Solidcore. In the past, the name alone was enough to strike fear into my heart and leave me cowering in the corner consoling myself with chocolate.
So why on earth would I volunteer for torture and agree to take Solidcore classes three times a week for one month? Especially considering I'd barely made it through the one and only Solidcore class I'd ever taken. Because it's a good story, and I'll do a lot for a good story? Sure. But that wasn't enough on its own. Ultimately it was the same thing that killed the cat: curiosity. A lot of phrases get thrown around about Solidcore (it's the hardest workout you'll ever do, you'll see results in just two weeks, Michelle Obama swears by it) and I wanted to see for myself what all the hype was about. I'm a firm believer in don't knock it, or buy it, until you've tried it.
In case you aren't familiar with the workout craze, here's your 30-second elevator pitch. Solidcore is a 50-minute high intensity, low impact resistance training workout using slow and purposeful movements targeting the core. It was the first studio in D.C. to offer the Lagree Fitness Method on Sebastien Lagree's patented Megaformer machines; as of this year, however, Solidcore has completely separated themselves from Lagree Fitness, has created their own patented machines and has a patent out for the Solidcore workout through American Fitness.
I'm a little more than half way through my trial, and while I haven't seen any significant weight loss (they tell you not to expect that), I can honestly say I've never felt stronger in my life (including when I tried Crossfit) and I am actually starting to see new definition in my muscles after just seven classes. The classes are by no means easier now than when I started, but they aren't meant to be. Solidcore is meant to be a class where "you are never bored and you can't plateau," says Founder, Owner and CEO Anne Mahlum. I am finding that I am able to hold moves longer and longer each class, and my mental toughness is improving -- I push myself further than I did in my first few classes now.
What have I learned so far?
- Failure is the goal at Solidcore: Solidcore purposely works your slow-twitch muscles to failure -- when you start to shake, you know you're doing it right! Push through that pain and you will absolutely be rewarded. But don't forget to observe your rest days as well. If you don't let those muscles have two days a week to rebuild, you aren't going to see the changes you desire.
- It's better to modify a move than to struggle through with improper form: It's a common mistake in any workout, especially amongst the competitive set, to think that it is better to suffer through a difficult move the "real way" even if you aren't doing it the "right way." That is almost never true, and certainly isn't at Solidcore. In any movement, the coach will always give you a modified option, and tells you that if you need to take a break, try modifying the move before you just stop altogether -- they'd much prefer you have proper form in a modified movement than hurt yourself with improper form.
- Solidcore is NOT a workout for everyone: "Most owners are going to say about their classes and studios 'this is for everybody!' But we are not going to say that," says Mahlum. It's recommended that you be able to hold a plank for 60 seconds before coming to take a class, and be ready to work hard for 50 minutes. "It's a certain mental game of someone who wants to work, is willing to work hard, truly wants an intense workout and likes to sweat ... that's our client," says Mahlum.
- The community is amazing: You are greeted at every class by name by the instructor and you are likely to hear your name called out (only ever in a positive manner, not as a reprimand) at least five times during class. The coaches all take classes regularly when they aren't coaching (I've even seen the founder in class) so they know exactly how bad you are hurting 15 minutes in and what to say to get you through. And don't forget your fellow classmates, who you are encouraged to meet and engage with before class and to high-five at the end. It's an incredibly welcoming community of competitive but encouraging friends.
Have you tried Solidcore before? What are your thoughts? Share with us on social using #SoRefined