Fuck! Yes! There it is! Let it go! Get it out! Taryn Toomey is shouting as she bounds between sweaty bodies on mats. It is 7.30am on a Tuesday and I am half-engrossed in the pain of endless burpees, half-high on the energy of the room. When Gabrielle Bernstein coined the term spirit junkie I’m not sure this is what she meant; but there is definitely something spiritual going on, and I’m beginning to understand the addiction known as theclass.

This is my first time in Taryn’s practice and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d read that Gisele (no last name needed) had been spotted here and that Naomi Watts frequented—incentive enough to lure me out of the house before dawn, but was also drawn to the idea of something-like-yoga-but-more-hardcore—for those of us who need to sweat to feel like they’ve accomplished something—or in Taryn’s words, release ‘the sludge’. theclass is a wild, warrior-chanting love child of yoga, cardio and bootcamp. It’s as close to an animalistic ritual you’ll get in downtown New York City, with Taryn as leader of the tribe.

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Taryn will remind you of your friend who you hear before you see. It’s hard to believe such volume—such presence—can come from one person, especially when they take up as little room as she does. Taryn has the long, lithe muscles often promised to and yet rarely achieved by women everywhere. Blonde hair pulled back. Her skin, bare and bright, is no-shit glowing. It is 7.15am in the morning, the woman literally woke up like this. Later, when she prances past as I am collapsing in a heap of sweat-soaked-delirium, I glimpse her perfect pink pedicure and tan shaven calf. I immediately flatten my plank into the actual hard version, not the cheating version. I don’t want Taryn to think I’m a pussy. Appearance aside, she has a weightlessness to her movement—yet she’s felt with resounding force. Taryn’s combination of grace and power align with her mission of finding peace through strength. And you do find it, or at least feel flashes of it in between your screaming heart. If nothing else, theclass is unapologetically cathartic.

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We start with a bent-kneed, jumping movement that involves shaking your shoulders and hands (Taylor didn’t invent shake it off, Taryn did), punctuated by loud ‘HA’ noises (get comfortable, quickly, with looking like a crazy person). This is followed by a million jumping jacks, during which Taryn mirrors the bent and broken shapes we are making (zombie facials, dead-bird arms) and corrects this with the right form: arms reaching wide, eyes to the sky, big grin. She calls this ‘clearing your space’. You can feel the room physically resonate with this as she yells it over the music. It’s the perfect mantra for overworked, overstimulated New Yorkers who, besides having sacrificed their personal space in a literal sense, are caught up in their incessant A to B, grinding and blinding lifestyles. I am clearing the shit out of my space like Taryn is telling me to. It feels good.

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We start a series of balancing movements, bending one leg and lifting the other behind us off the floor. I have cramp in the arches of my feet but I am a pretty good balancer. Just as I start to question the metaphor in this (Taryn is all about metaphors, a girl after my own heart) we start doing burpees and my self-reflection is replaced with acute suffering. I am no stranger to burpees, but we do a lot of them. A LOT. This is all part of it though—finding ‘your wall’ and pushing through it. I am relieved when we lie down on the mat and retire from cardio, at least momentarily. But there is no rest in Taryn’s class, the challenges just take new form. This is Taryn’s theory for pain: it is simply change. As I do my 10th push-up, I try convince my shoulders they are experiencing change, not pain. It kind of works. A sculpting series targeting the enemy known as bum-meets-thigh is followed by more jumping jacks and vigorous body shaking. The 75 minutes is almost up when we return to sitting on our mats for a short meditation to close. My body is tired, yet somehow, I am full of energy.

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Taryn’s vitality is so intense, it can only come from a deep, sacred place. This makes sense when I learn about her motivation. During a retreat to Peru, Taryn met a woman called Mama Kia who ran an orphanage in Cusco. Kia adopted 25 Peruvian children in addition to her own biological 4, yet passed away in 2010. theclass is dedicated to honoring Mama Kia’s legacy.

For the month of December only, Taryn is offering a 20% discount for the first class purchased by members of the OKREAL community. The 20% that you save will be donated to Mama Kia’s orphaned children. To sign up for theclass go here, click on the link to register, and use code OKREAL when booking through Mindbody. Note that this code can only be used once, and is for the purchase of a single class (as opposed to a 5-pack or 10-pack).

Be warned—all of Taryn’s classed are wait-listed, so you’ll need to book pretty swiftly to reserve your place. All you need to bring is your baggage, ready to burn.

Amy Woodside

Photography by Jamie Baird, care of theclass

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