[Solidcore]

I made my way to the Old City studio this morning to try a class at Solidcore. This class is low impact but high difficulty! It’s all about slow and painful sculpting on a reformer-type machine. There is no cardio in this class, but my heart rate did climb a little on some of the more challenging holds. It was challenging for specific small muscle groups, but did not feel like an efficient or complete workout. It was an interesting way to switch up my routine. Read on for all the details!

The Studio: Solidcore is located on Chestnut Street between 7th and 8th. It’s a clean, modern space that appears newly renovated. There isn’t much by way of lobby or locker area, but the studio itself has ample space for all 12 reformers. When I walked in, there was no one at the front desk to greet or direct me. It wasn’t immediately clear how you sign into class or where to put your things. I soon realized the “cubbies” in this studio are pull-out storage drawers underneath the benches in the hallway. There is also a coat rack near the front door to hold bulky winter coats, a necessity since the small drawers don’t hold much. The bathrooms are new, clean, and fully stocked with deodorant, hair ties, mints, etc. There are large, fluffy towels freely available for use.

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The Format: This class is all about slow, small movements. There is a spring-loaded carriage that moves along tracks with two stationary platforms on either end. There are straps to hold in your hands and/or feet on all three surfaces. There are also handles attached to cables along the side of the machine (think: to use for lat raises) and free weights hidden underneath the carriage (to up the ante on some of the ab exercises). Each client gets their own machine. The workout cycles through various exercises that challenge your muscles through resistance and holds. There is music playing through the sound system and low, blue, almost club-like lighting throughout. The instructor talked us through all of the exercises and encouraged us, speaking almost the entire time. She also walked around and checked our form.

The Workout: We started out with a series of planks and crunches with either hands or feet on the carriage or platforms, using the ab muscles to pull the carriage in and out. Next, we worked on some pushup variations using the different parts of the machine. Finally, we did work on our legs, sometimes on one foot or the other, gradually working through lunges and holds. It was certainly a full body workout, but it focused on small muscle groups that often aren’t worked in other classes. Working these oft-ignored muscles was challenging to be sure; but I was left feeling like I didn’t get a complete workout without any work on the more traditional muscle groups. It was a refreshing change of pace, but not something I would do every day or even multiple times a week.

The ProsThe combination of the resistance machine and unique movements made this workout different from any other I’ve tried. I felt it working parts of my body that I didn’t know existed! I definitely had some shakes happening.

The Cons: When I left this class, I didnt have that tired-yet-endorphin-filled feeling of a great workout. The exercises were new, different, and challenging, but there was no cardio and my larger muscle groups weren’t exhausted. I also felt there was a lot of time wasted fussing with the equipment. The set-up for each movment is so complicated that it left little time to perform the exercises. It made it hard to get into a groove. I never had that gratifying feeling of really being in the zone. Granted it was my first class, so this issue might improve with time.

The PricingThese classes certainly aren’t cheap. A single class is $32. They do however offer a deal for new clients so the first class is $20. A ten class card is $290. There are no monthly or yearly membership options listed for the Pennsylvania locations, except for the Opening Special which is $199/month for a three-month commitment. Note: the late cancel/no-show fee is $30 (most other studios I’ve been to charge $10).

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