An Honest Review Of The Class Workout

Here's what the unique fitness experience is really like.

An honest review of The Class workout.
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If you've ever wanted to let out a guttural noise during a super tough workout, The Class is for you. This somatic fitness class combines traditional exercise moves with meditation, dance, drum beats, and vocalizations to help you release pent-up emotions as you sweat. The result? A truly unique fitness experience that helps you feel better both physically and mentally.

As someone with an apartment full of incense, crystals, and candles, I figured The Class would be right up my alley. I’m always down to try new things, especially if said thing promises to reduce anxiety. (The fact that celebs like Alicia Keys and Gwyneth Paltrow are fans helps, too.)

The Class is unique because it’s designed to improve your strength, just like any other workout, but it also reduces stress and anxiety, calms your mind, gives you a greater sense of presence, and increases your emotional intelligence through the incorporation of meditation, sound, and movement. That’s where the cathartic, somatic portion comes in. As you move through each exercise on your mat, your Class instructor helps you process any emotions that come up — which you then release through sighs, noises, or motion.

After trying it a couple of times, I have some thoughts. Read on for my honest review of The Class workout.

What Is The Class?

The Class, founded in 2013 by Taryn Toomey, is a fun and challenging somatic — aka cathartic — workout that combines strength training, cardio, and mindfulness to help you feel better. It’s a mat-based equipment-free class that focuses a lot on moving to music, whether it’s a bunch of recognizable top 40 tracks or a vibe-y chant soundtrack you’d hear in a yoga studio.

The idea is to repeat just one move — like a burpee, squat, arm pump, or freestyle dance — for the entire length of one song as a way to release tension. As you do the exercise over and over, you’re supposed to observe how your body feels, as well as any thoughts that come up. The instructor guides you through the process by explaining what’s happening and reminding you not to judge yourself.

As you repeat a motion, you almost enter a meditative-like state that’s ideal for clearing your mind, releasing emotions, and regulating your nervous system. If you feel something bubble up, you’re supposed to let it out with a sigh or any sort of noise that feels right. With practice, The Class is said to help you develop resiliency tools that you can take with you off the mat.

The Class also has something for everyone. The platform offers many different versions of its signature sesh, including a low-impact option, deep stretches, meditations, classes that target specific areas of the body, class collabs featuring musicians, and shorter express classes. You can experience a workout in one of the studios in New York City or Los Angeles, where you can go immerse yourself with fellow exercisers, or you can hit up the digital platform for livestream and on-demand videos that you can follow from home.

My Experience

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My first class was an hour-long livestream with Scott Dyer. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I stood in my living room listening to the pre-workout relaxation music, but I was ready to get into it. When Scott came on the screen, he encouraged everyone to stretch, bend their knees, and feel present, kind of like the start of any yoga session.

We then moved through a series of exercises like burpees, squats, and Pilates-style movements like glute rainbows set to songs by Robyn, David Bowie, Rihanna, and Sam Smith. There were also freestyle dance segments where you’re supposed to shimmy around on your mat in whatever way feels good. While I totally would have gotten into it in person, it was nice to try it out in private at home with only my dog as a witness.

While it’s totally OK to bail out of a tough move and take a break, I found myself leaning into the repetitive, meditational vibe of it all. Even when my muscles were quaking, I wanted to keep moving to the rhythm — and it actually became easier the more I got into it. Scott also encouraged us to “vocalize”, as they say in The Class, by blowing air through the lips or sighing heavily, which was a big help when it came to releasing stress. One thing I noticed is that I kept yawning during the class — something that’s never happened to me in a more traditional workout. Turns out that a yawn is a sign that your body is releasing stress, which is exactly what The Class aims to do.

The second class I tried was an on-demand option with Linda Lopes. Caleb Spaulding was a guest collaborator on drums, which are meant to sync up with your heartbeat so you feel connected to yourself and the earth. When I first envisioned The Class, the whole drumbeat thing is what I had in mind: While we were moving, grooving, dancing, hopping, dropping into our heart spaces, and vocalizing to upbeat soundtracks, the live drums added to the intensity of it all — they even made it easier to get lost in the class, especially as we did multiple rounds of burpees. It's tough to explain, but burpees aren't so bad when you have drums to accompany you.

The Verdict

What I loved the most about The Class is how interesting it is. One session will contain elements of dance, meditation, yoga poses, and traditional exercises like burpees, donkey kicks, or round after round of jumping jacks. The repetition allows you to feel connected to your body, but there’s also enough going on to keep you interested. I never got bored.

In The Class you’re also encouraged to touch your body by putting your hands on your heart, your abdomen, your shoulders, etc., which helped me stay grounded and connect back to myself, especially after struggling through a sweaty round of burpees. This, plus all the meditation language and deep breathing, truly did feel healing. After class, my body felt like complete Jell-O — in the best way. I felt calm and relaxed and flooded with endorphins. My glutes have been on fire ever since, and I also feel a little more loose and flexible thanks to all the different ways I moved in each session. If you aren’t sure what type of workout to do, or if you’re looking for an exercise that feels super grounding, I definitely recommend giving The Class a try.

Studies referenced:

Mikkelsen, K. (2017). Exercise and mental health. Maturitas. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2017.09.003.