A sneak peek inside Charlotte’s newest (and most corporate) yoga studio

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Forget the fact, for a minute, that the new CorePower Yoga studio is a yoga studio, and consider the sheer awesomeness of the location.

Right next door, Frank Scibelli’s fourth Midwood Smokehouse is coming soon. Later this year, Amélie’s French Bakery and Café No. 6 will open across the parking lot. And in just a few moves, Park Road Shopping Center’s Backlot will have been transformed from one of the last places you’d want to meet up with someone into one of the first.

“You don’t have to ever really go anywhere else outside of here,” says Catrina Reeder, who moved from Dallas in February to open CorePower as its “area developer” – kind of a fancy name, in this case, for studio manager. “It’s a one-stop shop. You can go to the hardware store (Blackhawk actually backs up right into CorePower), you can come to yoga, and then get dressed and go to dinner.” (Flying Biscuit, Sir Edmond Halley’s and ROCKSALT are among the eateries a stone’s throw away.)

Another thing that’s right in this same little bubble is Charlotte Yoga, which – if not for all the development and a few trees – you could probably see from CorePower’s front entrance.

So the obvious question is: Why should someone try CorePower once it officially opens (first class ever is 8 a.m. Saturday), and what sets the studio apart from the 40 or 50 other places fighting for the attention of bendy/stretchy folks in Charlotte?

Here’s what Reeder pointed to (plus what I noticed) on a private walkthrough Thursday morning, as the place was being readied for a preview event and VIP class that night.

(1) The 3,100-square-foot space was designed using recycled products and sustainable materials. The laminate flooring, for instance, is green – er, it’s brown in color, but it’s green in the sense that it is environmentally friendly. (And stepping onto it, you can actually feel it give a little bit under your weight, which adds to the gentle vibe of the room.)

(2) Forced air heating helps to jack up the room temperature as high as 103 degrees, but the room also relies on radiant heat panels. (That’s cost-effective, which is great for the owners, but it also has interesting benefits for members: People store radiant heat energy, and that heat aids muscle and joint flexibility but also helps them continue to burn calories after the session ends.)

(3) Reeder talked a lot about cleanliness – particularly in regards to the locker room, which on the women’s side boasts 60 large lockers, 30 small ones, four showers and two toilets (the men’s room is slightly smaller). She figured the showers would “probably be cleaner than theirs at home,” and the women’s room was well-stocked with shampoo, conditioner, body wash, cotton swabs, feminine products, a hair dryer and other amenities.

(4) I was surprised by how small the place feels. If you’re in a hurry, you could get the grand tour faster than you can say “chaturanga dandasana.” This location has just one classroom (some CorePowers have multiple rooms); Reeder says it can host up to 60 students. She assured me they could get that many in there and still have space for Yoga Sculptors to swing some weights around, but I’d like to see it to believe it.

For class descriptions, check the website. Note that only four types – the CorePower Yoga 1 (unheated flow), CorePower Yoga 2 (heated flow), Yoga Sculpt (which incorporates 3- to 12-pound dumbbells) and Hot Power Fusion (a hybrid) – will be offered in Charlotte.

Mondays through Thursdays, the first class is at 6 a.m. and the last is at 8:30 p.m. There’s no 8:30 p.m. class on Fridays, and on the weekends the schedule is slightly more limited. But all told, there are 58 classes on the schedule per week as the place prepares to launch. That’s a lot. Also, CorePower is open 365 days a year – yes, Christmas included.

One more point: CorePower is a corporate creation. Founded in Denver in 2002, there are now more than 165 of these studios nationwide, largely out west. There’s already one in Raleigh, one in Cary, and another is planned for midtown Charlotte.

If the Park Road location is a hit, and manages to become the Orangetheory of yoga studios, that’ll crush the little guy – and as I mentioned, there are dozens of little guys out there.

The upside, for the consumer, is that CorePower can offer consistency (in addition to being 200-hour certified, its 16 Charlotte instructors have all been trained the same way every other CorePower instructor in the U.S. has been trained); it can leverage national muscle for deals on equipment and access newer technology faster and put it in all of its locations; and it can allow members to use their memberships on the road.

So it comes down to a common dilemma these days: Do you want Lowe’s, or do you want Blackhawk? Do you want McCormick & Schmick’s, or do you want ROCKSALT? That’s a personal decision.

But even if you don’t decide to set foot inside CorePower, I’d recommend a visit to the Backlot of Park Road Shopping Center sometime soon – if only to marvel at what they’re doing with the place.

CorePower Yoga is at 540 Brandywine Road, Suite 420. $22 for a single class, $104 for five, $194 for 10 and $344 for 20. Unlimited yoga is $139 a month (first month: $89), although if you sign up prior to the studio’s Saturday opening, you’ll get a 25 percent discount on the unlimited membership. 980-598-8814; corepoweryoga.com.

This story originally appeared on CharlotteObserver.com.

Photos: Theoden Janes

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