Core Fusion Barre is Exhale’s original fitness class and is a yoga-pose take on the barre exercise genre. The advanced class features some pretty intense small movements and definitely creates a burn, but if you are looking for specific form correction or opportunities to try brand new poses or exercises that you’ve never tried before in the open level class, you may be disappointed. Like most Exhale classes, the class we attended at the Exhale Central Park South location had so many people in it there was a mad scramble for a spot at the barre and for props. Instructor Sarah tried her best to lead amidst the chaos and demonstrated exercises effectively but at times her mic cut out and her petite stature made her difficult to find amid the sea of people all angling for a better view of her. We liked the facilities at Exhale Central Park South but were turned off by how crowded it was, and we didn’t think there was enough to distinguish the “Advanced” class from the regular level offering. Bottom line: a fine option but not our favorite.
The Exhale Core Fusion Barre Advanced class requires typical barre class props: a green ball like a smaller version of ones we used to use for kickball at recess, some hand weights (a lot of people took the advanced option here of heavy, 8+ pound weights rather than the 2s and 3s we see fly off the shelves at other barre classes), and, somewhat uniquely, a yoga block. The first thing we noticed when we got in the room was that there was barely enough space to breathe, with probably almost 50 people squishing into the space and looking for a spot between ballet barre brackets on the three mirrored walls. The crowd at this 6:30pm rush hour Wednesday class was older than we’ve seen at other barre classes, as well: a mix of thirty-something professionals and very fit women who were likely in their fifties. We even spotted three men, the first we’ve seen at Exhale in years.
Sarah started class off with some knee lifts and then quickly got into a series of planks, pushups, and free weight arm exercises. These included hammer curls and bicep curls in addition to several lunges which reminded us of the sweaty session we had in barre cardio a few weeks ago – why did we take 8 pound weights this time?! After a very short set of tricep dips, the whole group clambered to find a spot at the barre for thigh exercises. This section included narrow v position, several leg lifts and water ski, and did feel advanced in the sense that we all had to balance on one foot on the yoga block, adding instability and the need for core strength to the position.
The rest of class consisted of an extended glutes section, with an abbreviated foldover position at the barre (again standing on the yoga block), and then a series of leg lifts performed in the middle of the room while we were all in a partial side plank position. This barre class kept us conscious of our abs the entire time – in addition to the close proximity of our neighbors.
We ended class with a final core hold v-sit and then Sarah encouraged the group to stick around to hang on the stall bar. Unlike at other Exhale classes, we were not encouraged to stretch for very long, probably so the large class could file out before the next class, a Barre Cardio session that Sarah was also teaching, could file in. We left feeling sort of sweaty and like our abs had gotten a good workout, but mostly overwhelmed by how many people we had to duck and dodge just to return our weights and yoga blocks safely. We aren’t sure we’d return to this particular rush hour class.
Sarah Ambrose is an instructor with a following – she’s been at Exhale for a long time and has many loyal class-goers. She is charismatic and offered up a number of modifications to these Advanced barre movements without prompting, which we always appreciate. On the other hand, there were so many people in the class and Sarah kept moving around so frequently that we sometimes lost track of her! She would demonstrate movements at the barre, on the side, at the front, or near the door, and this sometimes made it distracting and difficult to keep focused on our workout. We’d love to see Sarah in a smaller class where she can stay at the front of the room and be more directive overall.
Exhale Central Park South is the flagship location, an impressive space right on 59th Street facing Central Park amidst fancy private clubs, restaurants and hotels. Walking in, you see a large boutique on the right hand side peddling mostly yoga-specific apparel and relaxation products like mala beads and scented lotions. The check-in desk is at the left and there are always 3-4 smiling faces to check you in. This location has a large spa as well and only a few of the people we spotted in the front room were waiting for a class as opposed to a massage. We were ushered back to the locker room, which is enormous – 6 or 7 showers with every product you can think of, a long mirrored corridor for blow drying hair and putting on makeup, and then ample space for storing your belongings in lockers. If we had been at a morning class, we could have probably avoided the dreaded “scramble-to-get-to-the-shower” that is so common after morning spin class. However, just like in the class we were taking, this space was already teeming with people! Even with all that space, we were bumping into people left and right just to fill up our water bottles. In the end, we were very impressed with the location but wish that Exhale limited the number of people in its classes just a bit more.
150 Central Park S, New York, NY 10019 Columbus Circle Barre $$$$
Exhale Central Park South
Columbus Circle Barre, $$$$
150 Central Park S, New York, NY 10019
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