What’s In My Gym Bag: Fit Crash Style

I recently came across a post by NYC gym-goer extraordinaire Evann Clingan titled “What’s In My Bag: Fitness Edition.” She said the idea is a twist on the ubiquitous “What’s In My Bag” post written by style bloggers everywhere. You know the one: carefully curated contents of designer bags beautifully strewn about just so, captured with a click for all the world to see. This was that same idea, but with a sweaty twist. Well, no surprises here, I was smitten. I mean, as someone who’s constantly on the go to different classes, I loved getting an insider’s peek at someone else’s gym bag essentials. In a non-creepy, oh hey you published it so it must be okay kind of way, of course.

So, without further ado, I’m giving you an all-access pass to check out what’s in my fit crasher go-pack. For what it’s worth, this isn’t a wish list of items I would like to have; these are all things I currently own and use on a regular basis.

What's In My Gym Bag

REI Stoke 19 Pack ($54) – I originally got this backpack to use for hikes, but it has quickly become my fit crashing partner in crime. I’ve tried the purse-like gym tote before, but it never stayed on my shoulders the way I wanted and fussing with it drove me nuts. With a backpack, I can have my hands and arms free to carry a yoga mat or bike to a studio distraction free. Win.

Extra sports bra ($11) – These minimal Champion sports bras are perfect for changing into after a particularly sweaty class. Especially if you are running errands or have a long commute home afterward. Nothing makes you colder or more uncomfortable than hanging out in wet clothes, so I’ve made a habit of keeping an extra one of these in my bag at all times.

Nike Free TR 4 ($100) – Okay, so these aren’t the same color as mine, but I searched high and low with no success. They are, however, the same model. And I love them. Funny story: these were purchased in heated desperation. I was invited to crash a Dance Trance class with less than an hour’s notice. I was coming back from work and (gasp) didn’t have my gym bag on me. No workout clothes. No workout shoes. So like a total lune, I ran into Nike Town in Georgetown begging for them to help me find shoes in 10 minutes. These were the result, and they were my first-ever pair of non-running sneaks. Desperation aside, I now wear them every day. And who said impulse shopping was dangerous?

GapFit Motion Tee ($45) – I fell in love with the Lululemon Run Swiftly long sleeve tee, but at almost $70, it’s a tad out of my price range for what it is. Plus, the one that I do own started to show wear almost instantly. These Gap tees, my friends, are pretty darn similar but at a price that doesn’t  bring tears to my eyes. As a bonus, they’re almost always on some sort of sale. They’re lightweight, have just the right amount of stretch, come in beautiful colors, are perfect for throwing on after class, and the sleeves have thumb holes. Need I say more?

Bobo’s Oat Bar ($2) – I discovered these nuggets of awesomeness at my local Yes! Organic Market and have been an addict since. They’re easy on my sensitive stomach and come in lots of flavors. Half of one usually ties me over until meal time if my stomach is growling before or after class. And they won’t mush as easily as a banana if I leave it in my bag for a day or two.

Razor, Hair Ties, Bobby Pins, Lip Balm – Sometimes you just forget. You’ll thank me later. Trust me.

SPI Belt ($20) – Sometimes a crash involves a run, hike, or other outdoor excursion. This little guy holds my phone, keys,  ID, and other small essentials when I’m on the go so I can keep my hands free. I actually keep one in my car for impromptu runs after work.

Yes to Blueberries Face Wipes ($6) – Working out after work is great, but working out with the day’s make up on is not. My face tends to revolt if I forget to wipe everything off before class, so these gentle towels have been a total life saver. I’m not ashamed to admit that at times they’ve also come in handy as a substitute shower after class, too. Not ideal, but they smell great and at least help rid the sweat from your skin if you have to go somewhere after the gym.

Water Bottle ($7) – Still holding on to the Nalgene habit from high school: guilty. This is definitely not an ideal water bottle for crashing, and I really don’t know why I still use it. It’s annoying to spin the top on and off during a workout, it doesn’t fit on spin bikes, and it is really heavy when full. Currently taking suggestions for a replacement!


Your turn: what’s in your gym bag?


Fit Crashing In Portland: Part 1

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Hello from the Pacific Northwest! As I mentioned last week, I’m taking some time away from DC to visit family and friends on the west coast. It has been a wonderful change of pace and I’ve loved the opportunity to explore new cities. The food, the sights, and yes, the fit crashes! Since this blog is dedicated to my sweaty adventures, I would love to share some of the fun studios I’ve found along the way.

:: day 1 ::

My first stop was Portland, Oregon. Home of Voodoo Donut, pinot noir, and a ton of awesome fitness studios. My flight arrived late in the evening, and after spending so many hours cramped in a  tiny airplane seat, I was dying to get moving. Unfortunately, there weren’t any late-night classes to crash near my hotel, so I had to get creative. DC-based trainer Deanna Jefferson sent me a link to try out her new high intensity interval workout video last week, so I set up my laptop in the hotel gym and got down to business. 

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I got a few funny looks, especially from the Montana State men’s basketball team who came through the front door just as I was getting crazy with some star jumps. I’ll be honest, I only made it half-way through the video before deciding to do something else. Not because it wasn’t effective (I was huffing and puffing 10 minutes in) but because the majority of the moves were really high impact and my knee started to feel wonky. Probably thanks to all that airplane time. Like her Nike Training Club workouts, the video is really tough, so I’m hoping to use it again once my knee can handle all of the jumping.

:: day 2 ::

I started day two with a serious bang, singing up for back-to-back fit crashes at Firebrand Sports in Portland’s Pearl District. The studio was enormous and had a refurbished warehouse/industrial loft feel. High ceilings, lots of grey cement, skylights, black window panes. I loved it. Bonus points awarded for having fully-stocked individual shower rooms, clean bathrooms, a fresh juice bar, and plenty of hand towels. Basically, all signs point to lots of sweat going on in here.

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Firebrand Sports offers two classes: Pyrolates on the megaformer machine and full tilt cycling on Real Ryder bikes. Talk about a killer combo. I decided to get the most challenging workout out of the way first, so my morning kicked-off with quaking legs and burning arms on the megaformer, a machine I’ve developed a serious love-hate relationship with thanks to crashes at DC’s SolidCore studio.

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Unlike SolidCore, which is a smaller space with an intimate feel similar to a personal training session, there were about 20 machines in the Pyrolates room. Add in the high ceilings and expansive windows, I imagined I had plenty of space to hide from those extra lunges and personalized adjustments…or so I thought.

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Our instructor Josh was an expert at working the room and making us work, all at the same time. Meaning: no hiding. In fact, he had an uncanny ability to creep up behind me whenever I decided to slack off. Busted! The music was pumping, we were lunging, the sweat was flowing. And boy oh boy, this class was putting me through my paces.

firebrand-portland-plankOn my sweat scale, I’d put this class at a solid 7. Every little muscle I never knew I had screamed at me, my shirt was sweaty, and I had the sneaking suspicion that in just a few minutes a wave of crazy soreness would set in. But I left with a huge smile on my face, high-fiving Josh and elated about surviving another encounter with the megaformer.

Not five minutes later, I was on a Real Ryder bike in the back of Ellie’s spin class. The cycling studio is just down the hall at the back of the building, and really plays on the industrial loft feel with exposed ducts and gleaming skylights. The bikes are set up stadium-style, so everyone has a good view of the instructor and has plenty of space to move around. As far as spin rooms go, this is by far one of the coolest I’ve ever been in. 

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The Real Ryder bikes are a challenge on a normal day. They teeter back and forth, keeping your balance is a futile game of cat and mouse, and it takes every ounce of energy and concentration to keep up with them. Bottom line: not the best idea after a megaformer class. My legs were screaming at me, and rightly so. I had just put them through torture and decided to come back for more.

But honestly, I had a serious case of FOMO  (as the kids say these days) and couldn’t say no to crashing two really awesome, unique, fun classes. So I turned the resistance knob down low, laughed at my own fit crashing insanity, and sang my heart out to every single song for 45 darn minutes. True story, ask the poor girl next to me. I belted out Wrecking Ball like I was on stage at the VMAs. You’re welcome.

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After wobbling my way to the front desk in a sweat-induced fog after the morning’s marathon crash session, I somehow purchased a few too many fresh-pressed juices. Three, to be exact. But I can explain. They were all so delicious, the guy behind the counter was nice enough to let me sample every flavor, and after two hours of sweating I was thirsty and indecisive. So yes, I purchased three with the intention of finishing them all in the same day. I didn’t. But luckily my hotel room had a fridge and I was able to eventually finish off every last drop. My favorite flavor was a blend of carrot, apple, ginger, turmeric, and burdock.

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Juices in hand and on a high from such fit crashing fun, I made my way through the pouring rain to Isabel for brunch. If you are ever in Portland near the Pearl District and are looking for a great food spot, I can’t recommend this place enough. My meal was absolutely delicious and the restaurant gets all of the ingredients fresh from their own locally-sourced farm. I had the Omar, which was a heaping portion of egg whites, teriyaki chicken, sautéed veggies on top of brown rice. Add in a piping cup of hot coffee and I was a happy, tired, sweaty camper!

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I will be posting updates about day three and four in Portland soon, including my crashes at Yoyoyogi and the original Barre3 studio. Stay tuned, and until then, don’t forget to follow along on social media for instant updates from the rest of my trip!

Oh the Places You’ll Go

fit crasher travels to the pacific NW

January is going to be a crazy fit crashing month. Heck, it already has been. I may as well hunker down and hang on for the ride!

Over the next three weeks, I’ll be traveling to four different states and two different coasts to visit friends and family in Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, and Woodstock, Vermont. The fit crash potential is off the charts. I’m honestly having a hard time narrowing down all of the options to just one or two each day. Maybe I could fit in three? I mean, think of all the beautiful boutique studios, crazy workout methods, scenic trail runs, and ski slopes out there just waiting to be crashed. It’s fantastically overwhelming!

Luckily, I have fit minded friends in each city who are generously holding my hand through the selection process. My dear running buddy and Boston Marathon training partner Jane is in Seattle. Fellow DCer Ellen of District Sweats is spending some time in Portland. Georgetown triathlon teammate Sarah and running roommate Dorothy are in San Francisco. And college buddy SB is already scoping out the best slopes in Vermont for when I get there. These ladies are enablers. And I love them.

Be sure to keep up with all of my sweaty adventures in real-time on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I’ll post longer recaps on the blog when I can, hopefully from the comfort of a Seattle Starbucks or Sonoma winery. Because let’s be honest, blogging is always better with a fun libation in hand.

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In other fun news…Roam Fitness did and interview with me and I spilled the beans about what strange selections are on my workout playlist. I’ve been attending their classes on and off since opening day and was so pumped when they asked to feature me as “blogger of the month.” As part of the deal, I am so very pleased to announce that DC Fit Crasher readers get 10% off class and personal training packages through February 2nd. How nifty is that?! In case you want a peek at what it’s like to workout with them, click here for a crash report from an Out Run with Roam Fitness.

And now – I’m off to tackle the challenge of packing for this fantastic adventure! No, seriously everyone, how many pairs of running socks and workout capris do you really think I need? Because right now I’m going with “all” as my default choice. The airline folks are going to love me : )

 

Dear Fit Crasher: Affordable Mat Pilates

Potomac Pilates equipment

Dear DC Fit Crasher,

I’m a runner who likes to spend my allotted workout budget on races and new shoes. But I know how important cross-training and strength work are. I enjoy mat pilates classes, but it’s really hard to stomach the hundreds of dollars it would cost to keep that practice up regularly at my local place. Do you have any tips on how to fit classes in on a budget or snag a great discount?

Thanks! Abby

As a runner who has suffered through my fair share of injuries, I am totally with you on the importance of incorporating cross training into your mileage plan. I’ve heard from quite a few physical therapists that pilates, yoga, and barre are great for keeping those knees and hips in check during all that pavement pounding. But they’re not always great for those of us on a budget, especially in this city, where class prices can cost as much as a 10k entry.

I’ve searched high and low for affordable mat pilates options and hope this list helps you find what you’re looking for. Good luck with your training this year and see you out there on the road!

DC

Yoga District $11 drop-in for yogalates class

Past Tense Studio $15 drop-in; $130 for 10 classes

Work It Studio $17 drop-in; $130 for 10 classes

STROGA $18 drop-in; $139 month unlimited; $150 for 10 classes

Fuse Pilates $19 drop-in; $175 month unlimited; $10 happy hour class each week

Toolbox $20 drop-in; $150 for 10

Fuel Pilates $22 drop in; $225 month unlimited

Excel Pilates $20 drop in; $180 for 10 classes

Capital Pilates $20 drop in; $180 for 10

Quantum Pilates $20 drop-in; $180 for 10 classes

Circle Yoga $21 drop-in

Reformation Fitness $22 drop-in; $180 for 10 classes

Other ideas: check pricing and schedules at your local YMCA or DC recreation facilities, many of which offer mat pilates classes.

Northern VA

Local Motion (Old Town) $18 drop-in; $150 for 10 classes

Mind Your Body Oasis (Crystal City) $20 drop-in; $150 for 10 classes

Mind the Mat (Clarendon) $20 drop-in; $160 for 10 classes

Maryland

Simon Says (Bethesda) $18 drop-in; $150 for 10 classes

Pulse Fitness (Bethesda) $20 drop-in; $160 for 10 classes

FitnessWise (Bethesda) $80 for 4 week session, one class/week

Balance (Bethesda) $20 drop-in, $175 for 10 classes

 

 

 

DC Fit Crasher on the Today Show

 

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I am excited, proud, thrilled, humbled, and just gosh darn happy to share that I was on the Today Show Saturday morning to talk about the growing popularity of boutique fitness!

While many of you following me on social media already know the news, I thought it would be fun to share some behind the scenes photos of the day and chat about what the experience was like. I mean, it’s not every day you get to do one of DC’s toughest workouts in front of a camera (yikes) and then invite a Today Show anchor into your tiny living room to film an interview (double yikes). Let’s just say it was a complete blur of emotions and adrenaline and documenting it here for you all will be a cathartic experience for my nerves. So here we go.

On December 4th, an email titled “TODAY Show – fitness segment” landed in my inbox:

Today-Show-EmailI read it with bated breath. Literally. I finished the last sentence and realized I had been holding my breath the entire time out of shock. THE Today Show? Like, the one I had watched every morning before school as a kid? The one I could sing the jingle to and name all the anchors, past and present? SERIOUSLY?!

I stepped away from my computer. Heart racing. Freaking out. Trying to breathe deep and do a happy dance all at the same time. Composing in my head the most professional and appropriate way to scream at the top of my lungs via email “YES!”

And so the back and forth of scheduling dates, times and locations commenced. I presented a list of really unique local boutique studio options for them to choose from, staying away from barre, yoga, or spin as they had already filmed those segments in New York. They got back to me with the request to film at SolidCore, the new megaformer studio in Adams Morgan, on December 20th at 9 a.m. A huge “thank you” to Anne and her staff at SolidCore for accommodating the filming!

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I stepped inside the studio and saw the tv camera, anchor Erica Hill, and the rows of mega formers. Yep, this was really happening. For whatever reason I was under the impression Erica would be sweating alongside me, therefore subjecting us both to the unusual torment of trying to look graceful and strong for the camera while attempting to complete the crazy difficult SolidCore class. But next thing I knew the class was starting, I was on a megaformer, and Erica was cheering from the sidelines in jeans. She must have seen the betrayal and fear in my eyes and gave me a friendly thumbs up instead.

“Okay,” I thought as I eased into the first lunge, “here we go!”

IMG_6892To be totally honest, working out in front of a camera is incredibly strange. I wasn’t sure if I should be smiling, laughing (as in: ha ha ha this workout is a breeze and I’m having such a jolly time!), grimacing, making funny faces, interacting with others in the class, or staring straight ahead in fiercely-dedicated concentration. You know, because I’m a blogger and I mean business.

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I went for a mixture of the concentration and grimacing, heavy on the later. Not consciously, but that’s just the look I get when the burn in my shoulders is radiating down my back, my arms are shaking uncontrollably, and I’m only on the third rep. Oh yeah, zoom in on that failing muscle for the kids at home.

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If I didn’t mention it before, this class is one of the most challenging I’ve ever taken. There’s no rest, it’s high-energy, and the moves target muscles that don’t like to work out. Muscles I honestly never knew I had. For example, the first time I crashed SolidCore I walked funny for three days straight. You get the idea.

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After class, Erica, her producer Kristen, and I traveled to my apartment to complete the interview. I was still sweaty, shaky, and a little delirious from the workout. Thankfully, I had a few minutes alone in my apartment to quickly change clothes and clean up a bit. Not as much as I would have liked for being on national television, but next thing I knew they were knocking on my door and heck, sometimes you just have to roll with it.

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We spent a few minutes trying to reconfigure the furniture in my little apartment to somehow accommodate an interview. It was a hilarious sight to see my living room transformed into a tv studio, complete with nationally recognized anchor on her blackberry. It was surreal. The Today Show is in my living room. Is this real life? Oh goodness, did I remember to swifter the bookshelf over there?

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The next thing I remember is hooking on a microphone and sitting in front of those blinding lights, answering Erica’s questions about DC Fit Crasher and the boutique fitness scene in DC.
At my dinner table. It went by in a flashing blur and I wish I could remember all of the questions she asked, but to be honest, I don’t. I was a ball of nerves and excitement and I think the combination of the two does something funky to your brain, making everything a little fuzzy when you try to look back on it.

Despite the awkwardness of all the filming, Erica and Kristen were incredibly down-to-earth, gracious, and fun to be around. The process reminded me more of making a project for journalism school and less of shooting footage for a national broadcast. They did a bang up job and I was so thrilled to have met them. Here we are after the interview and before they caught a plane back to NYC. All smiles. Thanks guys!

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One thing I want to address – mostly for myself as I look back on this whole thing –  is the fact that I was really, really nervous about the experience. It brought out all sorts of insecurities and vanities in me, ones I am not proud to admit but hey, we’re all human. I had so many questions and doubts before, during, and after: Would I be able to finish? What if I fail during a set? What if I am doing it wrong? What should I wear? Would I look bad on camera? Did I sound stupid? Did that particular pair of black workout tights make my legs look fat?

And you know what? The greatest lesson I learned all day was that the answer to all of those questions is simple: It doesn‘t matter. While not the easiest to remember in the moment, with bright lights in your face and an anchor calmly smiling at you as you’re wobbling in side plank, I knew the Today Show folks came to DC to make an interesting and engaging segment about fitness for their viewers. Something I was absolutely thrilled to be a part of. They weren’t trying to make anyone look bad. And they had asked that I be a part of that as myself – not a version of it – shaking arms, grimacing face, wrinkly shirt, dusty apartment and all. So while it was deliriously easy to fall into the vicious cycle of negative thoughts and self-doubt (and believe me, I did. I still judge my interview responses, my hair, and what I decided to wear), the really difficult but oh-so-important thing I took away from the day was to always remember to just be and accept yourself exactly as you are. That’s the best version of you, anyway, and the one people truly want to see.

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That said, I was so honored to have had the opportunity to share my passion for fitness and healthy living on a platform like the Today Show. Honestly, it was a dream come true and I couldn’t have been more thrilled on Saturday morning when the piece aired. Click here to watch the full thing.

By far, the best part was hearing feedback from all of you and reading all of your supportive and beautifully encouraging comments. Thank you, thank you for being a part of DC Fit Crasher and joining me on my quest to share fun ways to break a sweat and get healthy. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year has in store.

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