Walking into Core Cycle Studios in Timonium, I was admittedly hesitant—worried I hadn’t work the proper clothing, that I would fall or trip or somehow embarrass myself. Within seconds, though, I had relaxed. The studio was full of a radiant, exuberant energy, replacing my reluctance with excitement. A warm greeting from owner Heather Chilcot only reinforced the good vibes: This group of women was determined to have a great time working out.
I’m a beginner, but it’s obvious you don’t have to be a professional athlete to work out at the studio. Chilcot is clearly proud of the welcoming vibe she’s cultivated, too.
“You can feel the intimacy,” she says. “We’re starting to build a community of people here and that was the inspiration behind it all. This is not just a place you come and go, you’re not a number or a key fob, you’re a person.”
I chose to try out the 30/30 infusion class, thirty minutes of spin followed by thirty minutes of barre. As an avid spinner at my college gym, I thought I knew what to expect in the first half…but I was wrong. Armed with my studio-provided special shoes and towel, I clicked into my bike surrounded by icy blue light and nightclub-reminiscent pounding music. Rihanna reverberated through the room, and instructor Janet Lockwood wasted no time in making us sweat. We did what she calls the “work, rest, work, rest, work, work, work” workout, egged on by Lockwood’s tough-love encouragements: “Sore? Out of breath? Sweaty? Good! Then it’s working!”
When the spin session had finished, we walked (or more accurately, stumbled) into the barre room. It was minimalist, with good peaceful energy and zero clutter, a design Chilcot hopes will encourage a meditative state and an open mind.
“I wanted the studio to be authentic yet Zen-like, so it would still have a badass feeling in there (the spin room), and then a meditative feeling throughout the rest,” she says.
Those post-spin Zen feelings didn’t last for long, however. Though we started off with a bit of stretching, quiet, tribal-like music playing overhead, we soon launched into a grueling, intense workout. ( I hadn’t realized how weak my arms were until I was standing there, attempting to hold up 5-pound weights, shaking uncontrollably.)
Even though I struggled, I felt strong and empowered afterward, which is not something I’m used to after a workout. But as I’d soon learn, that’s what happens at Core Cycle Studios: It leaves you wanting to come back and work just as hard again and again.