Health & Fitness

By Ava Mackenzie

As a dedicated runner, I tend to favor old-fashioned sweat sessions in Central Park over group strength classes. So when a friend suggested I try a class called Core Fusion™ at Exhale Spa, I did a little research before signing up for a 6:15 class one morning. The site’s testimonials were encouragement enough to make me rise and shine for a workout promising “washboard abs, a tighter and higher backside and a perfectly toned body.” With swimsuit season still far away, why not get a head start in shaping up?

Not wanting to be late on my first day, I arrived a few minutes early and got chatting with Julie Weisman, a former dancer and my instructor for the hour long class. Julie raved about Core Fusion’s™ benefits, saying that regular practice does indeed result in lost inches and sleek, defined muscles. She told me that each low-impact class begins with a warm up and 10 minutes of upper body work, followed by 25 minutes of leg and butt exercises, 20 minutes of core conditioning and 5 minutes at the end of class to cool down and relax with our thoughts. After each exercise, muscles are stretched, something Julie said was key to developing lean muscle mass and promoting greater flexibility and range of motion. Knowing that I was actually meant to have the body of Gisele Bà¼ndchen, I couldn’t wait to get started!

Fast forward ten minutes into the class and I had sweat trickling down my forehead, shaking legs, and arms that would shriek in pain if they could. Looking as though they were born at the barre, my classmates eased their way through a series of push ups, ab work, and dance inspired moves, all fused with Pilates, yoga, Lotte Berk fundamentals and core conditioning. I, on the other hand, gasped for breath and shook like a leaf with each repetition. If it wasn’t for Julie’s energy and patience, I would have probably crumpled on the floor from exhaustion, but she fueled me through the more grueling exercises, and her reassurance that I would progress with each class was a comfort while my thighs quivered from one too many squats.

Surprisingly enough, as class came to an end, I felt energized and ready to take on the day. I expected to feel achy and tired, but my muscles, accustomed to pounding the pavement and high-intensity spin classes, were weak in a way they’d never felt before. I truly felt like the exercises targeted muscles I never even knew existed – a sign that the class lived up to its expectations. Once I can properly walk again, I will absolutely be going back, and so should you!

Core Fusion classes are held regularly at all three Exhale Spas in Manhattan. For more information, including class schedules, head to http://www.exhalespa.com.

Originally published December 2008
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