Fitness Dossier, Vol. 23: CorePower Yoga

by Kristen Heinzinger

Get ready for the next installment of the Fitness Dossier, the addictive column that explores (and tests) the most-talked-about fitness obsessions, from chic boutique studios to luxe fully equipped gyms to pop-ups and beyond. This week we give the lowdown on CorePower Yoga, which recently debuted in NYC’s Upper West Side and is expanding to Williamsburg. Fusing downward dog and chaturanga with cardio and weight lifting in 90 degree-plus temps and humidity, CorePower has earned cult-like status among NYC denizens (and celebs, like Julianne Hough) looking for a real sweat sesh. Chief yoga officer Heather Peterson tells more.

CPY in three words: Community, compassion, and peacefulness.

The mantra: Healthy life, healthy mind, healthy body.

Before CPY: I’ve been practicing meditation with my mom since I was a kid. She is a Swami, or a teacher. Before teaching, I was a professional choreographer. I worked in regional theater and for the University of Denver. I was mostly a choreographer for musicals and operas, working with non-dancers, which I loved. Then I ran an interior design firm.

Why CPY was created: In 2002, [founder] Trevor Tice had the vision to start CorePower Yoga. He was an extreme athlete, and loved mountain biking, skiing, and snowboarding. He got an ankle injury, and his doctor suggested yoga. He started practicing all over the country, taking different classes, but he wanted a fusion of an intensive physical workout with the mindfulness of yoga. 

My job: I’ve been teaching yoga for 15 years, and I have been with CorePower for 14. I was the second person they hired and I am the longest continuing staff member. I’ve done many things—manage studios, opened regions. Now, I am the chief yoga officer. It basically means I get to work with teachers across the country to elevate the classes. I am the chief editor of our program materials, so I create new formats and evolve the work we’re doing. I run around the country and work with incredible yogis and take a bunch of yoga classes and make up a bunch of yoga classes…it’s pretty much the freaking bomb of a job!

The hard sell: People think they have to be flexible, that they have to able to touch their toes. You don’t have to be strong, you don’t have to be flexible—yoga makes you strong and flexible. 

If CPY was a fashion house: It’d be a cross between Chanel and a newcomer—so something classic with something fun, fresh, and edgy. 

Après class fuel: I prefer vegan protein. I often do a post class smoothie, because our classes are heated and I like something a little cooler afterwards. I usually don’t want to eat after class, especially Yoga Sculpt. But I know I need the fuel—eat at least 200 calories. My favorite protein is Sunwarrior. I usually throw that in with some good greens and coconut water. I also just love a massive green salad, to keep that clean feeling after a great practice and a big sweat.

The biggest misconception: Because we can’t be pigeonholed, the misconception is, are they fitness or are they yoga? We are beyond one niche.

Advice for the novice: Whatever you’re worried about, you can breathe easy, because every other person who has practiced yoga has probably gone through that same challenge. Second, use your instructor and talk to them before and after class. The teachers are completely here for the students. Ask questions, and you will feel more confident sooner in your practice. Physically, hydrate and sip hot water with lemon throughout the day.

Earliest fitness memory: My mom taking me to my very first ballet class when I was 3. Beyond that, I remember my mom putting on her video of Jane Fonda.

CPY soundtrack: We have a playlist called #SummerWarrior. Ed Sheeran, The Shape of You, Stormy Remix; True Summer by Sean Macky; A Loss in Blue; Houses; All Night; Far Away Coast by Karisma; On the Beach, Short Edit, by Nooran Ompure.

The humidity factor: It varies based on the location’s temperature and humidity. It’s giving oxygen to all areas of your body, and it’s a great hydrator for your skin.

Other go-to workouts: I love high intensity interval training, whether it’s The Class in New York or Orange Theory.

Classes clocked weekly: I take 1-2 classes a day. I teach a lot on the weekends—right now I’m teaching 25-30 hours each weekend. I usually do two or three of those weekends a month.

The UWS and Williamsburg appeal: Upper West makes sense because it’s more centrally located. We got a lot of requests for Brooklyn. We rely on feedback, in person and online.

Celeb sightings in class: Colin Farrell jumped into the Hollywood Studio. I’ve taken class with Neil Patrick Harris. Other big devotees are Julianne Hough and Lea Michele.

What’s next: We are going to focus on New York and San Francisco over the next few years. There is a lot of space and yogis to connect with!

What to wear to class: I see incredible pattern pants, cool bra tops with lots of straps that are functional and beautiful, fun t-shirts with inspiring slogans. There are always the classics like Lululemon but companies that are dance-based work great too.

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