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FITT Q&A: ANNE MAHLUM, RUNNER, ATHLETE, [SOLIDCORE]’S WOMAN IN CHARGE

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MEREDITH O'CONNOR

JUL 14, 2020

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IMAGE VIA ANNEMAHLUM.COM

In a recurring series, we’re talking to inspirational people doing amazing things in DC’s fitness scene.

Recently, we caught up with Anne Mahlum, founder and CEO of [solidcore] about leadership, being Michelle Obama’s go-to trainer, and how a piece of her heart is reserved for tequila.

WHERE DOES YOUR JOURNEY START?

I have always been an athlete — I love anything active. My whole life I have been a runner, completing marathons on every continent (I did Antarctica last March). It was my passion for running that led me to create Back on My Feet, a non-profit organization that changes the narrative around homelessness and aims to combat homelessness through the power of running, community support, and essential employment and housing resources.

After six years and growing it from a small running club of six men to a nationwide, 12-city, six-million-dollar organization, I decided I wanted to take on something new.

In 2012, I found a Pilates workout and thought I could make it harder, more effective, and more inclusive — so I did. In 2013, I opened the first [solidcore] studio in Adams Morgan and never looked back.

CAN YOU EXPLAIN [SOLIDCORE] FOR THOSE NOT FAMILIAR?

[solidcore] is a 50-minute, high-intensity, low-impact workout designed to break down your slow-twitch muscle fibers. The reason being, once they break down, they will build back stronger and leaner. We created the workout to be challenging and to force people to work harder than they ever thought possible. It’s not often that you are told success is failure, but in [solidcore], it’s true.

You will be challenged physically and mentally, but there is nothing better than getting to the end of class and getting that high-five from the people around you. [solidcore] is a tight-knit community, and even though you are on a machine by yourself, you’re all in it together.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO COME UP WITH YOUR OWN MACHINE — THE [SWEATLANA]?

We knew we wanted to create our own machine rather than leasing one. [sweatlana] was designed to make the class more inclusive but also more challenging.

The machine itself is wider, because we don’t just have small women who take class. Our springs also offer more variation, with weight ranging from three pounds to 88 pounds, and all the combinations you can imagine within that range. This means clients at all levels can take the same workout using weights that work best for them.

HOW HAS COVID AFFECTED [SOLIDCORE]'S PROGRAMMING AND YOUR OWN TRAINING?

This has been a real lesson in leadership and adaptation, but it has been incredible working with my team and learning from others in the industry. We launched our at-home classes about a week after the stay-at-home orders. Obviously, we had to make adjustments, but we are able to offer returning and new clients who don’t have [solidcore] in their city an effective workout where they are held accountable.

Personally, I am running more, playing more outside (thanks to the weather), and, of course — taking [solidcore] classes as much as I can. I’ve also been able to spend a lot of time with Sam, my boyfriend, enjoying time together, playing a lot, and feeling grateful for what we have.

@solidcore | Instagram

IS THERE A MEMORABLE MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

I can give two. The first is when I held my first meeting for Back on My Feet. I told the men who said they wanted to participate—a group of nine homeless men in a shelter in Philly—that if they wanted to participate they needed to show up to this meeting on time and sign a contract with rules for participation. I was holding them accountable. It could have been a massive failure, but they all showed up, signed the contract, and committed. It was incredible.

The second was my first class with Michelle Obama. She is a regular client, a wonderful mentor, and is usually the strongest in the room.

DO YOU WORK OUT EVERY DAY? IS IT ALWAYS AT [SOLIDCORE]?

I do physical activity everyday. Whether that’s running, volleyball, [solidcore] — I am an active person. When the studios are open, I get in there about four times a week.

IS WORKING OUT MORE MENTAL OR PHYSICAL FOR YOU?

It’s both. When it comes to running, I am able to zone out and have time to think and just be out on the road.

When it comes to [solidcore], it’s more about the challenge I make with myself. Can I stay at the bottom of this lunge the whole 10 seconds, can I stay on my toes? These little goals I set for myself throughout class allow me to get stronger, and it’s both a physical and mental rush.

LET’S BE HONEST — YOU’RE KINDA A BIG DEAL... HOW DO YOU STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF?

I have always been myself. You aren’t going to get one version of me online and another behind the scenes. I am authentic and transparent in my personal and work life.

@annemahlum | Instagram

WHAT’S A GOOD TIP FOR OUR READERS WHO ARE JUST STARTING OUT IN THE FITNESS WORLD?

Find something you love—whether it’s a class like [solidcore], HIIT, barre—find the vibe and the community you want and you will keep going back.

DO YOU COOK?

Ha. Ordering Thai food is as much as you’ll get from me.

WHAT’S SOMETHING THAT YOU ALWAYS KEEP STOCKED IN YOUR FRIDGE OR PANTRY?

Tequila, specifically Casamigos, and DIRTY LEMON waters.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE GENERAL STATE OF HEALTH & FITNESS RIGHT NOW?

I am optimistic about the industry and its future. 2019 was the strongest year the industry had ever seen, and people are more committed to their health than ever. It is going to take some time to readjust and bounce back in full force, but I have been talking to leaders from some of the top studios and gyms and we are all committed to creating space for clients to come back to.

@solidcore | Instagram

ANY BAD HABITS? ANY GOOD HABITS YOU THINK EVERYONE SHOULD PICK UP?

How does tequila fit in?

I think everyone should find one thing that makes them happy and do it daily. Whether it’s laughing or getting outside once a day for a walk, make anything that brings you joy part of your routine. Honestly, I am incredibly proud of the work I have done on myself over the past few years by learning from mistakes made and growing into a stronger, more open person. Self-work is hard and I am really happy I took the time to do it

YOU’RE FROM THE DAKOTAS BUT CALL DC HOME. WHAT’S IT ABOUT THIS CITY?

I love that it is a city of smart, driven people. The city itself has so much history and is beautiful and constantly evolving — it’s an incredible place.

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Follow along with Anne on Instagram, check out her workout playlist, and tune in to the Fitt DC ’gram for more local trainer spotlights and the latest fitness news.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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