“Please shuffle your mats towards the back of the woom,” Elian Zach tells the class. She emphasizes the “w” replacing the “r” typically used in this sentence, referencing the name of her enigmatic new wellness concept, Woom Center.
At 4.10 p.m., the final couple of students drift in and place masks over their eyes. Someone shares an inside joke about the class always starting late – I can’t see who, because, well, eye mask. It’s confirmed by the willingness with which everyone else follows Zach’s next instruction that I’m the only first-timer here, despite the fact the studio only just opened. “Make noise!” she demands. Suddenly, the woman next to me in black Lululemon leggings and a cute Nike crop is humming at the top of her lungs, switching pitches every few seconds. Thank God for the masks, or I’m sure she’d catch me staring.
Every remaining woman (and one dude) in the class then joins her; humming, chanting, singing, and sighing in unison. A loud crashing noise vibrates through the space as the teacher hits a gong. Zach’s pacing around the room, so I compromise with a barely-audible “mmm” noise, and hope she doesn’t walk by me. She doesn’t.
Some time passes, and then the sound meditation is over. “Take off your eye masks.” I oblige. I can see, and there’s a light show! Every wall in the room (woom?!) is dancing with purple, blue, orange, and pink lights, moving in time to the loud music. I don’t have the words for what’s happening, but it gives me chills. We begin chanting and humming again, but this time, it’s impossible to feel self-conscious.
Over the following hour Zach guides us through a gentle, spiritually-minded yoga practice, ending with a deep stretch, savasana, and an even deeper meditation. At one point a coconut-scented perfume is sprayed somewhere above my head. The experience is both category-defying and cathartic.
Woom Center has just opened in Soho, New York, and I believe it’s setting off on a whirlwind ride from unknown meditation studio to ubiquitous wellness trend. See, Woom shuns the silent inner reflection championed by most yoga/meditation hybrid classes, instead focusing on being present and stimulating all five senses – sound, touch, smell, sight, and taste, at the end of the class in the center’s boutique, healthy cafe.
The physical space itself is airy, chic, and modern – more like a health-oriented Soho cafe than a yoga studio. Picture rustic wooden furniture, hanging plants, plenty of natural light, a bar and eating area serving superfood-packed juices and vegan dishes – now you have a good image of the check-in area.
The space where classes are held appears deceptively low-key at first – a simple timber-floored room with high ceilings, yoga mats, bolsters, blankets, and a large gong at the front. It’s later in the class that you’re immersed in the technology, including a 4D sound system that allows the sound to vibrate throughout the space and your body. A projection system creates the moving visual light installation, and there’s even a scent-diffusing system to ignite every single sense.
Like I said, it’s hard to define, which is exactly why you should go ahead and book in a session for yourself. Take a look through the 11 different types of classes available, as each one is a little different. Prices start at $25 for a single class, but more affordable monthly memberships are also available – and it’s worth it. Because yes, Woom is weird, but it’s also seriously wonderful.