Thursday, July 7, 2011

Core Fusion Cardio at Exhale Spa: A Review

Every now and then an exercise class comes around that really blows my mind. I have been fortunate enough to try a lot of classes in New York city, and of all the classes I have taken, two really stand out for me:

1. The Formula 57 class at the Physique 57 studio (which I have yet to review. I really should get on that)
2. Brynn Jinnett's Refine Method class (which I have reviewed in the past).

There have been a lot of notable mentions but none have made me want go out and spend hard-earned cash on a class package. That was before I took Core Fusion Cardio.

Core Fusion Cardio is offered at Exhale Spa and is described as:

"a calorie-burning, sweat-inducing, body-sculpting, power-packed fitness experience, master-minded by the co-creators of Core Fusion®, Elisabeth Halfpapp and Fred DeVito. Merging cardio with intense strength and flexibility moves, this 60-minute class generates maximum calorie burn, resulting in defined abs, scultped legs and high,rounded glutes."

Isn't that what we all want? Sign me up!

I went to class on Tuesday morning at the Central Park South location, met my instructor (Bergen) who told me that all I needed for this class was a yoga mat and a set of light hand weights. It being my first class I picked up a set of 2 and 3 lbs weights. Like with Core Fusion Sport, this class would be done in bare feet. Prior to class Bergen gave a brief run-down of the class and some pointers. Apparently there were going to be many many "mountain-climbers", also known as plank runs, where you hold yourself in a plank and then, essentially, run in place, bringing your knees upto your chest. I'm not a fan of these. They are generally brutal but like most brutal exercises are highly effective. I braced myself and stood at the front of my mat.


The class started with some side stretches and then we went head-on into the first set of a billion mountain-climbers which were repeated throughout the class. I jest. It was not a billion. It was more like a million. The first set was of 8 mountain-climbers but the sets progressively got longer until the last set which contained 64 mountain-climbers. In between the mountain-climber sets we did lots of front lunges, front kicks, back kicks, twisting side lunges; and a lot of these combined weighted arm movements also, including shoulder presses and bicep curls. There is an arm series where you hold your weights and make punching and jabbing movements above your head, to the side, and diagonally below your chest. There were also balance poses which involved standing on one foot, with the other leg raised behind us as we worked our triceps, doing tricep kickbacks and tricep extensions. 

Although a strong yoga influence is present, the sets move incredibly fast. The 3lbs weights started to feel very heavy very soon. The mountain-climber sets actually became a welcome relief, believe it or not! Dripping with sweat, my heart rate sky-high, I did not even have a chance to reach for my water bottle. I could have stopped and taken a break but did I want to miss out on any of this? Absolutely not! It was that much fun!

After 45 minutes and our final set of mountain-climbers (64 in this one) we held a 30 second plank, thus ending the cardio portion of this class. The final 15 minutes were spent doing abdominal work lying on the floor - Core Fusion's signature curl series. Light hand weights were also used in this section, providing a little extra resistance as you worked your core.

The Good:
1. The Class: This class is so turbo-charged, energy-driven and fun. I liked that I was working hard and yet the moves were not impossible and I was able to keep up. I was intimidated at the prospect of the sheer number of mountain climber repetitions but honestly, I did not feel them to be too much. In fact, I loved how they were interspersed in between the more weight-bearing exercises. I was never bored and the 60 minutes flew by.

2. The instructor: I think that the instructor is key to a great class and Bergen was no exception. She was motivating, funny (She would yell "No child left behind" when we would stop mid-set to take a breath, providing some comic relief!), and kept the class both interesting and challenging.

3. The space: I have spoken about the gorgeous facility at Exhale Spa before. It is beautiful!

The Not-so-Good:
I don't have anything to say on this front!  

I loved this class! I could start to feel my heart thumping within the first 10 minutes. It's non-stop, high-energy cardio with a good measure of strength training courtesy the weight-bearing and balancing exercises. Here's to a new addition to Sam's Favorite NYC Workouts!

A Core Fusion Cardio dvd is also available.