Uptown's Core Power Yoga is Ready for Your Sweat!

Uptown's Core Power Yoga is Ready for Your Sweat!

Core Power Yoga studios seem to be popping up everywhere in Chicago, with 12 locations, including the latest edition that opened on Friday in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood on Broadway, just north of Montrose. With my yoga mat in hand, I thought I’d go check out the new studio.

I’ve never taken a class at Core Power before, but have been a regular to yoga in general for several years. Since Core Power’s class schedule offers some classes that I consider “yoga with a twist,” I opted for Yoga Sculpt – a 60-minute class that integrates free weights.

I walked into the new facility about 15 minutes before class started. Dozens of shoes were already placed in neat little cubbies upon entering. I placed my Nikes into an open spot, moved on past the gleaming display of lululemon apparel and arrived at the front desk where I was promptly greeted. When it comes to customer service, my bar is set high, so I was happy that my instructor, Malena, was behind the front desk to greet me. Nice touch.  I brought my own mat, but was told mats were complimentary, if desired. Since it was my first visit, I filled out a short waiver, was told about the week of free yoga everyone gets (no strings attached) and where the studio and locker rooms were.

The women’s locker room was a moderate-sized zen-inspired room that was fully-equipped with very nice showers, toilets (if toilets could be considered “nice”) and little amenities like deodorant, mouth wash and cotton swabs.  If you plan on going to a Core Power, bring locks for your locker. You’ll need one.

I walked into class a couple minutes before it started. The room was heated to at least 90 degrees by the time I walked in. Malena walked in right behind me. In any type of group exercise class, the instructor’s personality is typically the make-it-or-break-it variable. Malena was psyched about the new studio, psyched to teach a weights-meets-yoga class and psyched that there were two (including me) people in the class. Before there is a rush to judgment, I quickly chalked the low attendance up to two things: 1) the class I was taking started at 6pm on a Friday night in Uptown and 2) it was the studio’s very first day open. Nonetheless, I was looking forward to class and appreciated Malena’s enthusiasm.

After I laid out my mat, I asked Malena what weights she’d recommend as this was my first Sculpt class. She suggested two sets of weights, one three pounds and one five pounds. I went with her suggestion and got back to my mat. She turned on some music and got to work.

She kicked of class in child’s-pose, then brought us through several sequences of a traditional yoga class – free of weights. Because the room was heated, I warmed up rather quickly. Unfortunately my yoga mat doesn’t have the best grip for a heated class. This makes downward facing dog, a position that requires a lot of hand stability, a mess. I thought I was doomed, and then Malena had us grab our weights. For those of you familiar with yoga, we essentially went through a series of vinyasas (or sequence of poses) using the weights. While this may seem anti-yoga to some, the grip from the weights made downward facing dog a dream. I didn’t slip in inch! What's more, the added weights really honed in on the muscles of  the shoulders and arms.

The intensity of the class went with the music. The traditional aspects of yoga were solid. The elements of the class that skewed outside of yoga included wide-arm push-ups, lunges, tricep kickbacks, bicep curls, shoulder presses and jump-squats. I knew the weights were there for a reason, but as this was my first class, they were all a surprise to me - especially the jumps. Afterall, when was the last time that you took a yoga class that included plyometric jumping?  Malena’s energy was strong through the entire class, and I would definitely go back to another one of her classes.

I’m going back tomorrow morning to take a heated yoga class, involving nothing else. That said, after taking only one class, I would say Core Power Yoga is for the person that is ok with moving the boundaries of traditional yoga.In fact, they’re now offering a class that includes elements of spinning (yes, indoor cycling) with yoga. Can’t wait to see what that’s like!

You can get more information on Core Power Yoga here.

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