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Two Fitness Skeptics Brave The Class, NYC's Most Emotional Workout

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The Class—a cult Tribeca workout that combines yoga, cardio, and high-intensity interval training—is not for the emotionally inhibited, or those who reflexively eye-roll at New Age-y lingo. Instructor Taryn Toomey talks about toxic energy, which she refers to as "the sludge." She glides around the room, encouraging students to loosen said sludge the way they might exorcise a demon—with furious arm-shaking and primal screams. Crying is common. So are celebrity sightings.

Basically, it sounded like our worst nightmare—catharsis-through-burpees mixed with a weepy public therapy session. And yet! After one $30 workout, we're kind of hooked. Join us as we work our way through these complicated feelings, and ponder how something that sounds so embarrassing can actually be great.

Caitlin: Oh hey, Rebecca! Before walking into The Class, what did you know about The Class? I just knew that it was supposed to make you cry, and that sometimes Naomi Watts is there.

Rebecca: Yes! Sadly no Naomi today, although there were many women who walked in and made me go, "Is that..?" (It wasn't.)

Caitlin: But you know who WAS a star? That lady who was nine months pregnant, working out like a champ. Can we talk about her?

Rebecca: OMG. The pregnant lady. She was glorious.

Caitlin: She definitely instilled a false sense of confidence in me. I was like, "If that pregnant lady can can do a one-armed plank without breaking a sweat, then so can I. (I could not.) She was ~iNsPiRaTiOnAl~.

Rebecca: I know! And most of all for attending a very-scary-sounding workout while so pregnant that her WATER BROKE mid-class.

Caitlin: THE CLASS WILL BREAK YOUR WATER.

Rebecca: Basically, she is amazing and an all-around badass lady warrior.

Caitlin: What was she doing when her water broke? Did you see?

Rebecca: I couldn't tell! Jumping jacks, maybe? That was the most potentially water-breaking activity we did.

Caitlin: So, I missed the first ten minutes, and they were really chill about it. Most boutique fitness classes will lock you out of the room if they've started, or at least low-key shame you. But Taryn just nodded at me! Like, "I see you." Anyway, what happened in those first ten minutes?

Rebecca: The vibe at The Class: way chiller than expected. Mainly you missed Taryn Toomey walking in wearing these amazing clogs WITH HEELS and a fancy-looking robe-caftan thing. it was very fabulous. Exercise-wise, it was mostly running in place. We didn't get straight to the feelings, which I was surprised about. Feelings mostly happened at the end.

Caitlin: Did you see anyone cry? I don't think I did, but it was hard to tell because of the sweat.

Rebecca: I don't think I did either. I saw a few people mouth the words to that song at the end but as a fellow mouth-worder in general, no judgment there. What I liked most about the feelings aspect was that you never felt like you HAD to be feeling some grand emotion. The screaming felt, honestly, kind of playful more than anything. I had way more deep feelings at my first SoulCycle ride.

Caitlin: Yeah, the screaming was fun! So was the dance that went along with it, where you stomp your feet and make your arms go all limp and shaky.

Rebecca: SO fun! It felt very aerobics-heavy, which makes me understand why it was such a big deal in the ‘80s. If aerobics is the next fancy fitness trend, I'll be psyched.

Caitlin: I am a hardcore indoor kid, and I felt okay by the end of the workout. It was definitely tough! But I didn't want to collapse into bed when I got home.

Rebecca: Same! No wanting-to-die feels afterwards, which is always a plus. At the same time, oh my god, the sweating.

Caitlin: Was the room heated? Or just stuffy?

Rebecca: It MUST have been heated. I didn't even know it was possible to sweat out of one's shin. I'm really glad they made us Lysol the mats afterwards.

Caitlin: Even with the Lysol, i still don't want to think too hard about those mats
and all the sweat they've seen. How would you describe the exercise?

Rebecca: I'd say it was a mix between aerobics and pilates with the teensiest bit of HIIT thrown in. Those burpees, man. i really wasn't expecting those.

Caitlin: Ughhh. Surprise burpees. Worst surprise.

Rebecca: What was your favorite exercise?

Caitlin: I liked the one where you put one foot on the frisbee and slide it behind the other foot.

Rebecca: Yes, I loved the frisbee one! Except after the fourth or fifth chorus of 'How to Save a Life' a girl's thigh gets a lil tired.

Caitlin: Especially when she turned it up and started yelling HUT on every beat and you knew SHIT WAS GETTING SERIOUS.

Rebecca: The HUTs helped me I think! Least favorite?

Caitlin: Besides the burpees, I don't know if anything stood out as the worst. What were all the moves? Running in place, jumping jacks, swervy jumping jacks, those crunches where you rotate one leg and bring it in, those side planks, regular planks, the frisbee thing.

Rebecca: Yeah, I think that basically covers it. The hour and fifteen went by way faster than I thought it would, too. I love when classes designate a hard 15 to 20 for stretching-slash-breathing-slash-Child's-Pose.

Caitlin: Do you remember any of the motivational things Taryn Toomey said?

Rebecca: Well, I liked that she had a bit of a sailor mouth. And there was something about how when you focus too much on the "end" you lose all the possibilities that could happen on the "journey." It was WAY more articulate than that, though.

Caitlin: Yeah, I just remember bits and pieces! There was something about your problems are weeds, and you are the weed whacker. Which is a really satisfying image.

Rebecca: WHOA did not catch that one. I already love it.

Caitlin: There was also something about powering through the jumping jacks because that voice saying "no" is just your mind and you are your body.

Rebecca: I remember that, too. There were some great nuggets of wisdom in there. I appreciated the fact that this was very much not a shame-based workout.

Caitlin: Me too, although I think you should probably listen to that voice because it's the same voice that keeps you from dying! Oh what about that thing where we had to rub our hands together?

Rebecca: Oh my god i almost forgot. Maybe because I couldn't even do that part of it—there was so much sweat on my hands.

Caitlin: (I faked it. My hands weren't touching.)

Rebecca: I have a feeling we didn't miss much. Or maybe we missed everything. Who's to say.

Caitlin: The stretching at the end was like a nice lil nap. Lots of "lay down on the mat and close your eyes."

Rebecca: I have such a love-hate relationship with eye-closing in fitness classes, mainly because I'm always worried I'll open my eyes and still be in a pose everyone has moved past and I'll look like an idiot.

Caitlin: I have that same fear. Can we talk about Taryn more?

Rebecca: I'm trying to think of ways to describe her, and all I am coming up with is Actually Cool (and not like, "I'm just super fit" cool) Fitness Lady. I read that she has a background in fashion, which makes total sense.

Caitlin: I bet she is so cool that she doesn't post photos of her acai bowls on Instagram.

Rebecca: Exactly.

Caitlin: But I am afraid to look. Don't want to be disappointed. Ah, just looked! All clear. Nothing but cute kids and beaches. Do you feel like we got the full experience, since we didn't cry?

Rebecca: I mean, we saw someone almost give birth today, so I'd say so.

Caitlin: Same.

The Class with Taryn Toomey

291 Broadway, New York, NY 10007