Archive of ‘run’ category
There’s a lot of working out that goes on behind the scenes here at DC Fit Crasher. My week typically includes one day of fit crashing at a new studio and six other days of sweating all over the place. Literally. So I thought it’d be fun to share some of the workouts I do outside of my official studio reviewing duties. Here are eight from the past two weeks. I’d love to hear what you got into too, so be sure to leave me a comment and share your crashes!
WEDNESDAY: SolidCore megaformer
pain cave studio opened a new location last weekend in Shaw, right next to the metro stop. After wobbling and sweating and wincing through their popular classes in Adams Morgan, I knew I had to christen the new space with a proper fit crash. I took Ashley’s evening class and, as usual, left with wiped-out muscles and a sweaty smile. That megaformer elicits such a love-hate-love-reallyhate relationship, but I keep coming back because the no-impact workout is so good for my runner’s knees. The new studio is bigger than the original, with lofty industrial ceilings and extremely flattering lighting (wink). If you’re going to get housed by the megaformer, you may as well look good doing it. Am I right?
THURSDAY: The last few weeks have been nuts. Way too much going on in way too short a period of time. You know what that’s like, I think we’ve all been there. There came a point when I honestly just needed help to reset, refocus, and get my head in order. While I can typically do that on a run, I craved something gentler. So I signed up for a sunrise class at Yoga District’s studio in Glover Park. It was my first visit to the studio, but it won’t be my last. The space is sparse, clean, and no frills, but the class was exactly what I needed. Warm, welcoming, calm, no expectations or stress to be a super yogi, and it sent me out the door with a clear head and ready to get back to business.
CUCB Training Run
SATURDAY: I’m training for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler road race here in DC on April 6, so I’ve been incorporating more running into my weekly workout schedule. This includes longish runs on the weekend to help get my legs ready for those double digit miles in April. The weather was freakishly nice last weekend for my seven mile loop; shorts, t-shirt, and sunglasses nice. It definitely made those miles fly by and I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a run that much in quite some time. Hear that spring? You’re good for my training, so arriving any time now would be great!
SATURDAY: I had the fun opportunity to demo a new fitness invention last weekend. The company is called True Form and they created a wearable resistance band training unit. You wear special shoes and a velcro belt and then hook resistance bands to the front and the back. The system doesn’t get tangled (I did burpees, jumps, grapevines, and bicycle crunches) and adds just enough resistance to your normal routine to really kick your training up a notch. I demoed it for just a few minutes and was really tuckered out when I left. I don’t know that I’m ready to wear this to all of my fit crashes, but it definitely was neat to try!
SUNDAY: After a not-so-hot first encounter with Barre3 in Georgetown, instructor Alicia Sokol invited me back to crash one of her classes. “Let me make this one up to you, girl,” she wrote, “I will have you quaking and shaking.” Game on! Within ten minutes, I was sweating and struggling through series of push up variations and lunges. You win, Alicia! Your class was challenging, fun, and I left feeling like I had gotten the workout I came for. I also learned (lightbulb moment) that Barre3 isn’t purely a traditional barre studio – the class is a combination of yoga, pilates, AND barre. So if you go and wonder why you aren’t tucking and barre-ing the entire time, that’s why. Consider me schooled!
THURSDAY: CenterPointe functional training studio in Adams Morgan was my official “fit crash” for this week, so all you’ll get is this teaser photo. Check back later this week for the full write up!
FRIDAY: 6:30 p.m. Most of DC is either still at work or celebrating the start of the weekend at various happy hours across the city. Me? This is my happy hour. A $7 workout in a small boutique pilates studio, classic rock blaring, just a handful of other students, and my muscles having a blast networking with each other. Fuse Pilates in Dupont Circle offers this apprentice (teacher-in-training) class every Friday, so if this sounds like your cup of tea, mosey on by and check it out sometime.
SATURDAY: My teal bike has not seen the pavement in years. I bought it in college as I was first getting into triathlons, but it quickly got pushed aside by a sassy yellow racing bike I have since sold. Thanks to some new-found motivation to get back on the bike, I dusted her off, brought her to The Bike Rack for a tune up, and now she’s ready for miles of adventure. I’ve been having a lot of fun re-learning the delicate ins and outs of cycling, like how to properly snot rocket in motion and how horribly uncomfortable bike seats are despite the horribly-unflattering padded shorts. You know, the important stuff! I’m looking forward to warmer weather soon so I can take my old teal friend out for some longer rides. Allez!
Your turn: where was your favorite fit crash last week?
I am so excited to finally be able to share the details about my new running shoes.
A few weeks ago, the folks at New Balance surprised me with a pair of their latest and greatest: the Fresh Foam 980. The timing couldn’t have been better. I was just starting to train for April’s Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and my mileage was going up for the first time since the Rock ‘N Roll half marathon last year. With an on-again-off-again bum left knee, any long distance training makes me nervous about aggravating the injury, so I’m always looking for the right pair of shoes to help lessen the impact on my joints.
So I tied those puppies on and took them for a short test run. Sure, they’re pretty and have snazzy colors, but if they don’t perform on the pavement – end of story.
First impression: they felt like slippers on my feet. I hadn’t even left the apartment yet and was already oohing and ahhhing over how soft they felt. I took my sweet time getting out the door just to savor the squish. Heck, if they were terrible running shoes, I’d at least keep them around as a pretty solid pair of house shoes.
But it gets better, because my run was pretty fantastic. The shoes were as light as clouds and felt like cotton balls under my feet. Cotton. Freaking. Balls. I’m not sure it gets any better by running shoe standards, people. Then again, I don’t work in a running store. I’m not a professional running shoe tester. I don’t know the ins and outs of what makes a pair of sneaks great. Heck, I had a hard time understanding the Fresh Foam press release New Balance sent because I honestly have zero clue what a “4 mm natural drop last” is. Not a clue.
But I have covered my fair share of miles in the past decade or so of being a runner. I’ve loved shoes and hated shoes. I’ve gotten superstitious and clung to the same make and model for years at a time. I’ve purchased shoes based on color, brand, what the girl who beat me was wearing, and price. Who am I kidding, mostly price.
These pups run $110, which is on par with what I typically spend on a new pair at the running store. Mine were generously gifted by New Balance, but this review is based entirely on my honest to goodness experience with them. I will buy them again when these begin to get raggedy.
Because nothing is perfect, I also want to share with you the few little things I didn’t love about the new Fresh Foams:
- The shoe laces are really slick and I’ve had issues with them staying tied during runs. I double knot, but perhaps there’s another secret method I need to learn.
- Like any shoe, I had to fiddle around with the lacing a bit when I first tested them out. This isn’t really a nit pick, just know that you may need to experiment with them to find a fit that works best for you. I needed to adjust for more room in the bridge area and more support up toward the ankle.
- The shoes are very well ventilated. This will be great in the summer, but isn’t my favorite thing in the winter when it’s negative six and snowing. Fix: wear wool socks.
And that’s my review! I’m enjoying them so much I’ve taken to using them as trainers at the gym. I know, I know, total fitness faux pas and I need to go out and buy a new pair of proper trainers. But in the meantime, I truly can’t resist the siren call of these floaty, foamy, fantastically soft running shoes. So I’m breaking the rules. #sorrynotsorry
If you try a pair, let me know what you think! I’m all ears and would love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks again to New Balance for setting me up with Fresh Foams to try. I was not otherwise compensated for this review – they were just that awesome and I wanted to let you all know about the latest loves of my running life.
What factors do you consider when purchasing new running shoes?
San Francisco. Where do I even begin. After spending a week bundled up in cold, rainy, grey Portland and Seattle, the blue skies and sunshine of California were just what the doctor ordered. The city was experiencing a freak heat-wave and temperatures climbed into the 70s every day, making it perfect weather for outside workouts and adventures. Oh January, I could get used to this.
I arrived on Wednesday evening, a full day and a half before meeting up with friends flying in from the east coast for a bachelorette “girls weekend.” The bride-to-be is a dear friend from college, former roommate, teammate, and marathon training buddy. Needless to say, I was over the moon to be there to help celebrate the occasion and send her down the aisle in style.
In my alone time before the gang arrived, I met up with the friendly team at Sweat Guru to chat boutique fitness, sweat, and not-to-miss crashes in San Francisco. So much fun! They shared an extensive list of classes and events to check out during my visit, and even set me up with a gratis crash at “the most unique workout in the city.” Most unique? Music to my ears. There’s nothing I love more than trying out a new class, especially when it’s a little to the right on the zany scale.
Honestly, nothing could have prepared me for what I encountered when I walked in the doors at Informed Body studio. I knew the device used during class was custom-built by the owner. I knew it involved resistance and suspension. And I knew it was one-of-a-kind. But I had no idea just how bizarre the thing would look to me that morning, pre-coffee, jet lagged, dangling in front of me like a taunt. “Go ahead, try me.” I was the fit crasher. On a mission to try everything and report my findings. But…look at that thing!
After introducing myself to the instructor and nervously laughing about my total lack of coordination, I strapped in and anxiously awaited my fate. The unit has space for about four students, and each of us worked two spring-straps around our thighs and two into our hands. It was awkward and unflattering. But I immediately felt a buoyancy similar to being underwater. Okay, I thought, this could be two things. Really fun. Or a total disaster.
The class was similar to a ballet or pilates class, but different for obvious reasons. I mean, you’re strapped into springs hanging from the ceiling, for goodness sake. But the moves mimic sequences done in both ballet and pilates, with a heavy emphasis on dance. Not barre method, but classical ballet. There were terms I hadn’t heard since I was leaping around in pink tights and a tutu. Tandu? Releve? What?
Luckily owner, creator, and dancer extraordinaire Jill Harris was leading the class and giving easy to follow cues. Follow, I said, not mimic. Because holy smokes could that lady bend and leap in ways I could only dream of. The grace! The form! I wish I had a video of my attempts, because it must have been laugh-track worthy. Choreography is not my bag. Choreography while suspended on resistance springs is, well, also not my bag. Those straps demand that you focus on balance, core strength, and stability at all times. Even when trying to lift your leg high in the air and then lower into a plié. I giggled out loud on multiple occasions as the springs snapped my body back to center after falling out of line. It was such a strange and funny sensation.
Bottom line: the workout was really fantastic and my body felt elongated and different when I finished. Similar to how I feel leaving a really intense pilates reformer or gyrotonic class. For those of you who know me, this is huge. I mean, I’m a smudge over five feet tall, so I’ll do just about anything to feel “elongated.” It’s a lie, I realize, just like it’s a lie when barre instructors tell me ten more leg raises will give me those lean, long legs I’ve always wanted. Nice try, sister. These strong yet sturdy legs aren’t going to look like Natalie Portman’s no matter how reps I do. It’s called reality. *sigh* Anyway.
If you’re in the area and looking for a fun, wacky, unique workout that takes your childhood ballet classes to the next level, I highly recommend visiting Informed Body studio. Jill is an absolute sweetheart and couldn’t be more welcoming. Her creative approach to intuitive movement is really worth checking out, especially because we don’t have anything like it here in DC. And don’t worry if you’re not a prima ballerina, even newbies like me were able to follow along just fine. The classes aren’t cheap — new students pay $75 for three sessions — so I am especially grateful to GoRecess for setting me up with this fun crash!
All of the ladies involved in the weekend getaway are super active and athletic, so once everyone arrived, we made a special point to crash a studio together. One of our friends currently lives in San Francisco and recommend coming with her to her newest sweaty obsession, Burn, a studio that combines cardio, weights, and pilates springboard. As the website says:
Our unique Method draws upon the very best aspects of Pilates, Cardio and Strength Training to create a body sculpting, heart-pumping 55-minute workout.
It was everything I though it might be, and a little more. The cardio segments weren’t wimpy. Goodbye boring running in place. Hello burpees, jump lunges, vertical mountain climbers, and surfer jumps. For those who needed low impact options, the instructor made sure they were plentiful and given right along with the other cues. They weren’t treated as an “exception” or a “less-intense option,” just a different way to do the moves. As someone with a cranky left knee that sometimes needs no-impact movement, this was greatly appreciated. The cardio segments start and end the class, with a few sprinkled throughout to jack up your heart rate at different intervals. I was breathing heard from the get-go till the very end.
The hand weight exercises are similar to what you would do in a barre class, but kicked up a notch. I was sweating buckets by the time we moved to the spring board, where we did a series of arm and back exercises before moving to the floor to work on our legs. The burn. The deep, terrible, wonderful burn. Especially in my hamstrings and inner thighs. I knew within 5 minutes of the class I’d be sore in weird places the next day. It just felt like one of those workouts that targeted smaller muscles I have a tendency not to focus on as much. Which is exactly the kind of class I need to be doing.
In just under an hour, every part of my body felt like it was shaking (in a good way) and my lungs and heart felt like they were just put through a treadmill interval circuit. What a fun workout! I just wish they had a location on the east coast (ahem, in DC) so I can go back and try it again.
Other than those two fit crashes, we also snuck in a fair amount of outdoor activity over the weekend. I mean, how could we not when the weather was so perfect! We all went for a day hike at the Point Reyes National Seashore, which was by far the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen.
I completed two short (hilly) runs from our rental house to a small beach overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Nothing like this view to get you going in the morning!
On one of my runs, I also passed by an outdoor gym that looked like so much fun to use. Currently trying to figure out how we can get one of these in the DC area, I think it’d be a hit!
And finally, I ended both of my runs with a chicory iced coffee from the local brew shop and new-to-me Picky Bars. How am I just hearing about these things?! They’re fantastic and made of ingredients I can pronounce, recognize, and love. I may need to purchase a case because I’ve already made it through my little sample collection.
Okay, San Francisco, I’ve decided that we should be friends. I’d like to come back soon!
Crash Course: The November Project is a grassroots, guerrilla fitness movement started in 2011 by two Boston guys who needed a little extra motivation to stick with their workouts during the cold winter months. So they made a pact to hold each other accountable for showing up to workout together, no matter the weather, no matter the reason. Soon, social media and word of mouth brought a few friends into their crazy all-weather workout “tribe.” Friends told friends, a few became a few hundred, and now the November Project is popping up in cities across the country. The idea? Show up at 6:30 a.m. to workout with members of your community. For free. The goal? According to the website: “driving people out of bed to get fit and build a better world to live in. ” Sound awesome? It is. Lucky for you, the November Project launched in DC. #justshowup
where: Lincoln Memorial
bring: water bottle, towel
perks: incredible views, free hugs, no cost
sweat score: 8 out of 10
wear: weather appropriate gear
instructor: Steve and Danny
I’ve been trying my darndest lately to make it a habit of working out in the morning. Why? Because honestly, that’s the only guaranteed, unscheduled “me” time I have in my day. Do I always enjoy the sound of my alarm ringing at 6 a.m.? Heck no. But I’m learning…ever so slowly…to appreciate the freedom it gives me to workout how I want, as frequently as I want, without interruption.
This past Wednesday, I set my alarm for earlier than usual (5:40 a.m.) to wake up for my first crash with the November Project. A former Georgetown Triathlon teammate emailed me information about it a few weeks earlier, just as the group was starting out, and I was intrigued. “I’m curious to know what you think about the idea,” she wrote. “I know you’re always trying out new things, so I thought this would be something you could be interested in.” A morning workout. For free. With other crazies who love to sweat. At one of the most iconic places in the city? Be still my heart. You know me all too well.
So I got to my car by 6 a.m., picked up a fellow first-timer along the way (hey Michelle!), and made it down to the Lincoln my 6:15. For anyone coming by car, I found ample parking along Ohio drive and recommend checking there first. We grabbed our water bottles, hats, and gloves and quickly walked through the 30-some-odd degree cold to the even colder granite memorial steps, bumping into a few other first-timers along the way. “You going to this November Project thing?” “Yeah.” Blowing into frozen hands. “First time?” “First time. No idea what to expect, but I heard it’s pretty cool.”
There was already a small crowd gathered at the base of the monument, so we knew exactly where to go. At exactly 6:30 a.m., just as the dawn’s early light started peeking over the horizon, tribe leaders Steve and Danny called us all in for a quick huddle. Newbies were made to identify themselves, and were then welcomed with hugs. Yes, hugs. If you are uncomfortable with hugging strangers first thing in the morning, this really isn’t the gang for you. But the whole idea of the November Project – aside from the fitness thing – is to build a community bonded through basic human interaction. And in a world of social media ADD and smart phone addiction, eye contact, a hug, and a genuine “nice to meet you” go a long way.
Steve and Danny then led the group through a November Project tradition: a call-and-response of “Are we good?” and “F*ck Yeah!” There’s something amazingly ironic about screaming profanities into the pre-dawn DC quiet, under the serene gaze of a larger-than-life former president. But hey, don’t mess with tradition.
After a few enthusiastic rounds, Steve and Danny gave a quick explanation of the morning’s workout: the fireman five. We needed to form groups of four, learn each others names, and throughout the workout periodically find each other to complete 5 pushups and 5 burpees. All the while running continuously up and down, up and down, up and freaking down the Lincoln Memorial steps.
It sounds a little tedious, all that stair running. But you know what? Between the epically beautiful sunrise over the reflecting pool, the continuous high-fives and verbal encouragement from the November Project team, and the occasional “you got this” from a complete stranger…it was wildly worth it. I couldn’t help but stop a few times to take it all in. The view, number one, but also something better: regular folks, coming together in the cold and dark just to support each other in united sweatiness. If you’ve ever been on a sports team, you know exactly what this feels like.
Do you have to be an experienced runner to do the November Project workout? No way, but if you are, I bet it wouldn’t hurt. Honestly, if you have a desire to workout, you’re ahead of the game. You are welcome to do as many or as few rounds as you want, as fast or as slow as you want. Hop up the stairs, dance up the stairs, climb up the stairs…get up the stairs. Bring friends, bring your dog, bring fancy new workout duds or old sweats. Leave your money at home, because you’ll never be asked to pay to join the workout. Just show up and the rest is all good.
We continued our running + burpees + pushups cycle for about 40 minutes. By the end, my legs were absolutely toast. I run a couple times a week and fit in a few days of leg strength training, but never ever do I willingly do stairs for that long as part of my workouts. So by default, Wednesday morning was a great shake-up to my normal routine. As one November Project DCer said on the group’s blog: “we’re building community and giving DC great asses.” Win-win.
Our final challenge of the morning involved squats. But not just any squats. Special togetherness November Project style squats. As you can see in the photo, we formed a tight circle and sat down on the person behind us for about three minutes. And then proceeded to do the wave. Here’s the video proof.
After the workout, we took a group photo, got Project updates from Steve and Danny (who are hosting a turkey trot next week), gave a few more hugs to new friends, and headed on our merry way. All by 7:30 a.m.
Let me recap the morning for you: free workout, lots of sweat, sunrise over DC, iconic Lincoln location, hugs, the wave, new friends, high fives, endorphin highs, and a handfull of “f*ck yeahs.”
Thank you, oh thank you, November Project for coming to the District. I haven’t felt that jazzed about a workout experience in a very long time. And I’m absolutely sure I’m not the only one. I can’t wait to follow the tribe as it grows and reaches more people in DC, especially folks who wouldn’t usually get out of bed that early to workout. What an awesome way to build community, inspire and motivate people to commit to their health, and create a freakin’ good time.
Have you crashed with the November Project? Leave a comment and let me know!
Crash Course: Roam Fitness is a boutique gym located in the Glover Park neighborhood that offers personal training, a carefully curated selection of functional training equipment, and a few non-traditional group fitness classes. One of them is a genius combination of outdoor bootcamp circuits and running, as if one weren’t hard enough without the other. This class would not be great for the first-time runner, but seems best fit for those who are comfortable running more than three miles on trail and pavement. If you’re tired of your normal running routine, this is a surefire way to shake things up. Click here for a schedule.
where: 2505 Wisconsin Ave., NW/basement of the Savoy Hotel
perks: free parking, access to shower, small class, outside
sweat score: 8 out of 10
wear: recommend trail shoes, clothes you don’t mind getting dirty
instructor: Chris Geier
cost: drop in rate is $25 or pay $22 for a month of unlimited Out Run classes
I walked into the small but well-appointed Roam Fitness at approximately 6:20 a.m. It was early enough that I wasn’t questioning why our instructor was stuffing his backpack full of bands, ropes, and other torture devices. I just yawned, submitted to my fate, and began a routine that looked like stretching, hoping to blend in and be left alone. Hey, it was early.
Looking around, I noticed that the gym itself is very…cozy. It wouldn’t hold a lot of people, but maybe that’s the idea.
As the clock rolled around to 6:30, it was time for us to get out of the door and on to our workout. We all had offices to be in by 9 and knew it was now or never to get in a morning sweat. Luckily, it was a rare DC morning with low(er) humidity and brilliant sunshine. There were only three of us in the class, all ladies and each of a different experience level.
We followed Chris, our instructor, as he bounded from the Savoy Hotel across Wisconsin Avenue and into the the heart of Glover Park. As the pace picked up, I suddenly found myself wide awake, looking around, and wondering…where exactly was this Out Run excursion taking us?
I have been a DC runner for nine years and pride myself on knowing some of the area’s most obscure and tucked-away running routes. It’s really more an outcome of marathon-training desperation than exploration. But this morning was exactly what I needed to remember why running in DC is so awesome: no matter how well you think you know your routes, there’s still more out there to discover.
For example, I had never…ever…run through the tidy row houses of Glover Park to join the Glover-Archibald trail at the edges of the neighborhood. The trail entrance is completely tucked away and easily missed, so I was surprised when our little gang of four suddenly veered off the pavement and into the nearest hedge. Before I knew it, we were under a canopy of huge green trees and treading on dirt.
Every half-mile or so, we stopped to do a different set of exercises. This is where the real fun begins. Who needs a tidy gym when you can do tricep dips on a log? Or planks in a dew-soaked field?
Cross-over mountain climbers in the dirt, anyone? If this was a video, you’d also hear the croak of frogs hanging out in the creek behind us. I mean, really, let’s break it down for a hot second. You could do your morning workout in a gym with towel service, air conditioning, rows of treadmills, florescent lighting, and muzak. Or you could get out into nature and play around like it’s recess…all before rush hour. At least in my book, the winning option is obvious.
We continued on for a total of about four miles. Up hills, down hills, and every few minutes stopping for another round of surprises. There were a few moments of morning clarity when I realized what was going on and thought…wow, this is so much better than when I run by myself before work.
The second half of the run is when we started incorporating some of the gear in Chris’ backpack. He would find an open space, signal for us to stop, zip open the pack, and before we could blink we were doing another set of this or that. These partner resistance bands were awesome. We did some standing twists and arm strengtheners.
Our final destination on this morning’s Out Run was Holy Rood Cemetery, which I have passed a zillion times but have never been in. It’s perched above Wisconsin Avenue and Chris was adamant about showing us the view from the top. After three sweaty miles, we were all tired, and I had my doubts the promised vistas would be worth the effort. We entered the property at the bottom of the hill and, true to form, Chris reached into his backpack to pull out a different set of resistance bands. But in that brief moment of transition, we all noticed a tiny baby deer sleeping soundly in front of us, nestled into the grass next to a tomb. So very awesome.
After taking a few moments to admire our very own little Bambi, we were off again, chugging up the Holy Rood hill with partner resistance bands. One runner would hold the band, while the other would take ten strides forward, ten shuffles to the side, ten backward, and ten to the other side. This was an awesome way to work in lateral movement, not to mention a killer interval workout.
We finally made it to the top to admire the promised-view. Chris was right, it definitely didn’t disappoint. As we huffed, puffed, and wiped the sweat out of our eyes, we took in the panorama of the Kennedy Center, the Washington Monument, and Georgetown. What a way to end the workout!
Bottom line: this is way more fun than waking up to slog through your normal morning loop solo. The instructor is energetic, the group is friendly and engaged, and the routes are entertaining. Yes the morning class is early, but it’s worth it. They also have an evening option for those who can’t make it at 6:30 a.m. Out Run is an awesome few miles coupled with important cross training exercises that will make you a better runner and a better athlete. I will definitely be back soon – thanks Roam Fitness!