This past weekend, I participated in Well+Good’s annual Fitness Biathalon, where participants take back-to-back workout classes at the studios of their choice. I’m not sure if I was more excited for the classes themselves or for telling my friends the night before that I can’t drink because I have a biathalon in the morning. My friends, including one who recently participated in an actual triathalon, naturally rolled their eyes. The first stop in my biathalon was a Core Fusion Barre class at Exhale’s Gramercy studio.
Exhale is mainly known as a spa with locations across several major metro areas in the US (New York, LA, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Miami) as well as #wildcard Bermuda. However, in addition to facials and massages, they also offer yoga and a fitness program they refer to as Core Fusion. Within the Core Fusion program, there are a number of class offerings:
- Core Fusion Barre (standard 45 or 60 minute classes; beginners and advanced levels are also offered)
- Core Fusion Cardio
- Core Fusion Barre + Cardio
- Core Fusion Sport
- Core Fusion Bootcamp
- Core Fusion Extreme
I’ve taken several Core Fusion barre classes in the past, so I was excited to return as part of my biathalon that I’d trained so hard for (by eating at multiple Momofuku restaurants the night before).
The Gramercy Exhale studio is located in the Gansevoort Hotel on 29th Street, so naturally, I wanted in and pretended I was Rihanna heading to the club. This location is rather small and only has one fitness room, but it’s a bright, sun-filled studio with lots of space. There’s no locker room at this location (just cubbies in the studio and a bathroom stall with a shower near the spa area), so plan accordingly.
I’ve also taken classes at the Central Park South, Upper East Side and Soho locations. The Central Park and UES studios are much larger and feature multiple classrooms, locker rooms with showers, towels and beauty products, and a boutique with apparel from a variety of high-end fitness brands that I can’t afford such as Lululemon, Alo Yoga, Splits59, and more. The Soho studio is not on brand for Exhale at all—it’s just a small, open room for classes, some cubbies, and a single bathroom stall (no showers). I know they’re in the process of building a larger, nicer studio in Soho, but I’m not sure if it’s open yet. I’ve yet to take class at the Flatiron or Meatpacking studio locations, but I’ve heard the Meatpacking studio is really nice.
Our instructor, Caitlin, learned most students’ names, gave great adjustments, and overall had a really fun personality—it was fun to take her class. I’ve found that instructors at Exhale are pretty hit or miss—I’ve had some great ones, less-than-charismatics ones, and even some unfriendly ones. Of the instructors I’ve taken, I’ve really liked Gabby and Michela.
Exhale’s Core Fusion Barre class is a pretty standard barre class that follows a traditional format. Class begins with a brief warm-up and arm series using light and heavy weights for a variety of exercises. From there, students head to the barre for a quick stretch before several thigh exercises. Thigh work is the hardest part of most barre classes, and this studio is no different—you’ll work through plies, chair positions, and your legs will shake! After another brief stretch, you’ll move into glute work (two exercises for hour-long classes and one exercise for 45-minute classes), a round-back and flat-back abs series under the barre, and abs in the center of the room before a final stretch to end class.
I’ve definitely been sore after almost every barre class at Exhale—these are good barre workouts—but what bothers me about Exhale is that there’s really no distinguishing characteristic to the workout. Maybe this is because the chain is more of a spa than a fitness studio, but as a barre fanatic, I never really get amped to come here. That said, if you want a traditional barre class that will leave you sore the next day, this is a great spot.
Single classes are $37, but new clients can get two classes for the price of one.