I’m swaying from side to side in a warehouse in Brooklyn, surrounded by people with jewels glued to their foreheads. No, I'm not attending a rave or a music festival or a cult initiation. I'm trying KINRGY, a program created by Julianne Hough. It's sometimes called the "SoulCycle of dance," though it focuses more on developing spiritual fitness than physical. The Dancing With The Stars alum uses what she calls "nurturing movement" to get people in touch with their "energetic health." The name (which is pronounced kin-er-gee) is a mashup of kin (for community), kinesthetic (for movement), and energy.
Sound a little woo-woo? I would have said the same thing a couple hours ago.
As soon as I entered the space, a woman wearing yellow, heart-shaped sunglasses swept me into a hug. I quickly gleaned that she was from Daybreaker, a “morning dance community” that’s co-hosting this event. It wasn't difficult to suss out: As she pulled me into her arms, she shrieked “Daybreaker hug!”
Running on two hours of sleep, with a low-level hangover, I couldn't bring myself to match her level of hype. I mustered up a simple: “Thanks.”
But soon after Hough came on stage and we all started to sway, something started to shift in me.
“It's not about being a good dancer,” Hough reassures us as we all warm up with some squatting, some swaying, and many, many affirmations. ("The beauty in me is the beauty in you!") The floor is packed; I try my best not to brush up against a girl next to me who's wearing a flower crown while a man clothed in nothing but a red silk robe walks around spraying essential oils — lavender, I think — into the air.
Things start to pick up. We're dancing one second, flowing into a yoga sequence the next, then pausing for some breathing exercises. The purpose of all this is to help you tap in to "the freedom, joy, and power of that dance," the KINRGY website declares. Hough calls it a "whole-self fitness session," meant to build mental and spiritual strength as much as it's meant to build physical strength. You'll be engaging your muscles, but also connecting with your body and tapping into self-confidence and gratitude.
The planking and dancing are no joke, and I'm happy when Hough slows things down for a breathing exercise. As we inhale and exhale, she asks us to close our eyes, extend our left arm with the palm up, and focus on a moment of gratitude.
I find myself reminiscing about sitting in my living room with my parents, sipping tea and joking around. It makes me miss them, but in a happy, nostalgic way.
Out of the blue, my eyes start to tingle. Am I about to cry!? I'm usually not a crier. I’m suddenly very aware that I'm standing in a crowded room with strangers. As an Andra Day song plays over the loud speakers, one salty tear streaks down my cheek. I crack my eyes open to bat it away — only to notice several people spraying essential oils into the air around me.
Hough asks the group to call to mind two more grateful moments, but my mind has switched gears. Am I having an energetic experience, or are these "feelings" just some kind of allergic reaction to the essential oil-saturated air? I debate the point for a few minutes, then decide that I’m feeling too chilled out to care — I'm just gonna go with it. Why not lean into this emotional outburst? I think to myself. Maybe that’s what KINRGY is all about.
After this intense (for me) period of meditation, Hough leads us back into dance. People really seem to be feeling the bliss. I see one couple kiss, and friends are putting their arms around each other. I feel uplifted too.
As the final song trails off, Hough leaves us with these words: “When we connect to our energetic field, we feel what is possible — and anything is possible.”
Honestly, I believe her. I feel invigorated. I want to tackle my to-do list and hug my roommate. Even the long subway ride back to Manhattan seems less daunting.
I’m not the only one who bought in. “Before it started, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s Sunday, I’m gonna go home after this and sleep,’” KINRGY-goer Paulina Cossio tells me. “But now, I feel like there’s no way I can sleep… I feel connected to the earth, connected to my own body. I feel awake.”
Same, Paulina! KINRGY cured my hangover and erased my negativity. At least for a little while.
As I leave, I watch a woman’s kombucha bottle explode all over her in a fizzy volcano. In true KINRGY fashion, she laughs and lets it go.