Taryn Toomey wants to work out your mind.
Don't get it twisted, the New York City-based trainer's creation, The Class by Taryn Toomey—one part cardio, one part Pilates, one large dollop of emotional release—will certainly sculpt your arms, legs, abs and butt, but it's your heart, soul and brain Toomey hopes receive the biggest boost.
"While the practice is physical, it's a somatic practice where we're bringing the mind into the body, observing. And then we're connecting to the heart," Toomey explains to E! News. "And then we flip it the other way around, you know halfway through class where we start to allow the heart and the soul to inform the mind."
The physical premise of her hour-long boutique fitness class—which has transitioned from palo santo-scented studios in NYC, Los Angeles and Vancouver to the $40-a-month streaming service on her site due to COVID—is no joke. Participants commit to doing one strength-training move (read: mountain climbers, squats or jumping jacks) for the length of a full song.
"It's a mat-based practice that is music-driven," Toomey explains. "We repeat one movement for an entire song, close our eyes and observe what our mind does around the feeling, understanding that our mind is simply an organ, its function is to think, and it will create thoughts, especially when you're on the edge of change."
So as you're sweating through, say, your 38th burpee, the instructor is guiding you through how to release whatever mental stress or negative emotion might be blocking you at any given time.
With a lot of focus on breath work, the studio is known for helping its devotees have that sort of heart-opening ugly cry that can feel better than any rom-com marathon. "The kind of optics of the classroom is that it's all firing, it's all really hard," says Toomey, a former sales exec for Ralph Lauren and Christian Dior, "but there's equal parts stillness and holding your hands on your body and standing, feeling the rapid heartbeat and noticing the thoughts that are coming out."
"The class has been designed in a very specific way to first gain the trust of the students that they don't have to do any of it," she notes. "It's not a guru mentality—no one has the answer for you. You live in this body, which has collected your experiences, which has informed your mind, your entire life. You're the only one that knows what's going on in there."
From the first series of flow movements—a check in on where your emotions are that day—"You're empowering people with the space to say, like, show up where you're at," says Toomey. "What we're doing is we're giving people tools on how to handle everything that goes on outside the mat, and we're not telling them do this or don't. We're saying pick up the things in it that work for you, and apply them."
Ten times out of 10, she shares, people walk out feeling as if something has shifted. "It leaves a mark on you because it's you doing it," she explains. "This practice is you actually doing it, you're feeling the discomfort and you're moving your way through it while you stay present."
Toomey knows creation has a reputation amongst the less familiar. She's read what people have said about yelling, the grunting, the crying.
"What we do is when you get the student into a place where they feel embodied and they understand their power of choice, you guide them into a place in their body that feels dense, or like it has no flow into it," she says. "And then you close your eyes and you think about what's in there and what thoughts are coming up when you're in that space. And then we say, 'What sound would that thought make?' And the sound is loud. And because the music is so loud and you're so in the beat, there's a sense of freedom to release some of these things."
And if you still can't quite wrap your mind around exactly what that might look like, well, you're not entirely alone.
"People want to identify things and that's where they get frustrated with the class, they're like, 'But what is it?'" says Toomey. "Everybody tries to put a word logo on it. It is just sounds, its expression, it is clearing, it's release, it's stillness, it's deep listening, it's stabilizing, it's processing. It's healing."