For all practical purposes, the plaza that sits at 727 East Avenue in Pawtucket might as well be part of the East Side. It’s a magnet for health conscious foodies, boasting gourmet vegan food at Garden Grille, gluten-free baked goods at Wildflour and Ayurvedic Indian cuisine at Rasoi. Not surprising then, that someone should see a golden opportunity for a fitness studio there. Denise Chakoian-Olney, proprietor of CORE STUDIOS, saw that opportunity and found the perfect home for her new CORE Cycling + Fitness.
The new place is a major upgrade, and Denise brought in the designers behind NYC’s hyper-trendy SoulCycle to help her outfit it. The new digs include a 900 square foot studio for total body classes, ballet barre workouts, Pilates and more. There are also luxe bathrooms and lockers, but the centerpiece is the new cycling studio. “I wanted to give people something that is not here now,” Denise explains. “The Spin Room alone was a major investment with the special lighting, music and sound system.”
The vibe in the studio is decidedly glitzier than your average spin class. It’s the type of place that might inspire SNL’s Stefon to declare, “This place has everything”: slick new bikes arranged stadium seating style; a multi-colored light show accenting the room (and the mood); a pumping sound system; and a large TV screen displaying real time data about things like speed and heart rate from the individual cycles. This was where I decided to spoil a perfectly good Saturday morning laying in bed by hopping on a bike and trying to keep up with “a more advanced group” of spin enthusiasts who have been training with Denise for quite a while.
I arrived just a couple of minutes after the scheduled start time and people were already sweating. The dimly lit studio had a dark, night-club-type feel, with Technicolor LED lights flashing and flickering along to a pulsing, pounding soundtrack. She was perched on her own bike at the front of the room, shouting out instructions through a headset mic and shuffling through a song selection that changed in pace and intensity along with the workout.
As an avid runner and twice-over marathoner, I sometimes like to delude myself into thinking that I’m up to the challenge of any cardio workout. Then, someone like Denise comes along and reminds me that I couldn’t be more wrong. First off, every aspect of the ride was constantly changing: we alternated between sitting and standing on the bike, along with switching between several different hand positions on the handlebars, varying resistance levels, speeding up and slowing down. All the while, Denise remained vocal, shouting instructions, offering words of encouragement and demanding more from some of her seasoned regulars over the thumping soundtrack.
A little over an hour later, Denise wound things down with some cool-down cycling and a bit of stretching. It was that workout sweet spot: immensely challenging but still doable.
As the feeling of anger over being out of bed so early started giving way to pride in what I had just managed to do, I exited to the parking lot still sweating and panting. Walking towards my car, I noticed another student hopping on his bicycle to ride home and thought, You’ve got to be kidding me. I had to content myself with the thought that maybe I could beat him in a foot race.
CORE Cycling and Fitness
727 East Avenue, Pawtucket