It’s been 42 days since my long-term partner and I ended our relationship. In the present moment, a salty puddle is forming on the floor beneath my eyes. The pain is incredible; I can feel it in every part of my broken self. Then, he speaks.
“Rest,” he says, and the pain stops. “You get 15 seconds, and then we’re going again.”
The speaker is a trim, bearded fitness instructor at a studio in Hell’s Kitchen. The puddle accumulating below me isn’t tears; it’s sweat. I’m three-fourths of the way through a class called TRX 30/30, and it’s the third class I’ve attended via ClassPass, the popular fitness membership program designed to encourage people to try a range of exercise classes. As the sweat drips down my body, I say a curse and a blessing. I momentarily hate Beardy McFit, yet I’m full of gratitude for both him and my new fitness regimen—a.k.a. my breakup recovery tool.
As anyone who has experienced the dissolution of a long-term relationship knows, it’s a bit like being reborn. Not in the twirling around, “hills-are-alive” kind of way — more like an actual birth. It can feel as if you’re slipping out of a warm, comfortable place into the harsh open air, assaulted by foreign sounds and faces.
Four weeks A.D. (After Dissolution), I had already exhausted a number of coping mechanisms: I had listened to the new Adele album, binge-watched Jessica Jones, and eaten cookies for dinner. But since my breakup, which happened to occur the day after I ran the New York City Marathon, the one self-care action I hadn’t been taking was working out.
I had wanted to feel empowered by the new, open horizon of my life—to embrace its vast potential. In reality, though, I felt hollow. Some turn to dating sites for this reason, but I was beyond uninterested in finding someone new. I was driven by a search for the strong, independent version of myself—the me I had lost track of while trying and failing to make a relationship work.
Enter my friend Anna, a ClassPass devotee who had recently endured her own A.D. era and was determined to convert me. Scrolling through the app on her phone, I was floored by the sheer breadth of options: strength training, belly dancing…long sword? The most obvious boon of ClassPass, for the recently single, is that it offers structure—whether you’re planning in advance for those newly free weekday evenings or trying to fix a last-minute bout of Sunday-afternoon blues. It also incentivizes accountability; when you register for a class, you must either go or face a fee.
While structure and exercise are surface benefits that are significant on their own, my foray into ClassPass also helped me reach unexpected insights — the first of which was the power of focusing on the present. I’ve heard that the heartbroken are often loneliest at night. But for me, mornings are hardest. Every day that dawns socks me in the chest with a fistful of memories and anxieties about the future. Fleeing from this morning feeling, I hauled myself out of bed and across town to a Kundalini yoga class, where I discovered a pleasant truth: Precious little can fill your mind when you’re panting like a dog.
Each class required patient focus on the task at hand, and the byproduct of that focus was an almost spiritual union of mind and body in the present. Relationship memories might creep up on me later, but during my hip hop dance class, I had one goal and one goal only: Drop that booty. [For the full story, head to Refinery29!]