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Physique 57 v. Exhale

As many of you know, I'm a Physique 57 devotee. The Lotte Berk method based class is fast-paced, challenging, and - in my opinion - pretty effective. I recently tried their main competitor, Exhale Spa. So here's the skinny:


What: Physique's sole focus is their classes. They offer their signature 57 minute beginner, open, intermediate and advanced classes, some yoga and pilates type variants I've never tried and then body part specific intensives. I've seen them promote occasional nutritional packages in conjunction with third parties, but basically, they're all about their classes.
Where: Physique 57 has 2 NYC locations and 1 in the Hamptons.
Bottom Line: $35 per, $290 for 10, $545 for 20. They also offer unlimited monthlies for $440, six month unlimited and annual memberships.


What: Exhale offers their Core Fusion classes, but the locations are also spas and depending on the location, they also offer nutritional consulting, acupuncture etc. They also organize trips.
Where: Exhale Spa has locations in several cities throughout the country (and in Turks and Caicos) including 4 in NYC and 1 in the Hamptons.
Botttom Line: Core Fusion classes are $35 per, $280 for 10, $530 for 20. They offer memberships, but you have to email for details.


I've been going to the Physique 57th studio, the 57th street location, since December. I go a few times a week and usually take open or intermediate level classes (there's less stretching in the advanced classes). I usually do weekends and/or late evenings, but I've taken early morning classes from time to time.

I took my Exhale classes at the Madison avenue location on the upper east side. I did the earliest morning classes they offer - all open level - for three days in a row.

Clearly, this is no scientific study, but I found out what I wanted to.


If I were to describe an Exhale class to you, it would sound a lot like a Physique class. You go through essentially the same routine: warm up, weights, barre, abs. That said, these classes are pretty different in terms of feel.

At Physique, the classes have this amazing intense energy. You cram more into 57 minutes than seems physically possible. The instructors aren't mean, but they push you to push yourself. Shaking is good. Working your muscles to failure is good. If it weren't for the fact that I see plenty of perfectly strong women doing girl push-ups in these classes, I'd said they were totally hard-core. I also found that I get more personal attention at Physique, even though the classes I took at Exhale were way less crowded.

Because the Exhale locations are spas, Exhale's atmosphere is way more chill - the vibe is indulgence, not endurance. If you get there early, you can hang out in the relaxation room ... it's nice. They think you're wonderful just for showing up. Don't get me wrong, a million little squats in chair position are still dang painful in an Exhale class, it's just easier to not push yourself quite as hard. You're still working, but not at the same level, and you get through less in the hour.

At the end of the day, I think this is a personality thing. If you like to be hard-core and competitive and push - go to Physique. If you're looking for a good workout, but don't need that kind of intensity, you'll probably prefer Exhale. I've seen young women and older (and old) women at both. I've even seen men at both, whatever that means.

Personally, I prefer Physique. I'll probably go to Exhale again because there's a location super close to my apartment.

I'm curious to hear what others' experiences have been. Comment away or shoot me an email @ If you've tried The Body - the city's latest Lotte Berke method studio - I'd love to hear about that, too!

I'll keep you posted.

-Gym Belle-

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Reader Comments (4)

As a fellow NYC gym brat I love your blog! However, I would love to comment on this last post comparing exhale spa and Physique 57 because as an avid fan of exhale spa I am ALWAYS pushed to my limit. I leave class sweating, sore, shaking, and end up with awesome results! Just wanted to say that you should 100% give exhale classes another chance and try out class with a different instructor. As there are tons of instructors there are many different teaching methods and styles that they all teach in. You should try class with Lis, Jesse, Fred, Tyler, Barbara or any of the many instructors. They have all managed to kick my butt into shape to the point where it feels like boot camp!! Also, if your ever in Bridgehampton you should totally try class with Lisa, she is no joke when it comes to her workouts. In fact, in the past couple months I have managed to completely tone my body like I never thought possible!!

June 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Thank you for your post and the recommendations! I'll have to check those instructors!

June 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGym Belle

Hey Gym...Thanks for offering up this side by side. Im an author of some best selling self help books - like HOW TO BE HAPPY DAMMIT. Im now trying to get myself into totally toned shape for upcoming bok tour and have recently fallen in love with EXHALE cleaases as well as their amazing retreat in Turks + Caicos. I much prefer eEXHALE to p57 for oh so many reasons. Mainly Im a big fan of EXHALES CORE FUSION SPORTS and CORE FUSION classes - both of which have totally toned my body like never before! Both classes are a bigtime hardcore work out - not only with lots of incredibly toned women it it - but with lots of hunk toned guys sweating it out as they have fun. I definitely feel pushed to the max by EXHALE teachers. You say you enjoyed how p57 likes to do tons of repetitions really fast. Well I gotta say I kinda disagree. I find these movements a bit wild dangerous and boring even. I much prefer how EXHALE challenges me to get in the correct positions and then pushes me with very high intesnity. I've evn heard how a bunch of p57 teachers have come over to EXHALE because they too prefer the fun but tough love EXHALE classes. Basically Im an author who promotes living ones life at your highest potential -- and so I am consicously putting in the discipline dialy to practice what I preach in mind body spirit. I am a fan of EXHALE because I feel they are the ideal place for me to tone and detox myself in all 3 arenas: mind, body and spirit! warmly,Karen Salmansohn

June 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Salmansohn

hi - i love physique 57, my fav teachers are magen, tanya, sarah, katherine, erin, shelley - they are all fab and really kick you into shape.. i love it and know that it works!!!

June 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

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