Core Fusion Barre + Cardio always gives us our money’s worth for a toning workout. At Exhale Flatiron, you’ll get sweaty in what seems like a never-ending series of plank runs (mountain climbers) and sun salutations, interspersed with cardio kickboxing, then spend the second half of class burning your buns and legs off. Definitely the hardest “no-shoes” cardio class we’ve done. Caitlin kept the mood light with some quippy comments but the pressure was on as she somehow made it around the room of 20+ people to make hands on adjustments. This class is a great one – although sometimes the room is too crowded, you’ll get a good workout.
Each Exhale class has its own set of yoga mats and additional props, so we all scrambled to grab two different sets of weights, a green stretchy band and a ball. The class we took at Exhale Flatiron was incredibly full – one of the only drawbacks – and the easy-peasy 2-pound weights were all gone by the time we got to the weight bucket in the back of the room. So we grabbed 3-pound and 5-pound hand weights and set up a yoga mat near the front of the room.
Caitlin started off class with some excellent late 2000s jams (Britney, BSB and Christina Aguilera remixes) and explained the format of the class: the first 30 minutes was cardio, and then we’d transition into barre exercises, and finally abs. Sneakers are recommended for the first half of the class, but we looked around and about half of the group was going shoeless, so we did too. She had us sweating in less than five minutes as we moved sun salutation style through mountain climbers, twisted mountain climbers, pushups, plank jumping jacks, and then got up and vertical again with some quick cardio kickboxing style hooks.
After what felt like a loooong plank-filled warm-up, we moved into four different rounds of cardio kickboxing exercises with weights, punctuated by the mountain climber series after each one. We started off with some squat jumps, and then each round’s choreography, quick lunges and punches got a little more complicated. Caitlin offered form corrections in between Britney Spears anecdotes, which definitely kept the mood light. We’d recommend this class to a moderate to advanced group fitness freak since each person in class barely had room beyond her yoga mat to punch and kick, and there are a ton of planks..
Finally, our fourth round of cardio was over and we moved over to the barre for some chair and waterski exercises. At this point, everyone seemed drenched in sweat, and while we’ll say this isn’t the most technical or difficult barre section we’ve ever done, doing it after all those planks had our thighs on fire immediately. This section did go by fast and we were soon back on our mats for a quick glutes session: mostly clamshells and bridges. Before we knew it, we’d moved into a series of yoga stretches including cat/cow, and class was finished.
Caitlin was a friendly and down-to-earth instructor who did her best to keep things personal in a large class. She seemed a little frazzled at the beginning and didn’t introduce herself to newbies, but she did know a number of people by name and was encouraging to all throughout the class. Caitlin had a slightly sarcastic energy but a clear enthusiasm for barre, and we appreciated her lightheartedness. She definitely enjoys her teaching without taking herself too seriously, and gets into the moves and correct form. She knew the flow for class by heart and was open to mixing things up and providing modifications for injury or less advanced class-goers. Her volume was good and her energy level was high throughout the whole session.
More than other Exhale studios, the Flatiron location feels zen and calming, with friendly people at the desk whenever we’re running late into class due to subway delays. Some merch/apparel is generally on offer, such as Swell bottles, grippy socks, sports bras, and leggings. There are lockers and cubbies as well as a clean, well-stocked men’s and women’s locker room – pro tip, if there are no men in your class we recommend sneaking into the men’s locker room after to avoid a long line for showers. In the women’s locker room, there are three showers & two toilets, which people cycle through pretty quickly, but things get heated, literally, as everyone scrambles in front of the mirror to blow dry their hair and scurry off to work after a morning class. Despite the steamy atmosphere, nice, orange-scented toiletries, large towels and free razors are provided, as well as plastic bags for your sweaty laundry.
19 W 21st St, New York, NY 10010 Flatiron Barre $$$$
Flatiron Barre, $$$$
19 W 21st St, New York, NY 10010
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As mentioned in other reviews, this class is 30 minutes of torture and then 30 minutes of barre, focused on the thighs and glutes. The first half on this particular Saturday morning went by fairly quickly, with the plank runs/mountain climber sequence incorporating a lot of pushups and side plank raises. The cardio intervals were also fast-paced, including a number of lunge jumps with weights that had us clicking our heels together like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. There was a new move that Julie also had us focus on, which was a fast jump with feet together, then apart, while performing a side arm raise with 5 pound dumbbells.
Per usual, the whole class seemed exhausted and spent by the time we transitioned into the barre section. The thighs segment was performed at the barre with a green ball between our legs, mostly in narrow v position and then in waterski. This section did not go by as quickly as the first half, but we certainly felt our thighs getting more toned by the end of class! Glutes included a foldover section and a brief chair pose. Finally, we moved on to abs on the ground, which included oblique crunches and a few hip bridges. After a brief corpse pose, we stretched, hung on the stall bar to stretch out our shoulders, and moved on with our Saturday.
Julie Bobek is a strong presence in the Exhale Flatiron studio who is usually the first to chastise you for getting to the studio last minute or a few minutes late. She carries this no-nonsense attitude to class, but we love it – she’s actually super nice, just takes no bullshit. She likes to motivate people in class by telling them they can do better and try harder, and a lot of the time this pisses us off just enough to try harder and get a better workout. She is usually leading a very large class and so scarcely calls anyone out by name, but will always stop to chit chat before class so that she can come around during class and offer specific corrections. We like coming to Julie’s class and will try to make it on time whenever she’s on the schedule 😊.
The Core Fusion HIIT (formerly Extreme) class consisted of five stations, each repeated twice, and then a brief abs section. The stations all had relatively simple directions which made it easy to get engaged and sweaty quickly. We were grateful for that! The stations were as follows: gliders, where we alternated skater lunges and sliding pushups on just one foot at a time; TRX, where we did single leg, dumbbell weighted squats and one pull movement that targeted our obliques; plyos, where we did traveling pushups and burpees over a box and then a -leg skater jump onto that box; core balls, where we alternated between Russian twists and a bicep curl/lunge compound movement; and finally, a “heavy weights” station, where we mostly used 10-pound dumbbells to alternate between a kneeling row and a clean and jerk.
The first time around, we stayed in each station for about five minutes, repeating the two different exercises for 40 seconds at a time. The second rotation around the room went by even faster, with a quick break in between each of the stations for some dynamic stretching and planks, all led by Bergen. The last ten minutes of class were devoted to abs on the floor, which were centered around a c-curve ab position and then some oblique crunches.
You know you’re in for a good workout when you recognize four different Exhale teachers who have come to take Bergen’s class. It’s clear she has earned this respect from her fellow teachers, and the die-hard following that make it so difficult to sign up for this class. She ran class with the efficiency of a drill sergeant, explaining all the stations very quickly at the beginning of class and then running around touching up people’s technique as we went through the stations. She is also responsible for the programming of each HIIT workout at Exhale, so we give her credit for developing stations that complement each other, leading to a great overall burn for legs, abs, and arms alike. We loved the top 40 remixes and mashups that Bergen picked as well and would love to take her class again.
This class is half cardio and half barre, focused around sun salutation-like intervals beginning with plank runs (aka mountain climbers) and plank jumping jacks, then progressing to downward dog through to single leg lunges. This first sequence always burns out the shoulders and helps us feel like we’ve done a week’s worth of planking in five minutes. Between these ab-focused sequences, the cardio section of class included four different intervals with kickboxing moves. We used hand weights to add difficulty to various punches, from a cross to a hook, and also did a few kicking sequences that left us feeling glad we’d brought our sneakers (which are optional in this class).
The second half of the class is performed at the barre and is generally a little more relaxing than the first section. On this particular day, though, we did a lot of chair pose to burn out our glutes, and we were guessing by the facial expressions of those around us that other people were finding it just as difficult. By the third time we changed positions in chair, we were ready to lie down on the floor and call it quits for the day. Instead, Nicole led us through ab exercises, focused around a c-curve hold position and including some Russian twists to round out the class before we all earned our five minutes in savasana at the end.
Nicole is a great instructor who always participates in basically the entire class sequence and manages to give direction at the same time, which we find impressive. She is always asking for more from those who attend her class and providing modifications, whether to make the workout harder or to make it easier for those with injuries. Nicole also takes the time to get to know those who attend class by name and checks in with people midway through class to make sure we’re all getting as much as we can out of it. Nicole seems really nice and like the kind of instructor we’d love to hang out with outside of class.
Micaela led a solid, even, well-paced class, which was heavy on barre work for our thighs and butt. We really liked the flow and felt we were never stuck in a position that was too crazy impossible for very long. We started with a floor warm-up, consisting of marches and planks. Micaela recommended heavier weights than we’re used to (five- and seven-pound dumbbells) for the short weights section, and focused on the triceps. From there, we moved on to the barre section and thighs, with two types of chair right after one another. The first butt exercise was foldover, after Micaela gave us ample time to stretch our legs out. We concluded the glutes section with new-to-us moves on the floor: leg lifts and kicks from an all-fours position which helped wake up our obliques again. We moved naturally from there into an abs section that we also thought was excellent. It included long curl and then c-curve hold positions before going back to the barre to conclude with some straight-backed ab exercises for the lower abs. Class went by very fast!
We really liked Micaela’s no-fuss instruction. She gave explanations for moves that were short, direct, and to the point, and led the whole class as if it were somewhere between a yoga flow and a dance class, flowing seamlessly from one section to the next. She kept us on track and on the beat for 55 minutes and still managed to come around and focus on individual technique. Best of all, her music for this particular class seemed like a handpicked selection from 2011, heavy on the Nicki Minaj.
When it’s a holiday week in New York, it’s honestly impressive that even three people show up to fitness class at 9:30 on a Wednesday morning. In this case, we didn’t mind because it gave us a semi-private class at Exhale and we had a chance to work on our form! The Exhale barre workout is low impact and follows a standard pattern of warmup, arms, legs, glutes, and abs, which Ellen followed dutifully. The warmup, arms and legs sections passed by quickly.
This class in particular focused heavily on glutes and abs together, and really burned out our obliques. After we did a foldover section at the barre, we came to our mats and focused on clamshell exercises with stretchy bands to help burn out our side seat, thighs, and obliques. This was challenging enough, but then we went into an extended series of hip bridges which further stressed our hamstrings and side seat. By the end of class we were shaking for sure.
Ellen finished class off with a good crunch series and helped us work on our c-curve hold position.
We really liked Ellen, who had a great attitude about this very small class and was very helpful in terms of providing technique advice without being overbearing. She was enthusiastic and great with motivating instruction, encouraging us to keep going and providing modifications that helped us get the most out of our workout. Ellen’s own technique (and her Rockettes sweatshirt) made it clear she was a dancer and we felt that influence throughout class – from the impressive turnout we were expected to attempt in second position to Ellen’s style of counting on the beat. We think she’d be equally good in a large class and look forward to seeing her lead a larger group next time!