Picture this… you’re in a dark candlelit room, surrounded by a sea of bodies jumping around you, vibrations are high and the energy is intoxicating. You feel safe, supported and completely free. You are also a hot sweaty mess but glowing from the inside out. Welcome to the world of ‘emotional workouts’—the latest and greatest fitness trend that fuses the spirituality and heart opening energy of yoga with the high-intensity training of calisthenics. Spearheading the movement is New York-based studio ‘The Class’ by Taryn Toomey. Toomey—who originally began ‘The Class’ in her home—now has a cult following all over the US and has managed to carve her own unique niche in a saturated market (in the US alone it’s estimated 80 million people on average practise yoga, according to Yoga Journal).
Sculpting the bodies and clearing the souls of everyone from Jennifer Aniston to Christy Turlington and Naomi Watts, the yoga cardio hybrid class is a deeply liberating experience that aims to empower you, raise your vibrations, clear heavy emotions and leave you drenched in sweat all at once. Now the ‘emotional workout’ trend is making its way over to Australian shores, with Sydney studio Barre Body also offering their own take on it with ‘Elements’ described as more lower intensity but still ‘flowing and free physical workout that pushes boundaries and provides moments of stillness and connection,’ according to founder Emma Seibold, as told to Whimn. Little wary of the whole ‘unleashing your emotions’ part? To shed some light on it and dispel any nerves,Amodrnspoke to Raj Barker, an Australian The Class instructor living in New York to find out a little more about the benefits and why diving deep into this unique fitness experience is the best thing we could do for our body and soul.
Let’s begin with the basics… how does it work?
“If you were to come to The Class you can expect a music-driven, mat-based practice of self-study through physical conditioning. By using simple, repetitive calisthenics and plyometrics, we purposely challenge the body to engage the mind. We will invite our students to witness their resistance to discomfort and then watch as it unravels into an expansive, heart-clearing and body-strengthening result.
What does the experience feel like… will I cry?
“Our jobs as teachers is to assist students to go below the surface of discomfort and really enquire with what is showing up for them physically and mentally. When we train our minds how to do that, essentially we are paving the way for how we show up in our daily lives too. So in saying that, a lot of people have emotional responses for sure! But as teachers, we hold space for people to feel whatever they need to feel through. It’s not our goal to have the room in tears or have people leaving on a high. It works differently for everyone and there is no right or wrong reaction, anything goes—and there’s not too many situations in life where you are really given full permission to process that. I think that is a big drawcard—it’s a 100 per cent judgement-free zone.”
Can yogis who aren’t cardio fans still enjoy it?
“When I first attended The Class I will admit I was a bit of a ‘yoga snob’—meaning it was the only form of movement I engaged in. After much resistance and hearing about the hype surrounding The Class, I attended my first class with Taryn and after the first song, I was sold. I was completely out of my depth physically, but after a few classes my body began to grow stronger and the practice shifted everything for me, not just physically but emotionally too. The Class is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. The movements are familiar, but it is the element of ‘speak’ paired with our carefully curated playlists that gives it its uniqueness.”
“At 32 I am physically the strongest I have ever felt, even after years of a traditional disciplined yoga practice. The method provides the fire, the yang; and yoga provides the softer, yin. My yoga practice has physically strengthened as has my meditation practice. Moving energy creates space for deep stillness.” “While it can take the body some time to adjust to the intensity it happens quicker than you expect so that should never be the reason to not indulge in this style workout. Our bodies are magic, we have to trust them more and this type of class shows us how to do just that.”
Do you see this workout becoming the way forward in fitness?
“Yes I think it will only get bigger—the demand for it here in the US is HUGE and with mindfulness and self-reflection at the heart of it, it’s just the beginning. We’re curious beings and as evolution would have it, we as humans are becoming more and more interested in developing a deeper connection with each other and with ourselves. In fact, Taryn never set about with a business plan, she just shared what was working for her with friends in her apartment in downtown New York and then they started inviting their friends and the ripple effect began!”