Should you Try a Fitness Class like solidcore?
Would you consider attending a fitness class? As a runner, we barely have enough time to get our regular runs in. Adding another time commitment might be too much. Or, it might be exactly what you need to get over that hump.
Awhile back, I had the opportunity to attend a complimentary [solidcore] class in St. Louis Park. I had never been to a fitness class before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had heard it was the “hardest workout in the city,” which instantly got my attention.
What is [solidcore]?
Solidcore is a boutique fitness studio – I was one of only 14 participants getting instructions from the coach while the 90’s pop music blasted through the stereo. As of 2015, it is only 1 of 7 in the country. From the moment I walked it, it had the feel of a tight knit group of people, all about to embark on something special.
You take off your shoes and socks, and ride a MegaFormer (more on that later). It works all your muscles (not just your core) to failure. Because you “ride” this thing, you can’t cheat. I tried to shortcut one of the workouts, and it nearly threw me off.
Alyssa and Tom Jacobson opened the studio in 2014, and have quickly built it up to a very popular destination in the west metro (it’s located at 1653 Park Place Blvd in St Louis Park). For runners or other athletes alike, it lives up to the hype as a brutal-in-a-good-way workout.
The Benefits of Fitness Classes in General
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, accountability, structure, diversity and the rather subjective element of fun are obviously benefits of taking a fitness class.
There are also some psychological benefits, like Social Facilitation – a social psychology term meaning “an improvement in performance produced by the mere presence of others.” This theory suggests when others are around while preforming tasks, it creates an environment where you succeed.
This doesn’t guarantee you will be an expert, but in a setting like solidcore, the coaches help you figure it out. In time, your skill will improve, and that growth is fueled by those around you.
I could definitely see this. I kept looking to the instructor, for signs I was doing it right. A few times he corrected what I was doing, and a few times he said, “way to go Nate!” which made me work that much harder.
The Benefits of [solidcore]
When I walked into the studio, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. I got a quick orientation to the MegaFormer. It looks like a combination between a chiropractor table and a bow-flex.
It is a flat, padded board, and a bunch of resistance bands on a series of pulleys. You adjust these in an almost unlimited number of ways for an almost unlimited number of exercises to hit every muscle in your body.
To quote their website,
[solidcore] is a 50-minute, full body workout in a class-based fitness studio with no more than 14 clients in class at a time. We use slow and controlled full-body movements with constant tension to work your muscle fibers to failure. This low-impact process forces your muscles to rebuild a more sculpted, stronger and [solid] you.
The key to improving running economy through strength training for runners is in momentary muscle fatigue. It builds back stronger.
Everything is very slow and controlled, which causes the muscles to stay contracted during the entire range of motion. This recruits more muscle fibers, and is extremely low impact on any joints.
The whole time I was working out, I didn’t quite know how sore I would be. Some of the exercises I had to cheat on, but some that came easy. I liked was how well rounded the whole experience was. We did a little of everything, but also focused on a few specific muscles groups. I didn’t feel any negative impact on my runs within 48 hours.
[solidcore] is not For Everyone
It’s not outrageously expensive, but perhaps not for someone who has yet to fully fund their Roth IRA. They do have a lot of really great packages to work with almost any budget. If you want you can signup now for your first class for just $17! It’s a great way to see if it’s for you.
It also takes time. Anything in life worth achieving does, but if you don’t have at least 50 minutes, once a week, it’s probably not a great fit.
Who Should Try [solidcore]
If you want to get stronger and sculpted, signup for and commit to going to [solidcore] twice a week, for three months (or more). You could buy some weights, or get an inexpensive membership to a gym. But most end up walking around in circles, not knowing what to do – that’s kind of a waste of money.
If you have specific fitness goals, this is a great way to build in some strength to your training. It won’t automatically make you run faster, but it will get certain muscles ready for it. Strength training for runners is a powerful way to prevent injury!
I was talking with one guy on my way out who told me that he had been coming a few times a week for several weeks. Those first few sessions were brutal, but once he built up a bit of strength, it felt natural. Now that he’s been going for awhile, he said his whole body had changed – more toned, and stronger.
As runners, the only way to get faster is by running. However, many of us want more than that. Sure, we want to set new PR’s, but also wouldn’t mind looking more toned and less “like a runner.”
If you decide to checkout solidcore I would love to hear your experience. Schedule your first class, then report back.