Arlington, Virginia, residents should get ready for one intense workout.
After making its D.C. debut in early 2014, boutique chain Solidcore has finally landed in Northern Virginia. Its Arlington studio opened on Dec. 20 and two others are set to debut in 2015. The highlight of the studio is its megaformer, essentially a Pilates reformer with more features, designed to work your muscles until they fail. According to Solidcore’s website, “this low-impact process forces your muscles to rebuild a more sculpted, stronger and [solid] you.”
The Ballston studio has great visibility on the corner of N. Glebe Road and right across from the Ballston Common Mall. Inside, it’s essentially divided into two parts—one hallway where you stand around waiting for class to start and the other where you work hard. It’s light filled with wooden accents and looks very modern. The lobby’s modest in size and didn’t have any chairs when I went over the weekend. But perhaps that’s the whole point of the workout: you’re here to make your muscles burn, not to sit.
And boy, did mine ache. This workout kicked my butt. I have not felt this sore post-exercise class in a long time. My arms were already aching mere minutes after I left the studio. Two days after the class, and my lower abs still hurt when I laughed or cough. Although mostly a strengthening/toning routine, your heart rate will rise high enough to qualify as cardio. Due to its harsh nature, the studio recommends you be able to hold a plank for at least 60 seconds before you attend class.
After a brief demo from the instructor explaining the machine, we were off. We started barefoot (as you are all class) doing planks, and I think I maybe lasted one whole minute before I had to take a break. I’m not exaggerating. Unless you’re an elite athlete, it would be nearly impossible to not stop at some point during this workout. It’s that tough.
But with all the discussion of how butt-kicking this truly was, I must say that I enjoyed every minute. Transitions were fast. The exercises felt effective. We started with abs, moved onto the left leg, back to abs, worked the other leg and then finished up an arm exercise. Specific moves included squats, the skater move, pique-like moves on the machine and tricep dips. The instructor tells you about the next move while you’re working on one to save time. If you ever get confused, look around at your other students to see what you’re supposed to be doing. During class, you’re supposed to go slow. Most exercises require a four-count in and a four-count out. You will shake. You will sweat. You will probably feel like you’re going to collapse on the machine.
But the music helps. Expect loud pop music tunes from the likes of Kanye West and other Top-40 chart toppers. I found it amusing when J. Lo and Iggy’s “Booty” came on during classic butt-toning moves like the fire hydrant and leg lifts. Occasionally, the music would drown out the instructor, but mostly I felt like it kept me motivated and took my mind off some of the pain.
The instructor (thankfully) did not call us out for pausing. They must know how hard the workout is. She praised us, by first name, when we were doing an exercise well. And I appreciated the small class sizes; they’re capped at 13 people. It gave the instructor time to give newbies like me individual instruction.
With the exception of a tricep exercise at the very end, we didn’t focus too much on the upper body besides all the planking. But that move at the end still made my arms hurt the next day.
The class doesn’t allot for stretching. But at $35 for a 50-minute class, you’ll want to spend every minute you have on that machine. Plus, stretching is easy enough to do on your own. May we suggest these great stretches or these ones on the foam roller. I stretched and rolled, and I still felt sore. But it’s worth a shot.
And I’d for sure recommend this if you have it in your budget. Solidcore is one of those exercises you can never truly master. That could get frustrating if you prefer to perfect all your moves (hello yoga class), but refreshing for those who like a constant challenge.
A fellow classmate of mine put it best. As we were wiping down our machines and stretching, I remarked how I had to keep pausing throughout class. She replied, “the point is to keep failing all the time.”
Failure has never looked more appealing.
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