Working out for those with 'grit': Solidcore opens its first studio in Fargo


FARGO—A new fitness studio in town is meant to be a place for anyone—anyone with "grit," that is.

"It's going to be hard, but it's rewarding," said Meredith Russell, Studio Manager for Solidcore's first location here. "If you're somebody who is a hard worker, then you will love this workout because you will get rewarded."

The Solidcore brand got its start in 2013 when Founder, Owner and CEO Anne Mahlum launched the company in the Washington, D.C., area. Mahlum, a native of Bismarck, described herself in an email to The Forum as a "workout junkie" who got tired of her body not looking the way she wanted.

She discovered slow and controlled resistance training, a hallmark of Solidcore, and said she noticed "dramatic" changes that made her want to share it with others.

The Fargo studio is Solidcore's 25th so far and third in North Dakota—the brand previously opened studios in Bismarck and Mandan—and Mahlum said it's on track to have more than 30 studios open by the end of the year.

But the brand isn't growing because of bustling open gyms, tons of free weights or even high-tech modern features of fitness centers like heart rate monitors and large screens displaying calorie counts.

Instead, Russell said a 50-minute Solidcore workout is designed to work muscles to failure each time, no matter how fit or toned the person is. That difficulty, which can be adjusted by adding or removing resistance coils on the "Sweatlana" machines that members use, means it will offer benefits to anyone while staving off the dreaded fitness "plateau" that can happen without changes, she said.

"It's unlike any other workout," she said. "You are working every second of the 50 minutes, and moreover, you're building mental strength. It's like tuning into what's going on in your head and challenging yourself to get one more rep or challenging yourself to hold something for one second longer."

Despite having "core" in its name, Russell said each Solidcore class offers a total-body workout that includes the core and obliques, as well as targeted muscle groups in the legs and upper body. The main difference, she said, is this technique offers a low-impact, high-intensity core workout that has resistance weight added to it.

Solidcore's workouts are full of slow, controlled movements meant to get "slow-twitch muscle fibers" to the point of failure, something Russell said will prevent a fitness plateau while also boosting metabolism as the body repairs those muscles long after a workout.

The Fargo studio has 12 "Sweatlana" machines to allow coach-led classes of up to 12 people at once, and Russell said classes are held throughout the day and into the evening most weekdays and during the mornings and early afternoons on weekends.

Customers can sign up to become a member, such as a current deal offered for new members that will include unlimited classes for $149 each month for a year. Or people can buy packages of five or 10 classes at a time, she said.

Mahlum might be getting used to opening Solidcore studios these days, especially once the brand began to expand outside of the D.C. area, but said it's still special when she can bring a new location to her home state.

"Opening up in North Dakota and having it be so well-received is such a spectacular feeling that brings me a lot of joy," she wrote.

Business profile

What: Solidcore

Where: 3985 56th St. S., Fargo

Hours: Classes are held morning through early evening; for a full schedule, visit

Phone: (218) 303-7898