There’s a reason Jennifer Aniston and Naomi Watts are seen working up a sweat at Taryn Toomey‘s workout The Class, which often elicits tears. Really! Us Weekly spoke to the creator of the method for the behind-the-scenes intel on her unique program.
“The Class is a music-driven practice of self-study through physical conditioning,” Toomey tells Us exclusively. “Through simple, repetitive calisthenics and plyometrics, we challenge the body to engage the mind.” Translation: The transformative workout features a blend of yoga, cardio and strength training moves — think mountain climbers, jumping jacks, burpees and leg lifts — to totally fatigue the body, while instructors use positive affirmations to unleash emotions.
Toomey’s devotees, who include Christy Turlington and Gisele Bundchen, are fans of the mental aspect as much as the physical benefits. “With guided instruction and carefully curated music, we invite students to witness their resistance to discomfort,” Toomey tells Us of her program, which has outposts in New York City, The Hamptons, Los Angeles, Hollywood and Vancouver, BC. “The result is an expansive, heart-opening, body-strengthening release.”
Every move is done in the confines of a yoga mat and is paired with a specific song, which sets both the tone of the room and the duration of the sequence. “I consider music to be my coteacher. If one or two songs are quiet and introspective, the next song will be euphoric,” Toomey explains. “This strategy, paired with movement, breath and sound helps to create surges of endorphins that help to clear and flush the physical the body.”
Participants are often deeply moved. A 2017 profile of the fitness guru in the New Yorker has Turlington commenting to a fellow student, “Something like this, it restores hope and faith.”
Another unexpected aspect that makes the 65-minute sweat session unlike other workouts is that trainers encourage attendees to make sounds, including screaming, while powering through difficult moves with the music at full blast.
“We offer the space for people to make sound if they feel — loud ‘Ah-ha!’ exhales and ‘Huh!’ when their feet hit the floor at the bottom of a burpee,” the pro tells Us. “Think about all the times you have been out there in the world and felt like there was so much pressure inside that you wanted to clear it out. We use sound along with breath to create release when we feel the ‘I can’t’ heaviness begin to build. We unblock some of the weight that keeps us feeling stuck, releasing the tension right in the middle of the intensity.”
The final payoff? “The Class will challenge and enlighten you all while building an incredibly strong, lean, resilient body. It’s true empowerment,” Toomey says of the method she began in 2011. “It’s not a trend, it’s a practice of life.”