October 2012 archive

day hike at sugarloaf mountain

I had a day off last week and took the opportunity to embrace the last bits of fall on a hike through Sugarloaf Mountain. The property is privately owned (read: no entrance fee) and located about an hour outside of the District by car. I’ve heard great things about this particular spot, and it’s been on my list of things to do for quite some time. It also happened to be one of the hikes in my handy-dandy “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Washington DC” book. Fate!

the entrance lot parking area

There are a few different parking options at Sugarloaf. You can park in the entrance lot–which looks a lot like a cul-de-sac–or continue through the front gates to one of many lots located throughout the property. I figured it was worth starting my hike from the very bottom, where the trail begins between two farm houses.

Then I turned left to follow the White Trial, which makes a 2.5 mile loop around the summit. The instructions in my guide book were spot on: “Proceed past ‘Smokey Says’ sign, toilet, and shed.” It looks like the trail is roped off, but this is the right way to go.

Most of the leaves had already fallen and covered the path in a brown, crunchy carpet. Luckily, I was able to hunt around for some traces of proper fall foliage.

The hike is broad and flat in some spots, and steep in others. It’s a good variety and keeps you on your toes.

At one point, I decided to make a break for the summit. I had been hiking for an hour and a half and was ready to take in the view and eat my packed lunch: whole grain toast with almond butter, a smear of pumpkin butter, and sliced bananas. Perfect!

There are miles and miles of trails to explore all up and down the mountain. Whether you’re looking for steep climbs, leisurely strolls, trail running or sightseeing – it’s all here. Especially if you want a workout with great scenery. And only an hour from the city? Yes please.

Note to self: leave time next time to visit the adorable vineyard located just outside of the hiking grounds.

What other DC hiking haunts would you recommend?

staying at home with sandy

Sandy came through the East Coast yesterday and kicked up quite a tantrum on her way outta town. Due to the high winds, heavy rains, danger of flying debris, and falling trees, most of DC stayed indoors yesterday. Today is not much better. I hope all of you are safe. 

Fighting cabin fever. Go away Sandy!

My thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost power, water, homes, and even lives. Mother nature certainly gave us quite a fright with ye ole Frankenstorm.

I spent yesterday hunkered down with loved ones. Thankfully I brought my TRX with me so I could get in a quick workout. Has anyone else purchased one of these handy-dandy go-anywhere contraptions?


I keep mine slung over the door in my apartment. It does wonders when I’m in a pinch and need a convenient option. I typically do a series of arms (rows, pull ups, triceps), abs (atomic push ups, plank runners), and legs (glutes, one leg pistol, lunge). There are so many possible exercise combos, it’s a shame I only stick to the most obvious ones. Any TRXers out there with ideas for new moves?

At any rate, today is cold and rainy and the roads are still a mess. My usual running routes are flooded and spots in fitness classes are going fast. For those of us who are taking the day to regroup indoors and are in desperate need of a fitness outlet…here are a few ideas: 

  • Barre: For a ballet fix, MyBarre3 offers online classes for $15 a month. You can even chose how long you want class to be (between 10 – 60 minutes). How cool is that? As an extra treat to get you en pointe at home, use the code 15mybarre3 for a 15 day free trial (thanks to Well+Good NYC for the tip!).
  • Yoga: I’m a big fan of the power yoga podcasts from Dave Farmar. They’re challenging enough to give you a workout fix, but also a great stretch to boot. Download one and try it out!  
  • Body Weight: BodyRock.tv has been kicked around as an awesome (and free) resource for high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout videos. Every workout is under 20 minutes and many can be done with little to no equipment. Don’t have a sandbag? Use a duffle full of books. Don’t have weights? Use those water bottles you stocked up on. You get the idea. I’ve been following their website for years and have been pleasantly surprised about how effective they are. That said, the website favors posting suggestive photos of the trainers and the workout titles are typically NSFW. You’ve been warned. Also check out the HIIT videos posted by the original BodyRock trainer. They work along the same principle and will make you sweat in no time.
  • Sandy Inspired: New wellness website Thriive posted The Hurricane Sandy Workout with moves including “Honey Boo Boo Wall Sits.” Looks like being indoors for 48 hours has left us all a bit punchy! I’m a contributor to Thriive and am excited about its launch last week…just in time to post Sandy inspiration! The Washingtonian also shared a great round up of at-home exercises for those of us staying in today.

Whatever you do fit crash today, be safe out there!

I gotta know: do you have any at-home workout ideas to share?

open barre @ biker barre

Crash Course: Biker Barre is a boutique studio specializing in–you guessed it–spinning and barre classes. The Open Barre class is 60-minutes of ballet-inspired exercises with a heavy focus on attacking hard-to-reach areas in the glutes, abs, arms, and thighs. Props include bender balls, free weights, and mats. Music plays a large role in the class and helps set a fun environment and upbeat tempo. The workout is hard but extremely low impact. Don’t expect to sweat up a storm. While barre is difficult, and you will certainly feel it the next day (or two), this isn’t a high-intensity cardio workout. The good news? It’s effective and a great low-sweat option for workday lunch breaks or before happy hours. Click here for a full schedule of classes.

where? 738 7th Street SE, blue and orange line/Eastern Market metro

bring? all props provided, socks with grippers optional

perks? shower with towels and products provided, lounge with free wi-fi, drycleaning pick-up/drop-off from The Press

sweat score?  3 out of 10

wear? spandex pants, comfortable top, socks optional

how much? first class free with code CLASSONUS, drop in rate is $22

instructor? Kelly H.


The Bike Barre lounge: free wi-fi, storage cubes, dry cleaning pick up, and after-class mimosas.

Biker Barre has a cult following, and after one class it’s easy to see why. The high-energy studio offers fun classes, a cozy and chic setting, and a “welcome to the family” community feel. The location can’t be beat either: just one block from the fun of Barracks Row and a short walk from the Eastern Market metro.

From their website:

Biker Barre is a first of its kind studio on the Hill. Offering intense, music-driven classes on bikes and at the barre, we’re bring our own breed of intense, effective workouts to our favorite neighborhood in DC.

Owner Jane Brodsky opened Biker Barre in May after closing Red Bow Studio and partnering with Katie Fouts, a cycling enthusiast who added the “biker” to Brodsky’s experience at the barre. The combo has been a hit and the studio has quickly become a go-to spot for ladies and gents from around the district.


Drop your gear off in cubbies stationed by the front desk or upstairs outside of the barre studio. Changing space is provided in the lobby or in one of the two bathrooms. There’s ample space in the lobby-turned-lounge to hang out before or after class, and free wifi makes it an ideal spot to send those last-minute emails.

For barre class, head upstairs to the second floor. There you’ll find a second set of storage cubes and a full bath complete with all the necessities. If you want to shower after class, leave your do-dads and bottles at home. Towels, shampoo/conditioner, hair dryers, straightening irons, bobby pins, etc. are all provided.


The most beautiful feature of the barre studio is a large window occupying the entire front wall of the room. Students have a great view of classic Capitol Hill row houses, trees, and blue sky as they tuck, lift, and plie their way through class. It’s a small and intimate studio, but the abundant natural light really does wonders to give the space an airy and open feel.


The 60-minutes started with a music-driven warm up of aerobic-based exercises, including marching in place, high steps, and push-ups. Because barre is low-impact, there was no jumping and all of the moves were gentle and effective.

One of my favorite parts of the class was the seamless transition between stages. Before you knew warmup was over, you had free weights in hand and your arms were burning from a series of curls and presses.

Another highlight was the music selection. In this particular class, the instructor kept the volume control in hand and worked the volume around her instructions. The music was the perfect mix of soft when you needed to hear her and blasting loud to distract you from your shaking legs and burning buns. After attacking the arms, we moved to the barre for the main event.

I’ve been to barre classes that seemed built for ballerinas only. The moves were so complex and the target muscles so obscure, it was disheartening. But consider this the goldilocks of classes. We did all of the signature dips, tucks, plies, and leg lifts without any extras. It burned without bumming you out. After the barre, we finished class with seated abs using the bender ball. If you’ve never used one, I can sum it up in one word: ouch.

After class, we were given refrigerated towels soaked in some sort of cucumber-eucalyptise solution. These could be used to wipe off faces, bodies, and mats. It was a cool and refreshing finish…if only it could extend to the burn in my abs and legs.

refrigerated towel after class. ahhh.


Kelly H. taught this particular class. She was awesome, and her likeness to Natalie Portman a la Black Swan is uncanny. She’s a former dancer who brings precision, poise, and a contagiously upbeat attitude. That’s saying something when you teach at 8 a.m. on a Saturday. Kelly’s music selection also gets an A in my book, with moves set to the likes of Cat Power and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They delivered a strong beat without being obnoxious. All in all, it was a great class and I’ll look forward to coming back to the barre with Kelly in the future.

With such a great experience, crashing Biker Barre spin class is high on my “to-do” list!

Have you tried Biker Barre yet?


Halloween-Themed Workouts to Scare the Sweat Outta Ya

DC’s fitness scene is pulling out all of the stops for Halloween this year. Maybe it’s the impending Frankenstorm. Or maybe it’s just the way DC lets loose before election day. Who knows. While I personally enjoy celebrating the holiday with reps on the Exorcist Stairs, some of these may sway my tradition. What do you think?


  • Revolve SpooktaculaRIDE: Turn those spinning shorts into a costume and head over to Revolve for their SpooktaculaRIDE tonight at 6 p.m. Instructors Angel and Francina will host the hour and a half sweat fest. There will be a prize for the best costume.
  • Jordin’s Paradise Halloween Party: Join the crew from Jordin’s Paradise at their Dupont Location for a Halloween Party tonight at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5 and guests will be treated to a DJ, snacks, and dessert. There will also be a pole dancing contest and a costume contest (not mutually exclusive, folks). Want to know more about JP? Read about my crash.
  • Scary Sculpt Cycle: Another costume party on wheels. The Sculpt site promises some scary, spooky tunes to get you grooving during this total body class. Be sure to read my review of the Sculpt studio before you go!

Saturday, October 27

  • DC Bike Party Halloween Ride: Meet (in costume, of course) at the Dupont Circle Fountain at 8:30 p.m. for a ride around DC, which includes a spooky pit stop at Oak Hill Cemetery. The ride ends at a secret location in Columbia Heights with live music.
  • YaLa Fitness Party: Come dance to Thriller and other MJ classics with celebrity trainer and YaLa creator Laurent Amzallag this Saturday at the Southwest Waterfront from 5 – 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door.

Tuesday, October 30

  • BicycleSPACE Night of the Bicycling Dead: The BicycleSPACE store is hosting a critical mass of cycling zombies at 7:30. The invitation asks participants to “dress to be possessed,” with prizes for those who look most affected by the plague (ick). Show up at the shop in your best brain-eating attire and get ready to roll through town.

Wednesday, October 31

  • Urban Evolution Ninja-Heroween: This Alexandria-based parkour and freerunning gym is coordinating a game of ninjas vs. superheros from 5 – 9 p.m. on Halloween. The cost is $20 and costumes encouraged.
  • Bikram Yoga Dupont Costume Contest: Come to class dressed to impressed and you’ll be in the running to win a free month of unlimited yoga.
  • The Workshop of Death: Despite the scary name, this yoga workshop from Buddha B studio will focus on contemplating life and death with guided meditation, visualization, and yoga practice set to Halloween tunes. $35 if you pre-register; class is at 6:30 p.m.


Did I miss any? Leave me a comment and I’ll add them to the list!


A Short Jaunt With A Great View

I love finding new fitness classes. I love finding new gyms. I even love hearing about new fitness classes and new gyms.

But some nights, after a long day at the office, I just want to spend a little quality time with a tried and true workout that’s guaranteed to deliver.

So last night I laced up my running shoes and headed off from Iwo Jima for a short jaunt around the monuments. This was especially exciting because the final preparations are underway for this weekend’s Marine Corps Marathon. Check it out!

Seeing these finish area signs makes me nostalgic. MCM was my first experience with 26.2 miles, and it is one I will never forget. My best wishes go out to everyone competing this weekend! Don’t let Hains Point break your spirit, remember to wave to the photographer by the Capitol Building (you’re still feeling and looking good at that point…so work it!), and give that last hill everything you’ve got.

I did a four mile loop that took me over Memorial Bridge. This is a scenic route at any time of the day, but something about seeing DC all lit up at night still gets me jazzed every time.

A bit of housekeeping: there are lots of potholes in the sidewalk on the bridge, and there are ramps in certain areas, so if you are running along here at night watch your footing. After making it past that stretch, I passed by the Lincoln Memorial. (Hey Abe!)

The path that runs alongside the reflecting pool is extremely well lit and there are many runners out at night. I’ve never felt unsafe taking this route, and the scenery can’t be beat.

The path ends near the WWII memorial, which also happened to be mile two of my run. Perfect! So I rounded the bend and headed back.

The loop is a little over four miles and mostly well lit the entire way. The only area where I struggle is the path leading to and from Iwo Jima to the entrance of Arlington National Cemetery. While there are plenty of runners, there are zero lights and it can get extremely dark. Without a headlamp or some sort of illumination, it really is the pits. Also, the lights from the traffic drown out what little ambient light there may be to help your footing. Lose lose.

That said, it was a great run and my first miles back on the road after racing in Baltimore.

I ended with a few exercises in the Iwo Jima parking lot. Starting with 10 reps, I did a pyramid set of the following: jump squats, push ups, rows, bicep dips. Phew!

What did you crash today?

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