So when I was contacted by The Class—a celeb-favorite workout that’s been around since 2013—I was totally down, even though I had no idea what I was signing up for. The vagueness of the name had me needing to know more (brilliant marketing), so I went to the brand’s website, which described The Class as “the workout where fitness meets mindfulness.” Right underneath that was a statement that jumped out to me: “unstick yourself.”
I have been feeling “stuck” for a while, and by a while I mean probably since going back to work post-Covid. I have been in both an emotional and physical funk. Physically, I know working out is a great mood booster (I am a personal trainer after all), but I also had zero motivation to actually move my body. Emotionally I’ve been navigating depression. My life doesn’t look or feel like it did pre-Covid, and I’m still trying to work out what my new normal looks like. I’m definitely existing, but maybe not thriving. So an offer to get “unstuck” in one workout? I was sold.
So, what is The Class, exactly?
The Class was created by trainer Taryn Toomey after she realized she wasn’t finding what she was looking for in other workouts. “She had just become a new mom, with all the ensuing feelings, sensations, and challenges that that comes with that time, and she was seeking a more cathartic practice than yoga was affording her at the time,” recalls Natalie Kuhn, co-CEO and founding teacher of The Class.
Kuhn says Toomey sought a workout that would help release pent-up energy and build resilience and awareness; that would provide “a way to get out of her mind and drop into her body,” Kuhn says.
Turns out Toomey had to make that workout herself, and thus The Class was born: a hybrid strength, mindful movement, and breathwork class in a league of its own. In every in-person session, which typically lasts 60 minutes, Kuhn says, “there will be some dancing, there will be tapping and shaking practices, there will be vocal release and sometimes, an emotional release—all woven into one practice.”
As for what that actually entails, Kuhn says: “Every Class will involve cardio, strength training, and guided-meditation, utilizing moves you probably already know—think jumping jacks, squats, burpees—set to an epic playlist that will make you feel more like you’re at a rock concert than a workout.”
“At the end of The Class, you can expect to feel stronger in your body, calmer in your mind, and more connected to yourself.” —Natalie Kuhn, co-CEO and founding teacher, The Class
One thing that makes The Class unique from other types of fitness classes I’ve taken is the release of energy through somatic movement—exercises that are designed to calm the nervous system. “Somatic practices work at a much deeper level”, says Kuhn. “They focus on repetitive movement to increase our bodily awareness.” The focus is really on the internal experience of movement, rather than the end result of pose.
Somatic practices (as modeled in The Class) also encourage you to be compassionate with your body. Many workouts focus on how to change your physical shape. But The Class aims to strengthen the body to become more connected to yourself, your behavior, and your needs—something you hear over and over from your class teacher, as well as through the intentional movements in each session.
In addition to the traditional offerings of The Class, the brand also offers The Class Sculpt (a spin on The Class that’s more focused on strength training), as well as yoga, meditation, and breathwork practices for a holistic approach to wellness. You can attend in-person classes at the brand’s studios in LA and NYC. Don’t have a studio near you? You can try the brand’s online studio courses instead. It costs $35 to attend The Class in person in NYC and $30 in LA; online memberships start at $33, following a free 14-day trial.
When practicing at home, Kuhn suggests setting up a space that allows you to make the most of the experience—sans distractions. “Create a space you can move in, allowing yourself to include props and rituals to elevate your practice. When we practice at home, it’s easy to get sidetracked by the dishes in the sink, or the dust bunnies on the floor, so it’s important you allow yourself a ritual that has the same impact as walking into a studio.”
My review of The Class
On my inaugural visit to The Class studio in Los Angeles, I entered a dimly lit room scented lightly with sage, ready to see what the buzzy workout was all about. There were about 15 other people in the room with me, set up on staggered yoga mats in front of a mirror. The instructor was positioned in the middle of the room.
The class began with a few yoga poses to warm up—familiar, comfortable territory for me. But before I knew it, we were on our feet and moving along to the music, encouraged to do whatever felt good to our bodies. I watched, surprised as other people around me started swaying, spinning, shaking, and doing body rolls to the music.
This was not so comfortable for me. I became super self conscious, and wondered if other people were watching me flail my body to the rhythm. As I looked around, worried that people were judging me, I realized I was the only creeper looking around. It’s me, hi, I’m the problem.
This kind of feeling is to be expected from your first experience with The Class, Kuhn says. “You get a little uncomfortable at first, in order to feel a whole helluva lot better in the end.”
Once I realized no one was looking at me or caring what I was doing, I was able to release and let myself just enjoy the movement. I swayed my body from side to side and allowed my arms to raise above my head, in sync with my hips. I also let my head roll, relaxing my neck and shoulders. It felt electric to move so freely. All of my muscles were firing up and energy was flowing through my body like it would come out of my fingertips.
The class wasn’t just moving your body to the music; it was so much more. After the free-form movement, which lasted for about four minutes (the length of the song), we pivoted to burpees. Specifically, doing burpees over and over again for the length of an entire song. It was tough, and I questioned if I could keep going. (The positive affirmations from the teacher helped, but my survival felt questionable in the moment.)
Being surrounded by all women, and sweating alongside them in this very free, liberating way was fun, positive, and full of energy.
I asked Kuhn after the fact about the whole burpees thing, and she says it’s an intentional part of the process with The Class. “We repeat one move for an entire song in order to build a contraction in the body that not only strengthens and lengthens your physical form, but is used to shine a light on the thoughts and feelings that arise. The teacher guides you to become aware of your body, mind, and heart in ways to help you build emotional intelligence as well as physical strength.” I definitely felt like both my mental and physical strength were put to the test by the end of the song.
After the burpees, we transitioned into other exercises. There were jumping jacks, speed skaters, planks, squats, and multiple types of crunches. Each move was repeated for the length of one song, tiring out my muscles. After each exercise, the teacher, Sam, had us place one hand on our heart and one on our belly and breathe in and out deeply and with control to come back to center.
For the cooldown we laid down as the teacher shared positive words and encouragement to go throughout our day. To close the practice, much like yoga, we brought our hands to our third eye and took a bow forward to the earth.
One of the things I enjoyed most about my experience with The Class was all of the girl power (this particular class only had women that day). It made me feel like I was doing the workout that the Barbies would have done in BarbieLand. Being surrounded by all women, and sweating alongside them in this very free, liberating way was fun, positive, and full of energy. The last song of the day was Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.” When she sings “I had a feeling that I belonged. I had a feeling that I could be someone,” in the chorus, all of the women in The Class were singing along in unison. This had honestly never happened to me in a fitness class (and trust me, I’ve tried many!). At first I was like, “What is happening?!”, but by the last time we heard the chorus, I was singing along and feeling free.
When I left, I felt an energy I can’t really explain. I truly did feel unstuck and like I was living in the moment. I felt lighter. As if all of the thoughts weighing me down before I went to class, were a little less loud in my brain. I had the sudden urge to be a better version of myself. After class I walked to a coffee shop down the street, ordered a tumeric latte, and took myself for a walk on the beach. I can’t tell you the last time I wanted to do even more activity after a hard workout, because there isn’t one.
My experience tracks with that of most devotees of The Class, says Kuhn. “At the end of The Class, you can expect to feel stronger in your body, calmer in your mind, and more connected to yourself,” she says. ”When we’re more connected to ourselves, we are more connected to the greater world around us.”