The Class: Exhale’s new CFX (Core Fusion Extreme) class is offered six days per week at the Highland Hotel (previously Hotel Palomar) studio.
The Appeal: A high-intensity workout in a Zen space feels so wrong it might be right. The class promises to “abolish fat, rev your metabolism, and amplify strength as you move through power stations consisting of heart-pounding work followed by brief moments of active recovery.”
The Instructor: Mallory Johnson is a tall, lean no-nonsense instructor. She was part cheerleader, part drill sergeant, hopping from one station to another, offering encouragement, corrections, and constant time updates.
The Space: Plenty of free parking is provided in the underground garage and there is a dedicated elevator that takes you right up to Exhale. The retail space and welcome desk open up to the spa on one side and the studio on the other. The classroom has a lot of equipment stashed in the mirror-less space.
Who’s There: I felt underdressed in my grungy trainers, black leggings, and cutoff t-shirt. The women were decked out in Lululemon’s finest: patterned leggings, unscathed sneakers, and tank tops to match.
How It Went: Each student drew a number as we entered the studio to determine the station where we would begin. Johnson then went around the room and demonstrated the proper way to execute each move (two moves per stop) before leading a warm up of stretches and squats. For the next 40 minutes, we flowed through bicep curls and jump squats using TRX bands, plank-ups and toe-taps on padded blocks, lunges and reverse crunches on sliding discs, medicine ball twists, and curtsey squats with a lateral dumbbell lift. We completed each series of moves twice per station, and rounded the room twice. During the second pass, we began adding active recovery moves like wall sits or balancing poses in-between and wrapped up class with some yoga-inspired core work. The fast pace and constant change kept my heart rate up for the full hour. I was grateful for the extra-long cool down series Johnson led before sending us on our ways.
The Aftermath: My glutes and shoulders ached for three solid days after this class.
Loved: The constant movement around the room made the 60 minute class fly. Knowing that I only had to do each exercise for 40 seconds made me push myself to do as many reps as I could handle.
Hated: I have an old back injury that makes plank position difficult for me so I was frustrated that the position was used so many times in this routine. Keep in mind that the routine changes each month so this may not be a long-term issue.
Cost: A single visit is $25 and packages range from five to 20 classes at $120-$430. Monthly, unlimited memberships fall between $175 (with a 12 month contract) or $195 (plus a $100 enrollment fee) for a no contract plan. Student memberships and corporate rates are also available upon request.
Difficulty Level: This fast-paced class includes a lot of high-impact moves so it’s not for the faint of heart or the injury-prone.
Bottom Line: Go for the sweat, stay for the spa. This is a tough class that you’re guaranteed to feel the next day.