Core Crushed

Core Crushed

How I set and (sort of) reached a year-long Peloton goal.

By Eric ArnoldUpdated December 21, 2022


My wife and I have done Peloton core workouts in some odd places: at a friend’s ski house, on the balcony of a resort, and on the hard, unforgiving hotel room floor at Disney World while our kids slept. We’ve even drawn stares taking them in public places. As I pursued my 2022 goal of completing at least one core class every day, for a year, the two of us have been doing the classes everywhere and anywhere.

It all started last Christmas, when my years-long bout with lower back pain had reached a new level. I realized that a core class every so often wouldn’t cut it. And although daily core workouts wouldn’t promise a miracle cure, I knew they’d help more than they’d hurt. So, on December 26, 2021, the challenge got underway.

The first few months went swimmingly. Some days, I’d take a quick break from work and do a five-minute class on the floor, next to my desk. Some evenings, my wife and I would do a class together after we’d put the kids to bed (not quite the same as splitting a bottle of wine, but it’s still time well spent together). Other times, I’d do 10 or 15 minutes before or after a ride. I even did a standing core class the evening after a lumbar cortisone shot (against doctor’s orders, but I couldn’t break the streak). And, in some cases, I’d realize at about a quarter to midnight, while hanging out with friends or working late, that I’d yet to do my workout. I’d sneak away for five, 10, or 15 minutes and get it done, just under the wire.

Then, after about six months I learned that my pursuit, while potentially admirable, was well short of the achievement of Sally R., a 60-year-old anesthesiologist in Houston who shared on Facebook that she’d just completed every single Peloton core class on the platform. It took her more than two years, sometimes doing multiple classes per day. I reached out to her right away to learn more about her motivation as I tried to maintain my own.

Setting the Bar

“I had been consistently doing core, but I really hadn't been keeping track of how many core classes there were,” Sally says. “So, when I looked at how many core classes I had done and how many I had left to go, I thought, ‘Well this looks challenging, but I think I can do it.’ Then it was all systems go!” She persevered, even each time she completed a few classes only to find that Peloton had added several more, making her task seem Sisyphean. But she eventually pushed the boulder to the mountain’s summit.

Combined with Sally’s experience and mine, here are a few tips for achieving your own core challenge.

1. Work your way up slowly.

Starting out with a 20-minute core class isn’t a great idea—nor is starting with the more difficult classes. Simpler classes or a program might be a more effective way to ease into things.

“One of the first Peloton programs I did was Crush your Core with Emma Lovewell,” says Sally. “Completing that program gave me a lot of confidence.”

Similarly, I started by repeating a few bookmarked classes that I know and like—specifically ones that Matty Maggiacomo had posted to his Instagram, such as this 10-minute class. With time, I built the confidence to take on harder classes or multiple classes in one day.

2. Timing is everything.

Sally typically starts her workday at 6 a.m., which means getting up as early as 4 a.m. to work out. She found core to be a great way to warm up in lieu of just hopping on the Peloton Bike at a predawn hour.

There’s the amount of time you spend on core to consider too. Sally’s sweet spot is 20 to 30 minutes of core per day. For me, it’s more like 10 to 15—but sometimes as little as five if it’s all I can squeeze in. It’s also important to listen to your body; some days it’s telling me to use core as a pre-ride warm up, while on others it’s apparent I should do core after a ride as my cool down.

3. Have your go-tos bookmarked.

While Sally was brave enough to conquer every class on the platform (she loves Robin Arzón’s stories, Jess Sims’s motivating energy, and Callie Gullickson’s fun-loving style), my workout history shows I’m a creature of habit. I frequently use this five-minute Olivia Amato class when I’m either short on time or am wiped out after a difficult ride. I also love this 10-minute class from Robin and this one by Rad Lopez. I find I’m more motivated by classes I know that I like, rather than start a class only to find it loaded with Russian twists and planks, two of my least-favorite exercises. While Sally likes to sample everything, I stick with what I know.

4. Modify—and be modest.

Speaking of Russian twists and planks, no one says you have to do exactly what the instructor tells you. For example, when a class calls for planks, I might do some extra crunches instead. Especially during the classes I know by heart, I do hollow holds during the short breaks. Staying motivated involves doing more of what you want and less of what you don’t. I sometimes even repeat the same class, back to back, to get in some extra work.

And remember that core work is, in itself, a great exercise. “Sometimes, if I am super busy or tired, core might be the only workout I do,” Sally says. Similarly, I do core work on my rest days from the Peloton Bike or, as mentioned above, when the only time and place I have to work out is on the floor of a Disney World hotel room.

What’s next?

Sally, who’s also completed every single Matt Wilpers ride and is now close to completing all of Rad’s strength classes, will assuredly find and conquer many more challenges. I, however, probably have to continue my core journey.

At 12:02 a.m. the night before Thanksgiving, I realized I’d forgotten to do my core class that day. At 11 months in, I’d broken the streak—leaving a gaping, infuriating hole in my workout history. So, I have to start all over, I suppose.

It's just as well. A friend asked me the other day if I have a six-pack. I responded, “No, I have a four-pack with a wine repository just beneath it.” Granted, it only holds one glass these days, not a full bottle. But maybe it’s time to work toward that six-pack.

And what’ll make this possible is the support of my Peloton-obsessed wife and friends, not to mention an inspiring story like Sally’s. It also helps that I can do a core class pretty much anywhere, at any time, no equipment necessary. And what’ll I do when I reach my goal?

Rest assured, I’m not going to Disney World—at least not to do core.

Psst, here are the five core moves you need to try before a workout, according to Peloton instructors.