An Exhaustive (And Embarassing) Look At Exhale's Exhausting Core Fusion Class

Oh yeah I am. I’m going there. I am going to embarrass myself beyond all comprehension. Thankfully I am at the point in my life where I really don’t care. I’m a ‘normal’ woman, who has never had a model’s body…or height, but I did need a good, swift kick in the arse after having my second baby nearly one year ago. After three rounds of IVF and two kids, I had packed on a lot of weight. I managed to get the weight off by the time my second baby was about 7 months old, but my body wasn’t snapping back into shape. What can I say? Age has made me less elastic. So I got into exhale spa’s Core Fusion Barre classes. In fact, if you follow our Twitter feed you will know I have become obsessed. I’m even the Mayor on FourSquare. I have been very dedicated to fitness ever since I graduated from undergrad, but I was always a cardio person. In fact I taught spinning for forever until I was pregnant with my first. Yet during my pregnancy I had back problems and spinning was not helping. So I quit for the most part. Then I recently found out I have Adult Scoliosis and spinning is not good for that either. Strengthening my back is. I was given a few free Core Fusion sessions last October and since February have been taking classes very seriously and religiously. I have not looked back. The reason I am so fanatical about it, is because NOTHING else has helped tone my body like Core Fusion. My body is longer and leaner than it has ever been. I’m not bulked up either, just toned. My legs used to look really bulked up from spinning and this summer I actually wore 4″ inseam shorts! I always wore Bermudas before. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I will ever have washboard abs again, but I feel my abs getting stronger (under the layer of skin that has been stretched beyond all repair-less surgery). What is Core Fusion you may be wondering? It’s the original barre/core class, developed by Elisabeth Halfpapp and Fred DeVito to provide a safe yet challenging workout for fitness all fitness levels. Now, personally I find the Core Fusion Barre class (exhale’s signature class) hard enough so I have stuck to that (both open and advanced). However, for those looking for more intensity there are options such as Core Fusion Boot Camp, Core Fusion Cardio, Core Fusion Sport, and even Core Fusion Yoga. For more info visit: Core Fusion Barre combines core work with Pilates, yoga, ballet and dance principles to stretch, tone, and lengthen muscles like never before. Classes at exhale are taught at one of three levels: Core Fusion Barre is open level, along with Core Fusion Barre Basic (for beginners) and Core Fusion Barre Advanced. All are sure to provide a challenging workout, with the open and advanced classes building upon the fundamentals learned in the basic class. So, I am going to embarrass myself further by showing you a pictorial of the class. The instructor pictured with me is Madison Wright who is a Manager of Guest Experience for exhale. I must say however, unlike traditional gyms where you tend to favor some instructors over others, I have not had a bad one yet. All of exhale’s instructors are amazing. Everyone has a different style, yet all the classes are challenging and the format is the same. You know you are going to warm up, move on to planks and pushups, then arms, then legs, then glutes, then abs. Come take a class with me. Here we go… After we warm up for a few minutes we do some planks and pushups.
Here I am doing a plank to get my core burning, and my butt burning in this instance.
As you can see below, I’m good, but not that good!
And this is what happens when I do too many planks!
A ball? Is she nuts?
Then we move on to some roundbacks (which is like doing push-ups in the crab-walk position). These are killer. I love them.
These used to kill me, know I do them in front of the TV.
Then we use light weights to do some arm work. At first I didn’t think 3 lb. weights would do anything, but serious reps and my own resistance have made me a believer.
As you can see we are both using light weights.
Getting ready to do some tricep work. They are already burning from the roundbacks. Madison is helping me improve my form. I personally like being corrected. Why waste your time doing it wrong? I have a hard time squeezing my shoulders together…apparently. Working on my shoulders now.
Shoulder work
Now we go into the leg work portion of the class. These ballet plies always get me. I literally shiver and shake it burns so badly. This is all about reps and slow and deliberate movements. Believe it or not, I am also working my core, so the burn is intense.
Keep those heels up and together for a real challenge
It burns even MORE if you lift your hands off the bar and place them overhead. Or squeeze a ball. If you squeeze it between your thighs your inner thighs will beg for mercy. Time for glutes! The squeezing the ball only intensifies the burn. Keeping your hips squared off is really important. As you can see below, this move is for your glutes and sides…and it kills!
Believe it or not, this move is for glutes.
Now we are moving on to ab work. The last 15 minutes of class is pretty much abs only. It is really important to get your back flat up against the wall. The more you pull down on the bar and get the air out of your abs, the more you will feel your abs isolated and burning. Moving your feet back and forth in this position is much harder than it looks. Especially when you are encouraged to lift your feet off the floor.
As you can see, I am having a hard time with this. Good thing I can laugh at pain! Hey, I gave birth. Twice.
Enough! I’m dead!
Lifting one leg at a time perfectly straight with your back against the wall is hard. Try doing both at the same time! Impossible for me.
Ab work
I can’t believe I am posting this picture of my um, posterior. However, I love these reverse crunches and it’s the one exercise I’m really good at!
Madison is instructing me to force the air out of my abs.
More abs
I’m almost done! Holding on for dear life and fully drained, I am mustering all the energy I can to finish!
More abs
We do some cool down stretches at the end of class, but I didn’t want to bore you with those and frankly, I think I have posted enough embarrassing photos. The layout/format of the classes are all the same, but the instructors and exact exercises are all so different, I have never had the same class twice…which is another reason I love it so. I get bored easily. Oh in case you are wondering, we wear special grip socks so we don’t slide on the carpet like you would with regular socks. Bare feet are kinda nasty when you think your face is in the floor for some of class and shoes/sneakers are not allowed. Never fear, exhale always has them in stock ($12). Good thing because I am guaranteed to forget them about once a month. I have 5 pairs now. On Thursday, September 20, 2012, exhale will be holding their Second Annual NamasDAY event where you can enjoy complimentary yoga classes. Visit: for more info. Additionally, if you might be interested in becoming a yoga instructor visit To check out exhale’s retreats visit If you don’t have an exhale spa in your city, I’m sorry. However, you might know a similar class like The Bar Method, Pure Barre, Barre Classes, or whatever name your gym uses. Seek one out and see how it changes your body. I want to thank Morgan for agreeing to do this with me and exhale for allowing me to share the experience with you. What I’m wearing: Athleta Tank (no longer available), but this Athleta Tempest Tank Top, $49.99 is similar. Champion Full Figure Seamless Wireless Bra, $46 Ideology Yoga Pants, Cropped Leggings, $27.98 Exhale Grip Socks, $12 – Lauren Dimet Waters Photos: Alison Hessert

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