Taryn Toomey is the CEO of The Class, a fitness method and “practice of self study” that incorporates cardio, meditation, and therapeutic yelling (Jennifer Aniston, Christy Turlington, and Gisele Bündchen are fans). Before founding The Class in 2013, Toomey spent a decade in the fashion industry, working for Ralph Lauren and Dior. Now, her company has studios in four cities, offers nutrition programs and retreats, and has amassed a cult following for Toomey’s mystical-meets-practical style of guru-dom. She lives in Manhattan with her two daughters. Here’s how she gets it done.
On a typical morning:
As soon as I wake up, I brush my teeth, scrape my tongue, and put on a face mask. Then I do a few rounds of Uddiyana Bandha, which I learned over a decade ago when I did yoga teacher training. It’s breath work where you take a full, big inhale and then you exhale all the air out, and then you do a mock inhalation. It folds your diaphragm all the way up and massages your organs and gut and ignites the Agni fire in the stomach. I’ll do that with warm water and lemon in my stomach, and it wakes up the digestive system. If I don’t do it, I’m sort of uncomfortable throughout the day.
Meditating in the morning is a non-negotiable, even if I can only sit for three minutes. I’d like to sit for 20, but that’s not always realistic. As long as I get to close my eyes and check in with the state of my mind and body, then I have a marker to measure where I’m at.
In between brushing my teeth and doing the Uddiyana Bandha, I’m getting breakfast ready for the kids. They know to respect my meditation time. I’ve told them, “Come grab me only if the house is burning down.” At first they would come in and say, “The house is burning down!” And I wouldn’t move. I had to show that it’s an important time. I think if you have rituals then everybody else adapts to them.
On family meals:
I try to teach my children about food and educate them based on the feedback from their bodies after they eat. My youngest daughter has unknowingly proclaimed herself a vegan. She just eats mostly plants. And my older daughter is a pasta carbohydrate girl. I’m neither of those, so usually, we each wind up having our own different meals. I’m sure that’s not a strong parenting move, but it’s where we are right now. I do the best I can.
On a typical workweek:
My work schedule varies, because I teach four times a week and all my classes are at different times. For the most part, I aim to leave the house by 7:50 a.m., which usually means 8:05 a.m., and drop the kids off at school. If I’m teaching, then I go straight to the studio. I teach early on Tuesday mornings so on those days I have my nanny drop the kids off at school. And then I usually have meetings in the afternoon.
On days I don’t teach, I usually try a different workout. Recently I’ve been doing some SLT, and I’ve been going to Soul Cycle forever. I love to experiment and support some of the other fitness movements.
On managing stress:
I’m very much a normal person doing the work to help myself heal. And that includes moments of stress. I ride the wave and say things like, “I’m so stressed out and so overwhelmed,” or whatever it is I’m feeling. I think that healthy expression helps. Otherwise, you get into cycles of anxiety and shame.
I get stressed out when I haven’t spent time with my kids. Or when I feel like I’ve maybe hurt somebody’s feelings, even if it’s unintentional. I’m a bit too sensitive around that; people even joke about it within my company. I also get stressed out when I know that I am actively not taking care of myself in the way that I should. I’ve always had a pretty strong constitution and I can hold a lot of energy and movement from place to place. But when I’m burning the candle at both ends, that’s when I wake up in the middle of the night and think, “How am I going to unwind this?” And I’ll talk myself through it instead of laying there freaking out. It might sound silly, but I had to learn how to re-parent myself because I grew up without a lot of guidance. So when I’m getting anxious, I have to call the adult into my brain and talk to myself.
On her daily uniform:
I’m almost always wearing a version of the same outfit. It’s a long-sleeved, low-back bodysuit, which I wear to the office with workout pants over it and these little Isabel Marant booties to give myself a non-sneaker look. And then I wear a cape over that. When I go into the studio, I take off the cape and the shoes and I can teach in that outfit. I keep a clean version of the same outfit in my bag, and I change after class. I love the look of a long-sleeved, low-back bodysuit — I think it’s so classic. And if you put a cape or a scarf or something over it, you can go in and out of meetings or appointments and you don’t look like you’re wearing workout clothes. I call it my convertible look. Capes and shawls are my thing. They feel very ethereal but also elegant and protective. If I have something to go to at night, I’ll roll up a slip dress in the bottom of my purse and throw it on with the same cape over my shoulders.
On describing her job at parties:
I love to go to events and support my friends. But the issue is always that someone sits down next to me and says, “So what is it you do?” And I’m always like, “What do I do? What do I call myself?” I usually say, “I have a health and wellness company.” But that just falls so flat. And they’ll say, “Oh, what is it?” “It’s a music-based workout where we use the body to engage the mind.” I end up having that conversation so many times. But it’s shifted a little bit now that The Class is more well-known.
I have the same non-healthy habits that everyone else has. I overdo it sometimes. And I just have to learn how to self-regulate quicker. If you pull the pendulum too far, it’s going to swing that far back the other way. So when I do something against my own best interests, I try to make sure that the swing isn’t too far off my midline. And I try not to fall into self-loathing, because that perpetuates the non-healthy habits. The word “healthy” is loaded, too. What feels grounding for one person might feel like a very unhealthy habit for another. For me, acting out by self-loathing is an unhealthy habit. If I’m in a state of mind where I’m really stressed out about something, I’ll overeat like the best of us, all the stuff that makes me feel bad. And then the next day I’m self-loathing about it. I’ve realized that the non-healthy habit is not about the food; it’s about how I’m using food to create this self-loathing cycle that hurts my ability to feel grounded in my life.
On her nighttime routine:
I take sleep really seriously. I think it’s one of the most important things you can do for your own mental, physical, and emotional health. Everyone should know what their own optimal amount of sleep is. Mine is around eight hours. I probably get more like six-and-a-half to seven, but I still aim for eight. I also do not drink water for at least an hour or two before I go to bed, because it’ll make me wake up in the middle of the night and interrupt my sleep. I think it’s better to be well-slept than well-hydrated at night.
I have a no-electronics zone in my bedroom. Before I go to bed, I leave my phone downstairs in the kitchen, and I use an alarm clock to wake up. I always wash the day off, whether it’s the bath or shower. Then I do a nice skin-care routine and crawl in bed and put my legs up the back of the headboard, just to decompress the nervous system. I recently got this new bed from Savoir [Editor’s note: Toomey has a partnership with Savoir]; before that I never understood the importance of a comfortable bed. I try to give myself 20 or 30 minutes before I close my eyes, just to lay there and breathe and maybe read. It takes at least 30 minutes to remove the external feedback — emails, things people said — to get the body ready for sleep.