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Mindful : April 2019
EDITOR’S NOTE Mindfulness is a fast growing field. As new interpreta- tions of mindfulness appear, Mindful will help explore those with you. Blood, Sweat, & Fears “ TUNE IN TO YOURSELF,” says Taryn Toomey, the latest étoile du jour to light up the fitness world, addressing a women’s retreat in upstate New York last summer. “Know there’s a part of you that really wants the suffering and part of you that really wants the awakening. “ Know who’s running the show.” Therein lies the essence of the Taryn Toomey phenomenon—suffering and awakening, hurting and healing. Toomey is the birthmother of The Class, a body-depleting, mind-bending workout that defies both definition and category. Physically demanding and emotionally exhausting, it is, to its throngs of acolytes who sweat regularly in her signature TriBeCa gym, spiritually and psychi- cally cathartic. The hallmark of The Class is a series of repetitive motions devoid of rep count; there is no telling when the torture will end, an approach that plunges you entirely into the moment. Meshing high-intensity calisthenics with impassioned, confessional, almost feral exhortations, Toomey doesn’t simply want you to feel the burn—she wants you to experience it as an existential crisis. “There’s a very specific way we train our teachers, of how we open the room,” says Toomey. “There’s an arc of the class, it’s how we build trust. There’s the physical, the emotional, the energetic. Then there is the spiritual. And we let you into that door through the body.” The Class didn’t so much start one day as it evolved. From doing sports as a teenager, to practicing yoga, to running, Toomey says it was marinating within her for a long time. Taryn Toomey, creator of The Class, wants to work out her issues. She wants to work out yours, too. By Jennifer Wolff • Photograph by Michael Sofronski “Things were getting activated in me,” she says. She started doing her impassioned, improvisa- tional workouts with a friend in the gym in the basement of the building where she used to live. Other friends joined, and then this one told that one, and eventually Toomey took her show to the Dance Factory. Then came men and women from around Manhattan who had heard about this thing, this fitness class that wasn’t just about strength or cardio, but also about spirit and soul—not in that bullshit way that some classes try to invoke your animal spirit, but in a very real way that holds your hand as you step into your own darkness, and guides you toward the light, also your own. It’s a thing, a class, a workout, a mindfuck so powerful and popular, that Taryn Toomey has opened three outposts, in LA, Vancouver, and the Hamptons; hosts a monthly “spiritual residency” in Miami; and offers multi- day “Retreatments” to places like Martha’s Vine- yard and the Dominican Republic. → The hallmark of The Class is a series of repetitive motions devoid of rep count; there is no telling when the torture will end, an approach that plunges you entirely into the moment. 24 mindful April 2019 LIVING | Q&A