Sweaty Society

Crazy Town’s “Butterfly” is emanating from an old gray shingled potato barn off Route 27 in Bridgehampton. A few dozen celebrities wrapped in spandex and bandannas pack onto a wooden deck before storming into a 45-minute spinning class called Soul Trip. A-list glutes, delts, abs, and quads parade to and from the tiny dark room. With this motivated crowd, physicality has long been confused with spirituality. And it all comes together here, in this barn, in this humbled East End summer: sweaty self-actualization. “The charity benefit isn’t doing very well, because nobody’s making any money,” notes New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia. “A class like this is the new way of keeping up with the Joneses. Exercising today has become just as much of a go-to place as Monkey Bar.”

Instructor Stacey Griffith knows this; she studied yoga with the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, who was much admired by Madonna. (She’s also studied Tony Robbins.) “To be a fitness instructor in New York—this is the dream,” Griffith says. “I would have these ‘aha’ moments when there were five Oscar winners in my class, but when I’m in that room, everyone is on my team and we’re all training to win the race.”

Though if you ask the crowd in the barn at 10:30 a.m. on a hazy August Sunday, they’re already way out ahead. Preparing for this morning’s spiritual journey are Warner music executive Lyor Cohen and his new girlfriend, Tory Burch, art collectors David and Libby Mugrabi, and model Hana Soukupova and her husband, Drew Aaron. (Tiki Barber, Brooke Shields, and Katie Couric are also regulars.)

The class begins and Griffith tells everyone to close their eyes. “If you can’t trust yourself to close your eyes right now, you can’t trust yourself in life,” she says. Everyone puts their head down—except for Soukupova, who is still looking around. “Turn off your most inhibitive sense,” she continues. As fast-paced mix of “Shake Ya Tailfeather” plays, hearts race, T-shirts soak, and they all stare with openmouthed, trancelike smiles. When Griffith gets to the weights section, she instructs the bikers to stretch their hands overhead. “Keep your hands up in a victory sign,” she says. “You won!”

Maybe, in these unstable days, even this culled pack of achievers need reassurance. Stuart Fischoff, professor of psychology at California State University, notes that “there’s a huge lemming instinct in celebrities, and they all know that somebody is the leader; they just don’t know who, and celebrity sweat is a real aphrodisiac.”

At the end of the class, Griffith screams at them, “You deserve to be here! You need to be here! Don’t let anyone tell you different!” Everyone files out and scans the incoming group for famous faces, acknowledging news anchor Rosanna Scotto and furniture heir Eric Villency in silent sweaty recognition. In the dusty parking lot, one opens the door of his silver Porsche Carrera and sighs to a fellow classmate getting into the SUV next to him, “Phew, we made it.”

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Sweaty Society