I follow The Class by Taryn Toomey on social media and have been inspired by her transformative workouts over the years.
So when I learned about her Global Immersion – a four-day, guided self-study program – I was naturally curious. Admittedly I had never even taken The Class before but knew enough from reading that the Immersion would likely be intense. The Class alone, whose fans include celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Naomi Watts, is designed to expose you to repetitive calisthenics and plyometrics while strengthening you through guided instruction and incredibly powerful music. You teach yourself to work through any discomfort and pain, both physical and mental.
Invited to experience the Los Angeles Immersion in May, I met up with 48 women from all around the world in a small ballroom at an area hotel. We were all ages, our bodies and minds reflecting the wear and tear from various stages of life. Each of us was there to learn, to let go, to find… something.
Welcomed by Toomey and her team, including founding teachers Jaycee Gossett and Natalie Kuhn, we all sat in a circle and introduced ourselves. Many of us were overcome by the energy in the room, and I was surprised by my own emotion. We were assured that any tears were simply a cathartic symbol of what was to be.
“We have a unique bird’s eye view on just how much this community will go through and eventually come out the other side,” Kuhn told me later. “What I see in opening circle is its pure potential.”
The next two days began with introspective silence over breakfast. The Immersion isn’t meant to foster social skills; but rather to guide you on a mission of self-discovery, allowing you to understand why you’ve become who you are.
Everyone then participates in a two-hour The Class led by Toomey. Again, I found myself emotional at times but mostly because I made it through long bouts of movement including jumping jacks and burpees. Whereas before I would always modify or quit when I became uncomfortable, Toomey constantly reminded us that our ability stems from our focus and intention. If you believe you can, you will.
The rest of each day consisted of educational programs – from learning about the science behind our thoughts to coping with residual bad habits. It was riveting to realize the internal voices I constantly fight while exercising parallel most challenges in my life: “This is too hard!” “I want to stop!” “It hurts!” The understanding that it is always my choice to ignore that pessimism whenever I want to succeed at anything was nothing short of earth-shattering.
We also deconstructed our patterns – especially those that can be destructive – and discussed them within small circles. I’ll admit it was difficult to completely open up to a perfect stranger about the dysfunction in my past but that is the beauty of the Immersion. Toomey and her team create such a safe harbor, the trust is immediate. There was no shame. No guilt. Just honesty. It was also a wonderful reminder that almost everyone is battling something, no matter their shell.
Interspersed with all the movement and reflection was meditation, which always helped calm and center me especially if I got overwhelmed. I was grateful to our teachers for realizing the intensity of the process and knowing we would need breaks.
“Every day we see people begin to shed more and more,” said Gossett, adding that her favorite moments are “where you see the light bulb go off for people, when they realize that there is life without the pattern and begin to see and believe that change is possible.”
The last program on the third day allowed us to release any negativity we had harvested and cleanse ourselves with a blessing that has become my daily mantra. (Do yourself a favor and Google “ho’oponopono” right now.) We then wrote down our intentions to let go of the past and allow our joy to manifest. And then we danced.
On the final morning before we all went our separate ways, we formed a circle and introduced ourselves again. It quickly became obvious that each of us had been indelibly changed. Through the process, I now recognized the limitations and barriers that I had unwittingly created for myself in my quest for happiness and a full life. And that awareness is the first step toward positive growth and healing.
Back home, once normalcy crept in and I settled into my responsibilities as a wife and mother, I worried that the empowerment I felt during the Immersion would dissipate. But it has only grown stronger.
For Toomey, the creation of her method “began with the intention to combine my self-prescribed medicine of music and movement with community and strength to heal myself,” she says. “That said, I truly had no hope or expectation for what it could become, I was simply sharing my journey. I feel incredibly grateful that this work has been able to positively impact as many people as it has to date. I’m not sure what more one could ask for in terms of feeling fulfilled.”
Family and friends have since asked me what the Immersion was like, and I still find it almost impossible to describe. I’ve joked that it was like a drug. And 10 years of therapy. And it was. But more than anything, it has allowed me a new perspective on how I want to live my life-and who I want to be.
The next Global Immersion will be held in November in New York City.