By Amy O'Connor
Former marine Kenny Wong opened PeaceCore exercise studio in January 2010, and he chose the name because his fitness classes and one-on-one training sessions incorporate the kind of hard work that strengthens the core, as well as some yoga and martial arts-inspired practices that align mind, body and spirit. However, I must admit that because I was pushed to the outer limits of my physical abilities, I barely noticed the soothing, Zen colors of the non-mirrored parts of the studio. And yes, the hour long fitness class did end with a few yoga postures and centering deep breaths, but make no mistake, the PeaceCore workout is a hardcore bootcamp class that completely kicked my butt in the best possible way.
Located just half a block from the High Line Park and across the street from Chelsea Market, the studio itself is a cozy room with an assortment of weights, punching bags, treadmills, yoga mats and other fitness apparatuses. Kenny, who served in the marines, was also a dancer for Pop artist, Amber, and for my session he was decked out in hip hop military style fitness gear. There were five other women in my first class, and due to the size of the studio, the class size doesn’t get much larger than ten. After changing into my workout clothes, I joined the others doing twenty-five reps of a series of exercises, which initially seemed perfectly reasonable. From a yoga mat I sat up, did a chess press with a ten pound weight followed by a shoulder press and repeated twenty-five times after which I stood up and did a similar chest press/shoulder press combo with a squat and tricep press added in. The longer I was at it, the tougher the repetitions became, yet Kenny’s shouts of encouragement and checks on each person’s counts throughout these opening exercises was incredibly helpful. After roughly twenty minutes of doing these combinations, Kenny announced it was time to go outside. Only the coldest, rainiest weather prevents the classes from moving outdoors.
Photo by Bari Lieberman – vitaljuice.com
Let me just say that my quads were already burning from the fifty squats I’d just done when we were called upon to run to the High Line and up the many stairs that lead to the park. We proceeded to do numerous repetitions of a variety of push ups, tricep dips, leg lifts, and knee lifts moving nonstop from the exercises to sprints to the next set of stairs which we ran down and back up two or three steps at a time. The High Line is a lovely park, but I now view it as part Jekyll, part Hyde as it transforms from a pleasant place to relax to a grueling obstacle course during the PeaceCore class. The truth is, despite the fact that I was lagging behind everyone and most of the time was gasping for breath, it was a lot of fun. We lunge walked back to the studio from the High Line, and I went home to soak in Epsom salts for a few hours. I couldn’t go up or down stairs or even sit in a chair very easily for the next two days, but it was great to know that I had worked out so hard. Of course my goal now is to be able to do the class without getting so winded or sore, and my classmates recommend taking a class at least twice a week. The group classes are offered Monday-Friday at 6PM and 7PM, and I’m told no one has the energy after one class to stay for a second.
While I have no doubt that taking classes at PeaceCore will lead to top notch cardiovascular and muscular fitness, I must admit that I was in it for the massive calorie output. Kenny told me that one PeaceCore regular went from a size 40 to 34 waist in just three months. I love a class like this that is so challenging that an hour passes in no time and your metabolism is so revved up that you can indulge in desserts without feeling guilty. For all the Biggest Loser fans out there, PeaceCore is definitely a great place for a similar type workout to get in shape right here in NYC.
PeaceCore is located at 437 West 16th Street, 3rd Floor. Classes and training sessions can be purchased individually or in packages. For more information go to http://www.peacecore-ny.com.