Core Fusion Barre + Cardio is a difficult, sweaty workout that engages your core throughout 30 challenging minutes of mountain climbers, burpees, and kickboxing exercises. In this particular class, we felt the second half – covering thigh, glute and abs barre exercises – seemed like more of an afterthought, among several other issues. We got a good workout in but were disappointed by the teaching and ambience at this Soho location – we expect better from Exhale and hope that, as they get their pop-up studio established in this neighborhood, they improve the quality of the space. We’ll continue to seek out Barre + Cardio and be more mindful of the space and instructor we choose next time.
We were instructed to get a set of weights and a mat and then find a spot on the floor, which was a challenge as there were about 20 people in class and barely enough room to spread out. One of us was stuck directly under a speaker that blared low quality sound very loudly throughout class. Nefertiti started class off with a bang with jumping jacks and plank runs, moving immediately from there into the selected six mini intervals of burpees, bicep curls and lunges in different forms all punctuated by 16 plank runs, plank jumping jacks, spider lunges, and downward dog. We were lucky this wasn’t our first rodeo with Barre + Cardio, so we knew this high octane part of class would only last 30 minutes before a reprieve. However, we wish she had taken time to explain the class before launching into it.
The second half of class, as in all Barre + Cardio classes, was the barre section, and we were able to spread out along three walls that each had a barre. We started with several narrow V position exercises to target the thighs then moved into a tiring chair series. We did a number of full knee bends while in chair which felt very taxing on our knees – we wished that Nefertiti had provided an alternative for those of us with creaky or unsteady joints. Following this, we quickly transitioned into glute exercises, the focus being a long fold over position series. We definitely were feeling the burn. The last section of class was abs. We did a round back series with our legs up near the barre and then followed that with a number of curl exercises on the mat which seemed to target only our upper abs and not our lower abs or obliques. Overall, the portion of class that followed the cardio section felt a bit disjointed and as if it were an afterthought. We ended class with a final core hold v-sit and Nefertiti led us through stretches with a yoga strap.
Nefertiti Thomas drives a hard class – she clearly knows the barre cardio series very well, and we’ve taken her class at other Exhale studios before. Nefertiti started the class off a couple minutes past 12:30 and did walk around correcting our form in plank which was much appreciated and a sign of a difficult class to follow. She did not share the format of the class (30 minutes cardio, then 30 minutes barre) which would have been jarring if we didn’t already know how these classes are formatted. Also, it may have been the unpleasant space we were all dealing with or perhaps it is just that our group wasn’t trying hard enough, but we felt like Nefertiti had a particularly negative tone in this class. There was an issue with the microphone (very screechy) and it made our ears ring throughout class. She admonished the group for sloppy form with our burpees and repeatedly reminded us that it was after noon already so no excuses for laziness, and that we had better be giving the class 100% effort. She definitely motivated us to try harder, if partially to avoid further yelling! Nefertiti did offer adjustments to people in class with injuries and we were left sweating a ton.
Exhale’s SoHo studio had been tucked away above a shoe/accessory retailer on Spring Street, but an asbestos removal situation means that SoHo classes will be taking place at a pop-up spot on Wooster Street above an art gallery for the next several months instead. Understanding it’s a temporary situation means there are a few caveats to this review, but still, the studio leaves a lot to be desired. The exercise space itself is relatively small with a slanted wooden floor and too many radiators even for the cold day. There was one mirrored wall opposite a few windows which let light in but no air – the temperature in class felt like Bikram yoga. On the other side of the studio from the entrance was a single toilet – no changing rooms or showers at this Exhale. The worst part of the space was probably the audio system, which played music with the quality of a makeshift iPod speaker stuck in a water glass to amplify sound, and an unfortunately earsplitting microphone system with just one volume level. Our ears were ringing for the entire class. We understand that Exhale is dealing with a less than ideal situation with their temporary space but we hope they are able to adjust to customer feedback to make a better temporary environment for class.
40 Wooster Street, 2nd fl., New York, NY 10013 SoHo Barre
40 Wooster Street, 2nd fl., New York, NY 10013
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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!
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.