This story was contributed by our wellness columnist, Michelle Calarco.
Taryn Toomey’s The Class has amassed a cult following with the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Christy Turlington, and Gisele Bündchen as fans. A cathartic workout experience, this fitness phenomenon is focused on restoring balance through heightening the mind-body connection.
Following a decade in fashion working for Ralph Lauren and Dior, Taryn, a mom of two, founded The Class after training to become a yoga teacher and studying with a shamanic healer. Below, we talked to Taryn about what her own personal fitness and self-care routine look like, and got some tips on how to strike a better work-life balance as moms.
The Well: What does your fitness and self care routine look like? Where do you find the time?
Taryn Toomey: I start my mornings with meditation and a sit with my harmonium. It holds a reverberatory power to help steady the inner chatter for me and connect to something much bigger. I prefer to workout in the morning on an empty stomach as I find this to be most effective for both my headspace and my body. I usually try to leave one hour open in the mornings for a workout so I can set myself up for the day. Movement is a very important and medicinal part of my life, so I prioritize it. I know some days when I show up on the mat I have to convince myself, “Just for 10 minutes…” and most of the time I end up carrying through the full hour once I get my body warm and my breath moving.
I have a nightly water ritual, where I take a shower or bath to physically and energetically wash off the day. I think it’s important to do this every evening, even if I showered earlier in the day. It can be two minutes. I love to use a salt scrub which helps to draw toxins from the body and exfoliate off the old.
And most importantly, I spend time with my two girls. Some cuddling and some good old belly laughs, just being silly. I know at times that feels like a ‘dream scenario’ as I know how kids can be. But if we lead by just being playful, being present and keeping it light, they generally follow.
The Well: What does a typical session of The Class entail? How does it encompass both mind and body?
Taryn Toomey: The Class is a cathartic workout experience that guides you to strengthen the body and notice the mind to restore balance. The practice is mat-based and music-driven. We repeat one move per song to create sensation in the body and observe our thoughts. In any given Class students can expect guided instruction and a carefully curated playlist to lead them through exercises they are familiar with such as—squats, jumping jacks, and burpees. In the places of frustration, we offer the use of sound through expressive “huh’s”, which supports dislodging old or pent up energy. The result is a mental clearing and emotional release.
The Well: How do you manage stress personally? Any vices?
Taryn Toomey: I use all the main stays we practice in The Class – breathing, knowing when to listen, staying present in each experience, and moving my body every day. I feel everything in my body so it’s a MUST for me.
Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed or destabilized I place my hands on my body and come back to my breath. I say it in Class all the time – we are practicing life – so I use the same practices we do in The Class in my everyday life to help me ground and stabilize.
I also find time to PLAY. Sometimes I’ll just walk around my apartment being silly, talking to myself. Or meeting up with my girlfriends and relaxing, laughing, sharing, connecting. This is good medicine for my heart.
I have the normal vices too. Eating my feelings. Too much computer and not enough quiet time. Saying “yes” too often when I know I should say “no” and thinking, ”It’s fine, I can do this.” It disturbs everything when I’m not taking the proper time to be alone.
The Well: What does an average day look like for you food wise? Do you follow a specific diet?
Taryn Toomey: I often use myself as my own case study, so I have tried many different ways of eating and cleanses to see what feels best for me. In doing so, I’ve learned how certain ways of eating made me feel versus others. I have found a way of eating that feels best for ME. It’s become a natural part of my daily routine and a form of self-care.
Lately I’ve been doing celery juice in the morning to try to cut back on coffee. Then I workout and will have a nice lunch – salad, fish, veggies. I use the word nourishment for food. Nourish yourself. What would that feel like? Ask your body. Let it guide you. Then do that.
The Well: Anything else to share with our mom community?
Taryn Toomey: Raising children and growing a business are similar in many ways. In some ways I feel like I’m raising a third child with my work. What’s key is being aware of your own “stuff” and noticing if you’re bringing that into your work or family life – if you’re projecting or over-identifying. Sometimes I’ll say at work, “I know this is my own stuff, so I’m bringing this here and am open for feedback.” I think it’s a bit of the same thing with children. Noticing if it’s a conditioned behavior – things you’ve learned from your mother or father – and asking yourself which of those you’d like to carry forward in your teachings and which of those you’d like to leave behind.
I also think truly being present with them is KEY. Show by DOING. It’s simple and equally challenging. Try no distractions from electronics or devices for a few hours. I leave my phone behind on weekends when I know I’m going to be with my kids. I think that feels freeing, and helps everyone.
About Michelle Calarco: Michelle is a communications expert and a wellness enthusiast. After honing her storytelling craft in media and television, Michelle went on to elevate the profiles of premier brands across the hospitality, healthy living, and better-for-you food spaces. She has always been passionate about living and eating well and became even more immersed in health when she became a mom. On weekends you can find her squeezing in a barre class (during Paw Patrol) and baking healthyish desserts with her little one. Michelle has a consulting business and resides in Greenwich with her husband and 2-year-old son.
Have an idea for something you want to see in the column? Write to Michelle at [email protected] or follow her @michelle.calarco