huge mistake in my eagerness.
We’ve only just hit the first chorus and my right thigh is completely spent, but I have TT next to me going HARD, with an ENTIRE class of people watching, and I’m feeling a mix of panic and shooting pain as my thigh is tremoring beyond belief. She’s yelling at us to “unfuck” ourselves, which I can only glean is directed at me since my leg no longer feels attached to my hip joint. TT asks you to support one another, and I’m feeling pretty bad for everyone around me, because I can’t bend my knee any longer. She insists that when you reach the breaking point, that is the point where the change happens. So keep pushing.
After I got used to it, I was able to look around and take in some of my fellow classgoers: There was a long-haired strawberry blonde in a seemingly mesh bodysuit that didn’t look unlike Isla Fisher who looked ecstatic the whole time.There was a girl who was strikingly similar to Kirsten Dunst in both appearance and mannerism. I did not see the Dunst lookalike open her eyes even once. All celebrity comparisons aside, it was a pretty good-looking, enthusiastic group (very willing to yell), but nobody seemed to be really good at it, which made me feel a lot better about my lame lunges at the very beginning. And there were way more guys in the class than I expected.
Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the exercises were hard, especially the two burpee segments which felt like they went on for twenty minutes each, and that’s BEFORE she instructed us to fall into double time. But there was a moment, when the untirable TT was up there doing it right alongside me (somehow I ended up in the front row again), shouting out a Xena-the-Warrior-Princess “HA!” at the top of each burpee that I felt like I was part of something important. And that’s when I became a convert.
There were leg lifts, bridge pulses, jumping jacks (set to none other than an uptempo rendition of Whitney’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”), and oblique crunches. The highlight of the class was when she told us to start running in place and screaming. Man, was that fun.
The class ended with a savasana-like meditation, TT asked us to pray in any way we’d like, if we felt compelled. After it was over, I left with a decidedly clear head and a newfound appreciation for walking in a straight line with both feet on the ground.
We came, we yelled, we burpeed. And it felt pretty killer. So killer in fact that my legs felt like Jell-O when I left. I felt plenty of inner thigh soreness the next day, but nothing that prohibited me from going to Crossfit the next day. If you’re ready to work hard, then go to The Class — it’s a truly unique, tough, communal workout. And I’m totally going back.