Where: Exhale Spa, 68-70 Spring Street, New York, NY
Don't try to Halfass your Workout with Halfpapp
I have been very anxious about going to Elisabeth's class - as I always am with reviewing owner/instructor combos. Elisabeth, you see, co-founded the Exhale Empire with her husband, Fred Devito (also an instructor). This makes me angsty because awesome business owners are not always awesome instructors - but when you review their class, they sometimes take offense as though you are reviewing their entire business. So, to Elisabeth: I have nothing but awe for your business-building capabilities. This review is purely a review of a class i took at your studio... which happened to be with you.
[Click here to review Elisabeth's class yourself, or check out her RateYourBurn profile here.]
Anyway, that intro was pretty much entirely unnecessary, because I dug the class.
- She is most definitely a business woman. Has an air of confidence about her; she's watching what you're doing and she's going to make sure you're doing it right.
- She takes care, and she follows protocol. She knows all the tricks - introduce yourself, follow up frequently with the newbie, give hands-on adjustments, make sure post-class that it was a positive experience.
- She called out my name many times during class, both to compliment and to call me out for not getting deep enough. She also followed up frequently about my injury.
- I had seen clips of Elisabeth teaching the Core Fusion videos, and to be honest she struck me as a little too corporate-y for my taste - but in person, this isn't the case.
When I closed my eyes in sivasana, I realized: Elisabeth has the exact voice of Cameron Diaz. I never would have realized this until I shut the peepers. Don't try watching the video to see what I mean - she uses a different voice on camera.
One thing I really dug: when she introduced herself at the beginning, she asked if I wanted a demo of how to use the stall bar. I use the stall bar often (God knows why, it is a torturous thing) but no teacher has EVER taken the time to ask me if I actually wanted an intro as to how to use it. Not that it's complicated or anything.
On the class:
My opinion of this class was admittedly skewed by the fact that it was my first Lotte Berk class in a long while, so of course it was hard.
- The arms section was pretty uncomfortable, more so than usual, I would say. Lateral holds were killer.
- The thigh section got me to a definite burn, but it was done in three short-ish sections. I tend to prefer 2 longer thigh sections because I think I do more damage when rest is minimized, but I was definitely feeling it nonetheless.
- The seat section was really unbearable. I had this feeling of extreme acid in and around all of my hip joints for the entire time. We did that thing where you stand with one hip touching the bar and give yourself a "seatbelt" with your outside forearm.
- I cannot get into the weird Exhale abs section where you lift your feet up while sitting against the wall. I don't understand why we're doing it and it makes me cranky.
- However, Elisabeth said something that really made me get why one MIGHT want to do it - she likened it to the gymanstic move where you hang from the rings and bring your legs into pike.
It was a really good metaphorical "practical application" of why we might do what I previously felt to be a totally impractical movement. So if you ever need to "pike for your life" Exhale's got you covered.
Music wasn't great. My new favorite creepy song, "Turn me on" by Nikki Minaj popped on, so I loved that, but there was a lot of elevator/70's movie soundrack sounding tunes.
BTW, the reason I'm obsessed with that song is 100% because of this creepy awesome video, which you should watch immediately if you haven't. Think: life size barbies with no hair or clothing in a medieval gated compound ganging up on Nikki Minaj because a scientist made her hotter than everyone else. Um, yes.
My biggest criticism:
I've said this before, but I dislike when businesses talk about other businesses. Elisabeth saw that I was new and asked me if I had taken barre classes before. I told her that yes, I'd taken quite a few around the city. She responded by explaining to me that Exhale was the original, and that "Physique 57, Pure Barre, Lotte Berk - all of those came from us" and that "it's been fun to see everyone's interpretation of the method." I claim to be no Lotte Berk expert, but even if this is 100% true (and there is definitely truth in it, many of the teachers from the other studios were originally trained there) I think it's a big no-no to talk about other studios in your studio. I've already tested their product, tell me about yours.
It's like pizza. I don't actually care who invented the idea of putting tomato sauce and cheese on a flat piece of bread - what I care about is who makes the yummiest version of it.
All in all:
She's a pro, that much is clear. It was great to finally meet her and get a sense of the lady behind the biz. Who run the world? Girls.
From the Exhale Spa website: Elisabeth is a member of exhale’s founding team as executive vice president of mind body programming and co-founded the company’s highly publicized Core Fusion program and developed exhale’s proprietary Core Fusion Yoga and Core Fusion Sport class. In addition to leading retreats/workshops nationally, teaching Core Fusion, Core Fusion Yoga, Music Yoga Flow, and Core Fusion Sport classes, and assisting in Core Fusion/Core Fusion Yoga/Core Fusion Sport teacher training at all the exhale units, Elisabeth directs the Company’s mind body programs, which encompass classes, workshops, teacher trainings, and retreats.She is a regularly featured fitness celebrity, has appeared and written for numerous national and international publications. These publications include NY Magazine, NY Times, Vogue, Health Magazine, Self, Fit, Mademoiselle, Glamour, Dance Magazine, USA Today, Oprah Magazine, LA Times, and the Chicago Tribune. She has made television appearances on NBC Today Show, ABC News, NBC News, CBS Morning Show, Fox 5, Extra, Travel Channel, and various other national TV programs. Along with her husband and Core Fusion co creator, Fred DeVito, they have choreographed and developed 7 award winning DVDs.Prior to joining the founding team of exhale, Elisabeth’s professional career consisted of 25 years of class teaching and class development, teacher training, and studio management as a senior executive at the Lotte Berk Method exercise studios. With her degree in Dance Education from the Hartford Ballet, she has professionally performed and choreographed ballet and modern dance with the Princeton Ballet, Dances Patrelle, Mercer Ballet, and Hartford Ballet. She also has a 200 hour Yoga Alliance certification through Nixa DeBellis’ i/o Yoga School.
Find out more about Exhale Spa at www.exhalespa.com
Read more about Elisabeth on MindBodyGreen on The New York Observer and on My Yoga Online