Merry Christmas everyone!
I’m spending the holiday at home with family and feeling so very lucky to have some time off to spend with loved ones. Hope you are doing the same! I’ll be back soon with fun updates about my latest fit crashes and workouts. Until then, it’s time for a few holly jolly miles to sweat off all those sugar cookies. Ho ho ho, here I go!
Good morning everyone! Happy Wednesday : ) Fit Crasher here with a few fun updates to share. Truth is, I didn’t quite make it to my scheduled fit crash this week thanks to the joys of DC traffic congestion, so instead I’ve decided to take the editorial liberty of making this week’s post a little different. Here’s what I’ve been up to…
First things first: just because I didn’t get to crash a new spot this week doesn’t mean I haven’t been sweating up a storm all over DC. The holiday season has really done a number on my regularly scheduled classes, but I’ve been getting my endorphin fix on the trails and at the gym instead. Early mornings and late nights, my friends, but it’s better than nothing!
This week’s favorites include a sunrise run along the Potomac with a new running buddy, solo bootcamp at the Georgetown waterfront park (a beautiful spot to workout), and a self-induced interval workout that looked something like this:
200 meter row
20 kettle bell swings
20 box jump burpees
20 man makers
10 assisted pull ups
I really liked this one – filing it away for later. If you’re looking for a quick and effective tush kicking, try it and let me know what you think. Phew!
Last week I won a juice sampler pack from DC’s newest juicery JRINK, a company that delivers fresh cold-pressed juices right to your door each week. How cool is that? I had been hearing lots of good buzz about their product and was excited to try them out. On the menu: (1) Pineapple, Apple, & Mint (2) Orange, Carrot, Grapefruit, & Ginger (3) Pear, Kale, Cucumber, Romaine & Lemon.
They were all super tasty, but if I had my pick out of the three I’d choose the green juice. Why? Because it has the best veggie to fruit ratio. Don’t get me wrong, the others were delish, but I don’t regularly drink fruit juice so I just don’t see myself ordering them again. JRINK has other flavor options online, including a beet/carrot concoction and an upcoming almond milk/cinnamon/vanilla combo, so I see some more taste testing in my future!
When I started the blog last year, I hit the ground running (literally) and posted every day. The breakneck pace just wasn’t sustainable for me. So I took a little blog haitus, a deep breath, and reemerged a few months ago posting once a week.
I’d like to take a stab at expanding the content on the blog again…so soon you’ll notice additional posts each week. (Cue the confetti and balloons!)
I’ll be featuring more of my workouts, my attempts at eating healthy meals, and reader questions – many of which I’ve answered personally via email but want to share with the rest of you. If you have other ideas of what you’d like to see, send me a note!
Have a great week and keep on fit crashin’!
Crash Course: Atlas Fitness offers a bootcamp class that is unlike any other I’ve been to before. First, the equipment and facility are enough to make any hardcore fitness junkie drool. Monster tires. Atlas stones. Bike trainers. Weighted sleds. Heavy ropes. Sandbags. Kettlebells. Boxing bags. TRX. All immaculately curated and displayed in this Capitol Hill shrine to sweat. Considering how much I love creating my own workouts with any equipment I can get my hands on, I felt as though I had died and gone to fit crasher heaven. The second reason why this bootcamp stands out is the workout itself. It’s creative (read: more than the usual burpees)–which makes it more fun, in my book–and challenging for any fitness ability. Check out the schedule for bootcamp and other classes at Atlas Fitness here.
where: 920 11th Street SE/Capitol Hill
perks: fitness toy heaven, small group training
sweat score: 9 out of 10
wear: whatever you like
cost: $20 drop in rate
I feel like Capitol Hill is having a bit of a fitness moment. Or maybe it’s always been a workout hot spot, but word is just now reaching me on the other side of town. Either way, more often than not, I’m finding myself traveling to the Hill for a crash. Last weekend boxing training at DCBFit. A few months ago at Capitol Hill Fitness. This spring on the Anacostia River at Capitol Rowing Club. And just last year I was crashing the newly-opened Biker Barre. So many great options!
Now, I’m adding Atlas Fitness to the list. Hidden just behind Barracks Row, this workout gem is a full service sweat factory for anyone who appreciates no-fuss fitness. Options include metabolic conditioning class, power flow yoga, strength training for endurance athletes, boxing, and boot camp.
Atlas is the brainchild of trainer Tim Bruffy, who wanted to make sure,
anyone can get the same innovative techniques and tools used to train the world’s top athletes. The program I’ve created addresses all five components of fitness: muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular strength, flexibility and body composition.
In an interview with The Hill is Home, Tim explained his vision of exercise as preventative medicine “prescribed by trainers/coaches that really understand it.” Expert trainers helping you get (and stay) healthy? Music to my ears.
Walking into the gym, I immediately got the sense of being in a top-notch college weight room or professional sports training center. See what I mean?
The variety and quality of equipment alone is enough to make your head spin. Anything you wanted to use in your workout, they had. I felt like a kid in a candy store and had to restrain myself from asking if I could move in. Don’t mind me, I won’t take up too much space. I’ll just be over here by the atlas stones, taking a snooze in the monster truck tire until the next workout.
There are two floors full of equipment to play with. Upstairs is where the majority of the action takes place, and downstairs is set up with boxing equipment, a squat rack, a bike trainer, and a few other surprises. For example, Tim and his team customized one of the walls with rubber coating to be used specifically for medicine ball throws. Cool, right?
So now that you’ve taken the tour, let’s talk about the workout. Our instructor on Saturday morning was Durrell, who started us off with a dynamic warm-up full of hops, skips, hip openers, coordination drills, and runs around the block. It was really well done and a lot of care was put into making sure we got the entire body ready to take on the workout ahead of us.
Next, Durrell walked us through the different stations involved in that day’s session. There were five total, with two exercises at each. The entire workout revolves around timed intervals, so we would do one exercise for 45 seconds, take a 15 second rest, and then move right into the second exercise at that station, and back and forth.
For example, the workout looked something like this:
- Station one: rowing machine, sandbag snatches
- Station two: push/pull weighted sled, box jumps
- Station three: monster tire flip, try rows
- Station four: pull ups, TRX dynamic pushups
- Station five: heavy ropes on Bosu ball, weighted lunges
45 seconds of work, 15 seconds of rest for each exercise. A total of six minutes at each station. After those six minutes, we all hit the floor for 45 seconds of ab work. And then we’d move on to the next station.
I thought that I would get lost in trying to keep track of all the timing and numbers, but the gym has a built-in interval timing system that alerts you to rest and work periods. In case you need a visual, the clock is displayed on a big screen TV hanging on the front wall (see above). Durrell was also on top of everything, letting us know when to switch and helping us get a handle on each station as we transitioned from one to the next.
For all of the activity going on, the workout was extremely well orchestrated. But logistics aside, it was also a total tush kicking. I started at the station involving intervals on the rowing machine and doing sandbag snatches. Easy, I thought. A great place to warm up before some of the more challenging stations (I’m looking at you, monster tire). But rowing as hard as you can for 45 seconds is not (NOT!) easy. And follow that up immediately with 45 seconds of squating and hurling a heavy sand bag over your head…you get the idea.
I finished the workout at station four: heavy ropes while balancing on a Bosu, followed by weighted lunges. Guys…I was totally cooked at this point. Sweating everywhere. Audibly grunting. Watching the clock tick down. Trying my best to concentrate on one breath at a time. Totally amazed that we had only been there for one hour and had completed so many crazy, challenging things. As the beep went off to signal the end, I had to lay down on the floor in a pile of my own sweat, eyes closed, breathing out through my mouth just to collect myself. Nevermind that I had just met everyone there; l made myself at home on the floor and needed a moment to soak it all in.
My oh my, was that a workout.
After a few cool down stretches, I changed into dry clothes and spent some quality time with the pup pictured above. That’s Atlas, the gym mascot. He’s about 100 lbs of pure muscle and ridiculously friendly. There’s nothing like a little puppy love to help you bounce back after a tough workout. Right Atlas?
So, in closing, a huge thanks to the crew at Atlas Fitness for helping me (a) get my weekly dog fix and (b) introducing me to their awesome operation. Can’t wait to come back and crash again!
Crash Course: The “training class” at DC Boxing & Fitness offers a cardio-centric 45 minutes geared toward getting you in tip-top fighting shape. No, you don’t have to jump into the ring, but be prepared to fight tooth-and-nail through an intense barrage of plyometric moves, heavy-bag work, and bodyweight exercises. Believe me, burpees and round kicks make a formidable opponent any day. This is a non-stop, in your face, no frills class that will leave you in a pool of your own sweat. If you like high-intensity cardio, this is the class for you. Click here for a schedule of class times.
where: 1000 New Jersey Ave/Navy Yard Metro
bring: water bottle, towel, clean shoes, boxing gloves
perks: across the street from metro
sweat score: 9 out of 10
wear: clean shoes
cost: $95 per month for training
You have to get ugly to look pretty. - Coach Jerome
I was lying face down on the mat, praying for the pushups to end and slowly sweating through every single item I was wearing. Those words, that phrase, felt both motivating and ironic. But I could appreciate the sentiment. Nothing about what I was doing was pretty. I was flailing my arms at a heavy bag. Jumping up and down like a crazed pogo-stick addict. Sprinting in place as fast as I could. Lurching toward the floor and doing rapid-fire mini pushups. Flinging sweat at complete strangers. Grunting. Even whispering a few expletives under my breath.
This class, my friends, is ugly. It requires good old-fashioned hard work and grit. And it is awesome.
Indulge me, if you will, in a little soapbox moment:
One thing that never fails to amaze me about the fitness world is how easy some folks make it sound to get into “the best shape of your life.” While I understand that statement is entirely subjective, if you are hoping to lose weight and make some serious changes, it’s going to take a lot of work. Hard work. Work that shoves you outside of your comfort zone and makes you stay there. No it’s not “fun” and it’s certainly not “pretty” – which is why I appreciate a class like the one at DCBFit where that ugly, sweaty, explative-strewn process is par for the course, expected, and celebrated.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, on to the crash review
DCBFit is a Thai boxing and MMA studio located directly across from the Navy Yard metro stop. There aren’t any big signs hanging from the building, so in case you can’t find it, it looks like this from the street:
When you walk inside, you’ll be greeted by someone at the front desk and asked to sign in. Put your belongings in one of the lockers along the wall, grab your water bottle and boxing gloves, and take off your shoes. That’s right. No outside shoes are allowed on the mats at DCBFit, so either bring a fresh pair to wear during class or get ready to work out in your socks.
The majority of the space is taken up by a boxing ring and a large heavy-bag section. Every other nook and cranny is filled with some sort of training equipment, whether it’s a cardio bike, free weights, or MMA pads. There are two generously-sized restrooms in the back of the gym (no showers) where you can change before/after class if needed.
I showed up to crash the 9:45 class on Saturday morning and walked into the fogged-up studio with my coffee au lait just as the 9 a.m. folks were finishing. From what I could tell, I was in for a whooping. Jerome was pacing back and forth, yelling out a loud mix of encouragement, demands, and expletives. Everyone in the class was drenched in sweat. I clutched my coffee cup and nervously smiled at the woman waiting patiently next to me. It couldn’t really be as bad as it looks, right? *gulp*
I put my half-emptied coffee on a shelf, grabbed some loaner boxing gloves, and tried to look like I knew what I was doing. No sooner than the last 9 o’clock person stepped off the mat, we were jab, cross, and upper-cutting away at the heavy bags. Jerome didn’t miss a beat. He would call out a combo, demonstrate it, and the rest of us would try to keep up. Some folks had more experience and aced the combinations. Others, like me, not so much. It didn’t matter. It got our heart rates up and the point was to just keep moving.
Jab. Cross. Punch. Sweat.
Then…the gloves came off.
The second portion of class focused less on bag work and more on plyometrics and interval bodyweight training. Each round consisted of fun things like mini-pushups, diamond pushups, pike push ups, planks, high knees, and jump lunges. Instead of resting in between intervals, we did burpees. Now…interpret burpee as you will, but the point was to just keep moving the entire time. Was it crazy hard? Absolutely. But like Jerome said, you have to get ugly to look pretty. Nobody’s going to get fit just standing around.
Third part of class: back to bag work. This time we practiced knees and round-kicks. Truth: nothing makes me feel more badass than kicking the stuffing out of a heavy bag with a few round-kicks, even when I’m flinging sweat half-way across the room while doing it. We alternated legs to the tune of Jerome’s increasingly-louder yelling. Left, right, left, right. If we weren’t exhausted from the first half of class, we were now.
For the finale, we landed on our backs for core work. One of my favorite moves we did involved holding the heavy bag between our legs and crunching up to punch it. Need motivation? Jerome will gladly get in your face for a little extra “encouragement.” After a dozen or so of those, I had officially tapped out. Phew! I’m spent!
The 45 minutes flew by. There was honestly never a time I looked at the clock out of boredom or desire to be somewhere else. Sure it was a really hard class, but it was engaging from start to finish. The transitions were smooth, the instructor was a force-of-nature and captivating, and the group was welcoming and supportive. And at just 45-minutes, I was in and out of the whole operation in under an hour. Even got to grab my still-hot coffee off the shelf to enjoy on my trip home.
I loved this crazy class. And if you’re looking for a cardio-infused round-house kick to the face, you will too.
Crash it and let me know what you think!
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!