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First Workout Report: Inside Exhale Flatiron and the new Core Fusion Extreme

Exhale Flatiron
(Photo: Exhale)

Exhale’s new workout-only location in the fitness-heavy Flatiron District opened last week, and it’s bringing big, explosive movements into the pretty toe-pointing barre world.

That’s because the studio is the exclusive home of Core Fusion Extreme, a new HIIT class created by Exhale star instructor Bergen Wheeler that basically ignores the barre, favoring plyometrics over pulsing and weights that weigh ten pounds instead of two.

We stopped by to sample the sweaty new offerings.

The space

Since there’s no spa, the set-up inside is more like a SoulCycle than an Exhale, but you’ll still notice Zen-inducing design elements, like warm lighting, gold throw pillows, and Buddhas. The long hallway leading up to the pretty workout studio door is lined with key-code lockers and cozy benches, and the studio itself resembles a typical Core Fusion barre room, but with wood floors instead of carpet. All the better to feel the burn.

(Locker rooms are still currently under construction, so there are no showers for at least another three months.)

The workout

The full suite of Exhale’s uber popular Core Fusion classes (from classic Barre to Cardio) are offered at the studio, but Extreme is exclusive to the location.

(Photo: Exhale Flatiron)
(Photo: Exhale Flatiron)

The class includes five stations. You’ll do two exercises per station, each of which you’ll do in two sets of 40 second intervals. So at one station, for example, you might do 40 seconds of TRX rows, then pistol squats, then back to the rows, then back to the squats. Our stations included these two exercises plus box jumps, squat-and-presses with 8–10 pound weights, mountain climbers on gliders, and more.

There are 10 second transitions from station to station but other than that (which is barely enough time to pick up your towel and walk to the next spot), no breaks. You do the entire circuit once and then on the second time around, Wheeler throws in “active recovery” exercises, like balance challenges, in between.

At the end, you get a fast-and-tough ab routine on the mat and then a deep stretch to treat your exhausted muscles. It’s a much more concerted stretch than you’ll get in most HIIT sessions, which speaks to where you are, and you’ll also feel the Core Fusion touch in the focus on form and core stabilization throughout.

Still, Core Fusion regulars may feel like they’ve wandered into a foreign, much sweatier land. Although Wheeler is the perfect person to take them there, motivating guidebook in hand. She works just as hard as class-goers, barely pausing to breathe between words of encouragement and careful cues—and you really want to push yourself in her presence.

On the way out of my class, a woman who looked slightly shocked stopped to thank Wheeler. “If it weren’t for your personality, I would have been like, ‘Shut the f*ck up—I’m not doing that!'” —Lisa Elaine Held

Exhale Flatiron, 19 W. 21st St., between Fifth and Sixth Aves., Flatiron, $37 per class,