BostonBarre, Pilates, Yoga
Heading to an exercise class at Exhale’s Back Bay location we thought was going to be like having a spa treatment. We were sorely wrong. Exhale is a high end spa that offers a variety of yoga, barre and high intensity interval classes. Coined as an “urban oasis” for residents and tourists; they offer two locations in Boston – Back Bay and Battery Wharf.
Call us crazy, but sometimes we’re looking for a little more burn and shake in our barre classes. Enter Exhale’s Core Fusion Barre Advanced. We’ve been to nearly every barre studio in Boston and this is hands down the most challenging, shake inducing and sweatiest barre class around town. Although we don’t recommend for barre newbies, don’t be intimidated. The “advanced” aspects of class are the fast transitions and high repetitions, not the movements themselves. So you won’t be expected to morph into a human pretzel, but you will be expected to hold a flat back chair for 30 seconds. Ouch.
We started the workout with a quick warmup of high knees, twists and squat pulses. Similar to other Exhale barre classes, next up was plank and push-ups. The kicker was this little green ball. We began with the ball between our inner thighs, holding planks and working through a push-up series. We didn’t realize at the time, but this ball would end up following us throughout the entire class. We even held it between our legs during arms, squeezing that damn thing on every exhale.
At the barre we performed a set of flat back chair, parallel plie squat and first position plie squat. That may sound like gibberish to you, but no matter what you call it, that shiz was haaaaaard. Our thighs were hot and we were full-on shaking. On to seat work. You guessed it…that little green ball came along for the ride. We held that puppy behind our knee for dear life as we pulsed our thighs back and to the side. It definitely hurt, but there is something so satisfying about working your ass AND your love handles simultaneously. By the time we were in the homestretch for sit-ups we were soaked with sweat.
The instructors at Exhale are some of the best in town, and Thalia is no exception. Her zero F’s attitude is the perfect complement to this insanely hard class. She confidently walks around the studio, giving tips and modifying her students as she passes by. She gives praises, but only when they are deserved, truly pushing you to the limit. Also, Thalia’s body be bangin…we would work the barre every day if it got us a bod like her.
Exhale’s lobby screams ZEN. When you walk in you immediately feel transported from the hustle of Arlington street to a quiet and relaxing spa. That feeling carries right over into the squeaky clean studio spaces. But the best perk about taking classes at Exhale is that you get full access to the locker rooms (transcend into the basement to find them) with the bells and whistles that a high end spa offers. Treat yourself like a king and don a white robe, throw on sandals and lube yourself up with any beauty products you might need pre or post workout.
28 Arlington Street, Boston, MA Back Bay Yoga $$$
Exhale Back Bay
Back Bay Barre, Pilates, Yoga $$$
28 Arlington Street, Boston, MA
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Exhale Back BayBarre
Core Fusion Barre class was one of the most challenging barre classes we’ve taken in Boston and we’ve been around the block. We burned, we shook, we might even have cursed under our breathe but we felt the effects for days to come; this barre thing works. (Note: The sold out Friday 10AM class is apparently the place to be for #ladieswholunch. Sign up early.)
Let’s be honest, our heart rates didn’t spike above 100, but our muscles were on FIRE (and hurt for the next 2 days). Core Fusion Barre is a great weekly compliment for those who like to get your cardio on by running or spinning and want to add tone to those muscles. Apparently the ladies in our class were looking for a nice compliment to their weekly lunching and shopping routine. Got to tone those arms up to hold your Hermes shopping bags.
There is no easing into Core Fusion Barre. The 60 minute class starts right away with pushups and a combination of bodyweight movements. Five minutes into class and our arms were burning! No rest for the weary, after a quick stretch we moved onto the next muscle group; thighs. We looked around at one point to make sure we weren’t the only ones shaking; we weren’t. We ended class with abs and butt – 30 pushups and a belly up ab segment that had our abs aching.
Half way through we weren’t sure if we had signed up for the wrong class. This “barre” class felt more like a strength and conditioning class minus the 10 minutes we were actually at the barre. There was no tucking and most of the thigh and butt exercises were small mircro lifts and bends while on releve.
Don’t let the small framed, innocent looking Chrissy Snyder fool you. She means business, barre business. She commands the room for 60 minutes, barking movements, pushing you past comfortable, correcting and adjusting form not only on the regulars, but the new comers too. Best part is, she’s not afraid to call people out for mistakes or stopping early. You came to get toned didn’t you? She is strict, but that’s a good thing. You didn’t pay $25 to look in the mirror.
Exhale Back BayYoga
Love. Love. Love. Don’t be fooled, Chrissy Snyder’s Core Fusion yoga class is not just stretching; she knows how to lead the class and give you the most from your time on the mat. She guided us through a yoga flow to upbeat music for the first half hour. Halfway through the class we transitioned into a strength focused movements. We found ourselves pulsing until our legs shook and finished up with some core work. We were happy to incorporate the added strength portion of the class in after the flow; a welcome change from the traditional vinyasa class left us leaving with the shakes.
As always Chrissy was welcoming and knew most people’s names as they walked in. But for as friendly and petite as she was (petite, but perfectly toned, of course) her presence and voice were commanding and authoritative, with a dash of sweetness–the perfect blend, in our opinion. She was extremely helpful in assisting us throughout the class, helping us feel the burn even more than we already were.
Major plus! She had a BOMB hip hop playlist which distracted us from holding planks that seemed to last forever. We want to follow Chrissy, her playlist and her kickass yoga burn all around the city.
Don’t let Molly’s pleasant demeanor fool you. She is one tough barre instructor, if not the toughest in our book at Exhale. But even though she makes us sore for a solid three days (um, not that we’re counting), we love her relaxed energy and confident poise. Molly keeps her class structure similar to all Exhale Barre classes, with her teaching style focused on the high-quality program for which the studio is know. But where some instructors stop, Molly pushes on, taking liberties with different equipment and exercises. After all, variety is the spice of life. #amiright
Core Fusion Extreme at Exhale had a great variety of exercises and kept us moving for a full 45 minutes. However, the relaxing environment and too-sweet teacher left us wanting just a bit more. But if you’re hesitant about taking a HIIT or bootcamp class, this may be just the start you need. One very important note–sneakers are required!
This bootcamp-inspired workout consists of five stations, each with two different exercises. Structured like many HIIT classes in Boston, you push hard for 30 to 45 seconds, take a short rest and then keep going. Each station utilizes different equipment for various exercises. For example, Station 1 used a box for box jumps as well as elevated planks. We gotta say, the mix-up was pretty nice. We used gliders, free weights, medicine balls and even TRX suspension bands. The variety definitely kept us on our toes, but unfortunately, the class lacked an intensity that we expect with these types of workouts. Maybe it was the spa atmosphere of Exhale or the fact that we felt bad dripping sweat on the lovely beige carpet, but we just never reached a bootcamp mindset.
Denise Griffin Crowe was very welcoming and friendly. She introduced herself to everyone as they walked in the room, getting a feel for who hasn’t taken the class before. She did a good job of explaining each exercise and did her best to keep us all on track during the workout. We admit, we’re guilty of getting brain farts as we arrive at a new station, but Denise was happy to guide us. Our only critique is Denise is maybe too nice for this class style. We’re used to (and like) getting amped by the typical drill sergeant screaming. But Denise took a more yoga approach, telling us to “listen to our bodies” and “try our best.” It wasn’t bad, per se. It just toned down the intensity level too low for our liking.
You truly can’t go wrong with the instructors at Exhale. They all provide top-quality instruction and are some of the Best in Boston. Laura Parrott is no exception. She stands out from the crowd with the level of personality she brings to class. She takes the music into her own hands playing mostly 80’s house music and Wham! She ventures away from the standard Core Fusion Barre class structure and delivers a class that is unique to her. You’ll find a yoga poses throughout the warm up along with different types of push ups series. But have no fear, you’ll still get the shake and burn we’ve come to know and love from Exhale. If perhaps your regular barre class is getting a little stale, we’d highly recommend a little Laura Parrott in your life to mix things up.
Julie Chrzan is sneaky good. Her zen demeanor and sweet presence welcomes you as you enter the studio making you think the class will be a cake walk. But oh, you are wrong. There was very little “om” and much more “ommmmyeffinggod”. Right from the start, Julie challenged us to hold longer, sink lower and dig deeper. We were fully engaged in the “shake zone” the entire class. If she wasn’t so darn sweet, we would probably hate Julie’s guts.
We sound like a broken record, but we gotta say it anyways – Exhale has the best barre instructors. Grier Colella was wonderful. She brought a no BS attitude to class and it was so refreshing. She instructed without any of the “positivity” fluff, and we found it very motivating. She effortlessly commanded the room with straightforward cues. She also made us do two sets of pretzel. Yes. One standing, one seated. Sooo yeah….Grier made us WERK!
We’ve never met an Exhale instructor we didn’t like. And Caitlin Milbury Young was fantastic. Before class began, she introduced herself to us and we chatted for a min. We know, we know….we harp on this a lot. But when you’re paying $25 a class (yikes!), a personalized experience is important! And “personalized” it was. Caitlin continually offered hands-on adjustments to class go-ers, as well as provided shout-outs over the mic. Caitlin also ran the class like a drill-instructor (in a good way). She has a no BS attitude and expects you to put everything you have into class. A lady after our own heart!
Erin is the “cool girl” at Exhale. You know – jazzy leggings, lightly colored purple hair and a Cali-style flat brim effortlessly perched on her head. If she wasn’t so darn nice, we probably would have been intimidated by her. Before class, Erin walked around the room and introduced herself to every person she didn’t know – we LOVE that. She also provided a twist on the classic Exhale Core Fusion Barre class structure. We began our thigh series in Fourth Position which was definitely a different start from the usual First Position or Parallel. We also did a long series of back dancing towards the end of class, really feeling our abs and inner thighs work. And ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. Erin – we will be back!