The Full-Body Workout That Made Me Forget About My Body Issues

I love working out. That might be a hard concept to understand given my…ample size, but that’s your problem. I think it’s because I spent so much time in nature as a kid and played sports my entire childhood. (Just please don’t ask me to go for a run; it won’t be fun for either of us.)

I’ve taken Pilates for almost 10 years, I try to go to ballet a few times a month, and any time I can get a spot, you will find me in Mitchell’s Beyoncé class at Broadway Bodies. You’d think I’d be used to often being the biggest girl in the room, but if you think that, you’re probably a robot.

It’s a rare workout when I can shut off the noise in my head and just lose myself in the physical activity I genuinely love. Much to my delight, I was lucky enough to have that experience last night when I attended The Class.

Created by Taryn Toomey, The Class is a 75-minute full-body experience that combines cardio, strength training and breath work. There are no props or equipment--just you, your body, your brain, and your sweat. There are burpees, there are squats, there are planks (oh, there are planks), and there is six minutes of continuous arm work. It is hard.

In addition to a super effective workout, The Class is also a place to learn to accept your bodies’ response to intense activity and move through the feelings rather than trying to ignore them.

This is a concept I find brilliant, not only for a workout, but for life in general. So many times I’ve been in a class doing something that felt terrible (hard-terrible, not painful-terrible; there’s a HUGE difference) and the instructor told me “don’t think about the pain.” I used to do the same thing when something was stressing me out in my personal life, I’d just tell myself not to think about it which of course only made me think about it more.

Why not instead just try to acknowledge that discomfort (physical or mental), accept that it sucks, calm your breath, and keep working through it until you get to the other side? It’s easier said than done, but like anything, the more you practice the easier it gets.

During last night’s class our amazing instructor (and my beautiful friend) Natalie not only cued us through the series of movements, but also reminded us to stay present in our bodies and encouraged us to think about how we can apply this philosophy in the outside world.

I was so focused on trying to stay present and keeping my mind calm in the face of some serious physical exertion, that I never once thought about how I compared to anybody else in the room.

On top of that, I am more sore today than I have ever been from working out, but I’ve had a harder time getting through other classes. I’m not saying you’ll be totally oblivious to how hard your body is working, but the simultaneous mindfulness work is a great distraction.

I’ve done a lot of classes where there was a “spiritual” element to the work, but it’s never rung particularly true to me before. I’m sure it helps that I already know and trust Natalie, but I think the philosophy behind The Class is so spot-on that anyone would be inspired by it.

I have officially drunk the Kool-Aid and I can’t wait to go back.

  • What about y’all? Does The Class sound like something you’d get into?
  • What are your favorite ways to sweat?