Welcome to I Tried It Month, where we’ll be publishing a new fashion, beauty, or wellness article every day in January that features a first-person account of shaking up an old habit, pushing beyond a comfort zone, or simply trying something new. Follow along for 31 days of storytelling, including everything from going without a cell phone for 40 days to trying the polarizing low-rise-pants trend.
Name: Anna LaPlaca, Editor, Who What Wear
What Did You Try? Solidcore classes (strength-based classes on a Pilates reformer) for a month.
Why Did You Try It? I got really into reformer Pilates classes last year, and I've tried almost all of the studios on offer in NYC thinking that they were all pretty similar. That is until I went to my first Solidcore class. When I tell you this was one of the most challenging workouts I've done, I mean it (and I used to be a regular at Rumble and Barry's, so that's saying a lot). I'm pretty sure I shed a few tears during my first class, and I definitely found myself silently cursing the instructor on more than one occasion throughout the 50-minute endeavor. I always let the fear of the class's difficulty hold me back from ever going consistently, so I was curious how my body would change if I actually did. I figured that going for a month straight and having the added responsibility of reporting on it for this story would hold me accountable.
How Did You Prepare? To be completely honest, I didn't do anything, in particular, to prepare in the weeks leading up. I was coming off of spending the holidays at home with family and indulging in rich food and alcohol with not a lot of exercise to balance it, so I definitely came into this month feeling less energized and in shape than I typically do.
In the immediate, though, I did a few things to prepare before heading out the door. I put on a cute matching workout set (some of my favorites are from Koral, Alo, and Prism Squared), drank a Celsius (I swear by these for next-level energy), and popped in my AirPods with a pop music playlist to hype me up on my walk to the studio.
What Happened During the Whole Process? Funny enough, I reached out to the Solidcore team thinking I would be going to class every single day and quickly found out that the studio only recommends you go a maximum of three times a week if you're new. I was a bit shocked at this since, in my mind, the more you do a workout, the better the results you'll see. That's not exactly the case here, as it turns out. The entire point of Solidcore classes is to reach muscle failure. It's what makes the classes as hard as they are, and because of it, your muscles need time to recover and rebuild.
So there I was going to class three times a week—twice during the workweek and once on the weekends. I did my best to space out the days I went to avoid doing back-to-back classes.
Any Challenges? Not to sound cliché, but the classes never got easier. I just found that I adjusted to the routine and definitely noticed that I got stronger in the process. At first, it was a lot of soreness. I would say that after the first three or four classes, I felt soreness in my core and glutes for several days afterward. I strategically had to space out those first few classes and pay close attention to the muscle focus of the class to avoid doubling down on a certain muscle group. For instance, two outer-glute classes in a row is a recipe for not being able to sit down comfortably for a few days. But once I got the hang of the schedule, it was smoother sailing. Also, it was slightly annoying to mask up for class per New York State's current guidelines, but thankfully the class involves little to no cardio. I did have to pack an extra clean mask to wear after class since I easily sweat through my first one.
How Did You Feel Afterward? What Kind of Changes Did You Notice? I can honestly say I've never felt stronger. By class five, the intense soreness I described mostly subsided, and I noticed that my muscles were recovering so much quicker than before. By the latter half of the month, I was going to classes on back-to-back days without really thinking about it. I also found I was able to take a lot fewer breaks during each movement, whereas in the beginning, I would break out of a plank hold or lunge series multiple times. Breaks are pretty much expected even from seasoned Solidcore devotees since the goal of the class is to reach muscle failure, so I'd say it's rare to complete a class without taking any.
One unexpected side effect of the Pilates classes I saw was an improvement in my running, too. Since I only went to class three times a week, I still partially kept up with my running routine, and it turned out that the strength I was building up in my legs definitely translated to the pavement. Suddenly, I shaved off 15 to 20 seconds from my average pace, and my typical five-mile jaunts easily became six-milers.
Oh, and by the month's end, I started to see legitimate toning in my core.
What Did You Like About It? I love how effective it is as a strength-building workout. In the span of 50 minutes, it targets your muscles so specifically and hits deep. Fifty minutes a few times a week is such an achievable time commitment, too, so I appreciate that it was a workout I could fit into my routine without having to redesign my whole life. I never felt like I had to alter my plans or scale back my social life becuase of it. I may have shown up to a class or two after a night of enjoying a few cocktails, and while those weren't my best classes performance-wise, they were still pretty doable, probably because the slow and controlled movements don't require you to have a big spurt of energy.
What Did You Hate? I hate to say it, but I never felt like I truly "mastered" the class. I improved a lot and definitely got stronger because of it, but the competitive side of my personality was frustrated that I still wasn't lifting the heaviest set of weights or holding my plank from my feet instead of my knees 100% of the time. Buy, hey, I suppose that will come with even more commitment than just one month.
Would You Try It Again? Definitely. I probably won't go as frequently because, at $40 a class, it is quite the financial investment, but I do want to stick with it consistently, maybe once or twice a week, since I think you can still see amazing results from a few classes. Since running is another one of my big fitness goals this year, I feel motivated to keep going to Solidcore classes as strength-based crosstraining to see how much more my runs can improve.
Any Advice for Anyone Who's Thinking About Trying It? I would not try this class if you don't already have a base level of strength built up. I'm no exercise expert, but if I had to advise a friend who was thinking about going to Solidcore, I would say to try it out if you already have a moderate workout routine and you're looking to level up. I'm not going to lie—Solidcore is effective, but it's no joke! If you do go, start slow. Going once a week and working up to multiple times a week is a good plan to get used to the class. Also, you don't need grip socks. They're useful, but going barefoot is totally doable also.