The formula for the “Yoga Sculpt” class at the just-opened CorePower Yoga studio in Bethesda: familiar poses plus temperatures in the mid-to-high 90s plus hand weights. The result: Whew!
“The first time I did Yoga Sculpt, I was on the floor,” teacher and studio manager Audra Conard confessed as she led Saturday’s session.
The class begins with 15 minutes of sun salutations — stretching upward, folding forward, bending into downward-facing dog. Then come the hand weights, ranging from 3 to 10 pounds. For 35 minutes, the yogis pump and flex and curl while lowering posteriors for chair pose and lunging forward while rising up and down as if on a merry-go-round horse.
The class concludes with 10 minutes of stretches and then a flat-on-the-mat rest for “dead man’s pose.”
“With as much yoga and running that I do, I’m impressed with how sore my butt is,” said Susan Hornyak, who took a sculpt class Friday and came back for more Saturday. “It’s hard: It’s weights, it’s relentless, it’s fast, it’s heated.” And, she added, it’s fun.
CorePower Yoga was founded 10 years ago by Trevor Trice of Denver, who’d shattered his ankle in a climbing accident and turned to yoga as a substitute for outdoor activities that were now off-limits.
In addition to “Yoga Sculpt,” introduced about five years ago to add strength training to the mix, the studio offers classes with varying degrees of heat and difficulty, starting with CorePower One at 85 degrees and breaking 100 degrees for “Hot Power Fusion.” Classes are typically an hour instead of the 90 minutes that some yoga joints prefer, which is good news for time-crunched Washingtonians.
The Bethesda branch — the 69th CorePower studio and the first on the East Coast — emphasizes its amenities. Locker rooms are spacious, with five showers for women and three for men. A fireplace creates a cozy waiting area. Two studios, each capable of holding 50-plus people, have big, bright windows.
Even the drinking fountain has a little something extra: A built-in sensor for filling water bottles.
What will likely draw the hard-core crowd, however, are the challenges of Yoga Sculpt — and the mellow feel of the class despite its tough pace. The teacher doesn’t bully students to push beyond limits.
“Rest is not a sign of weakness,” said Conard, who presents easier variations for difficult poses and encourages a sip of water when needed. The closest she gets to drill-sergeant mode is a frequent call for “four more” reps.
The rollicking rap and pop sound track made the experience for Sheri Foxman. “Music really moves me,” she said.
And even after all that moving, the students weren’t complaining — too much.
“At this point, it’s feeling a bit like torture,” a sweaty Andy Kuchins said. “But a little bit of torture is good.”
Details: The class schedule for Bethesda’s CorePower Yoga (6708 Wisconsin Ave.) is available at Corepoweryoga.com/yoga-studio/maryland/Bethesda. The first week is free. A drop-in class is $20. Packages are available as well as discounts for students and teachers, active military personnel and yogis older than 55.