By Fred DeVito and Elisabeth Halfpapp, Founders
As Partners in Crime, Elisabeth (Lis) and I are on the founding team of Exhale, and co-creators of the Core Fusion program at Exhale locations nationwide.
Core Fusion is our signature barre workout that incorporates free weights and core work, appeals equally to both men and women (tough to find in a barre workout!), and strengthens and tones like no other class. It’s a serious workout! We’ve been lucky enough to grow our Core Fusion brand right alongside and as part of Exhale, a transformational experience that includes both fitness classes and spa therapies under one roof to revive and restore. Our Core Fusion brand has grown into all variations of group classes at Exhale locations, as well as at-home DVD’s, books, and more. And Exhale has grown from one location to 29!
But back to the beginning… Lis and I were fortunate to have shared our earlier years together in athletics, and devoted a lot of time to dance, exercise, and movement science, before ending up co-managing the one and only Lotte Berk Method barre studio on Manhattan’s Upper East Side for over 20 years. With LBM being a dance-based barre class and Lis being a professionally-trained ballet dancer, she took to it naturally — but my entry into this world was an eye opening experience! The barre class focuses on all the things that guys leave out of their fitness routines… targeted core work, body awareness in space, and flexibility training. While the original class was magnificent in so many ways, I brought the male mentality to the class by adding more free weight exercises, as well as gender neutral challenges such as planks and pushups. This was a meaningful addition for the devotees of the LBM, and they started to bring their male friends to the class, who truly embraced the challenge!
As a couple married now for almost 33 years, Lis and I grew up together managing the LBM business and doing everything needed under the sun — teaching close to 26 classes a week, training teachers, hiring, firing, payroll, accounts receivable, marketing, PR, and even light maintenance, you name it. Whatever had to be done, basically fell into our laps, since the owner was absent for most of the year, and we became the face of the Lotte Berk Method. When you spend as much time with each other as we did at work, our challenge was knowing when to stop working and actually enjoy leisure time together! The studio life was all-consuming, but we worked hard to figure it all out, and managed to have quality time each week for each other and our two black labs, Lea and Prima. We were clear on our decision early in life to not have or raise children. Instead, we chose to focus energy on our careers and to support each other through thick and thin, which led us to the opportunity to launch Exhale in 2002.
Since our early years at the LBM, we knew that we had a special product with our barre class, and wanted to share it with as many people as we could worldwide. This is a vision that we shared alone, however, and the only way that we were going to have a chance to realize the dream would be to move on and start something new. When the Exhale opportunity was presented to us, we were responding to a manifestation or a calling, if you will, since having a larger platform to scale and grow was our goal and vision all along. At the LBM, we managed 20 teachers and two properties, and could never even imagine having anything larger with classes of quality, consistency, and safety. But what we learned is: with the right people by your side, anything is possible. We have some of the most devoted and loyal teammates, managers, teachers, and students, dedicated to Exhale and our Core Fusion program. A true Exhale-nation!
This team helped us to grow from 1 property to now 29 studios, with more to come. Our 150 barre teachers, seeing over 40,000 students a month in our Core Fusion studios, is a true team effort. With the help of our colleagues we were able to create 11 Core Fusion DVD’s, and run a robust Barre Teacher Training Program for community teachers, that also gives you an alternative to continue on with a franchise model. We also launch our first book, called Barre Fitness, coming out this month. We truly are partners in crime!
A member of the founding Exhale team and co-creator of the company’s highly publicized Core Fusion program, Fred DeVito is EVP of Mind Body Fitness Programs. He is responsible for recruiting and training the teachers for the proprietary Core Fusion programs, and directing the Core Fusion teacher training curriculum, program quality, and safety. As a lead trainer and fitness expert in the barre and well-being industry, Fred has been featured in The New York Times, Fitness Magazine, New York Magazine and Shape Magazine. Along with his wife, Elisabeth, Fred has created, choreographed, and starred in 11 Core Fusion DVDs, and has contributed to many online classes on Yogavibes.com.
As EVP of Mind Body Programming, Elisabeth Halfpapp oversees Exhale’s mind body programs, managing classes, workshops, teacher trainings, and retreats while teaching a robust class schedule and leading off-site escapes. As a member of Exhale’s founding team, she leveraged 20+ years of teaching to co-create the company’s highly publicized Core Fusion program. She regularly appears as a fitness expert on national TV, including The Today Show, ABC News, CBS Morning Show, Entertainment Tonight and Dr. Oz.