Fitness Review: The Class with TT
Last week I took The Class. Yes, that’s what it’s called, “The Class.” The vague name and even vaguer description as “a 75-minute cathartic mind-body experience” has had me curious for years. Initially, The Class was only taught 4 times a week in Tribeca. I was almost never able to make any of the times work and it was EXTREMELY difficult to get into class as it has amassed a cult following but offered so few spots. Today, The Class is offered 12 times each week (of those, one is a 45-minute Cardio version and two are hour-long classes, one of which is taught at Bandier and the other at The Movement). Although I’m not an evening workout person, I opted for the 6:30pm class at Bandier since it’s near where I live, the time fit with my work schedule, and its taught by The Class Creator and Founder Taryn Toomey. How could I not go to the mastermind behind it all? Plus, I figured I would feel less like a fish out of water if I took class away from the mothership (i.e. not at its Tribeca home). Basically, I was picturing blonde, slim women, wearing all white and one of the “super-charged” pieces of stone jewelry that retail on their website for anywhere between $695 and $10,800 – in sum, not what I automatically equate with “my people.” Since the class I took was an hour long and at Bandier, I assume that some of what I experienced is unique to classes taken at that location.
The second floor (well technically third, the actual second floor is for employees/corporate, but the second floor accessible to the public) of Bandier is home to Studio B, which houses several class types taught by a host of the who’s who in NYC fitness. My understanding is that the classes on offer rotate, although I’m not sure how long each one is in residence. Check-in was straightforward (give your name to the girl at the makeshift check-in desk), although I was not met with a friendly reception and was made to feel even smaller than I already am for not knowing where the bathroom, changing room, and studio space were. (So much for, ‘I’ll fit in if I take class there.’) Hoping the greeting was not a harbinger of things to come, I made my way into the changing area – two tiny, at best, curtained-off rooms with about 15 lockers each (definitely not enough for the approximately 50 person studio capacity). I found a free locker and shoved my bag in. I had been told to bring a towel but it turned out that the mats were preset with towels, which was a nice surprise. There was water for purchase but I suggest bringing your own so you don’t have to pay extra (and #green). It’s hard to say exactly how many people were in class as the hour is basically non-stop movement, a lot of which happens with your eyes closed, and the room is dark (not pitch black but that deceptive twilight light where things have a way of popping out of no where). I’d guess there were about 40 people. I wish there had been at least 10 fewer students and more than a handful of inches between mats.
The Workout: (all done with body weight and no props)
Although class was very crowded, making it hard to see (this was also due to the lighting), the movements were simple, though challenging, so once you knew what to do, you were set (The Class is known for each song being one exercise/movement and this was more or less what I found). Luckily, I had one of The Class’s instructors to my left so anytime I was lost I could glance over for guidance.
Here’s a run-down of actual exercises: (I may have forgotten something)
- Burpees. So. Many. Burpees. Two full songs of burpees to be exact and while the second did have a mini-break in the middle where I think we did some cat/cow, I honestly don’t remember because I was so focused on not collapsing.
- One song of jumping jacks. Yup, the whole song.
- A variation on lateral lunges (one song per side), partway through we used our arms to “throw”/let go/push away whatever was holding us back, this was accompanied by grunting/noise. (See below)
- A song of modified push-ups (I used the crowd to my advantage here and did real push ups… yes, I was that girl, I just needed more of a challenge and, like anytime I modify an exercise, I made sure it wasn’t going to disturb anyone around me).
- Seat: Down on our forearms, one knee bent and resting on the floor while the other pumped towards the ceiling at a 90 degree angle
- Inner thighs: Bridge while squeezing our knees/legs together
- Arms: I can best describe this as a pumping-flapping with our arms; I felt like a baby bird testing out its wings (see below). I felt this towards the end of the second arm song and really felt it the following day.
- Abs: Crunch variations involving extending opposite arms/legs- this got very dicey with the mat spacing. I would have liked more abs, but this is usually the case when I’m somewhere other than Flybarre.
- There was also pulsing squats where we rubbed our arms together to create heat/energy and times of “shaking the shit off” which I looked at like an exercise from my days of improv class and just had total fun with.
I’m not sure I made any breakthroughs here, not that I really expected to. There were moments when I could start to get into the “what is holding you back” headspace only to be quickly drawn out by the many instances of “shit” and “fuck/fucking” that Taryn used. For me, motivation and inspiration doesn’t come from a place of anger, though I know that for some this approach can be effective. I was also put off by a comment she made which described letting it all go and moving around as being the opposite of anxiety and depression. Both of these are real and personal conditions and no two experiences of either will ever be alike. For her to say that what we are doing in that room is the opposite of them, as if it is even a cure, is just not true. Maybe for someone it is, but wholesale blanket statement, no.
All in all, I don’t think I’ll be returning to The Class again. While Taryn certainly has tons of energy and her enthusiasm and commitment to the method is palpable, there was a negative, intensity to her energy that I found off-putting. It was as if there was a wrong way and a right way (her way) to do The Class and if you didn’t do it the right way, then you had failed and why were you even there. With so much choice in New York, I can get a great workout at other studios where I don’t feel like I’m a sardine and the motivation comes from a place of positivity.
Have you tried any new fitness classes recently?