Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 27th 2017 Contents life A25
Saturday, May 27, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Popular new workouts target the body, mind and soul
It would be easy to brush off
fitness guru Taryn Toomey's The
Class as another hippie trend, but
you'd miss the magic. (She sprin-
kled crushed crystals underneath
the studio floors, which she says is
designed to draw out energy.)
You'd also miss stargazing at celeb
devotees like Naomi Watts, Jennifer
Aniston and supermodel Christy Turl-
Within minutes, the music swells,
the mirrors in the 85-degree heated
room begin to fog and sweaty ponytails
come undone as participants perform
five grueling, uninterrupted minutes of
squat jumps while Toomey unleashes
occasional expletive-laced insights.
"We're really using the physical body
as a metaphor to deal with what's out
there," said Toomey, a former fashion
executive for Ralph Lauren and Dior,
who opened a luxe studio in Tribeca,
New York in January.
The goal of her 75-minute class is
to train the mind to create new ways
to respond---rather than react in the
moment ---to challenging external trig-
gers. Other spiritual workouts gaining
popularity around the US include the
intenSati Method, Qoya and Equinox's
Headstrong. Yoga and tai chi have drawn
from these principles for years, but a
new crop of workouts includes more
cardio and strength-training moves
as many fitness buffs seek more than
a six-pack from their workouts.
Toomey leaves a moment at the end
of each song to stop the physical move-
ment and encourage participants to re-
flect. "How are you feeling, not what
are you thinking?" she asks the class.
Headstrong uses high-intensity in-
terval training and changing stimuli
to challenge the body and brain. The
first three sections of the class focus
on stretching, agility and intensity;
the class ends with a 15-minute guid-
Qoya founder Rochelle Schieck in-
corporates lots of free movement into
her women-only workout that refers to
"movement as medicine." It's the least
physically challenging of the bunch and
is good for beginners, but it has a pow-
erful emotional takeaway.
Each Qoya class has a theme. If the
theme is freedom, participants are given
a moment to reflect on what it feels like
when they don't feel free. Then they ex-
press those emotions through free-form
dance. Schieck says there's immense
value in acknowledging uncomfortable
emotions like fear or anger and "letting
people embrace their wholeness instead
of pretending I always feel free."
Part of the class includes a few min-
utes of shaking, which is designed to
shake fear and discomfort out of the
body to calm the nervous system. The
class ends with a fun, choreographed
dance that might include kickboxing
moves to Survivor's Eye of the Tiger.
Both Toomey and Schieck followed a
similar journey in creating their work-
outs. Yoga wasn't enough for Toomey,
who longed for more fire and cardio.
Schieck was a yoga instructor but also
felt something was missing. She also
took pole dancing classes and loved its
physicality, but kept getting injured.
The change was so dramatic, her hus-
band started going.
"I had a very cathartic experience
with it. ... It really isn't about the phys-
ical for me. It's really about the men-
tal combined with the physical. It's so
multidimensional in that way and does
something that regular exercise can't."
Natalia Mehlman Petrzela is an as-
sociate professor of history at The New
School who is researching feminism and
group fitness. She spent years working
out at the gym, "but as a feminist, I was
so disappointed in the culture and the
language ... there was this dominant
language, 'This is for your bikini body,
what did you eat last night, how many
inches did you lose ladies?' It just fell
short in many ways of the much broader,
deeper potential of what exercise can
mean to women."
Petrzela started teaching the
high-energy cardio and strength inten-
Sati Method, which includes vocal affir-
mations. "When you're sweating, your
heart is pumping (and) there is science
that shows you're open or particularly
susceptible to your mind-set," she said.
IntenSati, created by Patricia Moreno,
starts with an affirmation reminder that
you can choose how you react to things.
The class includes squats, lunges, side
roundhouse kicks and punches while
chanting something like "I am strong."
Taryn Toomey during one of her fitness classes in New York. AP PHOTOS
New York celeb fitness guru Taryn Toomey, facing forward, during one of her
fitness classes in New York. Toomey says the goal of her workout is to train the
mind to create new ways to respond to challenging external triggers instead of
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