Ever wanted to search fit crashes by location?
After seeing the map of NYC boutique fitness studios Classpass published recently on Pinterest, I was hooked. It was beautifully brilliant. All of the best places to sweat in the Big Apple, all on one map. Naturally, I immediately wanted one for DC. So – ta da! – I made one. Now for the details…
What it is: a visual list of every fit crash I’ve ever blogged about. Browse through the neighborhoods and cities, see where I’ve been, and click through to read my review.
What it is not: a comprehensive list of every boutique studio in DC. If it’s not on here, it’s because I haven’t been yet!
I’ll update the map in real time, so be sure to follow the Fit Crasher Map board on Pinterest and check back regularly to see where my sweaty adventures have taken me.
Hope you enjoy this fun new feature – and thanks for reading!
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?
Crash Course: Zweet Sport is a cute little hot yoga studio and activewear boutique owned and operated by local female entrepreneurs in Old Town, Alexandria. On the sweaty side of things, the studio offers hot power flow yoga and an awesome yoga+weights mashup. For the fitness fashionistas, their in-store boutique carries an assortment of sporty duds designed by owners Kimberly and Marja. The array of brightly-colored sports bras, capris, short shorts, and tanks are designed, sourced, and manufactured in the US of A and guaranteed to look and feel awesome during your calorie-burning adventures. Click here for more information about Zweet Sport and to see a schedule of classes.
where: 400 North Henry Street, Alexandria, VA
bring: yoga mat, water, towel
perks: small class size, mat rental, in-studio boutique
sweat score: 8 out of 10
wear: less is more – it’s hot in there!
cost: $15 drop-in rate
I was so excited to extend my fit crashing adventures to Old Town and pop in on the ladies at Zweet Sport. A women-owned and operated company that makes fun workout gear AND offers sweaty yoga classes? It’s pretty much the holy grail of boutique fitness studio concepts, if you ask me. The only way this could get any more on-trend is if they had a juice bar in the closet.
The store and studio are tucked into an unassuming little building on the corner of North Henry and Princess Street. You’d miss it if you weren’t paying attention, so keep your eyes peeled next time you drive by. But step inside the front door, and that whole “unassuming” thing changes. A kaleidoscope of brightly-colored spandex pops off of brilliant pink walls and invites you to try everything on. Yes, even those snake-print capris and horizontal-striped short-shorts. You know you want to.
I had a few minutes before class to browse through the collection on the floor and try a few things on. Kimberly, one of Zweet Sport owners, was bubbling with energy about each and every piece as she walked me through the racks of candy-colored items. Her enthusiasm about the quality and uniqueness of the clothes was palpable, and rightly so. She plays a central role in designing the items to be perfect for hot yoga lovers. In her words, this means: no pinching in unflattering places, no see-through areas, and fabrics that can handle buckets of sweat.
Before I give you my personal impression of the items I tried on, it’s important to know this: I’m pretty conservative when it comes to workout gear. I prefer black bottoms, solid tops, and no frills. In many ways, this is the opposite of what was going on at Zweet Sport. Their signature items are loud, fun, colorful, and will get attention no matter where you go. I admit it, I’m a fitness fashion prude and typically my outfits are total snoozefests. So when my collection of items to try on included cheetah-print tights, nautical-print capris in cornflower blue and white, and a pair of tight red hot yoga booty shorts…you can just imagine the internal conflict going on in that dressing room.
While there are a few pairs of solid colored bottoms (including black!) hanging out on the racks, I didn’t try them on because, well, when in Rome, right? Might as well go way outside my comfort zone and try on a pair of animal patterned spandex. So I did.
Things I noticed: despite the thinness of the material (ideal for hot yoga), there was zero issue of see-through bottoms when bending over. I did my own scientific fitting room test and the results were impressive. Also, there was no awkward pinching in the midsection area where some other brands create an unfortunate muffin-top look. Amazing. And to know that the items were created by local lady entrepreneurs here in the USA? Signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours.
To my surprise, I was generously gifted a pair of their best-selling hot yoga Jaco shorts in horizontal black and white stripes. Thanks ladies, what a treat! I can’t say I’ll be wearing them all around town (I mean, these things are teeny tiny!) but next time I’m crashing a bikram class, I’ll ditch my black bottoms to proudly rock those Zweet shorty shorts.
Bottom line: this boutique should be on your shopping list if you are someone who loves fun, unique fitness gear that you won’t see on every other girl in yoga class.
After some sartorial stretching, it was time to get down to business in the yoga studio for the Zweet Sport Chisel class. The 60-minute hot flow is set to upbeat music and incorporates free weights to kick things up a notch. There is even a cardio section in the middle involving burpees, jumping jacks, scissor kicks, and squats. Sound tough? Believe me, it is. I was sweating all over the place within the first five minutes.
The class concept is nearly identical to the Core Power Yoga sculpt class. Hot studio + weights + cardio = total sweat fest. In my opinion, the real difference is that the Zweet Sport studio is a much more low-key and intimate setting. There’s a lot of laughing and interaction among the small group of students. Perfect for beginning yogis or folks who don’t like the intimidation factor that sometimes comes with bigger studios.
Another difference is that the studio at Zweet Sport is not as hot as the rooms at Core Power Yoga, where I’ve felt like passing out or throwing up in a sculpt class before. That sounds like a negative, but I secretly loved it. However, now that I’ve done a yoga+weights class in a heated studio environment that doesn’t feel like magma in my pores, I may be converted. The experience was actually…fun!
Suzanne truly set the stage for an upbeat and lovely class. She announced that impromptu dancing was encouraged and even admitted to personally hating ab work, even though she was the yoga teacher making us do it. Her candid, casual, “we’re all in this together” attitude was fantastic. I caught myself laughing and smiling at multiple points over the course of the hour-long class. Either at myself, her funny commentary, or another student shaking it to Kesha.
And when all the work was finished, Suzanne came by with the ultimate yoga-class nirvana: lavender-scented mist sprayed above your body during shavasana. It’s the little things, people. Secretly makes me want someone to follow me around with a lavender mister all day long, just in case things get stressful. Ahhhhh.
I wish I lived closer because I’d love to go back again soon! Zweet Sport is a hidden gem that I recommend checking out if you’re in that neck of the woods and looking for zippy workout clothes or a sweaty yoga class.
Note: While Zweet Sport invited me to try a free class, my review is based entirely on my honest-to-goodness personal experience.
What’s your fitness fashion style: basics or loud and funky?
Dear Fit Crasher,
I loved following all of the fit crashing you did during your recent travels out west. It looked like so much fun! I travel a lot for work and unfortunately always seem to get stuck slogging on the treadmill at the hotel gym. It’s free, convenient, and horribly boring. Help. How do you find studios to fit crash when visiting other cities?
Traveling is fun. Feeling confined to the poorly-lit and terribly equipped hotel gym is totally not. I’ve been there and I feel your pain. While I wish hotels had fitness concierges *ahem* to help visitors find the best studio to fit their needs while on the road, that’s just not a reality. Yet. (Are you listening, hotels?! Can you make this happen?)
Here are a few of my tips for finding fit crashes while traveling:
- Ask a friend: Many of the places I crash come at the recommendation of a friend who lives in the area. Nothing seals the deal for me like a ringing endorsement from someone I know and trust. And I don’t mean my good friend Yelp. This is typically my first plan of attack after solidifying any travel itinerary.
- Social media: Not sure who’s in the area to ask? Facebook and Twitter…get on em and get social. You’ll be surprised who pops in with a helpful answer about a fun studio they’ve tried in X, Y, or Z city.
- Fitness bloggers: Okay, shameless plug here, but if you’re visiting a major city, chances are there is a friendly fitness blogger writing about the ins and outs of sweating in their home town. They love it. You love it. The connection is obvious. Suggest trying a quick search to see if you can find one at your desired destination. If you’re lucky, their site could be a gold mine of information about places to try. If not, shoot them an email and ask!
- Ask the web: I have a handy-dandy list of websites I visit to help me find neat places to try when I’m in a new city. Many of them allow you to search by type of workout, location, and time of day. Some even geolocate you and show a map of what’s available around you. Convenient. Genius. So helpful. Looking for a bikram yoga class at 6 a.m. near your hotel? These sites are the best bet to finding it.
Idea Fitness Connect
If you happen to come across any other resources you find helpful for fit crashing outside of DC, or fall in love with one listed above, be sure to let me know! Until then, good luck with your traveling and happy fit crashing!
Crash Course: Ride DC is one of the newer spin studio additions to the U Street corridor, and the first in DC to offer live performance tracking technology – a feature that lets students monitor their progress throughout the class. Each bike is hooked up to a system that projects speed, power, and other handy stats onto a screen at the front of the room. Throughout the class, students are racked and stacked according to their output and overall performance. In other words, if you are a competitive person, this class will either fulfill your every raging desire or drive you raging mad as you watch yourself rise and fall within the pack. Accumulated performance stats are kept on the Ride DC website, so students can monitor their personal progress and overall standing in the pool of other studio spinsters. This technology is, of course, optional – but why not take your spin session to the next level and give it a whirl? A full list of class times can be found on the Ride DC website.
where: 2217 14th Street/U Street Metro
bring: yourself, SPD clip bike shoes optional
perks: boutique feel, ride tracking technology
sweat score: 8 out of 10
wear: recommend spandex bottoms
cost: $22 drop in rate
Ride DC is located on the busy fitness intersection of 14th Street and Florida, smack dab in the middle of Praxis Crossfit and the new Anthony Bowen YMCA on W Street. The space was formerly occupied by Peloton Cycling, and many of the same decorations (like the fantastic old-school cycling photo covering the front wall) are still being used in the new studio. It’s a very tiny nook without much fanfare, and would have a spartan feel if not for the beautifully-appointed lobby. Think rich mahogany and leather furniture, vintage lightbulbs, and a plush sitting area.
Even the tiny bathroom – which doubles as a changing room – has a Restoration Hardware feel. While the boutique attention to detail is lovely, having to use the bathroom to change while others are anxiously waiting to use it is a bit of a stresser. I came directly from work and had to bite the bullet, but if you can manage, I recommend coming ready to ride and save yourself the trouble.
The studio is dimly lit and tall candles illuminate the base of each bike. I’ve seen these battery-powered votives at other spin studios around town and even out in Portland, so I’m guessing this little detail is en vogue. The instructor sits on a raised platform with the interactive scoreboard behind them, and each bike has a fresh towel curled up in the handle bar.
One thing I really liked about Ride DC is that you can pick which bike you want to use when you go online to sign up for class. I tend to enjoy being toward the back, so I picked a spot in the third row. Truth is, I kind of like to pretend I’m chasing down everyone in front of me, so being in the back is a little trick to help motivate me through class.
Our instructor Rachel introduced herself and went from bike to bike making sure we were all adjusted and comfortable on the stationary Schwinn. She demonstrated how to activate the monitor on our own bikes, which in turn activated the sensor to animate the live stats on the screen. The music started pumping, the screen flickered on, and next thing I knew we were off and running.
The class was a 45 minute blast of sprints and hills, sprinkled with dumbbell arm exercises and pushups on the bike. I am personally not a fan of the bike push ups – mostly because I think they mess with my form, distract me from what’s going on with my legs, and really don’t ever leave me with a good upper body workout. I think they’re more of a dance than anything else and I feel awkward and clumsy doing them. But a lot of studios incorporate the bike pushups as part of their “full body” spin workout, so if nothing else, it’s a popular trend. Just know before you go and be prepared for some arm dancing.
As someone who tends to be
a bit chronically competitive, having a screen in front of me with live feedback regarding my rank in the class was absolutely addictive. It was motivating, maddening, and pushed me to pedal my hardest throughout every song.
I felt my eyes darting about the room, searching for the bikes who were ranked ahead of me, wondering what I could do to eek past them on the board. More resistance? More speed? More enthusiasm? I see you over there on bike four…I will catch you! Oh wait, we’re on stationary bikes. This is a farce. But holy cow, is it making me hustle.
While other spin classes sometimes allow for a huge range of effort (turn that spin dial how many turns to the right? riiiiiight), the real-time feedback regarding my power output and speed allowed me to keep my effort in check throughout the entire workout.
That said, the class is paced in a way that allows for all speeds and ability levels, so don’t feel like this class is for Tour de France hopefuls only. I decided to hammer through the whole thing because I have a tendency (ahem) to be a tad competitive and raced bikes in a past life. Others may have a totally different outlook. If you’re a beginner, or just don’t want the pressure of having your stats broadcast for the entire class to see, you can opt out of being on the board. No questions asked.
I want to give a shout out to our instructor Rachel, who bopped around the room from time to time during the class to give individual motivational pick-me-ups, cheer us on during sprints, or just check in. It was a nice surprise to have her come off of the instructor platform and give us encouragement in person. There’s something about having the instructor in your face that really lights a spark to get moving. I’m not sure if every instructor does this, but it’s fun to see someone try something a little unorthodox in an effort to add a bit of spunk to the class.
All in all, I enjoyed my class and testing out the interactive tracking system. It sets Ride DC apart from the other spins studios in the city and really brings something neat to the experience. I left a sweaty mess and chomping at the bit for another chance to race, er, workout with another class full of cyclists soon.
[what I liked]
- live feed stats during class
- online leaderboard to see accumulative standings and progress
- great music (they even played “Africa,” my favorite song in the universe)
[what I didn't like]
- no shower
- one bathroom/changing room
- you can sometimes hear the rumble of barbells falling from Crossfit Praxis next door
What do you think of the live tracking bike system: distracting or motivating?