Thursday, July 7, 2011

Core Fusion Cah-razy!

I don’t like to play favorites but truth be told, the body area I love to work on most is my core

I don’t know… Maybe it’s because my NYC legs and butt are constantly being challenged by the streets and stairs that comprise this metropolis I call home. Maybe it’s because my arms have always been naturally toned so I take them a bit for granted. Maybe it’s because of the onslaught of “washboard abs” coverage that has been splashed across every womens magazine I've encountered since the moment I picked up my first Cosmo. Whatever the reason, it’s safe to say I am a bit obsessive compulsive about getting in my 1400+ sit-ups during my usual gym routine; overzealous perhaps but the hard work pays off because for as much as I shovel in and guzzle down, I still have a pretty taut tummy. So call me skeptical but as much as I was looking forward to the Core Fusion class at Exhale Spa in SOHO, I wondered how much of a challenge it’d be. After all, 1400+ sit-ups/gym sesh does not a sissy make.  

Annnnnnnnnnnd my ARROGANCE towards the challenge of the class was quickly thrust back in my face about five minutes into the workout. OMG- KILLER, and I still had 55 minutes to go!

A quick description of Core Fusion: This is an hour-long class offered by Exhale Spa (with locations around the US- six here in NYC) which combines yoga, Pilates, ballet barre work, and stretching for an intense total body workout. The core concentration helps improve core strength (duh), proper posture, and (they claim) helps to focus your mind. Obviously, I was game!

Though the instructor Kayla didn’t just focus on abdominals at first, she did remind us with every single move we did to be aware of our core; no easy feat when you’re attempting new moves and trying to keep pace with the rest of the class for the first time! In a nutshell, here’s what we did for an hour:

- Stretching and breathing practices (this continued throughout the class)
- Planks (sometimes, just plain planks with both legs and arms on the floor; sometimes, Kayla had us raise one leg and arm at a time. For example, left leg/right arm and vice-versa)
- Push-ups (the real kind or, my preference, the “girl” kind with your knees on the floor)
- Tricep Extensions using 3 pound dumbbells
- Armcurls using 3 pound dumbbells
- Using the ballet barre along the walls, squats
 Again, using the ballet barre, leg stretches

* The key to each of these moves is to go s-l-o-w-l-y and focus on your breathing.*
Killer Crunches (“Killer” because you hold each crunch 30 seconds each time you come up)
- Twisting Crunches (INTENSE.)
- Scissor Kicks, both vertically and horizontally
- More planks. (Oy. Vey.)
Child’s Pose, stretching out, and deep breathing drew the class to an end.

Ok, ok- Great description but what’s the verdict, right?

Would I Take This Class Again?
Yes, definitely, sign me up! I'm not just saying that, either. I promise not to say I like every single class I do (because I'm fairly certain I won't) but for a core-obsessed freak like me, this class whooped my ass and I loved it!

The Pros:
It was so challenging that I literally could not hold every pose because my muscles shook so much (proper hydration is something I need to work on!) and, two days later, my obliques are still a little sore (Gosh, I LOVE this feeling!) There are plenty of classes offered to fit whatever my schedule is each week, my instructor Kayla was incredibly encouraging & sweet with all 12 of us (important when you think it's IMPOSSIBLE to hold your pose for one more second, much less 20 more counts!) She also happily answered a few questions for me after class. The facilities were clean and bright, the music was right on target for each of the various activities we did, and I felt better physically and mentally after the hour was up. In fact, I have another type of class scheduled to take at Exhale Spa and I cannot wait!

The Cons:
Alas, price rears its ugly head. I got a wonderful deal on my class (I’ll tell ya how in a post soon!) but typically, each class runs $35.00. Yikes. Again, this is probably just my OCD personality coming out but I’d definitely do it again, despite the high price…. Well, about twice a month or so. And if I got another deal like I did this time, I’d buy in bulk. Kicking myself now...

While I'm sure there are other businesses that offer similar classes, as I mentioned before, Exhale Spa has multiple locations around the US:
- CA (Santa Monica and Venice)
- FL (Miami and Palm Beach)
- IL (Chicago)
- MA (Boston)
- NY (Bridgehampton, Manhattan House, Gansevoort, Central Park South, SOHO, and the Upper East Side)
- TX (Dallas)
Plus Turks and Caicos…. Hmmmm, maybe I should check this location out- anyone care to join??? 

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