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Mindful : April 2019
Toomey doesn’t demand focus or discipline. She asks for something else entirely: surrender. TARYN TOOMEY steps in so close to my face I think she’s going to kiss me. And though generally not into women, I am fairly certain in that instant that I will kiss her back, until I realize that this is how she greets people, up in their grill, under their skin. “Does anything hurt?” she asks after not kissing me. “Yes,” I tell her. “Everything.” “Perfect,” she replies. “We’ll take care of that.” I don’t know what she means, or what she is—sor t of beautiful, sor t of plain, absolutely radiant, her blonde streaked hair tumbled just so atop her head, her skin aglow with the slightest brush of the expensive highlighter she sells in the gift shop outside of her Bridgehampton pop-up. To get to her, to The Class, I had to maneu- ver between fancy women in big sunglasses and expensive workout gear driving Mercedes and Range Rovers, fighting for a space in the crowded dirt lot. But once inside, lifted by the sweet smell of palo santo—and by the Chanel products in the bathroom—I find peace on the Toomey-insignia’d yoga mat that will define my space among some 40 others during the next hour of sweat and, so I am told, tears. Toomey starts us off with Mum- ford & Sons’ “Si Tu Veux”—beat- driven, foreign, imploring—and we begin to move as she whisper-talks into her little mic. I can’t make out what she is saying, only that her voice is not coming into my head but through it. She urges me, all of us, from the inside, through a round of jumping jacks that never seems to end until it does. Then we stand, hands over heart, until we begin again, this time with squats, and a song that seems to speak for Toomey, Avicii’s “Wake Me Up”: Feeling my way through the darkness guided by a beating heart I can’t tell where the journey will end but I know where to start... I feel weak, unable to keep up. It’s been a while since I set foot in a gym or onto a mat. My body creaks. I am angry that it won’t move how I want it to, how I bend my waist into my squats, how my hands won’t clap above my head during the jacks. And don’t talk to me about the goddamned burpees, of which I’ve done, maybe, one. “Stay in your body,” Toomey says. “Don’t let anyone fucking tell you how to live. How to be. Who you are.” She looks at me through the crowd, and I look down. Ashamed. It’s like she’s reading the script inside of my head. I . Can. Not. Do. This. I feel her stare, and look back up. She nods, as though telegraphing, Yes, you can. If you want to. You can. As the frenzy of the class builds, Toomey riffs like a preacher on the precepts of pain, of time, of over- coming self-imposed limitations. Yet she doesn’t demand focus or discipline. She asks for something else entirely: surrender. As the exercises grow more intense, so does the music get louder. The yelps and grunts that explode from the crowd lay down If It Doesn’t Kill You, Does It Make You Stronger? Our writer throws herself into Taryn Toomey’s “The Class” and comes out the other side—intact. a baseline rhythm for the room, a deep-throated mantra in which soon enough I lose myself, too. Because the more I move, the deeper Toom- ey’s raspy voice penetrates my brain, the looser my limbs become, the stronger. And then my reve- lation: I am frightened not of my weakness but of my strength. I’m frightened not of what my body can’t do, but by what I have never let it do: be powerful. Meanwhile, Toomey begins to twist into her own unique con- tortions, as though gripped in an exorcism. Then, she comes down and brings us with her. We stand, hand to heart, feet to floor. “All you need is right under your hand,” she whispers. “It’s all you need. Not the cars or the clothes or the stuff.” I gaze toward her shop with the $800 gemstone pendants and the $100 beauty serums, and I wonder with all that’s being offered, for a price, is my hear t truly enough? By JENNIFER WOLFF INSIDE THE CLASS April 2019 mindful 29