Here at Byrdie, we’re constantly on the lookout for the next big thing. The next BB cream, the next ombré, the next lob, the next juice trend—and we’ve been wondering for some time now what the next SoulCycle would be. A fitness workout that takes hold and sweeps the entire country, turning first-timers into teachers and amassing a devoted fan base that spreads word of its virtues like evangelists. Despite its nearly decade-long presence in the fitness world, we have yet to see another workout quite match SoulCycle’s status—but we found the one that will. Still remarkably under the radar and founded by a relative unknown, the mysteriously named The Class, is poised to be the next big—and we mean big—thing in the exercise industry. Keep scrolling to read what it’s all about, and trust us—you’ve gotta see this.
So what is The Class? It’s a 75-minute cardio and strength-training workout with deep roots in yoga, that describes itself as a “cathartic mind-body experience." Founded by a fashion exec–turned–yoga teacher, Taryn Toomey, The Class at first glance seems a little crazy. Kooky maybe, even a bit cult–ish. A video posted on its website (which you can watch below) depicts women jumping, shaking, and bellowing—almost in a Tarzan-esque “I am woman, hear me roar” kind of way. As they pound their arms through the air and shake it out, Toomey’s husky voice-over says things like “we unpack the body, we move the outermost layers off … and you can start to access the voice that’s in the head.” Toomey continues, “We use the intensity to get to that voice”—the intensity being heart-thumping, calorie-burning, sweat-inducing cardio.
Though for some it all may sound a bit poetic or perhaps out-there, the language used by Toomey will sound familiar to anyone who’s ever taken a yoga class. The kinds of metaphoric affirmations used in the yogi practice are similarly introspective, healing, loving, and based in metaphysics, where students are encouraged to ground their feet into mother earth for support, listen to the self-limiting voices in their head, let go of self-doubt, push themselves to reach their potential, and feel the love and support of the earth holding them up.
What Toomey decided to do that’s so transformative and powerful—and has the makings of a cult creation—is to increase the “fire.” In other words, The Class takes the foundation of yoga—a healing and strengthening exercise that’s done with no machines or equipment, only the weight of your body against the earth—and amp up the intensity, making it a heart-pounding cardio class.
In a way, she reversed the SoulCycle formula. SoulCycle took a high-intensity exercise that already existed—Spinning—and added soul. Toomey took a calmer, slower, more soothing form of exercise that already had the soul—yoga—and added the high-intensity sweating. (No doubt yoga itself gets your heart pounding and your body sweating, but not like jumping up and down for three minutes at a time.)
And that’s what Toomey means by “the fire,” using intensity, as well as sound, for release. The women in her class quite literally yell, scream, and hum together, all while shaking, clapping, and pounding their shoulders against the air. It looks like a warrior-woman dance, like they are in fact cathartically shedding “what they’ve accumulated throughout the day, the week, the month”—built-up stress, self-criticism, and negativity. Like most people, Toomey thrives on collective energy, and she says the power of the group is what motivated her to found her class.
The truth is it’s kind of impossible not to fall in love with the concept of The Class, and with Toomey herself. She’s an absolutely striking, beautiful blonde with an impeccable body—the sinews of her muscles are literally breathtaking—and a life that sounds fairy-tale perfect. It’s easy for skeptics to cast an initial side-eye—or perhaps more accurately an eye roll—at her story and her belief system. What could this TriBeCa mom of two, whose clients include affluent Upper East Side moms, possibly know about self-doubt, fear, stress, and releasing it all through “fire”?
But then you watch video after video of her, and read interview after interview about her passion for self-growth, strength, and pushing past your potential, which are at the core of The Class—and you’re hooked. You believe it. You buy into the whole movement because you see—you can practically feel—how genuine Toomey is. Her magnetic quality, her star power, they make you—someone who’s never even tried the damned class—want to travel door to door singing its praises. And that, my friends, is how a cult fitness movement is born.
Perhaps the reason The Class resonates with so many (including supermodel Christy Turlington Burns and award-winning actress Naomi Watts) is because now more than ever before—in these times when everyone is stressed, everything is instant, and emotions are communicated via memes, emoji, and three-letter acronyms—we’re all craving something deeper. A deeper connection, to others and to ourselves. A place to connect with our deepest “voice” and break down the walls holding us back—with some direction on how to do so—which is exactly what The Class provides. More than just strengthening muscles and endurance, it strengthens the mind-body connection.
Toomey leads each class with the intent to incite the “deep release the mind receives from pushing the body to its limit,” and that is what gives something the makings of greatness. An obsession of epic proportions. A religious experience. If SoulCycle has proven anything, it’s that it’s not just enough to change the body. For a fitness craze to become a phenomenon, it also has to transform, as Toomey puts it, “one’s overall inner conversation.” She told Vogue, “Students build their mind-body connection and find strength they did not think possible. You push past self-doubt and achieve strength.”
And after all the intense, heart-pounding cardio, each class is sealed with what’s called fore-folding. “We pacify the nervous systems. We do some deep breath work. And then we seal with meditations so we can come back in. I want us to feel whole. I want us to feel grounded. I want us to feel aware,” she says in her website video. Mentally and physically, The Class and its magnetic founder want you to hear the voice of your “age-old” negative patterns—whether that’s criticizing your personal flaws, feeling incapable, telling yourself something is impossible, or resorting to unhealthy ways of coping with stress—and shift your mind-set. In doing so, you see results not just in the form of a sculpted, leaner body, but in the form of a clearer mind.
And though it’s currently only available in New York, a soul-affirming experience with the power to deliver inner and outer change is the kind of movement that grows organically, until it’s bigger than the founder could have even imagined. Toomey says the women who have already found her class did so through word of mouth—“people taking it and saying to their friends, You gotta try this.” Heck, we’re already worshipping at its altar, and we haven’t even tried it.
Had you heard of The Class before this? Do you think it’s the next SoulCycle? Sound off in the comments below! And click here for the best dry shampoos to get your strands through an epic sweat session.