Group workout classes are not my thing. Over the years, in order to avoid such horrors, I’ve pieced together my own method of getting my sweat on: a few runs here and there, some weight exercises at the gym, and walking as much as I could (my first 6+ years in SF, I walked an hour or more each day just commuting). While it wasn’t anything extreme, it did the job for keeping me in an acceptably decent level of being in shape, while also feeling annoyingly like a general fitness plateau that I couldn’t rise above or make any progress on.
Basically, you could say I was looking for something to break me out of a fitness rut. Over the past 15 years, I’ve done less than 10 classes, ever. I’d tried a few yoga classes here and there, a 45 minute cardio-weights class through Class Pass, a few spin classes at Crunch — none of it appealed and I never returned after each of those classes. I’d summed it up to not liking the atmosphere of them — too competitive, too fast-paced, too easy to see how much you might suck at doing moves compared to your peers. They were all added dimensions to working out that were a huge turn-off.
I’d heard about CORE40 through a friend and was intrigued — like I said, I’d never been into work out classes, but this one seemed different — a different pace, method, and approach I had never tried.
I went to one class and was hooked.
Walking into my first CORE40 class, I was nervous as hell — the dark black metal machines were either going to be the death of me or the perfect tool to help tone me up. The main machine used is called a megaformer. Basically, it’s one giant carriage platform situated between two smaller platforms at the front and back, complete with two sets of short and long cables, and a bungee cord attached to one platform end.
Stepping up onto the machines, I quickly found myself concentrating on figuring out the different moves being coached by the instructor. Each CORE40 class consists of 40 minutes of exercises, each one being about 1-2 minutes long depending on what it is. Each move will be super slow and controlled, using resistance from your machine and body weight to push or pull your muscles in one direction. In pretty much every session, you’ll hit three areas: arms, legs, and core. Subsequently, you’ll be working specific areas like your obliques, hamstrings, biceps, or shoulders. There is an insane amount of combinations and ways to do squats, lunges, bicep work, and abs — literally no two classes I’ve been to have been the same, which I absolutely love.
My first few weeks of class I was sore non-stop. After that initial hurdle, I started building more muscle and found myself able to go up to four times a week, and even with back-to-back days of classes. I started recognizing more of the moves (which go by names like reverse wheelbarrow, donkey kicks, elevator lunges, and mermaid crunches), and I was able to do them a bit easier each time.
A few other things I love about these classes — read on to get the nitty gritty!
The speed + pace.
This class is supposed to be slow. For each move, you’re repeating the movement for a four-second count in, and four-second count out (if not slower), to keep building tension in your muscles. The slower you go, the better. You’ll find your muscles shaking within seconds of any move.
It’s a full-body workout– in just 40 minutes
At CORE40, it’s really amazing how comprehensive the classes are at working your full body — you might be doing a squat-based exercise, but you’ll be engaging your core and abs for balance. Or you’ll be doing a core-focused exercise where you’re holding a plank position and engaging your obliques to drag in your legs to a pike position– but you’re also working all the muscles in your arms as you hold yourself up. There are no breaks between moves, so you’re really making your workout count in a short amount of time.
There are a bunch of classes at various times each day — and numerous studios scattered throughout SF at pretty central locations. Downtown I’ve got options for a post-work sweat sesh with two studios about a 10-20 minute walk from my office, and another three locations to choose from that are all equal distance from my home to choose from for morning or weekend classes.
It’s all about you.
These classes are about you and not anyone else. Sure, there are maybe 10 other people around you in class, but not one of them is worried about what you’re doing. No matter what, you’ll find you’ll be totally focused on yourself — concentrating on slow, controlled movements, making sure you’re breathing at a good pace, and always engaging your core for balance. There’s no time to compare yourself to anyone else or feel self-conscious.
If you’re looking for something new to mix into your fitness routine and help break you out of a rut, definitely give CORE40 classes a try!