Class review: CorePower Yoga is hot, hot, hot

(Edited to add a couple years after this post first published — I love CorePower Yoga and have attended the studios in the San Francisco SoMa neighborhood and in Walnut Creek quite frequently. You can always expect a solid and WARM workout in a nice studio space at CPY. Now back to my original thoughts after my first week trying CorePower … )

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve reviewed a studio in San Francisco, after being on a roll for a month or so, in which I hit a new class every week. Well, we’re back to the class reviews today with a focus on CorePower Yoga in San Francisco. And even though you may not live in San Francisco, CorePower Yoga has more than 100 studios in 13 states, with tons of new studios opening all the time, so there could be one near you soon. I tried two different classes at CorePower, one of which I had been dying to experience for a long time — yoga with weights. And here’s what you need to know about it all …

Try your hand at CorePower with a free week

CorePower Yoga is a national chain, headquartered in Denver. The studios are known for offering a robust schedule of classes for beginners to advanced students, with most of the classes taking place in heated rooms. And guess what? Classes are all first-come, first-served. No sign-ups ahead of time online, so you just show up and go in. I was pretty surprised by that, because most studios in San Francisco book up about a week out. However, CorePower offers classes nearly every half-hour during the peak times, in three different studio-rooms, so there’s a good chance you can get in a session when you want without an official reservation.

And listen to this: CorePower Yoga does something really awesome, and I took advantage of it myself — a free week of yoga for new people. That’s right, anyone can go to the studio for the first time and sign up for a free week of unlimited classes. During my week (which happened to fall over a holiday), I took three yoga classes. There is a printable coupon on the website, but I didn’t even need one when I went in to redeem my free week. I was so impressed by this, I actually told someone on the street who commented on the yoga mat hanging out of my bag, and she followed me in to the studio and signed up herself. Oh the fun of being a walker in a big city, always some sort of interaction out there.

CorePower Yoga is not-your-average studio space

The CorePower Yoga studio in San Francisco is located on Fremont Street very close to the Financial District. There’s a lot of construction around the area, so it’s not a pretty walk. Nonetheless, once you get inside, everything is fresh, new and inviting. A difference between CorePower Yoga and other yoga studios I’ve visited is not only size, but also the lobby itself. There’s a huge retail area with colorful yoga apparel and accessories, a big check-in desk, sitting area and a few studios for different classes. There are also full locker/shower and changing rooms for both men and women. Oh, and there are state-of-the-art water bottle fillers like you’ll find in nice airports. You just put your bottle on a ledge, and the machine fills it for you. I love that.

CorePower Yoga review via A Lady Goes WestShown above from the top: A look at the retail available for purchase inside the San Francisco CorePower Yoga lobby, the post-class glow of studio two and the street entrance.

I took three classes over the course of the week, two CorePower Yoga 2 – Heated Power Yoga classes and one CorePower Yoga Sculpt – Heated Power Yoga with weights. Here’s a run-down on the highs and lows of both classes …

CorePower Yoga 2 – Heated Power Yoga class

I attended this class twice, with a different instructor each time. The website clearly tells you that this class is not for beginners, and it’s not. The instructor does not stand at the front of the room modeling poses, in fact, he/she walks around the very crowded room between mats using the proper and official yoga-move name, mostly. That means, you need to have a firm grasp on yoga before attending this particular class. (Which I think I do.) Of the two instructors that I experienced in this class, one was moderate and one was pretty good. However, I did enjoy both sessions fully. And I walked away from both sessions feeling like just one-hour of yoga was all I needed as a workout that day.

This class is done in a room heated to 98 degrees with 45 percent humidity. That’s hot and sticky, but it really helps you to feel loose instantly and get your body moving and stretching in great ways throughout the course of the hour. I didn’t think the poses or sequences in either of these classes were extremely hard, but there were moments of challenge here and there. Yet, because the room was hot and crowded and we moved at a fast pace, I was worked. I huffed and puffed and sweated up a storm in both sessions. And because most moves are based off of your strength and flexibility, you can push to your own level. I definitely feel like I’m getting much better at yoga, and in these two classes in particular I felt a little growth, so that was awesome. (Which goes to show that practicing even just once a week is a benefit, which is why yoga has made it on to my goals for 2015.)

We started class in child’s pose, moved through some Vinyasas, downward dogs, planks, warrior two poses, star poses, horse poses, crescent lunges, with some strenuous bicycle crunches and boat poses in the middle of class. In one of the classes, we finished with the very challenging bird’s of paradise move, however in another class we didn’t really have a finishing move. Both classes featured a short meditation at the end, with light music playing in the background. One of the teachers was a toucher, and one was not. If you have read my class reviews before, you know that I’m a big fan of adjustments and physical touches from instructors, so I always appreciate that.

The description from the website on what to expect in the class pretty much nails it: 

Ready to sweat? CorePower Yoga 2 (C2) is a rigorous yoga class with demanding strength postures that will have you moving, breathing and sweating! True to its name, a C2 class focuses on building and engaging your core strength to support you in more advanced postures. Set to energizing music in a heated, climate-controlled room, CorePower Yoga 2 strengthens, balances, detoxifies and exhilarates the body and mind. “This class torches calories” – Shape Magazine

Perhaps the best part of my two CorePower Heated Power Yoga 2 class experiences was this quote from one of the instructors as we were relaxing our upper bodies. She said, “Let it go. Let go of whatever tension you are holding in your shoulders. Let go of other people’s tension you are holding in your shoulders.” Truth. 

CorePower Yoga 2 – Heated Power Yoga class details

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Format: Performed in a crowded and heated room with added humidity. Class starts with child’s pose, flowing Vinyasas, standing Warrior poses, horse poses, triangle and star poses, core work like bicycle crunches and boat poses in the middle, more standing work and ending with a stretch and a short meditation.
  • Equipment: Bring a yoga mat and towel, although rental mats are available for a small fee. Beware that your mat will be less than a foot from your neighbor in a full class.
  • Suggested outfit: Less is better because of the heat. Wear tight tops and bottoms that won’t ride up when bending over, and preferably shorts and tanks, because you will sweat a lot. Go with bare feet. And a sweat headband would be helpful too.
  • Difficulty Level: Probably a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being super hard. Not for beginners.
  • Pros: The hot room helps you to loosen up quickly, the fast pace of the class makes this a killer strength workout and the massive amount of sweating you will inevitably do feels very detoxifying and cleansing. Overall, this class had a good flow of moves throughout the hour, and the light background music helps too.

I enjoyed CorePower Yoga 2 – Heated Power Yoga class and would return. Although it was not the hardest yoga class I’ve ever taken, it was challenging, and the addition of the heat made it seem much more intense than other yoga sessions.

CorePower Yoga SF studio review via A Lady Goes WestShown above from the top: The lovely wood sign behind the welcome desk, rental mats available for a small fee and a look at my weight selection and sweaty towel after class.

CorePower Yoga Sculpt – Heated Power Yoga with weights

Now this one was my jam. I loved this workout. I would love to go back and experience another class, with the same instructor or a new one. You take the meditative and stretching aspects of yoga, add in some weights and a little cardio kicker in the middle, all done in a heated room with modern music playing in the background. Yes, please. I had wanted to try yoga with weights for months, and it was everything I expected and more.

As we did in the other heated classes, we started in child’s pose, moved through about 10 minutes of Vinyasas and then went into push-ups, planks and the weighted portion of class using dumbbells. We were instructed to grab two sets of weights. Flow weights should be light (I did 5 lbs. and saw most people with 3 lbs.). Sculpt weights should be heavy (I did 8 lbs. and saw most people with 5 lbs.). 

Once we had the weights in hand, we went through all the usual Vinyasa and yoga sequences while holding weights. I loved the feeling of the added challenge. We did tricep extensions and rows while in crescent lunge, we did oblique twists and upright rows while in horse pose and so on. Because the room was so incredibly hot, packed and the workout was tough, I was completely drenched from about 10 minutes in, which eventually made the weights hard to hold onto. Our teacher gave great cueing and even told us how to properly go through a Vinyasa while holding dumbbells, which I really enjoyed. We put the weights down for a short cardio segment in the middle of the class featuring squats, jumping jacks, high-knee runs and butt kicks, which was totally bizarre in a yoga class, but somehow fitting. We did some core work and finished up with a meditation at the end.

The instructor for this class was the best I experienced at CorePower, and she even started the class by asking people to raise their hands if they didn’t want to be touched, which I appreciated. She was clear with her coaching and instruction, except for one little thing. And I can’t believe I’m saying this, because I’m a group fitness instructor who loves loud music, but the music was so loud at some places in the room that it was hard to hear her. And she didn’t wear a mic, so that was a bit of a fail. Nonetheless, I was completely killed in this class and loved every minute of it. While the heat, sweat and added weights had me working, it felt good on my body, rather than too intense. I will definitely go back.

Once again, here’s the class description from the CorePower website: 

A total body workout, CorePower Yoga Sculpt classes are set to energizing music and designed to tone and sculpt every major muscle group. This class complements your regular yoga practice while boosting your metabolism and pushing your strength and flexibility to new heights. Free weights are added to the CorePower Yoga 2 (C2) sequence, creating resistance and intensifying each pose. Strength-training exercises such as squats, lunges, bicep and tricep curls are incorporated to build lean muscle mass. You will see visible results in your body. It is recommended that you take at least one CorePower level 1 or 2 (C1 or C2) class before a Yoga Sculpt class.

CorePower Yoga Sculpt – Heated Power Yoga with weights class details

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Format: Performed in a heated room with added humidity. Class starts with child’s pose, flowing Vinyasas, standing Warrior poses, push-ups, planks, weighted work using light and heavy dumbbells, a cardio section with jumping jacks, high-knee runs, followed by more Vinyasas, stretching and a short meditation at the end.
  • Equipment: Bring a yoga mat and towel, although rental mats are available for a small fee. Various sizes of dumbbells are provided. Beware that if the class is full, you will be less than a foot from your neighbors on all sides.
  • Suggested outfit: Less is better because of the heat. Wear tight tops and bottoms that won’t ride up when bending over, preferably shorts and tanks, because you will sweat a lot. Bare feet. And a sweat headband would be helpful too.
  • Difficulty Level: Probably an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being super hard. Not for beginners.
  • Pros: A killer workout that leaves you feeling good. The heat, music, weights, fast-paced movements and spot-on coaching made this a powerful exercise session with tons of variety of movement.

I can definitely say that this yoga class with weights was one of my favorite workouts I’ve done in a long time, outside of the group fitness classes that I lead. I will be seeking out additional yoga with weights classes in the future, and I’d highly recommend them for all the benefits of detoxifying while strengthening. You may not want to jump right into the advanced classes, but work your way up starting with the entry-level.

Things to know if you go to CorePower Yoga

Bring your own mat and a big towel. Mat rentals are available for a small fee. Also, bring a reusable water bottle to fill up before and after class. And bring a lock for the lockers, if you want to keep your stuff secure. I put my stuff in an unlocked locker all three times, and I noticed most other people doing the same. However, safety first, my friends. And remember, CorePower Yoga doesn’t take reservations, so classes are on a first-come, first-served basis. I had no problem getting in to any of the three classes I attended during prime times, and I only showed up about 10 minutes early each time. And as usual, it’s a packed house most of the time, I’d imagine, so be prepared to sweat less than a foot from your fellow yogi participants. Personal space is at a minimum. 

Overall, I’d definitely return to CorePower Yoga, and I hope to check out the future locations as they continue to open here in the Bay Area (I think Walnut Creek is next?). Maybe there’s a CorePower in your neck of the woods, you should go check out the website and find out

There you have it. A wordy, yet detailed description of what you’ll find at CorePower Yoga. I hope you guys have a fabulous Thursday, and come back tomorrow for my weekly “Friday Favorites.” Oh and by the way, in case you’re wondering, I launched my new BODYPUMP and BODYATTACK group fitness releases in back-to-back classes last night, and it went great. But man, those workouts are tough. Needless to say, after I marched back up the hill to my apartment I peeled off my sweaty clothes, showered up and collapsed onto my foam roller to relieve my poor muscles.

More San Francisco fitness class and studio reviews

If you’d like to see more of my thoughts on various classes both local and national, check out the following posts or visit the Class review page:

Questions of the day

Have you ever done heated yoga or yoga with weights?

What’s the best workout you’ve done lately?

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49 Comments

  1. I’ve always dreamed of the day when I could love yoga. I’ve taken classes over and over and it was just not for me. I did do Bikram and love it but couldn’t get over the sweaty smell of the room and people. I would love to try the one with weights. Woild it be weird if I wore a nose plug?

    1. Hi Megan, It took me a LONG time to like it. What I like about it now is how I can tell it’s doing good for my body, and I always feel sooo much better after-the-fact. I’ve been to smelly Bikram studios, and I did NOT smell that stench anywhere at CorePower. You should give yoga another shot! Remember, just like running or anything else, it will always feel awkward and hard if you don’t do it often.

  2. CorePower Yoga sounds awesome! I’ve never taken a hot yoga class so I’d probably try that for sure. SO cool they do a free week for first-timers — what do you have to lose? I’d definitely try it!

      1. Yoga is NOT a huge deal here at all. Maybe in larger cities, but there’s no yoga studio or anything in my town or anywhere nearby. And def NOT something cool like this. Fitness trends are like 5 years behind the US even in Paris

  3. I LOVEEEEEEE CorePower Yoga and wish they were in Naples (ahem!!), hehe! There was a studio 2 blocks from my condo in Minneapolis and I loved bundling up in the winter and heading to Sculpt when it was -10 outside. Such a great workout!

    1. Hi Becky! It was pretty cold last week here in SF, and I LOVED the rush of cold air when walking out of the studio. I hope they bring it to Southwest Florida for you soon!

    1. Hi Katie! How neat, well then you HAVE to try. Seems like a cool company, which is definitely growing. Make time for a class during your next visit:)

  4. Very interesting!! I am a high intensity workout kind of girl and unfortunately don’t make time for yoga, but if I can get extra strength benefits out of it I’d be up to give it a shot!! I feel like this is one kind I could handle. I’ll put it on the list of class dates with my BFF!

    1. Hi Jill! I used to feel that way, but have started to love the way yoga makes my body feel, even just the flowing kind of yoga. But heated yoga will give you that “post-workout” feeling for sure. Give it a try and let me know if you do:)

  5. I really like doing yoga, I’ve tried heated yoga once, and man did I sweat so much! I dehydrate way too easily, due to a wacky medical condition- no matter the amount of water I drink- so I’ve decided I probably won’t go again, just to be safe 🙂 I’ll stick with non-heated yoga though. That studio looks beautiful!

    1. Hi Jessie! Yes, safety first. I find I have to drink a ton of water before and after. But there are plenty of good yoga options without heat, so hopefully you still find those. Happy Thursday!

  6. I love CorePower Yoga! I’ve been going to that studio using ClassPass but recently bought a Gilt Group coupon so I can go more often 🙂 It might even still be available, check it out!

  7. Thank you for such a thorough review! I’ve been on the fence about trying Core Power for a while now, and just haven’t been able to decide, but I think I’m officially convinced. As much as I love the mind-unwinding aspects of mellow yoga classes, I like to come out of class feeling like I really got a good workout. 🙂

    1. Hi Amy! Well you are so welcome. Thanks for stopping by. You will definitely get a good workout in these hot yoga classes. But there will always be a need for the mellow yoga too. Have a happy Thursday!

  8. That sounds so awesome! Hopefully they’ll open some locations in Florida soon.

    By the way, I just saw on one of your posts from Christmas that your family’s in Port Charlotte – I’m in Sarasota! Small world! I’ll bet living in San Francisco is a lot more exciting, haha!

    1. Hi Jess! Oh goodness yes, I love living in a fun city like this, and it’s totally different from Florida. However, my parents are in Southwest Florida, so that’s not super fun to be so far. I moved to Orlando after college (went to UF) and have been in SF for 2.5 years with my hubby. I try to make it back to Florida about 4 times a year. And you have a gorgeous beach in Sarasota!

  9. Yoga with weights!! That sounds perfect for me! 🙂 Great review! I created 4 new yoga sequences for myself and have been doing them over a four day period with a break in between. They only last about 10 minutes, but that’s good enough for me as I ease my way into the intermediate poses. lol! So far, so good!

    1. Hi Karen! Well starting small is good because yoga can get really hard. I’ve been going to a full session once a week and am starting to see some benefits for sure!:) Thanks for stopping by.

  10. I have been thinking of redeeming my free week coupon for a while now. Heat + humidity has always scared me in a workout. I tried Bikram yoga once and thought I might die. I would consider myself to be at a beginner-intermediate level with yoga – I definitely do not know the technical pose names by heart. Can you recommend which class at Core Power would be right for my level? They offer SO many different ones!

    1. Hi Lizzie! Yes, You would want to take the CorePower Yoga Beginner Heated Power Yoga 1 class. You should bring water, a towel and be sure to be very hydrated before and after. You can always stop during class to relax if it is too much. Don’t be scared! The room is not as hot as Bikram, so it’s warm and sticky but bearable. 🙂

    1. Hi Sarah! I wasn’t always a yoga fan, but I know how good it is for me, so I keep at it. You should definitely try to fit some into your busy sched some time. 🙂

  11. If I’m going to try hot yoga, I’ll probably start at CorePower. Thank you for your detailed review (as always) to give me as much information as possible going in. I don’t know when I’ll find the courage to do it, but you’ve given me more of a push. 🙂

  12. I took my first CorePower class (C2) Sunday and another tonight and love it a lot. I honestly love all yoga, but I feel like the heat helps loosen me up a little more, while still adding a challenge. I also really like my brain “on yoga”. I just feel calmer and a little more sane 😉

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