The Cruel (But Awesome) Way Solidcore Totally Tricks You 

We tried the new workout studio coming to Philly this spring.

Solidcore in Adams Morgan, D.C. | Photo by Adjua Fisher

Solidcore in Adams Morgan, D.C. | Photo by Adjua Fisher

Last Saturday, I found myself in a Solidcore class at 10:30 a.m. The studio, home to a popular Pilates-style workout done on a resistance-based machine, hasn’t yet made its way to Philly (the first Philly studio is slated to open on Chestnut Street this spring), so I figured I’d get a taste of the workout while I was back home in D.C., where the studio got its start.

I’d watched YouTube clips of the workout online beforehand and, let me tell you, If I learned anything in that 50 minutes of class, it’s that you should not — I repeat: do NOT — be tricked by the slow movements and tiny pulses involved in a Solidcore class. It is so much harder than it looks. Like have-to-take-a-Lyft-home-five-blocks-because-you-can’t-walk-afterward hard. (I mean, not that I did that or anything.)

To wit: About midway through the class I took, the woman on the machine next to me — who, mind you, had muscles I didn’t even know existed — startled me by letting out a loud grunt. It was a Serena Williams-style grunt that just screamed “I’m exerting every single ounce of effort in my being right now! [Insert all the expletives here.]” But the thing is, she let out said grunt while she was gliding her right leg, extended on the machine about three feet to her side, toward her left leg at a glacial speed. Anyone watching would’ve thought she was being a tad dramatic. But no. Trust me when I tell you, it’s the kind of workout that makes you grunt, even though it definitely doesn’t look like it would be. My workout neighbor continued to let out grunts throughout the rest of the class, and she remarkably got zero weird stares. Everyone was too exhausted to turn their heads/totally understood where she was coming from.

Throughout the workout (which centers around three moves: planks, lunges and squats), what saves you from admitting defeat and collapsing onto the cushioned machine like your brain is telling you to, as you do your bajillionth slow-as-molasses squat or your thousandth up-and-down plank, is the vibe of the studio: The studio classroom is lit with blue lights, there are floor-to-ceiling mirrors on the walls, and pop music blasts at a volume that totally would’ve gotten you grounded in high school. It legitimately feels like a nightclub. The instructor who taught the class I took, the awesome and killer Jacob, screamed things like “I KNOW you want a mimosa right now! I KNOW you want some brunch right now! But YOU signed up to be here!” He was like a smiley drill sergeant who somehow landed at a pop-up nightclub held in a fitness studio on a Saturday morning.

All of those characteristics — the unique workout, the club-y studio, the upbeat-but-not-playing-around instructor — combined made for an experience that was, one, much more difficult than I was expecting and, two, much more fun than any other Pilates-esque class I’ve taken. When the class finished, I felt like a freakin’ survivor who’d surely earned an instant six-pack (Spoiler: I did not have one). And, I don’t know about you, but when I’m paying anywhere from $25 to $33 for a single class, that’s how I want to feel when I leave: Like I look like J.Lo in Enough, even if I maybe (definitely) don’t — you know?

So, my words to the wise: When Solidcore makes its way to Philly come spring, don’t be tricked into expecting an on-the-easy-side workout just because it’s described as “low-impact” on its website. To quote how I described the workout to founder Anne Mahlum after class, it is “insane and awesome and painful.” You’ve been warned.

And pssst: to all the trainers out there, Solidcore is holding auditions for Philly instructors in D.C. on April 16th and 17th. If you’re interested, you can learn more here.

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