WELLNESS TEST DRIVE
Before starting a week of The Class, my workout regime consisted of morning stretching, one yoga and one barre class a week, and attempting to walk everywhere and take the stairs when I can—’everyday fitness opportunities,’ as I call them. My building elevator is known to be fickle, which leaves 11 flights for me to conquer every once in a while. Physically, I was feeling fine.
Even though I stay active, I’m not sure there is anything to prepare you for squatting or lunging to the full length of “Lose Yourself” by Eminem (each exercise is for the duration of a whole song). That’s approximately five minutes of non-stop lunging—but that’s the whole point. The Class is about putting yourself in an intense situation in hopes of getting into your head, getting to the voice telling you that you can’t do something or aren’t good enough or that everything is going to fall apart. “There are patterns between the physical body and your mind that you are unaware of,” says Taryn Toomey, founder of The Class. “It’s about getting to a place where you say, ‘Okay, I’ve got this,’ on the mat, so that you can have that clarity off the mat too.” The Class is about getting that voice to shut up and making you focus. My mind never shuts up, so I was worried.
Taryn, a former fashion executive, started The Class after studying yoga in Peru. Moved by the spiritual guidance she received from the shamans and yoga masters there, she decided to create her own blend of physical and mental exercise. Each class starts in the Mountain yoga pose, where you root the body from the ground up and “clear your space”—a Taryn Toomey-ism that pervades The Class—through breathing and set an intention. Then comes the yelling, or really more of a tribal chant, kind of like “HU-h, HU-h, HU-h.” While you’re chanting, you punch your fists to the ground and stomp or shake in place. Sounds odd; feels, and looks totally amazing as a group. From there, you work one muscle group at a time, one song at a time. It’s about expanding through squats and lunges, and expanding your body through a series of jumping jacks or burpees. Then, you run in place, and usually the “HU-h, HU-h, HU-h” starts again. There’s a series of push-ups and abs exercises before settling into a seated position for the heart opening series. As an emotionally dramatic song like “Orange Sky” plays, you wave your arms back and forth. You finish by ‘flushing’ everything out, bending into a squat and rubbing your hands together in a full-body sway before settling into a final savasana.
My favorite part of The Class is when you get to scream and dance to “release” or “clean your space.” This isn’t your typical weak, embarrassed yoga class “omm.” It’s a loud, full-on participation moment by everyone in the room. Don’t be shy; it’s the best part. When combined, a screaming series and endorphin high is equal to an hour in the therapist’s chair. Not going to lie, it got emotional at times. Tears happen, they happened to me, they’ve happened to everyone in The Class. “It’s emotional,” Taryn says. “You’re feeling and confronting emotions. It’s about not judging yourself and uniting in that feeling of ‘we are all human’.”
After spending a week with The Class, my whole body, though most noticeably my butt, was beautifully sore. My shoulders had relaxed away from my ears, and I felt mentally calm. Obviously not completely cured, but three classes in, and I already crave the post-class feeling. I found myself taking a minute to reflect in overwhelming situations and going into that feeling rather than reacting or detaching. The Class isn’t necessarily about physical transformation. That’s just a perk. It’s about transforming the way you think.
WHO IT’S BEST FOR
The Class is perfect for active women—or men, I saw a couple guys each class—with hectic lifestyles who are looking to “find peace through strength,” as Taryn says. I’d recommend knowing basic yoga poses, and although I saw a variation of staminas in each class, having a semi-active lifestyle. That said, it’s a very welcoming environment, and everyone should give it a try.
WELLNESS TEST DRIVE
I tend to eat pretty well—I cook my own meals from scratch most nights, forego fast food and most processed foods, and include lots of fruits and veggies in my diet. I’m always looking for an excuse to continue my ongoing workout regimen of nothing, never.
A five-day Juice Press cleanse, focusing on their organic juices. No food, alcohol, or—gasp!—Starbucks for five whole days. Since this was my first time cleansing, and I was a bit nervous, Alex Jay, Juice Press’s health coach and nutrition expert, suggested that I ease into the cleanse by making my first day half raw foods (a raw, soaked oatmeal for breakfast, a kale salad for dinner) and half juices. After that, nothing but juice and water for five days. But Alex did catch onto my nerves about giving up coffee and layered in some of Juice Press’s organic cold brew coffee drinks made with almond milk.
Juice Press differentiates itself from other brands on the market by carrying only organic products in a huge variety of flavors, and the fact that they don’t use high pressure pasteurization or any other form of preservation. ‘High pressure pasteurization?’ I hear you asking. Basically, a lot of juices are subjected to pressure in order to kill any pathogens that might cause the juice to spoil, thereby extending shelf life. The only problem is that, when you kill those little bad guys, you can kill a lot of the good guys, too—nutrients and enzymes that breakdown under pressure. Juice Press keeps everything super fresh—I received juice deliveries every two days to ensure that everything had just been made. They don’t need to treat or preserve their product. The reason for a juice cleanse in the first place? “Juice is nothing more than plant-based nutrients,” founder Marcus Antebi told me. “The juice machine does the chewing for you. Juice is a liquid salad with the cellulose fiber removed. It’s perfect food because there is little to no digestion needed—the nutrients enter the blood quickly.”
Around day 4, I noticed I started feeling really light, almost floaty. I also noticed I had a ton of energy right when I woke up in the morning, which isn’t always the case for me. Product-wise, the high points were an amazingly flavorful raw gazpacho soup, the raw ginger Rehab Shot—it packs a wallop!—and the Lucky Seven juice blend.
While it wasn’t my goal, I did lose a bit of weight and noticed that my stomach felt a bit flatter. I also had an overall sense of wellness, like my body and mind appreciated the fact that I was consciously doing something to take care of them. And bonus: quite a few people told me my skin had a glow.
WHO IT’S BEST FOR
This is perfect for anyone who’s looking to jump-start a change toward overall wellness or looking for a refresh button in their routine and a way to boost their energy.
Senior Fashion Writer
WELLNESS TEST DRIVE
Since fall began, I had totally abandoned a summer of barre classes and at-home crunches and squats. I generally go through phases with working out and really have to connect with the form of exercise I’m doing to keep at it. It’s always a challenge to find a class that holds my interest. I was definitely feeling unmotivated and in mediocre shape prior to this challenge.
Doing a week of WeFlowHard Vinyasa classes at the three Y7 Studio locations: Williamsburg, Flatiron, and Soho. Taught by highly trained teachers, each class is 60 minutes of fast-paced flows set to loud hip-hop music in a heated (80 – 90 degrees!), candle-lit setting. The goal of each class is as much about deepening the connection of mind and body as it is about having fun and sweating.
Brooklyn-based Sarah Larson and her husband Mason Levey launched Y7 Studio in 2013 out of frustration for not being able to find the type of yoga classes they wanted. They sought something fun and challenging without the fluff of chanting and chakras, plus they found hugely varying class schedules mostly confusing. Y7 was their ‘beat pumping, sweat dripping, candle-lit” solution. They offer only two options: WeFlowHard Vinyasa and Slow Burn, which is a slower class that focuses on the foundation and structure of the movements. From the fun playlists to the challenging flows, the teachers are creative and no two classes are exactly the same, though the structure is. For the vinyasa, each class begins with a warm up, then there’s a series of three flows (always different). Each flow is done three times—the first time is slower, the second is faster, and the third time is a chance to free-flow, allowing people to adjust to their personal yoga level or just do a child’s pose if it’s all a bit much. The third flow of class is the hardest and definitely the peak of class, as at this point the sweat is profuse and the body is exhausted. The class wraps up with a bit of core work and a cool down.
The combination of the loud music and the sweat-inducing heat fully pulled me into the moment, allowing me to totally clear my mind of daily stresses, which is extremely challenging for me. The darkness and lack of mirrors meant I wasn’t looking at myself or anybody else—I was just present with my movements and breathing. It’s almost like the music and darkness eliminate inhibitions—like the wellness version of a late night on the dance floor!
It only took one class to make my muscles extremely sore (like, all of them), which means there were definitely changes and benefits happening in my body. After doing a few classes, I felt stronger and empowered to exercise again more regularly. I want to keep sweating!
WHO IT’S BEST FOR
Loud hip-hop and dripping sweat aren’t for everyone—so, it’s easy to rule some people out. I recommend this for people easily bored by more passive forms of yoga and who desire their workouts to be a fun challenge.