Have you heard of The Class? The spiritual mind-body workout created by celebrity fitness trainer Taryn Toomey is the latest cult fitness craze to hit New York and Los Angeles—and attract fans from Naomi Watts to Christy Turlington Burns. For the uninitiated, the 65- to 75-minute session consists of repeated calisthenics and plyometrics set to a carefully curated playlist. It's one-part yoga, one-part aerobics, one-part strength training, and, as many will attest, incredibly cathartic (seriously, people in class will literally scream at the top of their lungs, and many are brought to tears by the end).
According to Toomey, music is the key to unlocking the whole experience. Here, she talks more about what goes into compiling her soundtrack and shares one of her playlists exclusively with InStyle.
What inspired The Class?
I spent years in the wrong industry (corporate fashion) feeling out of place and constantly craving movement. I finally decided to take the plunge, quit my corporate fashion job, and enroll in a yoga teacher training. After a few years teaching yoga, I realized I needed more fire in my practice. I needed to shake up and clear "stuck" energy, emotion, and residue that had accumulated in my body throughout my life. The Class slowly and organically developed from there.
How does music factor into the sequence?
Music is of the utmost importance—I consider the music to be my "co-teacher." In The Class, we work with the theories of contraction and expansion in the body. That also applies to the way that we plan the playlists. If one or two songs are quiet and emotional, the next song will be explosive. This strategy paired with movement, breath, and sound helps create surges of endorphins that help to clear and flush whatever emotions come up in the body.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
I have loved music as far back as I can remember. Some of my favorite artists are Florence + The Machine, The XX, London Grammar, Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac), Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Sleeping At Last, and a new artist I just started listening to named Maggie Rogers.
How do you pick and choose your songs?
Each playlist is carefully curated. I try to think about the singer as a human being. Is it someone I would like to hang out with? Is their message something I want to believe? If so, I bring them into my class. I have a tendency to lean towards singer-songwriters. You'll find a combination of quiet, emotional music that makes you feel the heart space and gets you still as well as high-energy music that builds to a crescendo and explodes.
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Where do you find new music?
Apple Music. I'm old-school. I have five years of playlists. I know it's archaic.
Are there certain songs you always end with or pair with certain exercises?
My music is constantly evolving and changing depending on where I'm at personally and emotionally. For burpees, sometimes you'll hear an intense rap song. Sometimes you'll hear a slow and melodic song to bring the breath through the body in a more gentle way. The final song of action is more upbeat so people leave class feeling inspired and light. After that, we end with breath work and meditation to quiet, soul-soothing music (typically with no lyrics).
Listen to Toomey's playlist below.