Witches are so hot right now. You can cook like a witch, you can do your finances like a witch, and now you can even exercise like a witch, with the Bad Witch Workout, for “women who wear eyeliner at the gym.”
The brainchild of blogger Gala Darling, whose work embraces “radical self-love,” and personal trainer Garnett Strother (who also happens to be her boyfriend), the Bad Witch Workout is intended to merge spiritual and physical health. As Darling describes on her website:
“WHAT IF YOU VIEWED WORKING OUT AS A MAGICAL PRACTICE? What if you, like me, prefer to wear a serious cat-eye to the gym? What if you’d choose Coal Chamber over Coldplay any day of the week? What if you desire Morticia Addams’ hip-to-waist ratio … And don’t mind using a little bit of magic to get it?!”
The idea first came to Darling, who was long into both health-wellness and witchery, when a commenter posted “I need a booty spell!” on an Instagram video of Darling demonstrating a butt-enhancing exercise.
Since I too could use a booty spell, I put on my goth-est workout gear (read: black yoga pants) and my fiercest winged eyeliner and went to get my witch on during a scorching Sunday in New York City.
This particular workout was to be followed by a hypnosis session. The previous class had been followed by a “wishing circle,” and future sessions will integrate other spiritual and mystical practices like astrology. Before each class, Darling draws a Tarot card and asks participants to set an intention to focus on throughout their workout.
The workout itself seems to combine calisthenics, yoga, strength-building, and stretching. The hypnosis session was like a very deep, goal-directed meditation in which we lay back on our mats and visualized ourselves attaining a goal.
Attendees wear pretty standard workout gear, if mostly black, but one woman wears a tiny black-and-green-striped witch’s hat atop her ponytail. (Wearing a witch’s hat to class gets you a special prize!)
Darling, clad in a black catsuit with transparent panels, tells me more about why she and Strother started Bad Witch Workout.
“There [are] so many exercise classes that feel alienating if you’re a weirdo or a goth or a punk-rock kid or a riot girl or a feminist or whatever. I don’t want to be yelled at by some blonde at SoulCycle. And I also want everything I do to have a deeper meaning,” she explains.
Bad Witch Workout co-founder Gala Darling puts in work. (Photo: Gala Darling)
Strother handles the physical part of the class while Darling focuses on the spiritual. (She also puts together the workout playlist, which includes Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, and Nine Inch Nails.) Darling believes in using the body’s energy during exercise to create something in your life, so she asks class attendees to focus on the intention they set throughout the class and visualize what they need to do to make that intention happen.
At the class I attended, the participants, who ranged from a 17-year-old to a 42-year-old woman (who looks 17 — witchcraft, maybe?) are super satisfied with the experiences.
It wouldn’t be a Bad Witch Workout without a witch’s hat. (Photo: Emily McCombs)
Michaela Ford, she of the witch’s hat, has been practicing Wicca for seven years and likes the Bad Witch Workout because “this is someplace where it’s not going to be totally weird if I walk in in a witch’s hat. At other gyms, people see the eyeliner and think you’re just there to take selfies.”
Grace Smith, who also ran the hypnotherapy portion of the class, tells a story about starting a “coven” as a little girl. “We would sit out in the woods and just talk to nature, and I never was happier,” she says. “I identify [with the witch label] in the sense that I think we’re all incredibly magical and incredibly powerful.”
Darling says: “Our attendees are awesome people who have always been outsiders. Maybe they didn’t think, dress, or act like other people, and they might have felt isolated as teenagers, but now they own their weirdness and rock it out. They are totally our people because Garnett and I were like that too. We love being around other weirdoes!”
Gala Darling and Garnett Strother of Bad Witch Workout. (Photo: Gala Darling)
While the class is currently available only in New York City, Strother and Darling do plan to start to online classes eventually, so that every witch or weirdo who wants to can join in.