Health & Fitness

By Leslie Rice Hart

A vast assortment of exercise classes are popping up these days. The “what to take dilemma” can make a girl’s head spin. I remember, back in the day, the only decision we had to make was whether to take the high or low impact aerobic class. A few years later, if we were really daring, we’d attempt the step class. Nowadays there are so many classes to choose from– Broadway Dance, Salsa, Hip-Hop and some that are, extra outrageous such as Striptease-Pole Dancing! Makes me think of the lyrics, “You Gotta Have a Gimmick” from the musical Gypsy. Among these crazy classes, I discovered Exhale Spa’s exclusive, Core Fusion class, an hour of tried and true exercises making for a unique workout without the gimmicky twist. Core Fusion combines ballet positions, stretching, Pilates and yoga all rolled up into one great class. These various techniques improve posture, core strength and flexibility as well as help develop elongated lean, strong muscles. an image Our Instructor, Kristen Lilley lead us through a full body workout. At the beginning of the class, we chose a set of light dumbbells for upper body exercises. As I went to grab my weights, several “veterans” of the class politely warned me, “the rookie” to select the 3-pound weights. I thought, you’ve gotta be kidding, I workout all the time with much heavier weights, but–not to seem too cocky for my first class–I played along. Pumping my arms with 3-pound dumbbells for a few minutes reintroduced me to the infamous burn. I was grateful that I listened to those dear strangers who were looking out for my best interest. Do not compare movements and positions to other participants in the class, Kristen continually reiterated. We are individuals with our own abilities. Some were more flexible and/or advanced than others, but that didn’t matter, you take everything at your own level. Thank goodness, because I could’ve really become self-conscience and intimidated by the “Gumbys” and “Rubber bands” in the class. Kristen herself performed a split, as I struggled just to straighten my front leg out. “Work everyday on flexibility” she stressed. an image Stretch bands and a ballet bar assist in the class to help loosen up tight muscles, as well as support body positions engaging the glute, leg, calf and core muscles. We conducted a series of reps and held specific body positions, OUCH, BURN! We leaned against the wall, in one position, holding onto the ballet bar and lifting our legs off the ground, you guessed it, OUCH, BURN! A stretch and meditative cool down was a treat after all our hard work. Core Fusion offers individual levels and is an invigorating workout with no gimmicks or choreography to make your head spin. Exhale Spa offers Basic and Advanced Core Fusion along with other classes. Visit them at or for more information

Originally published June 2006
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