SoulCore enriches body and soul

Soulcor and pilates are similar says instructor


Gretchen Bowers

To grow closer to God, students participate in SoulCore circled around a rosary and candles.

Jenna Williams, Co-Editor

Revelation preceded by devastation is a common theme in stories and in life. The creation of a devotional exercise class and club called SoulCore was no different.

Tragedy to hope

Colleen Scariano, SoulCore founder and Our Lady of Mount Carmel parishioner, went through four tragic losses, those of two of her brothers, her mother and her father. Scariano’s oldest brother was killed by a lightning strike when he was 15. Her mother died unexpectedly in 2010. Two months later, her father and another brother were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Tragedy came, and tragedy came often.

Both Scariano’s parents and one brother died on her property. “Colleen had a house with a detached garage, and there was an apartment above the garage, where her father, mother and brother passed away. She experienced a lot of grief, particularly with that detached garage apartment, even wanting to move,” said SoulCore moderator and school counselor Mrs. Gretchen Watko.

That space eventually became the home of a SoulCore class, after Scariano enacted a vision.

The influence of prayer

She, her husband and a group of friends prayed a month-long novena. On the final day of the prayer, a friend of Scariano’s, a priest, called her to tell her about a dream he had. He envisioned three angels and a great light above her house, a dream that he thought meant she should stay on the property.

After several similar signs, Scariano decided to stay but she wanted to fuel a positive change to the place that held so much sadness. Scariano renovated the garage apartment into a place that could host SoulCore classes.

What is SoulCore?

“SoulCore is a combination of prayers of the rosary with core functional movements of exercise. The exercise is very similar to pilates, if you want to compare it to something. However, it’s not a response to another practice; rather it’s a response to prayers of the rosary and the ‘yes’ to Mary,” said Watko.

Sophomore Mary Kate Temple, co-founder of the school’s chapter of SoulCore said, “It is a way to become closer to God by praying the rosary and exercising.”

“A typical meeting consists of talking and giving intentions in the beginning. Then we pray the rosary and do pilates,” junior co-founder Caroline Temple said.

The workout 

Each SoulCore session begins with push-ups for the Our Fathers. For the first three Hail Marys, participants are in a holding plank position.

“During each decade of the rosary, the leaders guide you through different core functional exercises while you’re praying the Hail Marys. The instructor says the first half of the prayer out loud, and then it’s silent,” Watko said.

In order to focus on both the prayers and on the exercise, the lights are turned down with candles still providing some remaining light. There is spiritual instrumental music playing, and there is a rosary present.

Encouraging unity

A period of rest and reflection is offered when each mystery is announced.

“The members are set up in a circle to form unity, and we encourage everyone to close their eyes so they can be present in the prayer and also present in the exercise, nourishing your body and nourishing your soul,” Watko said.

The combination of prayers and exercise and periods of rest and reflection result in each session lasting about an hour.

“You don’t have to be experienced in exercise, and you don’t have to know how to pray the rosary. You can be new to praying the rosary, you can be very familiar with praying the rosary or you can be returning to praying the rosary. The exercises are challenging but pretty general, basic exercises. We try to tailor it for all activity levels,” said Watko.

Her own favorite part is focusing on the virtues of each mystery.

She said, “For instance, the first joyful mystery is the Annunciation, and the fruit of this mystery is humility. During that reflection we focus on how Mary said yes, and how she responded with ‘Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word.’ Then, we offer more of a discussion and reflection on that and what makes it relatable to what’s going on in our lives.”

A way to grow closer to God

Watko said she feels that the practice of SoulCore has brought her much closer to her faith. She said, “I grew up Catholic, I grew up praying the rosary, but it became something of just going through the motions, of saying the prayers but not really meditating and offering that time of silence and reflection in my life. Since I have been able to do that, I have definitely deepened my faith.”

Caroline said, “SoulCore has really taught me about strength. I went through a hard time last year, and it has helped me in my faith in God.”

Watko concluded saying that SoulCore provides both a physical and spiritual renewal.

Classes take place in Room 2303 after school at 3:20 every Wednesday.