Recover! “That was close,” I think, as I shift my weight slightly to allow for a more balanced lunge mid-exercise, the slow, rhythmic count “one, two, three, four, UP, two, three, four” like a frenzied metronome in my head.
I am not used to failing at these types of things. This is a class I need to go back to in order to perfect. Very few times do I actually push myself to this limit.
These are the thoughts running through my head as I embark on easily one of the toughest 50 minutes I’ve experienced in my workout career—and I like to think I’ve exerted some good efforts in my years as a marathoner and mountain biker.
Sweat drips from the tip of my nose; we are now moving to core work, and our planks with micro-movements of only the shoulders shift back and forth along the 3-foot-long platform called a carriage that glides from one end of the 12-foot Megaformer machine, held in its wooden stand by the resistance of a series of springs and weights designed to modify the intensity of the workout. There are 14 of these “sliding machines” lined up in the narrow, wood-paneled room that emits a neon blue glow from the backlit wall-to-wall mirrors.
Janelle asks me, “Do you typically work out your obliques? Because you’ll probably be sore tomorrow.” Thanks, I barely mutter, sipping the salt streaming off my brow each time I open my mouth.
Janelle is Janelle Dennis, an inspiring Plymouth mother of two boys who has been to more than 200 classes in the two years since the St. Louis Park Solidcore location opened; Wayzata—where we are now—has been open since August. She keeps coming back, she says, because she, like me, has “tried everything—Insanity, HIIT, running clubs, you name it, and the older I get, I can’t do the higher impact classes,” she says.
Owner Tom Jacobson is leading our class, Britney Spears-style headset blaring instructions over the loud, upbeat music piped through the room. Each of his 10 instructors (including wife/co-owner Alyssa) has to undergo a 10-week training session. “You have people at their ultimate vulnerable point,” he says. The full-body workouts use slow, controlled movements with constant tension that work muscle fibers to failure—there’s that word again, I think, FAIL. It’s intentional! The low-impact process forces muscles to rebuild in a more sculpted, stronger form. Jacobson recommends no more than four classes a week to allow for the recovery time necessary for this rebuilding to occur—and to continue the burn of calories, up to 400 more in the 24 hours immediately following a class. (The 50 minutes I just spent burned between 400 and 600 calories already.)
“I like it because it’s constantly challenging,” Janelle tells me as I work to stabilize my legs, shaking like a leaf in fall. “You can always add a weight or take a spring off of the machine, and I can never get ahead.”
“It’s a really good complement to cardio,” Jacobson adds, particularly running: Runners often plateau due to lack of core or glute strength, he says, and personal records are best achieved with cross-training that focuses on areas like these. These are the two areas most benefitted from the Solidcore workouts, which include different sequences of muscle focus each class—one that’s arms and abs specific, a super-solid class and one that’s even more advanced (lasting 65 minutes). No two classes are “choreographed” exactly alike.
The concept of working to muscle failure is not unique—Discover Strength (discoverstrength.com) in Plymouth utilizes this same ideology, and even the Megaformer machine can be found elsewhere, like at the new Lagree Fitness (lagreefitness.com) that also just opened a Plymouth location last fall.
What sets this place apart is “the culture and the environment,” Janelle suggests. “You’re greeted sincerely, and everyone knows your name. We have a dog come to class on occasion. There isn’t a class where you are told to introduce yourself to your neighbor at the start.”
The first Solidcore class is $17, then $33 after that, but many packaging options exist. For example, five classes is $99, unlimited months are $199. All pricing information—including monthly specials and group deals—can be found on the website.