Jaycee Gossett on Emotional Health, Peeling Back the Layers, and Resilience
All too often we work on changing and strengthening our bodies but do little to work on our emotional health. One can’t exist without the other, and that’s where Jaycee Gossett steps in to help. Jaycee is an award-winning dancer, a well-traveled yogi, and both an instructor and the director of training and development for The Class by Taryn Toomey.
A self-made success story, Jaycee had seen at an early age the positive implications dance would have on her life. She has traveled the world and back to study movement and believes the way we move serves as a mirror for how we live. It’s fitting that Jaycee would take her lessons and experiences and use them as a way to empower and educate others through fitness.
Incredibly, Jaycee has filmed and produced a Travel Channel special titled “Dance the World,” serves as a health and wellness TV personality, teaches dance and fitness, leads international wellness retreats, and hosts goddess circles. But this MISSBISH is just getting started. Read our exclusive conversation with Jaycee on emotional health, peeling back the layers, and what it means to be resilient.
Dance has served as the foundation for your vibrant career and has even led you on a year-long journey around the world. What are some lessons that you learned while you traveled?
One of the main things that I didn’t know before embarking on my travels was that dance would become a universal language for me. I didn’t realize that it would teach me ways to communicate, express myself, and connect with other people no matter where I was or whether I spoke the language or not. In that way, dance broke down barriers like age, gender, race, and culture to reveal this beautiful human element.
Going into it, I think I created my own limitations. I had traveled before but never really on my own. It was such a transition for me. I got rid of everything that I owned, moved out of my apartment, and had to fit my life into a bag. Throughout the planning for that, there was so much projection from other people telling me that I was crazy, asking me if I was scared, saying it was dangerous, wondering why I wasn’t getting married and having kids instead. It took time to realize that I had this driving force guiding me, which led to an understanding that this is what I needed to be doing. Sometimes we get caught up in the idea of age and start to believe that we can’t be adventurous anymore, we can’t be carefree anymore, or we can’t live outside the box. It doesn’t have to fit in any box. It doesn’t have to meet any kind of requirement. I was the happiest that I ever was during that year.
When you returned back to the States, a chance meeting with Taryn Toomey, of The Class by Taryn Toomey, inspired the next phase of your journey as an instructor. Can you explain what The Class by Taryn Toomey is and who can benefit from it?
The Class by Taryn Toomey is a cathartic mind-body experience that creates long, lean, sculpted muscles and resilience in the physical, emotional, and spiritual bodies. You will build strength in the mind as you build strength in the body. Through simple, repetitive calisthenics and plyometrics, participants challenge the body to engage the mind. We purposely don’t over-explain The Class by Taryn Toomey, but it’s a wringing out (literally and figuratively) of your mind, body, and emotions.
When you really break it down, your body is doing simple movements, but we do them with repetition to build intensity so that you start to experience something that we call the internal dialogue. People take The Class by Taryn Toomey because of the resilience that it instills both physically and mentally. You have to work on your emotions before anything can shift. People start to see that they gain resiliency in all facets of their life: in their reactions, thoughts, patterns, and behaviors towards others. They gain the ability to manage their own emotional intelligence and move through blocks. All of that has an effect on the physical body, but I think the real change is when you start to see your life change in a big way. Those who seek to move forward, to heal, to find deeper meaning, and to make a change really elevate in this Class.
So, there’s some shouting in The Class by Taryn Toomey. And students are encouraged to “let go” of the stuff that weighs them down. How do you create a safe and comfortable space for people to do this?
Many people refer to the sound we use as shouting. It really isn’t shouting. It's therapeutic vocal release. Sound is the tone that is added onto the breath to create a vibration in the body that allows for an added catharsis. Just like you would breathe deeply as a way to release stress, sound is the next layer that serves as the vehicle to release tension from your body, heart, or mind. Tears are another way to release emotion, and many people are surprised to see them show up in class. The body is naturally designed with all of these mechanisms to organically repair, but we’re the ones who get in the way and bottle it all up.
Our instructors are trained to take students through this therapeutic journey. We spend a lot of time creating and curating a safe and sacred space for students through lighting, temperature, music, and scent.
“Dance broke down barriers like age, gender, race, and culture to reveal this beautiful human element."
What are some ways people can apply what they do or learn in The Class by Taryn Toomey to their everyday lives?
We use intensity to trigger a response; the quickening of the heart rate, the shallowing of the breath, the panic button. That’s going to happen outside of class, too. In those moments of intensity, you revert to a pattern. That pattern is the thing that is going to keep you exactly where you are or be the thing that you have to shift to experience something new.
All of the principles that we teach you in The Class by Taryn Toomey can be applied at the moment in which you are triggered: a confrontation, a moment of doubt, an occasion that provokes fear. In The Class by Taryn Toomey, you get to understand your internal dialogue and understand the patterns that affect your reality. “You can’t do this.” “You’re not good enough.” “Don’t do that,” etc. In The Class by Taryn Toomey, you’re given the tools to make a new choice, to act differently. An opportunity to become something different.
In addition to instructing The Class, you’re the Director of Training and Development. What are your responsibilities? And what do you hope 2017 will bring for the brand?
I became a partner in fall of 2016 and was immediately tasked with restructuring and formalizing the Teacher Training Program by Taryn Toomey. We already have five teachers in New York City and three teachers in Los Angeles. Soon we’ll have more teachers than ever before, and the training they will have been through is more rigorous. The trainees are not guaranteed to become teachers at the end of their training. They have a final review by the executive team to become a certified Class instructor. We are going for quality over quantity.
What I think is catching on, and what people are starting to see, is that this is more than a method. It’s a revolution. It’s a new way of living and working out. Your workout can now be the time when you also experience personal, spiritual, and emotional growth. In this way, your workout becomes more powerful.
The Class is currently in New York City and Los Angeles. Are there plans to branch out into other cities?
We have expanded to Vancouver. It’s our first-ever Canadian location led by Angela Hartman Montoya. Details are on our website!
Separately from The Class by Taryn Toomey, you host retreats to Costa Rica and Brazil. Can you explain what these retreats are, who can go, and why someone should attend?
I led my own retreats prior to signing on as Head of Teacher Training for The Class by Taryn Toomey. Now, in my new role, I will infuse my retreat experience into The Retreatment, with my first one outside of Vancouver in November. I'm passionate about creating a space for people to heal, process, and connect. Getting people out and engaged in nature is a big part of that for me.
People hear or see the word “retreat” and they think of going out and getting away. We think of the word “retreat” as the process of going in. Routine can often put you on autopilot and create this barrier between where you are, what’s really going on in your life, and even what you’d rather be doing with your life. Oftentimes, depending on how you live, we begin to get disconnected from our true selves and needs. Sometimes we forget who we really are.
When you remove all of that external stimulation and autopilot living, you give yourself the opportunity to immerse yourself in a saturated, integrated experience. In my upcoming Retreatment, you will move through The Class By Taryn Toomey every day and have afternoon yoga with Kevin Courtney. There will be hiking and outdoor activities to breathe in the surroundings. Our retreat menu will assist with the detoxification process, all of which is Layer approved. (The Layer By Taryn Toomey is our nutritional cleanse program.) We will go deep together through elevated conversations and spend time journaling thoughts, feelings, experiences. My approach to retreats is to create a week for you to achieve your optimal, most elevated self. They’re built in such a way that allows you to peel back the layers to uncover your true self again among like-minded individuals.
You’re a multifaceted, multitalented fitness instructor and a force of female empowerment. How do you stay focused on achieving your next goal, especially in a constantly connected and distracting time?
You know, I have to do the work, too. I have to do all of the things that I’m preaching and remain a lifelong student. I have to surround myself with inspiring, empowering women that challenge me and push. I am so grateful to have a community of people to hold me accountable. Of course, I need to continue to do my own work to stay in the mindset of continuous growth and evolution. How that looks is furthering my education by reading and studying from my teachers, getting my butt in Class, tons of self care with body work, time with the ladies, and lots and lots of laughter. In addition to the work, we have to give ourselves permission to not have it together and to not take it all so seriously.
Who’s your MISSBISH?
I’m inspired by all of the women around me, the women on the ground, in the trenches, raising her kids, having a career. On a global scale, every woman is a MISSBISH to me. All women everywhere make me think, “ yes, WE can do this.”
What does MISSBISH mean to you?
Two things: To look good, you have to feel good. I think that you can take care of yourself on the outside and that will shift how you feel on the inside.
What I like about this mantra and what MISSBISH stands for is to give permission to women to be powerful; to not make apologies, to not have to be nice about taking charge of your life, health, appearance, stance. As modern women, I think we’re really starting to stand together and realize how much stronger we are when we are united. And that is a movement, a new dimension.
My go-to spot for healthy eats in NYC... is Sun In Bloom in Tribeca. Amazing salads, great juices and all vegan, organic, and gluten free snacks.
The biggest difference in the fitness scene in NYC... is the fact that NY’ers need way more intensity to crack the emotional body — which I, of course, love. My philosophy is this: Your workout needs to be MORE intense than your way of living.
I never leave home without... water, palo santo, a change of clothes, my headphones, and my Metrocard.
When I’m not teaching, you can find me... taking The Class By Taryn Toomey, dancing, or at the beach (weather permitting).
I highly recommend...The Language Of Emotions if you want to build your emotional intelligence (EQ).
Photographer: Paulsta Wong