Archive of ‘other’ category
As some of you may remember, I visited a good friend of mine in London a few weeks ago. It was my first visit and I was so excited to jam as much sightseeing, tea drinking, pub crawling, and fit crashing as was possible into the few days we were in town.
Let’s just say I did much more of the first part of that list and much less the latter. I only snuck in two workouts over a total of six days, and this post is about one of them. I could make all sorts of excuses, but the reality of the situation was that we were so busy sightseeing and enjoying ourselves that stopping to workout each day just didn’t fit into the agenda.
But there was one excuse that kept popping up each day. It was freezing cold while we were there. Not kind of nippy or a bit breezy…full on arctic blasts from Old Man Winter himself.
So cold we were forced to shop for cute mittens, hats, and scarves. Shoot! But the real tragedy? My visions of waking up early each morning for a jaunt through Hyde Park were quickly smashed when I realized I packed only one pair of long running tights and only one lightweight pullover. I needed fleece…and lots of it. Thankfully Jenny was way more prepared and shared a pair of gloves and a pullover.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t figure out a logical way to run with this sweater, so we had to leave it behind. So, after much contemplation, logistical planning about how much cold we could technically stand without being miserable, and map studying so we wouldn’t get lost…Jenny and I headed out one morning for the one and only dedicated run we did on our trip. We stayed in the local neighborhood of Queen’s Park and settled on a three mile loop. We didn’t have international 3G on our phones, so we had to do it the old fashioned way and hope we didn’t lose our way. #firstworldproblems
The farthest part of our loop was Queen’s Park itself, a beautiful public park complete with a playground, running trail, “quiet” garden (no dogs allowed), pitching mound, and goats.
You read that right: goats. I wish I could tell you why, but it seems Queen’s Park decided to build a little petting zoo area with a bunch of kid goats. They were free to roam in their pen and gathered at the gate to check out the crazy runners. I can’t figure out who was more surprised by who. Let’s just say the feeling was mutual.
The run was a much needed sweat after a few days of eating and sightseeing. Despite the freezing temperatures, we were glad we mustered up the nerve to head out and felt much better when we returned to the warm apartment. And we didn’t get lost! Running is such an awesome way to get your bearings when traveling, and looking back, I wish I had wherewithal to do a bit more while in London. But next time, I’ll be sure to pack my warmest running duds to stave off the London gloom!
What are some of your favorite international runs?
Crash Course: The Body You Want is a split level gym tucked away on one of the southern side streets of Georgetown. They don’t offer drop in classes, but did invite me to crash one of their signature metabolic conditioning classes, which are part of any gym membership package. The class was an extremely well put-together high intensity interval training session with eagle-eye instruction and gobs of fun equipment. I was impressed with their quality, enthusiastic about their technique, and am scheming about how I can come back for more.
where: 1070 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW
perks: results-driven fitness, great equipment
sweat score: 8 out of 10
wear: comfortable gym clothes
instructor: Michelle Gorman
cost: membership plans vary
I would have never found The Body You Want if Josef, its owner, hadn’t reached out to me. I have never seen it advertised, don’t recall ever passing by its storefront, and nobody I know has ever been there. After visiting for one of their groups fitness classes, I think it’s safe to say that this spot may just be one of DC’s best kept secrets. While I am dying to tell you about the class itself, let’s cover the basic tour first. The first floor is home to the front desk and a training area with various light equipment, mirrors, and mats. The group class is held downstairs on the lower level.
The men’s and women’s locker rooms are located on the lower level. The women’s area was bright, clean, with plenty of room to move around and get changed. I loved the wallpaper and the scented oil sticks hanging out on the vanity. There were also two hair dryers – big plus! I hate lugging those things around with me.
The locker room also had three or four showers, plenty of fresh clean towels, small lockers, and two sinks. Because the gym is relatively modest in size, I can’t imagine it gets too crowded.
Now on to the best part: the workout! Everyone gathered on the astroturf to foam roll for a solid ten minutes before class. The gym had many different sizes and shapes of these torture tubes, and even had a bucket of lacrosse balls for those knots you just can’t quite shake. I love foam rolling and think it’s a critical part of taking care of your muscles, but it is also the ultimate definition of “hurts so good.”
At this point in the class, Josef and Michelle walked me through a series of diagnostic tests to make sure my body was ready for the workout. They noticed an interesting disconnect between my core muscles and my hamstrings, and after a few specific exercises to fix the issue, had everything working in harmony. I was so impressed with the level of detail, knowledge, and care with which they approached my individual workout experience. Definitely made me feel like I was in great hands.
After the foam rolling, we moved into a series of moves called the “ramp up.” These were basically exercises and stretches to get the body warmed up and ready to take on the challenging circuit workout ahead. Josef noted that this is an integral part of the workout, particularly for those of us who have been sitting at a computer all day (guilty). I definitely felt better performing explosive movements knowing that my body was ready for them. It’s never fun to swing kettle bells or slam medicine balls cold turkey.
Michelle is one of the trainers at The Body You Want and led tonight’s workout. It consisted of five stations: heavy ropes, switch lunges, weighted squats/kettlebells, medicine ball throws, and explosive side lunges. Each station required 20 seconds of effort, and we had 30 seconds of rest in between. I believe there were a total of 14 rounds, but to be honest, I was so into the workout I lost count.
The group was a really fun and supportive. Joking and laughing were normal, which is so much more inviting than going to a gym where everyone is super focused and serious. Michelle played great music, there was a constant blast of motivational yelling from her and Josef, and everyone was extremely friendly. Well, when they weren’t slamming medicine balls into the ground or strangling the heavy ropes to death. Speaking of those ropes: this was my first time giving them a try and man oh man, were they challenging. Just a few seconds with those things and my heart rate was through the roof! Not to mention my arms felt like jello. Phew!
The three rules of the workout were (1) no puking (2) no passing out and (3) no pain. Sounds like a winning combination to me. While the workout was really tough, if at any time anyone felt like they needed a break, they took it. The atmosphere was extremely supportive and not at all judgmental. At least that’s the impression I got as a newcomer who had no idea what I was getting into.
The gym space itself is very unique in that it doesn’t look like any other gym I have ever been to. There are only a few essential weight machines, one stationary bike, a treadmill, and lots (and lots!) of fun “extras.” In my mind, the extras are the best part, but I’m a bit of a workout weirdo. They had multiple TRX hanging from the ceiling, a weighted sled, bungees galore, rope ladders, hurdles, and lots of medicine balls. I was like a kid in a candy store – it was all I could do not to want to play with everything all at once. If you are looking for a personalized attention in a gym without the “big box” feeling, I would definitely stop by to check them out. Also, their website looks a bit gimmicky – almost in a workout DVD series kind of way – but don’t let that deter you. I found them to be very professional and I never once felt pressured to join (like I have after visiting other, larger gyms).
Do you know of any other “best kept secret” gyms in DC?
On my last full day of vacation, there were three things I wanted to do: soak up the sun, eat the rest of the delicious farmers market splurges sitting in the fridge, and crash a class at the local gym. As you can see from exhibit A above, I started the day by crossing one of those items off of the list. Breakfast was a delicious combination of Ezekial bread, schmeared avocado, fried egg, and red bell pepper topped with a splash of olive oil. Simple, easy, quick, and packed with nutrition.
As I mentioned earlier, the Original Crasher received a Fitbit for Christmas and is absolutely loving it. She has been racking up some crazy mileage (there was one day with 11 miles before noon…the woman is a machine) and I was happy to help join in the effort while we were together in Florida. In fact, I can honestly say one of the best parts of the trip were our daily long walks along the beach. On Monday, we totaled close to five miles. Here’s a view of the Fitbit at one of our pit stops in the shade.
It was hard to believe that just a few days earlier, I struggled to mange six miles running on pavement. Funny how the body changes from day to day. At any rate, we worked up quite an appetite with all of that walking and promptly dug into home-made lunches upon our return to our beach chairs. Phew!
I went with the tried-and-true crunchy PB with sliced bananas and added some of the raw honey we purchased at the market. It was the perfect post-workout beach treat, especially when paired with a “few” Cape Cod potato chips. Something about that combination always screams beach to me. Maybe I should pack it more often when I return to the office to remind me of sunshine and blue skies.
That evening, the Original Crasher and I went to a local wellness center to crash their “Cross Training at Kinesis” class. The real name should have been “36-minutes of Killer Circuit Training and Some Sweet Moves on the Kinesis Machine.” I guess that would be too long to put on a schedule…but it about sums it up.
I had never heard of Kinesis equipment before walking into the room (have you?). After doing a bit of research, I discovered that these machines use a system of closed-loop weighted cables to allow for 3D movement and an incredible number of routine variations. This video from Technogym gives a better idea of just how versatile the machine can be. I was really impressed with how functional – and fun – the different stations were. Wish I knew of a place in DC that carried them because I have to admit, I’m salivating to use them again ASAP!
The class itself had 12 different stations and lasted exactly 36 minutes. Each station consisted of four rounds of 40 second intervals, after which we had 20 seconds of time to transition to the next station. Aside from the four Kinesis stations, we also worked with a spin bike, boxing heavy bag, rubber bands, medicine balls, kettle bells, barbells, jump ropes, and steps. I started at station one on the heavy bag, which included alternating 40 second intervals of punching and kicking. I then moved on to plyometric moves on the steps, transitioned to resistance-heavy hills and sprints on the stationary bike, and attempted my best combinations of pushes, pulls, lunges, and squats on the Kinesis machines.
I didn’t have enough time before class to watch demo videos of each move on the display concourse, so I was mostly relying on watching the guy in front of me. This wasn’t the best strategy, but it didn’t deter from getting a killer workout from the Kinesis stations. They were really my favorite part.
I’m not sure I could say the same for Mom, but she handled the entire class like a champ and was whipping through the stations with commendable skill. I don’t call her The Original Crasher for nothing, folks! By the end of the 36 minutes, we were both drenched in sweat and trying desperately to catch our breath. We turned to each other, smiled, and said, “Wow, let’s do that again!”
I wish I could find a class like this in DC. I love the circuit set up and the use of incredibly varied equipment to deliver a knock-your-socks-off full body workout. Not to mention it was extremely fast and extremely effective. The only similar thing I have crashed so far would be bootcamp at Jaime Andrews Fitness or Seal Team PT. Suggestions welcome!
Crash Course: Studio f3 offers kettlebell classes from a small space tucked away in the basement of a Dupont Circle apartment building. This is a no frills spot with one mission: to deliver effective workouts in a fun, supportive environment. How effective? According to the American Council on Exercise, you’ll burn nearly twice the number of calories as during a normal weight lifting session. For those who have never done kettlebells, allow me to channel my inner DC wonk and put it this way. It is the Leviathan of workouts: nasty, brutish, and short. I was sweating within seconds, spent within minutes, and the entire thing was over before I could figure out why in the world I was swinging a cannonball between my legs. For more information about class times, check out the Studio f3 website.
where: 1727 Massachusetts Ave NW, Suite C-10
bring: gloves or tape for hands, water bottle
perks: small group
sweat score: 8 out of 10
wear: anything comfortable
cost: drop in rate is $18*
I have swung a kettlebell before. I can’t exactly peg where or when, but I have vague memories of working with these somewhere at some point during my life. That said, I had never taken a formal class, so an offer to test out Studo f3 was enough to get this crasher to leave work early, drive through downtown rush hour traffic, and park in a questionably legal spot behind a backhoe (true story).
This is the building to look for if you’re headed to class. It’s on an extremely busy portion of Massachusetts Avenue, just south of Dupont Circle. I recommend metroing, walking, or bike-sharing if possible. If not, street parking opens up at 6:30 p.m., just in time to make you (and me) a few minutes late for class. Don’t worry, you won’t get the door shut in your face – things are very casual and f3 is apparently used to folks trickling in a few minutes late.
To access the building, look for the card of instructions on the intercom machine. You’ll need to walk through the lobby to a set of art-deco elevators on the right. Press “B” for basement – the studio will be just to the right when you hit the ground floor.
When I said the spot was no frills, I meant it. You’re not here to primp or be seen – you’re here to work out. The lobby is extremely sparse and there is no changing room. If you need to change when you get there, head to the studio’s one bathroom all the way in the back. It’s tight in there, even by fit crasher standards, but it’s doable.
The workout space is very small, with an area to hold the kettle bells, a few white boards, and your standard Ikea expedite bookcase for storing bags and belongings. The class size is small, too. At the session I went to, we had a total of seven students. There’s no possible way you will get lost in the shuffle and the class is a very personalized experience from start to finish.
I attended a level 1.5 session, which means everyone in the room had a baseline understanding of kettlebell movements like the swing, press, and snatch. Glenn took the time to go through the workout at the beginning of class, demonstrating each move and answering questions. He carefully watched each of us throughout the entire workout, giving corrective advice to make sure we didn’t hurt ourselves. I appreciated that – considering how potentially dangerous pretending to be a human wrecking ball could be.
The “warm-up” left me out of breath, sweating, doubled over, and with a heart rate going through the roof. It didn’t seem like much, and to be honest, it probably didn’t look like much. But something about putting a weight on a handle makes is crazy hard to work with. The entire kettlebell section of the workout was maybe a total of 20 minutes. It really was over before I knew it, but I was okay with that. When we finished, I could hardly bring myself to lift the thing over to the storage rack – we’ll just say it was enough time to develop an intense love-hate relationship. We ended with stretching and a few yoga moves.
Who attends kettlebell class? To be honest, a huge variety of folks. Considering the workout consists of swinging, grunting, and heaving boulders with handles, I expected this class to attract a certain…how shall I say…type of male clientele. But boy, was I wrong. The background of the students was really all over the board, and that’s what made it so great. These classes are accessible, fun, and an all-around butt kicking for anyone at any level.
A piece of advice: you’ll want to bring lifting gloves or athletic tape. My hands were burning with callouses after the first few swings. OUCH.
Things I liked:
- small group feel with personalized attention
- quick, effective, full-body workout that scorches calories
- more fun than standard weight lifting
Things I didn’t like:
- i developed a bit of kettlebell add. despite the various moves you can do, I found it to be a bit monotonous; kettlebells would be great if thrown in with other exercises
- the studio had no windows, the room got hot (and extra sweaty), and there was no dedicated changing room
Would you rather lift weights or swing kettlebells?
* Studio f3 generously waived my drop-in fee. This post is not an endorsement and all opinions are my own.