Cheers to New Beginnings

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The blog has been quiet for awhile, and it’s high time I explain why. So here it is…

I am excited to announce that I accepted a job in New York City and will be moving there next month.

It’s an enormous change, but one that’s full of enormous hope and enormous opportunity. New job. New city. New people. New everything.

I’m not going to lie. All of this has me scared out of my wits. My comfort zone? Somewhere in the rearview mirror. But what’s life without a little bit of zing to keep us on our toes, right?

I wanted to share the news with you as soon as I heard, but the honest truth, dear friends, is that this post is more difficult to write than I ever imagined. I have written it, deleted it, and rewritten it a dozen times. Mostly because all of this is so new and I’m still gathering my thoughts. But mainly because change is hard and even harder to put into words. I’ve lived in the District for ten incredible years. Over the years, it has gently morphed from the city where I went to college to the city where I work and finally into its latest incarnation: home.

DC Fit Crasher grew out of that sense of home. When I wrote my first blog post two years ago, I had lived here long enough to notice the city’s fitness scene changing, evolving, and growing into something entirely new. Boutique studios were popping up left and right, some in popular neighborhoods and others in up-and-coming communities I had never heard of. It was exciting to watch small business owners try new things, take chances, and offer DC an expanding host of options to get healthy, strong, and fit.

Since then, the city has taken its love affair with fitness to a whole new level. National retail brands offer free in-store workouts. Commercial buildings, community parks, and hotels organize packed-to-the-gills fitness events. The city recently hosted two first-of-its-kind fitness expos. Grassroots groups get up early and stay up late to provide free, fun, and contagiously energetic workouts for anyone who will just show up. It’s now trendy to burn + brunch, sweat + sip, and replace happy hours, dates, and corporate meetings with workouts.

In short: DC has become a fit crasher’s dream come true. I am consistently inspired, motivated, and awe-struck by everyone I meet in the DC fitness community, and I couldn’t ask for a better group of fitness fanatics to sweat with.

To my readers, colleagues, and everyone I’ve ever randomly snapped a sweaty photo of or shared a class with: thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of your world. Thank you for dreaming big, bold, crazy fitness dreams. Thank you for whipping up delicious tonics, juices, protein bars, and salads. Thank you for reading this little slice of the Internet I have come to love so much. Thank you for your advice, kindness, and friendship. And thank you from the bottom of my spandex-clad heart for making DC one of the coolest places to workout in.

So why leave? Personally and professionally, it’s time to make a change and try something new. Change is intimidating. But change is also the first step toward making things more awesome, so let’s do this. I’m ready. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith, throw down some serious hustle, screw your courage to the sticking point, grab life by the horns, and make things happen. And as far as fitness trends, workout options, and wellness fads are concerned, I couldn’t be more excited about entering the big leagues in New York. It’s the home of aqua cycling and naked yoga, for crying out loud. I’m both intrigued and mystified, but more importantly, absolutely ready to take on the challenge.

The big question is: what will become of DC Fit Crasher? Truth be told, I don’t have a clear answer yet. There’ll have to be a name change, of course. But starting a new job in a new city means I have a lot on my plate in the “real world,” and I want to be sure I allow myself the time to be fully present in that experience. Even if that experience means packing boxes till wee hours of the morning, driving them into New York City in a big orange uHaul, and eating Chinese food for dinner on the floor of my new apartment until I muster the energy to unpack. The real world is about to throw a whole lot at me – new city, new job, new people, new running routes, new gyms - and I ask for your patience as I take it all in.

I do know one thing. The Fit Crasher blog will continue. Maybe not as consistently at first. And maybe with a slightly different focus and format. But I love fitness and this incredible Fit Crasher community too much to stop blogging entirely. That said, I’d like to ask for your help. If anyone has suggestions as to how the blog could improve in its next iteration, things you’d like to see or ideas about how it could be better, please drop me a line with your thoughts. I would adore hearing your feedback.

I hope you’ll follow along with me as I start this exciting new chapter and take on all of the sweaty adventures that come with it. I couldn’t think of a better group of folks to do it with, and for that, I am sincerely grateful.

Until next time, DC.

As for you, New York, I’m raising my glass in toast to everything that awaits. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us.

Cheers to new beginnings.

 

 

 

Hello from Spain!

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Hello fit crashers! Sorry for the week-long absence, but I’ve been exploring Madrid and Sevilla on an impromptu summer vacation to Spain. What a beautiful country full of so many wonderful sights, sounds, and delicious eats. I can wait to share a few highlights with you next week on the blog, including how I worked out and kept things (mostly) healthy while touring around overseas. Hey, it’s all about moderation right? Those tapas and churros won’t eat themselves!

Until then, have a wonderful weekend and I’ll see you on the flip side!

Bootcamp + Brunch, Swimming, Green Juice, and Kayla Itsines

These weekly roundup posts are quickly becoming my favorite to write, although I’m having a hard narrowing down the things I want to share. So bear with me as I experiment with length and style, I know they can be a little long but I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy writing them. Okay – now on to a few highlights from this week!

Bootcamp + Brunch at Glen’s Garden Market

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This past weekend I attended a fun bootcamp and brunch hosted by Balance Gym and Glen’s Garden Market, which happens to be one of my favorite go-to foodie places here DC. The event was a fundraiser for the local chapter of Steve’s Club, a nation-wide organization that aims to provide after school crossfit classes for at-risk youth. Scrumptious locally-sourced food, a sweaty bootcamp, all for a good cause? Not sure I can think of a better combo.

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The Balance instructors did a really fantastic job keeping the bootcamp accessible to everyone who attended, and split us up into two groups to make sure we all got individualized attention. We started off with a warm up and quickly moved into some of my favorite love-to-hate exercises: partner resistance sprints, broad jumps, lateral paces, and weighted lunges. I say love to hate because they are powerhouse moves that do the trick, but there’s no shortcut around them. They take everything you’ve got. Great for getting the best bang for your buck in a short bootcamp, also great for tuckering you out in a hurry.

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After an hour of making us work for our supper brunch, we were awarded two wooden tokens to take into the market and collect our prize: an iced cold, frothy beer (or iced coffee, in my case) and a plate of delicious brunch fixins’. The brunch included an egg and cheese soufflé,  roasted potatoes, and a kale side salad. Easily worth every broad jump and resistance sprint!

brunch at glen's garden market in dupont circle

Summertime Swim Workouts Are Back

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It’s officially summertime and DC public pools are open for business. Cue the celebration!
I grew up as a competitive swimmer and for many years never thought I’d be interested in doing laps for personal fitness, but I’ve grown to love the methodical, no-impact workout more and more each year. DC is blessed with a number of relatively well-kept public pools that are perfect for swim workouts. I typically go to the olympic distance Hains Point pool or the Francis Pool in Dupont, which is where I had my inaugural swim this past weekend. I went at around 2 p.m. and didn’t have to share a lane. Don’t think I’ll have that luxury all the time, but it was lovely!

Trader Joes Gets In On The Green Juice Trend

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This one is too good not to share, so I had to include it in my roundup this week. I discovered that Trader Joes is now selling cold-pressed juices for (are you sitting down?) $5. I’m pretty sure the last green juice I purchased was smaller and double the price. The two flavors I saw at my local TJs were this green one with kale, spinach, ginger, lemon, and other good-for-you ingredients and a red juice that contained beets and other veggies. Both included celery, which I think overpowers ruins everything. But if you’re looking for a less expensive juice option and don’t mind celery flavor, here’s a fresh new idea!

Taking the Kayla Itsines Workout Challenge

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If you read a lot of fitness blogs, you may have seen the name Kayla Itsines floating around recently.
 She’s the Australian personal trainer behind a popular new 12-week workout program that primarily focuses on high intensity circuit training. It’s not a new concept by any means, but the sheer number of impressive-looking before + after photos on her site are enough to make me at least want to try it and see for myself just exactly how this thing works. I purchased P90X and the TRX for the same reason – intriguing, but I wanted to make my own opinion.

Now, a few disclaimers. First of all, I am always enormously skeptical of commercial workout programs that promise amazing results. I am also highly skeptical of before + after photos, because I know how deceptive they can be. Second of all, I cringe that the program is packaged in a book called the “Bikini Body Guide.” I’m not at all a fan of fitness marketing that focuses on vanity. I don’t need a bikini body, I’m looking for solutions to get healthy, strong, and confident. How about the “Healthy, Strong, Lean, and Confident Body”? Can I get a training manual like that? And finally, you should know that I received a copy of the program for free.

I’m intrigued enough by her approach and her throng of enthusiastic followers to commit a few weeks to following the program with a critical eye and seeing how my body responds. Fellow DC blogger Chelsea is also checking it out, and you can read about her experience here. I may post updates on the blog now and again, and if you’re more interested I am happy to give additional details. I’ve done two workouts already (one at home and one where I schlepped weights to a local park – see above) and can honestly say they completely and utterly schooled me, which I was not expecting. So I’m cautiously optimistic. Have you tried her program? Leave a comment and let’s connect!


Your turn: what are a few of the fitness highlights from your week?


 

Crashing Boston’s Btone Fitness

Boston Common in the rain
For those of you who follow me on social media (hello!) this might be old news, but I wanted to share my review of a fun studio I fit crashed while in Boston last week.
I was in town for an overnight business trip and knew I wanted to sneak in a workout early in the morning before my meetings. I crashed Barry’s Bootcamp last time I visited and wanted to try something just as unique. Finding fun workouts while traveling is always a challenge – in fact, one of the sparks behind this blog was my deep frustration over not being able to find honest  fitness class reviews while visiting Chicago a few years ago.

Whenever I visit a new city, I try to do my homework and find someplace new to crash. Let me tell you, it’s not easy, but I’ve learned a few tricks of the trade. And there’s something truly energizing and fun about experiencing the city through fitness - I think it’s safe to say it’s one of my favorite forms of tourism. So, to come full circle, I may have been in Boston for less than 24 hours but made an extra effort to squeeze in a sweat.

Btone Fitness on Newbury Street in Boston
To give you the full flavor of what my experience was like, let me set the scene for you.

It’s 5:45 a.m. when my alarm goes off. How rude. It’s mocking me by marking the time when I should have awoken refreshed, renewed, and ready to flit out of dreamland and down to Newbury Street for my workout.

Instead, I’ve been up since a 2:30 a.m. siren sent me blearily bolting out of bed and into my sneakers. Wrapped in half-sleep and a crumpled robe, I methodically followed the tide of hotel guests down the stairs. A few of us locked eyes and exchanged silent complaints about the annoyingly crass alarm that set us on this troubled course to begin with. But on the course we went, such as fire alarms go. And after a few moments outside in the cold and rain, we were assured by hotel management that it was a false alarm, all was well, and we should get some sleep. Sleep? Ha. I instead laid achingly awake in a dark hotel room for two hours until my alarm suggested that yes, indeed, it was now time to start the day. Good morning sunshine! Harumph.

So I dug my spandex out of my suitcase, tied on my sneakers once again, and slowly traipsed through the still-falling rain to my workout class at Btone Fitness. Honestly, if I didn’t have a previously-scheduled class to attend, I would have rolled over and tried to snag a cat nap. But I was truly excited to crash this trendy little boutique megaformer studio that I just had to power through and make the most of it.

Btone Fitness on Newbury Street in Boston
Btone sits above fashionable Newbury Street in a wood-floored, cozy space that’s bookended by windows and flooded with natural light.
 It has a stylish and fully-stocked locker room with showers, a couch to hang out on, and storage for your belongings. Btone offers a few different boutique-style classes, including spin on Real Ryder bikes, barre blast, and the signature tone class on the megaformer. They offer a $5 drop-in deal for first-timers, so if you’re visiting or new to Boston, how can you say no?

Our instructor Lisa introduced herself as I got set up on my megaformer, asked if I had any questions, and talked through the upcoming class. I love the personal touch of making newcomers feel welcome. She mentioned another visitor from DC had stopped by earlier in the week – if you’re reading this, leave a comment below, I want to compare notes! Despite my severe lack of sleep, I was looking forward to finding how Btone might differ from classes at other megaformer studios I’ve crashed like Solidcore in DC, Sculpt in Bethesda, and Firebrand in Portland. While the machine is always the same, I’ve come to find that different studios approach teaching the megaformer in subtly unique ways, making it a fun adventure at every new location.

Btone Fitness on Newbury Street in Boston

The class itself wasn’t particularly memorable. Perhaps it was because my head was in a bit of a fog. Perhaps it was because everyone was feeling the early-morning start time. But the class seemed to lag and lacked a certain zesty energy that I’m used to. I didn’t break a sweat, which was really surprising. I wasn’t sore the next day, which was even more surprising. Transitions were slow and the music was just loud enough to be heard but not really felt. I left feeling accomplished but not especially tuckered out.

This might have been a unique case, and as with any studio, overall class awesomeness depends on the particular time of day, the energy from the students, and the instructor. Maybe DC just has crazy-hard, wildly-energetic megaformer classes that have now ruined me from enjoying any others. Who knows!

At any rate, I said my thank yous and good byes and ducked back into the rain for a quick jaunt to the nearest coffee shop for an extra-grande cup of joe. Extra. Grande. After the night I had and an early morning fit crash, it was a grande kind of day.

Until next time, Boston! 

 

CrossFit Praxis Free Introductory Class

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Crash Course: CrossFit Praxis is located just above the 14th and U intersection and right next door to spin studio Ride DC. It offers members a full schedule of class options to choose from each week, including WODs, endurance classes, mobility classes, CrossFit Football classes, and yoga classes. Praxis also holds two free introductory sessions each week, Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 11 a.m.


where: 2217 14th Street NW // U Street Metro

bring: water (no water fountain)

perks: free intro class

sweat score: 8 out of 10

wear: whatever you want

instructor: Megan

cost: free 

 

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Disclaimer: I don’t do CrossFit. In fact, this Praxis crash is only my third official run-in with CrossFit, the first being at an introductory class at Balance Gym last year and the second at an event on the National Mall. I’ve always enjoyed the workouts (or “WODs”) but have never taken that next step to sign up for foundations or join a gym. Why am I sharing this? To let you know that I’m coming at this workout with a beginner’s perspective, and I hope that helps others who are interested in exploring what CrossFit is all about too. And for those of you who are at the box a few times a week and rattle off WOD names like members of your family, than you know the drill already!

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CrossFit Praxis is a no-frills, we-mean-business space. Its two sprawling workout rooms have soaring ceilings, stark lighting, and rubber floors just begging for more medicine ball slams. The front entryway is lined with a row of metal lockers and an open-storage shelving unit for your belongings.  The only other noticeable accouterment is a shining neon vending unit for Power Supply meals. You won’t find a water fountain to fill your water bottle because the focus here is on the workout, not thirst-quenching, so make sure to BYO.

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Praxis offers two free introductory classes each week hosted by a rotating cadre of coaches. It’s a great way for the gym to showcase its team members, philosophy, and mission. It’s also a great way for people to check out this CrossFit workout everyone’s been talking about, free of charge. A win-win in my book.

At the session I attended last week, Coach Megan enthusiastically welcomed me and the two other curious souls who showed up to try a WOD on for size. She started with an overview of what CrossFit Praxis is all about, detailing the types of workouts offered, the community and team atmosphere it aims to foster, and added a bit of testimony about her own CrossFit experience. Her passion and dedication to sharing CrossFit with others was palpable. It made me want to jump up and do ten box jumps right then and there. Which is good, because after the introductory briefing, we transitioned immediately to the sweaty portion of class. Box jumps for everyone!

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Coach Megan took ample time to teach, demonstrate, and provide individual feedback on each of the moves we would be completing in the workout. We learned the ins-and-outs of the box jump, the shoulder press, the air squat, and the CrossFit sit up. I was very impressed with her attention to detail and how she made each of the moves accessible to all of us, no matter our level of experience or ability. I learned I need to work on keeping my weight further back in my heels when I do air squats. I also need to remember to keep my arms back by my ears, not out in front of my face. All excellent tips I’ll take away and use in future workouts.

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After we had sufficient time to practice each of the techniques, Coach Megan walked us through the day’s workout.
For those of you who are more familiar with CrossFit, she referred to it as a “fight gone bad.” Sounds positive.

In essence, the WOD was a minute of each exercise with a minute of rest at the end, three times through. The exercises were: sit ups, air squats, box jumps, shoulder press, jumping jacks. We were asked to keep track of our total reps at the end of the round and try to better that number during the next one. This is crazy hard to do when you’re working on little rest, gasping for air, and praying to the CrossFit deities that you don’t bite it during a box jump. But I loved the rush I got from trying to beat my own personal goal, and finished the workout feeling accomplished, if not completely wiped out. Compared to the only other intro class I’ve ever done, this one included a workout that really put us through our paces!

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I slowly gathered myself off of the floor after class, thanked Megan and my classmates for an awesome workout, and gingerly made my way around the corner to Sweetgreen for lunch. I was famished and knew I needed to quickly replenish everything I just burned or face that terrible-awful energy crash that comes after a tough session. Sweetgreen offered me a credit to try their May seasonal salad, and this was the perfect opportunity to dive right in. It’s a blend of kale and mesclun leaves with strawberries, feta, cucumber, mint, and dried cranberries with a champagne vinaigrette. I added in shrimp for a little extra protein and topped it all off with a cold glass of strawberry mint limeade. Delicious!

If you’re in the 14th + U neighborhood and are looking for a friendly, real-deal CrossFit introductory class, I recommend popping into Praxis. Give it a go and see how you like it! Oh, and be sure to check out my list of free DC workouts for other free CrossFit intro classes at gyms around the city.

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