I was nervous for an entire week before visiting Kore, and I had good reason to be. Samantha Skolkin, resident instructor and bikini fitness champion, had just been named New York City's Hottest Trainer. And me? Well, I had just doled a friend's hand in marriage to a Shake Shack employee who magically tripled my order of cheese fries days before.
Clearly, I had reason to be concerned for Kore's unique blend of intervals, intensity, and isometrics, and you should be worried, too. Not because you'll sweat like a Division I athlete at training camp or leave feeling like a Band-Aid was pulled off your entire body, but because when your instructor rolls up not with an ice-cold Fiji but a gallon jug filled with water, you know you're in trouble.
Kore does not play. It's 60 minutes of fast, intense training that works every muscle and remains a physical feat to complete. It is, in more palatable terms, the type of class you walk home from because you're so empty that you need a half-hour for your brain to fully understand exactly what just happened.
The Kore curriculum consists of a five-step interval training program that begins with stretching and plank-focused core training. Next is Kore4, an eight-minute sprint of traditional HIIT bodyweight challenges, which is followed by HIIT exercises with kettlebells and TRX equipment and, finally, a stretch to cool down. I know this because I read it on Kore's website. I legitimately blacked out during class, lowering myself into survival mode and focusing on exercise to ensure this feature didn't become a photojournalistic play-by-play of the moment a healthy 28-year-old died of squat-induced exhaustion.
Kore does not play. It's 60 minutes of intense training that works every muscle and remains a physical feat to complete
There are things I learned at Kore beyond how to correctly put on ankle weights and that maybe I wouldn't perish until the second half of The Hunger Games. Like, how there is exercise, and then there is this, and never shall the two be compared.
From what I can piece together, I remember being introduced to the dark world of ankle weights, praying a tension band wouldn't snap in my face and holding a plank longer than I ever have before. I have a hazy memory of doing lunges (so many lunges) and refusing to quit during a timed wall sit that would start over if anyone caved. I also jotted down a note about the end of class "resembling a 'Simon Says' for masochists," but thankfully, I cannot recall what this means.
This five-step process is wildly difficult, but somehow, you still walk away energized and in awe of Samantha — probably because you know she's going to work so much harder than you did on her own workout the second she steps out that door. And, for as challenging as it was, the upsides are immense. You leave walking tall with perfect posture, feeling like a competitive bodybuilder after putting in the same amount of time as one would simply pedaling on a bike.
Kore will whip you into shape even if you just go on at least a semi-regular basis. Yes, nutrition is important, and yes, I defied Samantha's "you worked hard, don't ruin it with bad food!" speech and ate like I was carb-loading before a high school track meet for the next fourteen hours, but I'm fairly sure it doesn't matter. Kore will make you Grecian God-levels of fit, because there's no way in hell it could not. You work every part of your body to complete exhaustion, and then work it just a little harder, ensuring results in every place that counts.
Kore will make you Grecian God-levels of fit, because there's no way in hell it could not
For the longest time, I thought I was stuck on a weight loss plateau, but I'm not — I just haven't been working at this level. I am a human marshmallow who can gun it at dance cardio because I'm fooled into thinking I'm in the chorus line of Brigadoon! and not actually running a marathon in place, but when it's combined with my penchant to cry over missed dessert, I'm the poster child for "just maintaining."
But as difficult as Kore was, it was definitely doable. I survived, I didn't skip a single section, and the obsessive part of my brain is nagging me to return. And, for how intense and demanding the movement can be, there's no bullying by the instructor; the intensity instead comes from encouragement for the group as a whole, working together to exhaustion. Instead of being forced to do burpees or lunges on the same collective beat, you can go your own pace and be able to survive — and even with how heavy the weights are, the focus is always on not getting injured. It was challenging but gentle, like a bootcamp with less yelling and more emotional support.
Still, though, know that Kore is no joke. It's a dungeon of pain, but I left feeling more accomplished than I had in weeks. With Samantha in charge, my body could handle the workout — but there's no way my brain could take this on the regular. I need jazz squares, toe taps and the ability to brainwash myself into thinking I'm voluntarily doing jumping jacks to pop hits, not TRX pull-ups and never-ending planks. But until the day I'm bold enough to brave Kore again, I'll be sitting here, telling you that you should definitely go...and be just the slightest bit terrified.