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?
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!
Hello and happy Tuesday! I’m currently on my way back to DC after 12 days on the road. What a trip! I think San Francisco earned the top spot on my list of favorite cities to visit (not only because they had a yoga room at the airport – but it helped!) and I can’t wait to share more about my time there.
But first, I wanted to round out my fit crashing adventure recap from Portland with details about Yoyoyogi yoga studio and the original Barre3 studio in Pearl District.
After the fit crash double header at Firebrand Sports, I was sore. Like, can’t properly walk or sit down sore. Really convenient when spending days exploring a new city and seeing friends and family I haven’t connected with in years. Walking tenderly and taking frequent breaks to stretch on random street benches, I must have been quite a sight. But I was riding on a strange endorphin high after trying two new classes in a new city and loving them both. Kind of like the feeling you get after completing a tough road race and then get to walk around wearing the medal the rest of the day. Oh this unusual swagger? The gentle way I lower myself down into my seat? No big deal, just leftover awesome from dominating the megaformer and real ryder yesterday.
That said, my next fit crash needed to be something a little more low key. Something that allowed me to stretch my sore muscles, simmer down, and take a moment to reflect and quiet my mind while dealing with the craziness of being on the road. Yoga sounded perfect.
But where? What studio? I went to my usual idea generators: GoRecess, SweatGuru, Classtivity, MindBody Connect app, and Google. Luckily, I also had a few suggestions from friends and fellow fitness fanatics, one of whom suggested I check out a cute little hot yoga haven a few blocks away from my hotel. I set out on foot through the cold rain and grey skies, excited to get my ohm on.
First things first: walking into Yoyoyogi is like walking into the home of a long lost friend. I was instantly welcomed, called “hun” and “love” and “dear,” and felt so comfortable that I wanted to kick off my shoes and move right in. What a delicious feeling when being so far from home. It didn’t hurt that there was an adorable puppy hanging out behind the front desk. Always a plus. So sad I didn’t get a pic, I’ll just have to go back for one next time!
Since I was traveling without my typical yoga gear, I needed to rent a mat and towel, bringing my total to $19. I was pleasantly surprised when the mat happened to be the exact Manduka mat I practice with at home and the “towel” was actually a grippy towel made for hot yoga. Perfect! Kudos to Yoyoyogi for having awesomely deluxe rental items. It allowed me to take my mind off of my gear and focus everything on my experience.
The studio is a lot bigger than I anticipated. The entire first floor is dedicated to retail, front desk space, a huge gathering room with dressing spaces and storage, showers, and bathrooms. The two practice rooms were actually up a monstrous flight of wood stairs on the second floor. The room my class was in had gleaming floors, gorgeous exposed brick, and a front center window to lose your gaze in. Really lovely.
The “DETOX – hot power flow” class was an hour-long sweat fest, similar to what you would find at Down Dog Yoga or Studio DC. Athletic, challenging, really great energy. Yoyoyogi plays music during their classes, which I’m not used to but actually really enjoyed. And our instructor Isabel was not very hands-on throughout the class, but had wonderful cues and wove a theme throughout the class about letting go as a way to grow. I left feeling inspired, happy, relaxed, and so very thankful to have found a home-away-from-home in this space.
I woke up before the sun the next morning for an appointment at the original Barre3 location in Portland’s Pearl District. Waking up before 6 a.m. isn’t my ideal vacation crash, but honestly, it was the only slot I could get into during my visit. This place fills quickly, so if you want to swing by when you’re in town, be sure to plan ahead and schedule a week or so out.
I have been to the Barre3 location before in Georgetown and it wasn’t my cup of tea. That said, I was told my experience was unusual due to having a new teacher who needed a little extra training, so I was willing to give the brand another try. Particularly at their flagship studio! The building had two barre studios, a large reception area, and a childcare pen with toys and activities. I was groggy and hadn’t had my coffee yet, but even through bleary eyes I could tell the space was beautiful. More beautiful than what we’ve got going on in Georgetown? I didn’t think so – I’ve honestly never been to a more gorgeous place than that little nook tucked down by the Potomac river. Sorry Portland, guess I’m a little biased!
The 6 a.m. class was packed to the brim, and every single spot was taken on the barre that covered three sides of the large rectangular room. We started with a dynamic warmup and moved right into the usual arm, leg, seat moves you’d anticipate at a barre class. The instructor was lovely and did a good job working the room, providing adjustments, and making sure everyone could see her demonstrations.
We did what felt like 10-15 minutes of ab work on the floor that just really wasn’t doing it for me, and at one point I caught myself glancing over at the clock to wonder how much longer we had in the class. Not ideal. Also, if you happen to love early mornings and join the 6 a.m. class during your visit, be prepared for a mass exodus about 10 minutes before the class is over. It really caught me off guard and I thought the constant picking up and leaving was really distracting. That said, I realize folks need to get to work on time. But….just something to know before you go!
Like other barre classes I’ve attended, I didn’t leave the class sweaty, but did feel that familiar muscle burn in my legs and arms from doing all those little, targeted motions. A drop-in class at Barre3 in Portland costs $20, but my class was paid for by a credit I received from GoRecess as a fun gift to help fund a crash during my travels. Thanks to them for making this crash possible!
I had to post this photo to document the absurd snack I had after my Barre3 class on my last day in Portland. Oh yes, you’re looking at two half-eaten but very delicious Voodoo Doughnuts and a leftover green juice from my purchase at Portland Juice Press. Ridiculous. But somehow, in my mind, it worked as a grand finale to my extended weekend in Oregon.
Up next: running and fit crashing in San Francisco. Until then, enjoy the snow day if you have one!