Wednesday, December 14, 2016

#WellnessWednesday - Workout Adventures in DC

I took a break from blogging recently due to my annual trip back to DC and my crazy work schedule the weeks leading up to trip.   In this week’s #WellnessWednesday post, I wanted to tell you about the gyms I visited while in the DC metro area.

My old neighborhood and morning running route

The metro

Christmas tree at my old metro stop

The afternoon of my first full day in the DC area was spent at one of my old gyms, X Sport Fitness - Merrifield.  I remember this gym being built and joining as a charter member before the gym had even opened. I don't recall how much the monthly membership was, but it was low enough to capture my attention. 

X Sport is on the main level of one of the first two buildings constructed as part of a brand new development called the Mosaic District.  When I moved back to the Midwest in 2011, they had started construction on the other phases but only the front two buildings were complete.  Now the Mosaic District has just exploded and continues to expand both towards Dunn Loring Metro Station and towards my old office.

I remember swimming laps several mornings a week at X Sport.  I regularly used their whirlpool and sauna.  This is where my running journey began and I met the trainer that showed me that I could run, I just had to start slow (actually I just never sped up J).  All the equipment was shiny and new and I don’t remember any equipment breaking down and being out of order.  I had this image in my mind of how things used to be when I went into X Sport that day, and I was definitely let down.  The daily pass used to be $16 or $20 and now it was only $10.  The Yelp and Google reviews talk about how crowded this gym gets around 5 p.m. and how it is very difficult and confusing to cancel your membership.  Back when there were only two buildings in this new district, we didn't have the crowding issue and cancelling my membership was a breeze.

I still wanted to try it, so I went in a purchased my day pass.  To my surprise, staff did not have me fill out a liability form or guest information sheet - nothing!  That was odd, but I still wanted to work out so it didn't phase me.  I ended up staying at X Sport for a few hours that day.  I used an elliptical, treadmill, some of the weight machines, and the steam room.  I was excited to try X Sport again but also disappointed to see that the gym had not been maintained well.  It just wasn’t as good as I remembered, but it also really made me appreciate the gym I work at in St. Louis and it made me very proud of how hard we work to maintain and then regularly upgrade our equipment.   In the end a $10 day pass to a gym with an indoor pool, steam room and saunas in the locker rooms, rows and rows of cardio equipment, and a variety of classes is still worth it.

Thursday of that same week I ended up taking a Body Pump class in Bethesda and an interval training class in the Mosaic District.  Body Pump was scheduled via my favorite fitness app, Class Pass, but more on the app another day.  I haven’t taken a Body Pump class in years, so I was excited!  The class was taught at the Sport and Health in Bethesda.

I didn’t have an opportunity to tour the whole gym and I was strictly there for Body Pump but from what I did see, the locker rooms were clean and quite large, fitness studios and sport courts were on upper levels away from the main cardio and weight area, they offered towel service, and they had free coffee!  Since this class was from Noon - 1:00 p.m. on a weekday, there were less than 10 of us in the class.  The instructor made the effort to ask the names of those of us she did not already know.  The equipment was what I remembered, just an updated style and the format was the same, just newer music.  I knew I would be sore from this class, but I continued to push through the moves even if I had to decrease my weight all the way down to body weight only.  If you have the opportunity to take a Body Pump class, I highly recommend trying it out.  Don’t be intimidated by those using more weight than you, they had to start somewhere too!

By Thursday evening, I was back on the Virginia side of the metro area and back in the Mosaic District.  I signed up for a 5:30 p.m. class at Elevate Interval Fitness through the Class Pass app.

When I signed up for the class, they sent me an email confirming my reservation and sending me a few tips to prepare me for my first visit:
  • Arrive 15 minutes early. We'll have some paperwork for you to fill out and the coach will give you a walk through right before class.
  • Bring a photo ID.
  • Wear athletic clothes and shoes and bring water. You may need it. 
  • We offer smart lockers and showers, so if you have valuables or need to wash up after, we have you covered.  
  • If you can't make it, please call or email us and let us know so we can give your space to someone else and reschedule your Introductory Workout.
  • Drink lots of water throughout the day and get a light meal in at least 90 minutes before the workout.
  • Don't forget to inquire about our 1-Week Trial offer after your workout!
What drew me to the class at this gym was that it sounded a lot like classes offered at Orangetheory, Shred415, and other treadmill classes I have taken before.  Little did I know that this would be much more difficult than I had anticipated.

When I walked into Elevate, a staff member greeted me immediately. After I signed a waiver, he introduced me to the trainer of the class I would be taking.  I explained that I had taken classes with a similar format, but was brand new to this particular gym.  The set-up was very similar to Shred415 in St. Louis. There were several lockers available for members but also a few cubbies in the classroom itself.  There were restrooms, showers, and towels available for your workout.  There were three of us that were new to Elevate that night, so the trainer showed us around the classroom, showed us how to use the equipment, and how the format of the class is displayed on the overhead tv's.  It all made sense and seemed straight forward at first.

The warm-up included running specific distances on the treadmill followed by push-ups on the treadmill and then kettlebell swings before repeating the combination.  Difficult, but a simple enough pattern to follow even though I was slower than everyone else.  After the warm-up, we partnered up and alternated between treadmill work and riding the wind bikes.  This is where I got lost.  I kept looking up at the overhead tv's and then watched the demonstration by the trainer, and I still wasn't clear on what we were supposed to do and when.  We turned the treadmills on manual mode for this segment.  Now I have used this treadmill brand in manual mode before, but only to run.  This time, we were doing walking planks and donkey kicks in manual mode which is beyond difficult for someone like me that is still working on even perfecting the plank.  Because my core is weak, I opt to do planks from my knees in fitness classes (which usually isn't an issue), but the trainer of this class just would not let me do that.  Although he kept encouraging me and correcting my form, I just got more and more frustrated with myself because I lacked the core strength to do the walking plank and donkey kicks without wobbling and falling frequently.  I was so frustrated and embarrassed and just wanted to quit.....but I didn't.  I did the best that I could and then switched my partner.

Once that segment was over, I was hoping for something that would be "easier," but our next station included segments on the TRX.  Ugh!  Again, core strength is required, so I did the best that I could until the timer hit 0:00.  I was glad that I tried this workout, but my body just was not prepared for it.  This workout was far more difficult than any of the treadmill classes I have ever taken, including those at Shred415, but it showed me what I needed to work on.....which is apparently a lot!

After the class, the gentleman at the desk asked me what I thought, and I was honest and told him that it was the most difficult workout in recent memory.  As I waited for my ride, I told him how I used to be a member at X Sport when it was brand new and before Elevate was even built.  He said that this location had been open over a year and they were still building their membership.  Within the Mosaic District there is a Zengo cycling studio, Solidcore fitness studio, X Sport fitness, and a Gold's Gym close by.  Closer to the metro station there is also a brand new Orangetheory, so there is a lot of competition within a few miles.  I really hope that they continue to grow, because it is a tough workout and worth a visit.  I just hope that I am much, much, much stronger the next time I take a class at Elevate Interval Fitness!      

My week in DC ended with my bachelorette party.  I rarely drink and I didn't want a "typical" bachelorette party, so I opted to get a few girlfriends together for tapas followed by candlelight tours of colonial-era sites in Old Town Alexandria.  The picture below was taken at Gadsby's Restaurant and Museum, where the ladies forced me to dance with this gentleman during the English Country Dancing demonstration.  I honestly would not have tried it had they not forced me, but I was so glad that I did it.

This trip made me realize that although I seek out the abnormal and the unique, I also tend to live in my comfort zone a little too often.  I just need to keep pushing and stop comparing myself to the person on the treadmill next to me and stop being embarrassed that I can't do something 100% correct yet.