There are workouts that woo you, and instructors that hook you. And when they’re combined, they create a fitness rarity that we only have one word for—a phenomenon.
That’s the experience of Taryn Toomey and her new fitness method called “the class,” an in-the-know Tribeca workout that’s a white-hot ticket among fit New Yorkers who want a dose of athletic vigor with their yoga philosophy.
Toomey, named her creation “the class,” in humble lowercase letters. She cringes at the idea that anyone might think that she named it “The Class” in the sense that it’s the ultimate fitness experience. “I honestly just couldn’t name it,” the Ralph Lauren account exec turned fitness guru explains.
The mat-based workout, which launched in September of 2013 after a long gestating period (that involved teaching it to friends in Toomey’s building basement), is admittedly challenging to classify. But that hasn’t impaired attendance. By word of mouth, Toomey currently teaches four wait-listed sessions per week, and there are requests for more, more, and more. Naomi Watts is a regular, as well as gorgeous, fit downtown moms who show up in the latest fitness fashion and fill the sweaty sessions.
What is “the class”?
Toomey’s 75-minute class is a hybrid that pretty much defies categorization. It borrows from yoga in philosophy and boot camps in athleticism.
Underpinning the physical part of the class is a message of “clearing your space,” something she learned from Mama Kia, a mentor who started a Peruvian orphanage and who inspired Toomey to start teaching this way.
It’s a welcome mantra for New Yorkers—the change that she talks about throughout class applies both to your muffin-top (Toomey like to trash talk certain body parts) and to your mental energy.
As Toomey sees it, a kind of “sludge” stockpiles in our minds, and in our legs, and in our limbs that you can work out physically—often by fatiguing a muscle then stomping or shaking it out. Doing so lifts you emotionally.
The downtown fitness doyenne
It’s a concept that works on SoulCycle and IntenSati fans, and even skeptics. Perhaps because Toomey is the total package: an instructor with clear cues, a zeal for alignment (she did Alison West’s fastidious training program), and a mega-watt charisma. She fills her class with directives that are both funny (“Your ass looks fine! This is not about your ass.”) and soulful (“Change the way your mind talks to your body.”)
So how did an Alison West-trained yogi flow from teaching vinyasa to a cardio-laced, floor-pounding fitness class? “As much as I loved teaching breath-filled, slow-moving yoga, there was something missing. I found I needed to beat the floor more! I needed more fire! Ironically, I could get the same grounding and release with more force,” she says.
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“A lot of what I’m trying to teach is to find peace through strength. I want to create a space where people can come and find mental clarity and stability through exerting a lot of physical effort,” says Toomey. She’s achieving that.
The cue to inhale, loud and with emphasis on the second syllable, means batten the hatches for exertion to come, and Toomey often elicits a fitness war cry of “OOH, OOH,” when things get rough and your body wants to quit, tapping into the pervasive feeling in the room. “Let it be emotional!” she shouts, when the workout reaches its fever pitch and the music is edging you on. It’s the pinnacle of a perfect fitness catharsis. —Alexia Brue and Melisse Gelula
The class with Taryn Toomey, $30 for a single class; 291 Broadway, between Duane and Reade Sts., Tribeca, (212) 227-3039, www.theclasswithtt.com
(Photos: Taryn Toomey by Jaimie Arnold)