Focus On: Core Fusion

Hi kids and pups.

I’m Dori from Dori’s Shiny Blog. When Gina asked me if I wanted to write this week’s Focus On post about Core Fusion, I said yes right away! Not only do I love The Fitnessista, I love Core Fusion. I credit this class for changing my body and my life at a time I really needed it. I also credit my experience doing the Core Fusion Challenge (class 4-5 times a week for a month – which was 18 months ago and I still haven’t stopped) with helping me discover my love of exercise, giving me the desire to learn more about fitness and eventually leading to some amazing opportunities including appearing in a Core Fusion class on YogaVibes, being quoted in the NY Times and my weekly gig writing Dori’s Quest for NBC New York’s GO Healthy NY blog.

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If I am able to fulfill my dream of landing a full-time fitness-related career, I will have Core Fusion to thank for setting those wheels in motion.

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What is it: A full-body strengthening and toning class at exhale spa locations nationwide using small, isometric movements to work multiple muscle groups. Aside from the upper-body section, which uses light dumbbells, the only resistance you use in Core Fusion is your own body weight. The class generally starts with push-ups and planks before diving into the weights section – bicep curls, lat pull-downs, tricep kickbacks and many more. From there is the most intense portion, the thighs section, which involves low, pulsing plies, chair positions and squats. Glutes includes tiny leg lifts in varying positions to target the behind, and then there is a long abdominal section. The abdominal section consists of flat back and round back exercises under the barre, and then dives into Core Fusion’s signature curl section. Imagine holding the top of a crunch for a very, very long time.

After each section is complete, your stretch that body part, which is said to help with the lengthening aspect and prevent bulkiness. I don’t know if that is exactly true, but stretching is a good thing regardless!

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What to expect: Pain.

I kid. Sorta.

When the teacher first tells you to take light weights – no more than 3 pounds – you might scoff. But every person who ignores the advice has to drop down to lower weights. There will be countless reps and the light weights begin to feel VERY heavy. But the most intense pain comes from the thigh section. I am not going to lie: it burns. But it works.

Did I scare you? I promise the class is actually incredible. After you lose yourself in this hour, working your body to the extreme, the sense of peace and content you feel as you lay in savasana is like no other. The peace – and the pain – become addicting. I often crave the burn.

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What to wear:

Any comfortable clothing that you would normally wear for yoga or exercise. I am typically adamantly against wearing cotton to work out, but in this class you might be able to get away with it as it is not generally a super-sweaty time.

Pros:

-Incredible full-body strengthening and stretching workout. You hit every major muscle group – arms, back, shoulders, chest, thighs (oh, the thighs), glutes and, of course, abs.

-You see improvement – and results – quickly. When I started Core Fusion, I always collapsed during the plank; within just two weeks, I was holding the plank for the entire 90-ish seconds. I started out using 2- and 3-pound weights; now I use 5 pounders. I was unable to do a single full-form push-up; now, I would never consider doing push-ups on my knees. My body is toned and I feel much more confident. And one boy even told me he could break a two-by-four on my ass. The ultimate compliment if you ask me.

-Adjustments– The teachers go through an intensive 16-week training program. As a result, most of them are fantastic when it comes to making individual corrections to ensure you are performing the exercise correctly. One minor adjustment and you feel the work in an entirely new – and more challenging – way. This also prevents injury from performing exercises incorrectly.

- Teachers – The teachers are generally awesome. They have incredible energy and enthusiasm for Core Fusion, and seem to truly believe in the workout and want to see their students improve. However, some are far better than others, and that can really determine how the class is. And the teachers are always happy to answer questions or provide assistance after class.

- At-home options – If you can’t get to a studio, there are many wonderful Core Fusion DVDs as well as live streaming full-length classes on YogaVibes.

- Stress-relief – Whenever I am having a bad day or need to gain perspective on a problem, I take a Core Fusion class. Focusing on one task, working so hard on this one thing for an hour frees my mind from constant chatter, and after the peaceful savasana, I always feel better about my situation.

- Camaraderie – When you’re experiencing both the pain and joy that comes with this class, you can’t help but bond with others who feel the same way as you. It is hard making friends as an adult, but I made some truly wonderful friends through these classes.

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Cons:

- Lack of cardio- Students looking for a more cardiovascular intensive class might be disappointed with the “strength in stillness” aspect of Core Fusion. Some sections of class do raise the heart rate, but overall it is a pretty low-key (yet intense and challenging!) hour. The good news is that there are variations of Core Fusion that are hardcore cardio, such as Core Fusion Cardio, Core Fusion Boot Camp, Core Fusion Yoga and Core Fusion Sport. All of those classes will have your heart pumping and sweat dripping!

-Repetitive – The class follows the same basic structure: Upper Body, Thighs, Glutes, Abs. I happen to like knowing exactly what will be coming next in class. It helps me pace myself and gives me a sense of how much time has passed (being aware of time is one of my neuroses) but I know some people get a little tired of the same old routine.

- Price – Core Fusion is expensive. I strongly believe it is worth it for those who can afford it – the results are unbelievable – however, the high price tag alienates many people.

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Thank you so much for the amazing “Focus On” post, Dori!

Have you tried a Core Fusion class? What was your experience like?

If you don’t have classes in your area, the DVDs are fantastic- I own a few and love them.

See ya later friends <3

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Comments

  1. Haven’t tried it but sounds awesome!! i need to work on my core! thanks for the post!

  2. I have not tried Core Fusion but I want to be able to break a 2×4 on my ass. That is awesome.

  3. I’ve never even heard of Core Fusion! I’m going to have to go check out Dori’s website.

  4. I tried something similar in Portland last summer called Barre 3. I went for 3 days in a row and could barely get out of bed each morning. I agree about keeping the weights light. I wish we had something similar in Canada!

    • I tried Barre3 twice! Once in their Seattle studio, and once in Lululemon in NYC when their founder Sadie came to visit. I am sure barre workouts will make their way to Canada, new ones keep popping up EVERYWHERE.

  5. I love Core Fusion. I was lucky enough to try my first class with you last summer and now I frequently enjoy the dvds at home!

  6. I’ve been wanting to try a core fusion DVD – they sound great! Netflix here I come! :)

  7. Holy moly! I just looked at the price tag at some of the studios – until I find my trust fund from some rich relative, I think I’ll stick to my home gym.

  8. Sounds a lot like the barre classes I’ve been taking… except no bar, of course!

  9. I’ve never done Core Fusion before but it sounds like a fun class!

  10. i just started taking a class that seems pretty much identical to core fusion and i am in LOVE! i’m doing my own challenge of trying to go 4 times a week, and i can’t wait to have the same amazing results you’ve seen :)

  11. It sounds a lot like the Dailey Method which I adoooore!

  12. Thanks, Dori, for the awesome info and post. I have never actually taken a core fusion class but there is a studio across the street from my practically and all around my area there are tons (San Diego). I have been a yoga teacher for 10 years so I dont typically venture into “new” classes anymore…sounds awful, huh. But I know what I like, and I just do my own thing most of the time and do what I know is a proven hit for me…rather than wasting time/money on classes that are meh. But you have made me super curious now..now I may have to check out of CF class!

    Congrats on your fitness teaching journey, too!

  13. Is core fusion similar to body bar? I’m taking a body bar class right now and I love it!

  14. This looks like an awesome workout. I wish they had it in the Seattle area!

    • They have two similar workouts in the Seattle area — Barre3 and Bar Method. I found both a bit less challenging than Core Fusion, but it is definitely similar enough!

  15. Tiffany says:

    I haven’t done Core Fusion, but I took a Pure Barre class and it sounds pretty similar. Holy soreness. The class had my legs shaking like crazy and I was so sore the next morning. It was an awesome work out though, but it’s super expensive!

  16. I have never heard of it but it sounds awesome and amazing!

  17. Wow it sounds like Core Fusion really did change your life! I love the DVD’s (loved it,) but I’ve never taken the class.

  18. you do realize that core fusion is based on the same principles of Physique57, baed off of the Lotte Burke Method- same as Exhale’s Core Fusion, The Dailey Method (the best of them all), Barre3, The Bar Method, Pure Barre, etc. etc. the list goes on and on…

    • Hi Tina! So Fred DeVito and Lis Halfpapp, the founders of Core Fusion, actually ran the Lotte Berk Method for years after she left to travel the world. They even lived there! When Lotte Berk closed its doors, Fred and Lis created Core Fusion based on the basic principles of Lotte Berk but with some variation.

      While they are running Lotte Berk, however, they had a number of students that they trained — including Tanya & Jennifer from Physique 57, Jill Dailey, Burr Leonard, etc. Almost all barre classes have their origin from Fred and Lis teaching at Lotte Berk!

      • yes, i’m well aware of the story- i was just pointing out that gina already did a focus on physique57, but core fusion is basically the same concept!

        • Same overall concept with some key differences. I’ve done both. Physique 57 is much faster and more choreography based. There is definitely more of a cardio element. Core Fusion is more about “strength in stillness” and achieving the change through proper form rather than amount of reps. Both are excellent workouts and it really depends on your own preferences. So while they are based on the same principles, they are different classes. The same can be said of every single barre class — they all have elements that make them unique!

  19. <_< You seem to have stolen my name. At least there's one Dori out there who's super fit. :P

    - The Other Dori

  20. cure fusion is amazing! first time i tried it, i was blown away! it was *intense* and it felt amazing! they have a few core fusion workouts on hulu.com for free, in case anyone was interested ;)

  21. What an awesome class! I would love to go to one of those!

  22. Lindsay says:

    I have 4 of the Core Fusion DVD’s and I LOVE them :) My gym just started offering a Barre Sculpt class (sadly, it’s only 1 day per week…tears!) and it’s very similar. I wish there were more classes in my area!!

  23. Cool, I had actually never heard of Core Fusion so this was really cool to read. Don’t you love a workout that can kick you a$$ with a 2lb weight!?

  24. Core fusion sounds like something I would love to try! I wish they had it where i lived!

  25. I would LOVE for someone to tell me that they could break a 2×4 on my ass! That’s my biggest trouble zone! :)

  26. I’ve been wanting the low-down on Core Fusion. It looks a lot like The Bar Method which I love!! Definitely a good workout with definite results :-) I’ll have to give core fusion a try, I think they have one in Chicago.

    • THEY DO! One of my readers switched from Bar Method to Core Fusion after reading my blog because she had been disappointed with BM, and could not believe how much more challenging Core Fusion was. I can put you in touch with her if you’d like more info about her experience.

      • YES! Maria, you should definitely give Core Fusion a try. I was going to Bar Method 5-6 times a week for 5 months and I didn’t feel like I was getting out of it what I was putting into it. I tried Core Fusion after reading about it on Dori’s blog, and was blown away. I’ve been doing Core Fusion regularly now for 8 months not only has it completely transformed my body, it’s totally changed my life. My body is capable of things I never thought it would be able to do.

      • Yes please!!! I’d love to hear about her experience with the Bar Method vs. Core Fusion. Thank you!

  27. I’m doing Dailey Method and got to take a class with Jill Dailey herself today! I’ve only gone five times and am really hoping I end up looking like all the girls workin’ the toned backs in their lulu tanks if I stick at it :D

  28. It sounds a lot like the classes I’ve taken at Barre Methods… small isometric movements that make a 1 lb wt feel like 20! Their focus is a lot on the lower body as she described and aim to give you the “dancer body”. I’m sore for days after taking it! Great workout though!

  29. This is probably my most attended class, I get a great workout, but it’s also very calming!

  30. I’ve never even heard of core fusion.. Seems like a lot fun! :)

  31. I’ve never heard of these classes, but they sound awesome! I need something like this to help me get back on track with strength training. I’ll have to check out the DVDs. :D

  32. Sounds and looks a lot like the Booty Barre classes I’ve been taking. If so, VERY effective! I’ve been taking the classes 2x/week for 4 weeks now and can really see and feel an improvement! LURVE classes like this! thanks for the Focus On post!

  33. I love me some Dori and I love me some Core Fusion! I met Dori via twitter and Exhale and could not be happier. She is a shining star! Great post.

  34. Allison W. says:

    Great timing on this post, I just bought a Groupon for 2 weeks unlimited Core Fusion classes at Exhale in Chicago. I’m so pumped to try it!

  35. Great post Dori! I credit you entirely for introducing me to Core Fusion, which I LOVE! It has done absolutely amazing things for my body–not sure about breaking a 2×4 on my ass, but my abs sure are flat and my saddle bags have almost disappeared. I don’t live in or near a city where they have an Exhale spa, so I’ve never taken a live class (yet). My amazing transformation has come exclusively from the Core Fusion DVDs. I own every one, including the newest Core Fusion Cardio Intensity. Cardio Intensity and Boot Camp are very cardio in my book. So those of you who don’t have Exhale near by or can’t afford the classes, I highly recommend the DVDs. If you use them regularly (at least 3 times a week), you will see positive changes in your body and increases in your strength. And Fred and Lis are the best in my opinion.

    • Thank you so much! How did you get Cardio Intensity already? I actually attended their rehearsals for it, so I know it is a great one — right down to Fred’s funny one-liners!

      • It’s available from Acacia. I got it as soon as I could. I’ve done it twice now and it kicks my butt!

        • I picked up Cardio Intensity at the CPS exhale location last week! I’m trying to do more of the Cardio for fat loss, but UES doesn’t have enough Cardio classes for me. I haven’t tried the Boot Camp class or DVD yet. I think the Cardio dvd is pretty close to a class. There are little shortcuts taken but I didn’t feel like I was missing much compared to being in class. I shut off my A/C and tried it and I was sweating buckets.

          Dori, thank you so much for writing about Core Fusion. When I discovered it (and barre workouts in general) last year I craved more info and reviews and your website really helped me get on board. I’ve been going regularly for over a year now and have found exhale staffers to be so wonderful and helpful in my fitness goals. Everyone in my life has noticed the change in my body and they all think I’ve lost more weight than I actually have because Core Fusion has pulled me in.

          • Melissa, that just made my day! I agree that the people in exhale really are wonderful and supportive. I am so happy you had such positive results. I also agree that UES does not have enough Cardio classes (they used to and then replaced them with regulars again) and I am excited to try the DVD myself.

  36. Having taken a core fusion class, I really thought my butt was just going to completely fall off. Oh, and so were my arms. Oh, and my legs.

  37. Great post Dori. While I may be a Physique fan, I have come to love Core FUsion Sport and hope to try cardio soon.

  38. I think Dori should have disclosed that she was compensated to attend Core Fusion 4-5 times a week, although she doesn’t say whether she was paid in addition to the free classes.

    Here is the post from her blog where I think she makes that most clear:

    http://dorishinyblog.com/2010/03/12/core-fusion-challenge-the-final-recap/

    I’m not saying that her opinion about the classes isn’t valid, but I think it’s something to take into consideration if you are looking to take these classes.

    • Thanks, Ellen. I was never paid by exhale, but I did do a month free in January 2010, in exchange for documenting my experience on their website. However, that was 18 months ago. The fact that I continued to take the classes and still love them to this day should speak more than a free month a very long time ago.

  39. It sounds great! I’m curious as to how this differs from Physique 57, they sound very similar.

    • It is very similar. Physique 57 is a bit faster paced and more focused on choreography. Core Fusion believes in “strength in stillness” and a mind-body connection with a serious emphasis on form.

  40. Amazing write-up, Dori. I think it provides a really thorough review for people who have not heard of CF or are curious to learn more about it. You’ll be happy to hear that I am taking my first ever CF class next week! I’m really looking forward to it.

  41. ExhaleSpa in NYC does have a $40 deal, where you can attend unlimited classes for one week; I look forward to trying it! I’ve done the videos and definitely enjoy, and try to take them when I travel.

  42. I love Core Fusion DVDs! I just did a little review on my blog.

  43. I have been attending CoreFusion classes at the Exhale Stamford location since their opening. Before they opened I was attending CrossFit classes 2x a week and Zumba 1x/week. Although I was losing inches from all of the cardio it wasnt until I started CoreFusion that I started to see the overall changes in my shape. I was amazed at my overall flexibility and the amazing core strength i was building class after class. My CrossFit trainers continued to compliment me on the changes week after week and I had to admit to them that until I started attending weekly Core Fusion classes I wasn’t seeing the overall changes as I had since starting CoreFusion. Areas like my arms have definition for the first time and my butt has a whole new shape…until now I was always the one with the flat butt!!!

    I haven’t had time to attend CrossFit and Zumba in the past few months but I make sure that I attend a CoreFusion class or 2 weekly. Even if I can only get there 1x a week I get there and feel great after each class.

    I think everyone should try this class you will not regret it.

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