Taryn Toomey wants you to try something new—just like she did.
While transitioning between jobs at fashion houses, Toomey realized she was not following her heart’s desire. She promptly gave up that career and became a certified yoga instructor, eventually inventing “The Class,” a 75-minute workout that utilizes the body’s own weight resistance to build heat and strengthen muscle groups.
Here, Toomey touts the benefits of group exercise and the importance of observing and listening:
Live The Process: From where does your passion for group exercise come? And what inspired you to found The Class?
Taryn Toomey: I have always loved the energy of group settings, not just in a fitness classes, but also in life at concerts or gatherings with friends. It is interesting how group experiences can be so different from one another: one can completely drain you, while another can truly inspire. I think it is important to maintain awareness of how and why you allow certain energies to affect you.
I originally started The Class to help fund an incredible children's home in Peru called, Casa de Milagros. My dear friend who founded it passed away, and I was so moved by the twice-orphaned children who were heartbroken. It was a way for me to get involved and help support them with the funds they so desperately needed. The intent was never for the class to grow the way that is has, but it seems that people are seeking the mind-body connection in many aspects of their life.
LTP: What prompted your career change from fashion to fitness?
TT: I have always been into fitness and dreamed of being able to teach yoga. I thought it was impossible to actually make that switch, as one needs to teach to learn to teach and the process felt daunting. I was leaving one fashion house and moving to another one and I realized that the change was not actually making me more content. It wasn't the company that was making me feel unhappy; rather, I wasn't listening to my heart. This change promoted me to step up to the challenge of doing something I thought was impossible and jump into the deep end. I did a month-long intensive yoga teacher training and began to get myself out there, taking small jobs at startup studios and boutique gyms, looking to find my voice. Eventually, The Class was created after I had my first daughter and I wanted to add some more fire and sculpting into the grounding, breath-filled yoga I had taught for years.
LTP: Is there an unproductive habit or stress that can distract you from your wellness-driven life? How do you resist its pull?
TT: I tend to only hear the negative feedback about myself in loud capital letters instead of balancing it with the positive. I can dig myself into a hole with one nasty word or comment. I am working to be more mindful of the sensation it causes in my physical body and remind myself to breath in, out and let it go. That’s the sticky stuff for me. It’s essentially what I teach in class. I think it resonates with people because they can apply that to all aspects of unhealthy patterns, both physical and mental. The awareness of it is step one. I am still on step one, but it is changing and shifting for me daily, thank goodness!
LTP: We all struggle to motivate ourselves, even in pursuit of happiness and health. What are your tips for embracing exercise and other wellness routines that test our commitment to ourselves?
TT: Try new things! We live in an amazing world where people are constantly creating new ways to exercise and connect mind and body. Open yourself up to change, ask your friends what they do and join them. When you find something that you enjoy, commit yourself to it. It could be a teacher, a class, a studio or a community. I tell people when they are embarking on a new fitness lifestyle to schedule their workout like an appointment on a calendar.
When I first starting doing yoga, I would make excuses to myself about why I couldn't go. Then I would think of downward dog because I loved the way that first down dog felt. I stayed with that feeling in my mind’s eye and that would get me to class. In the end, I was always grateful that I pushed myself to go. When you think, "No I can’t. I’m too busy, too tired…" think of something you love about it and feel the resistance melt away!
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
TT: It looks like a summertime afternoon sweat fest into an early evening beach trip with my two little girls and husband. The way the air and sun feel at that time of year and day feels as if you can actually drink in happiness with your breath.
LTP: What does it mean to you to "Live The Process” and how do you do that every day?
TT: It’s a beautiful phrase. For me, it’s observing life as it presents itself and listening to your emotions tell you a story from which you can receive boundless insight.