N A T A L I E K U H N
In the class you build a lean, strong body and cleanse the emotional and spiritual self through intense physical exertion, therapeutic instruction, and heart-pumping music.
LA. This is sort of big news… after 13 years in NYC, I am moving back to LA and I am bringing the class. This will be our very first expansion and just like any point of growth, I feel excited + terrified. It is an honor to be bringing this work to my hometown.
Natalie began to tell e about acting - feeling the pressure not so much physically, but internally.
When I was working at Lululemon, one of my friends and colleagues, Emily Carpio, told me about Taryn's (Toomey) class. Apparently it was really difficult but you left feeling like you shed the weight of the world. At the time, there wasn't a website or a name; you emailed her directly and got an address to go to. It felt like Prohibition for Fitness. I couldn't wait. That first class was so intense; I could barely walk the next day but I immediately dug her fiery spirit. As I left class drenched in my own sweat, I had a new sense of clarity that had a long carry over "high." After my second class she asked if I had thought about teaching. I said "oh my gosh, I don't look like you, I'm not nearly as strong or fit as you, the list goes on." And I remember so clearly, she said "its your energy. You've got the right energy for this." And that's when I thought - "Yep, let's do this." And just like that, I offered her a work-study proposal, she took me under her wing, I completely changed my work schedule, and six months later I started teaching.
I met Jaycee through Taryn. Early days, Taryn held a tiny class in her building's gym and Jaycee walked in with her lioness hair and magnetic spirit. I was looking for space to rent to practice teaching and without skipping a beat, Jaycee immediately gave me advice, emailed me to follow up, offered to come be a guinea pig while I got my teaching "sea legs" - and I thought,
"what is this magical tribe of women I've just walked in to?"
I am so happy that you felt comfortable and safe in my class! I will say this about the class, it is a beautifully inclusive community and I think you can feel that whether its your first class or your 90th. As our friend Amy says, its like joining a team of "spiritual warriors" for 75 minutes. I think the three of us facilitate that spirit in our own unique way. Perhaps because we each have our own backgrounds around ritual and ceremony and that experience is about making sure that the left corner, the right corner, the middle is in a collective experience, one big embrace. Let me rephrase, because don't get me wrong - we aren't hugging for an hour. This is an intense workout: you'll run, shake, burpee, strength train, break open stagnant parts of you, shed mental patterns that aren't serving you, sweat like crazy. The point is, we are moving through something that is challenging for each individual as a group. For me, I come from a physical theatre background and I danced for bands. Movement was/is about expression, emotion, catharsis - it can happen in a rock concert, and now I experience it happen in class.
( e telling Natalie about her first experience letting loose in 'the class' ) “It was just that moment I just went for it. I yelled. It was not when everyone else was, but whatever. Not only did I get a ridiculous work out, I felt absolutely freed from anything I was feeling that day. On the floor, I’m out.”
That’s what we are after.
What you said about looking around the room, "is it okay?"... we think it is important for students to close their eyes, to go into a more intimate space because as we often say in the class…
What you are seeking isn't on someone else’s mat, in the mirror, or in the instructor. We have set your alignment, you know what is going on, your body is in place, now it’s an opportunity for you to do more internal work. So closing the eyes takes you out of the “is this okay? Is this what everyone else is doing?” and hopefully in our classes, you feel that you have permission and access to get R A W with yourself.
WHAT KEEPS YOU MOTIVATED.
At the end of the day, the thing that keeps me going is that – this work creates change (physically, emotionally, energetically) very quickly and (pause) with great M A G N I T U D E. And that is energizing.
HANDLING THOSE OFF DAYS / FEELINGS.
the class is a space for you to not only get in a great work out, but to feel what it is that has been going on for you. Feel it... and then move it. If you have had a difficult conversation that set you into a spiral or experienced heartbreak or any number of emotionally charged things, you can come into the space, ground your body, move - pulse - shake - run - and 'talk' to exactly what that is. Then how does it shift when you fill yourself with breath? What does it ask of you to arrive more fully in your body? to acknowledge what you're saying to yourself? That's what you start to dig up, work through, sweat out, and release.
BALANCE. ( WE MUST KNOW!!!)
“I have always been a planner. A little bit more on the type A spectrum, but my history is with acting which is all about being present with another person. When it's face to face, I find it easy to drop in. When it comes to my work, I go into work mode."
In terms of balancing work and teaching, moving from office to studio, it does take me a second to switch gears. But as the students start to arrive, there is a sense of anticipation, that we'll be stepping INTO something together. And that shift immediately broadens my horizon from excel sheets to humans.
RECOVER + REMEDIES.
I love to cook. Cooking takes time, time that I chose to carve out for myself because its nourishing in more ways than one. I love knowing that on a Sunday night, I am going to prep myself for the week and make a big this of this, a big thing of that (Instagram: @thebigbowlofhealth) and have that self-care easily accessible for a few days. Food is not just fuel and recovery; it’s joy, it’s comfort. Even more so when I get to share it with others.
On a more tangible note, Jaycee and Taryn taught me about this powdered magnesium called Calm. You just take one or two teaspoons with some warm water. It helps you relax and sleep well. Sleep to me is top priority and I know from all my friends who are mothers, sleep is also a luxury. I don't take that for granted!
And last but not least, time with my girlfriends. They ground me. They make me laugh. They keep me sane. Living in New York's maddening pace, it’s important to carve out time for friends. I know that sounds sort of obvious but you really have to P R O T E C T that time in this city.
THE INSTRUCTOR IN YOU.
Through this work I have be able to deepen my own personal connection between the emotional body and physical body. That sounds, "crunchy granola," but I think before I was more separate in how I experienced things. I would feel it and intellectualize it. Of course this will be life long work, that of integration. But now I feel more connected to that path. For a positive example, feeling my chest explode when you complimented me. Through the class, I realized is that, it hits the body before it hits language.
Also, I am shocked that I finally found a job that does not feel like “work.” You hear that all the time, but I didn't think that was really a thing. Auditions felt like work and my temp jobs, bartending - work! This feels full, this feels like I am living my life - not just on nights and weekends, but the whole week long. I hope that through the class, more people are empowered to find the trust in themselves to go find out what it is that they need to do.
BACK TO WHAT IT SHOULD MEAN TO BE FIT.
What I love about the class is that while your body does quickly change (you get stronger, leaner, toned, all those great things) it is not the entire focus. There is a deep practice, as you know and felt, of rewiring the voice in your head that has become unhealthy. If you can support yourself in those moments of stress and intensity, your life W I L L change.
You can strive for a number on the scale for as long as you want but if the voices in your head are still screaming unproductive and unsupportive things, you are never going to be happy.
I feel so lucky to have found a mentor like Taryn. I was looking for a career shift, a life shift, for work that meant something to me. Taryn extended her hand, her heart, and her practice to me. I think having a mentor is one of the greatest gifts in life. It has meant the world to me to study under someone who is so profoundly gifted. She organically created this method out of her own need to heal and strengthen and now she offers that to others. I am constantly inspired by her ability to help so many people make positive shifts in their lives.
I went to an all girls school and there is something about women coming together to support and lift each other up that is just - I feel so dedicated to that. When it happens, like sitting here right now with you for this blog you feel so passionately about - man, that is wonderfully overwhelming.
We should be friends. Welcome to friendship (clink our ginger teas).
"Men too, men too!"
THE PERFECT DAY.
I would love to wake up to my husband, James, which is a tall order because he lives in LA right now. We would enjoy a cup of PGTips and our favorite toast. Which is... do you care? ( of course I do!) It's something called "Free Bread," toasted with almond butter and fresh berries on top, little bit of cinnamon and salt. I'd go teach or take class. Then I'd like to go on a long long leisurely bike ride with my girlfriends. Bike somewhere beautiful. Have a picnic at the apex of the journey and ride all the way back - I mean really, make it a long ass day. Go home to James, cook something warm and nourishing and have a glass of wine. Glasses? Call it a day. Be with the ones I love, sweat, and eat great food.
Welcome to the ForceField, Natalie. Your energy + deep commitment to guide others to find peace through strength, is more than recognized + praised!
e + j