Exhale MindBody Spa
Plank runs during a Core Fusion Cardio class. (Courtesy: Exhale MindBody Spa)
With the saturation of barre classes in New York City like Physique 57 and The Bar Method, the real challenge is finding a studio that breaks the mold.
Even though Core Fusion, which started in 2003, was one of the first in the barre phenomenon, husband-and-wife co-founders Fred DeVito and Elisabeth Halfpapp continue to innovate and improve their class schedule.
Last year, they created the class that sets them apart. Described as “merging cardio with intense strength and flexibility moves,” Core Fusion Cardio abandons the barre and focuses instead on three main components designed to create a unique flow:
1. Cardio Sun Salutations
2. Plank runs (also called mountain climbers)
3. Pulsing yoga poses combined with upper body weight work
Core Fusion Cardio begins with both static and dynamic stretching, which at first seems low-key for a class touted to “generate maximum calorie burn.” Don’t be fooled. As soon as the five-minute warm-up is over, you dive straight into a 45-minute whirlwind where you won’t even have time to think. All you can do is go with it. And sweat.
Cardio Sun Salutations
In yoga, a sun salutation is a sequence of yoga poses. A cardio sun salutation, however, is a side bend to the right, a side bend to the left and a small back bend. The entire class revolves around this sun salutation, which is the five seconds of rest preceding the (in)famous plank runs.
You’ll find yourself doing hundreds of plank runs, also known as mountain climbers. Holding your body in a straight-arm plank, you “run,” bringing one knee to your chest and then the next in quick succession. Fred DeVito estimates there are about 336 runs in a single class -- but don’t let that number scare you. The plank runs actually break up the class into manageable sections. They become far less intimidating as the hour goes on.
“All cardio exercise has repetitive large muscle movement: running, Spinning, rowing, swimming,“ Fred explains. “We chose plank runs because you are holding a straight-arm plank while doing the large muscle movements. That is what enhances the ‘core’ challenge of this exercise.”
Pulsing yoga poses combined with upper body weight work
Warriors I, II and III are just some of the familiar yoga poses that you’ll find yourself pulsing in during Core Fusion Cardio. But the addition of bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, lateral pull-downs and more combine with the leg movements to truly create a full-body strength workout.
This class, like all in the Core Fusion family, ends with the signature abdominal curl. Here, too, the addition of light hand weights adds a new intensity to this exercise.
I find that the most accurate way to describe Core Fusion Cardio is “yoga on crack.” The nonstop pace of this sculpting, stretching and cardio mixture targets muscles all over your body and the incredible energy leaves you dripping in sweat.
For a totally different and extremely effective workout at a barre studio, Core Fusion Cardio succeeds in breaking the mold. This intense hour is truly unlike anything else out there.
Dori Manela is a writer, content manager and social media consultant. Raised in Queens, Dori now lives in Manhattan, taking as many exercise classes in NYC as possible in search of the perfect workout. She started Dori's Shiny Blog in November 2007. As her passion for fitness grew, DSB turned into a health & fitness blog. With the help of her favorite social networking site Twitter, Dori has connected with other bloggers, boutique fitness studios, companies and readers to share her love of working out.