A Hidden Gem for You Gym Rats


Union  is a popular destination for “foodies.” It’s the new epicenter of delicious cuisine with over 40 local vendors all located under one roof. The venue looks like a warehouse but inside, it’s a sea of deliciousness. On the outskirts of Union Market sit a number of popup shops and clothing vendors. Then, right next to the parking lot is a complex that looks like your run-of-the mill industrial building.

Honestly, I thought it was an abandoned building. There are virtually no signs of life around the building most days. But, lo and behold, inside may be the best and cheapest bodybuilding gym in DC.

Total Source Fitness is a full-fledged gym that not many people know exists. Over the door or on the building there are no signs. There is only a single banner chained on the fence in the front entrance. No advertisements are placed around the vicinity promoting the venue and I have yet to come across any sort of promotion in the northeast area.


Ask around the gym and all the members say they stumbled into the gym.

When I walked through the front door of the building, I was pleasantly surprised to see how massive the space was and all the equipment that was available.

The gym offers a vast amount of workout equipment, including barbells, dumbbells up to 130 pounds, squat racks, lat-pull down machines, cable pulley systems, bench presses, and more. There is also an area with cardio machines specifically, treadmills, ellipticals, rowers, and bikes. T.S.F also offers personal training classes, but there is an extra fee.

TSF Gym Layout.jpg

My favorite part is the open mat area that is available. Every time I have visited the gym I do a HIIT workout there because there is so much room for me to do my burpees, lunges, step-ups, abdominal exercises, and more. Thanks to the amount of space, I am able to workout without feeling as if I’m about to careen into other members – a rarity, as many other workout facilities do not offer a large open area for their clients.

Total Fitness Mat Picture

Another great thing about TSF is the music. In my opinion, a hard workout is so much more bearable when you have great music in the background that can help motivate you to finish the workout strong. T.S.F. has a large stereo that plays all fast paced, electric house music.

T.S.F is not a swanky gym by any means, but that is what I like most about it. All the other members are very respectful and everyone seems to have a very similar mindset when they are working out there: workout hard and go home. No one really talks to one another or disrupts anyone during their workout. I have been in gyms where people will interrupt me while I’m doing jump squats and it irritates me so much. Not at this gym. No one will bother you, which I greatly appreciate because the hour I cut out to workout is my time and I don’t like being interrupted.

T.S.F is very affordable, especially compared to the other gyms in the Washington, D.C. area. A monthly membership is $40 and there is no contract. If you want to try out the gym, they will grant you a three-day pass. T.S.F also offers a drop in rate for $10, which is the lowest price I have ever seen for drop-ins. At Vida, the drop in fee is $30 and Planet Fitness is $25.

All in all, I think T.S.F is a great facility and you guys should check it out! You may be surprised by how much you like working out there.


Healthy Eating on a Budget? We’ve Found a Chocolate Cake That’s Good for Your Wallet and Your Waistline!



Since starting my new job downtown, I’ve been guilty of going out to eat a lot more than I should. In my defense though, it’s really freakin’ hard to say no to cappuccinos and Double Chocolate Cake at Rare Sweets Bakeshop – especially, when your co-workers are always game for a mid-day coffee break.

However, I’m fully aware that my current eating habits are taking a serious toll on both my wallet and my waistline – so I’ve started to consider new ways to get excited about food prep. On a recommendation from my food-loving Aussie friend, Susan, I’ve recently started following a handful of food bloggers who make eating healthy on a budget look easy and delicious.

In an effort to be more conscious about what I consume, I decided to try my hand at recreating a *relatively* simple recipe from my favorite blog, Not Quite Nigella (a reference to famed TV chef, Nigella Lawson). I picked the wholesome vegan chocolate cake with sweet potato frosting because it’s similar to my beloved Double Chocolate Cake, making it easier to compare how many dollars and calories I save by making it myself.

The Shopping Trip:


I had a few of the ingredients at home (salt, bicarb and safflower oil) but had to buy the rest. This particular basket of goodies cost me $17.22 at Harris Teeter, plus an additional $7.99 for raw cacao powder (which is harder to find than you might think).

At a total of $25.21, this isn’t an insignificant investment, but when you consider that the recipe serves 15, it ended up being $1.70 a slice – $3.30 cheaper than the Bakeshop.

The Process:

I’ve never been a great cook, and, until recently, I lived by myself with no one around to judge me for my lack of domesticity. Luckily, Susan was a great sport and agreed to provide some adult supervision as I made my first foray into vegan baking.

With her help over the course of 2 hours, we baked a delicious cake made entirely of natural ingredients. It wasn’t the most difficult thing I’ve ever made, but I certainly learned a few things in the process that I think would be useful for anyone looking to try this at home.

1. 2 cups of steamed or roasted sweet potato is 2 large sweet potatoes (or 275g). For best results, wrap in tinfoil and bake for 50 minutes, cut open and scoop out the insides.


2. You need a food processor. Even with a high quality food processor, I still had small lumps of sweet potato in the icing.


3. Maple syrup is a powerful sweetner. Use liberally until you’ve reach the desired frosting sweetness. That said, taste as you go to avoid adding too much; you can always add more, but you can’t take it away.


4. Don’t be fussed about the decoration, unless of course you’re baking this for a party. Below is a picture of Lorraine’s cake, which is beautiful; however, bagged cacao nibs work perfectly fine as sprinkles and take absolutely zero effort.


Picture by Lorraine Elliott

The Verdict:

The cake had a brownie like consistency that was moist and decadent. The sweet potato frosting was also delicious, and allowed us to avoid the 6 cups of sugar typically added to commercial butter cream frostings.

How did it compare to the Double Chocolate Cake? Let’s be honest, no amount of cocoa and maple syrup tastes as satisfying as real sugar, but it was pretty darn good, and more importantly – good for us. At $25.21 for 15 servings, you get 3 times more bang for your buck, without worrying about your sugar intake. I’ll definitely be making this again, but next time I’ll make sure to share!

4 D.C. Gyms That Let You Try Before You Buy


At On the Glow, we remember a time when free trials and guest passes were considered standard fare at most gyms. You’d have the opportunity to check out the facilities, take a few classes, go on a tour, and then – if you were really interested – sit down with a sales manager and talk membership options.

However, our experience with organized fitness in D.C. has made us realize two things:

  1. A large population and a relatively small number of gyms means that the days of free passes are over; and,
  2. Most gyms not only charge full price for your first session, but they also pressure clients to purchase 6-12 month memberships by charging exorbitant drop-in fees.

To alleviate some of the pressure, and to help you make the most educated decision about where to get your sweat on, we’ve scoured the city to bring you the best free trials in Washington. Whether you’re looking to lift, stretch or spin your way to fitness, these 4 gyms are all about getting you to try before you buy!

1. CorePower Yoga

CorePower Yoga wants to be a place to call your fitness Om, which means making sure that prospective yogis receive unrestricted free access to the variety of classes and schedules available at their 3 downtown area locations. In fact, they’re so serious about your business that they offer a no-obligation week-long membership for anyone new to the studio.

The Low Down: CorePower Yoga is the Starbucks of yoga studios: consistent, convenient and cheap. While it might feel like you’re selling out to big-box yoga, one benefit of a chain is that you’re virtually guaranteed the same quality of instruction at each location (which is more than we can say for some other studios in the city).

With prime locations like CityCentre, Dupont Circle and Georgetown, CorePower makes it easy to squeeze in a yoga sesh during the workday. Out of town on business? No problem! CorePower membership gives you full access to classes at each of their 150 locations across the U.S.

2. Crossfit


While Crossfit boxes are notorious for their community-driven programming, no two are exactly the same. That’s why most Crossfit gyms offer free introductory classes to help prospective members find the right fit.

Some of our favourite boxes in the city include: District Crossfit, Crossfit DC (multiple locations) and Crossfit Balance (multiple locations). These boxes are not only beginner friendly, but offer alternative programming to suit a multitude of needs, including fat loss and flexibility.

The Low Down: Crossfit is technically challenging and the coaches at each box undergo rigorous training to attain their certification. As a result, the cost of monthly memberships is easily double what you would pay at a Globo Gym. That said, the one-on-one instruction during a 60 minute workout is the closest thing you’ll get to personal training for $25 an hour. Our advice? Pay the money up front and learn to lift properly – your body will thank you later. 

3. Zengo DC 

Zengo cycle has a unique membership model: instead of a monthly fee, they ask clients to buy credits to put towards classes. With so many cycling studios in the city charging upwards of $150 a month for unlimited classes, this program allows clients to pay for only what they use.

Since the demand for efficient cardio workouts is at an all time high, it’s little wonder that most cycling studios forgo free trials in lieu of a slightly reduced rate on your first drop-in session; however, Zengo cycle bucks this trend by offering would-be spin enthusiasts an opportunity to try out their signature 50 minute class free of charge.

The Low Down: Zengo cycle has 5 studios in the DMV, but only two are located downtown (North west, specifically). It’s definitely more of a local spin studio than a convenient stop on your commute home – but that doesn’t seem to deter people from flocking to their morning and evening classes.

The studio is busy and high energy, and people rave about the 50 minute full-body workout. Just remember to bring $3 for shoe rental if you don’t sport clip-in cycling shoes regularly. 

4. Vida Fitness


Vida fitness prides itself on being a Globo Gym with an old school health club feel. With amenities like rooftop pools, spas and juice bars at their new U Street and Yards locations, Vida easily ranks top of the big-box fitness franchise market.

With so much competition from boutique fitness clubs, Vida wants prospective members to see for themselves the benefits of belonging to a traditional gym. Stop by in person, or fill out an inquiry online, and a Vida representative will contact you the next day to schedule a free trial.

The Low Down: Yes, the membership coordinators can be a little pushy, but what do you expect when you’re dealing directly with a sales team? Plus, they’re generally pretty accommodating if you’re looking to try a few specific classes.

All in all, Vida offers a wide variety of classes at 6 prime locations downtown. If the reasonable membership rates and modern facilities don’t convince you to give this gym a try, we’re sure the Penthouse pool will.




Pinching Pennies? Get the Glow on from Home


Ginny McNulty has been living in the city for more than five years and, like many of us in our mid-twenties, works hard to budget her money. For some time she searched for a workout routine, but struggled to find something she could afford — continuously turned off by the high prices of a workout class or gym membership. By chance, she stumbled upon Kayla Itsines’ BBG workout (short for Bikini Body Guide), a routine that Itsines claims girls could do anywhere. Ginny, intrigued, did more research and a few of her friends told her how great of a workout it was and that they saw clear results through before and after photos.

Kayla Itsines’ BBG workouts are used by millions of people around the world and she is one of Instagram’s biggest fitness stars. Scrolling through the BBG Instagram page, Ginny stumbled upon numerous photos of girls posting before and after photos of their progress and praising how the workouts are very effective. Shortly after, Ginny decided to try the program.

BBG pic

Trying to stick to her budget, Ginny could not afford a gym membership, so she chose to do the workouts at home. The BBG program does incorporate the use of some equipment you would find at a gym, including weights, a medicine ball, a bench, a contraption called a bosu, among other pieces of equipment. Ginny said that did not deter her from trying the workouts.

Ginny does all of the prescribed BBG workouts from home. She watches videos on YouTube of a trainer performing the moves. She follows the videos diligently and it also helps her to do all the workout moves correctly. Instead of going out and buying weights or other workout equipment, Ginny uses household products. For weights? Two wine bottles filled with water. A medicine ball? Try a big bag stuffed with closes. A weight bench? More like chairs and couches for step ups and tricep dips.


“The workouts for me are still super effective,” said Ginny. “I do more reps to make it harder or add more clothes to my bag or more water to my wine bottles. It’s all about being creative with your workouts.”

Ginny talked about how the workouts are only thirty minutes a day and she says she can do them anywhere. Whenever she goes on vacation, Ginny explained how she would find a room with some empty space and do the routines there.

Doing the workouts almost four months consistently, Ginny said she has noticed a lot of definition in her arms, legs and abs. She also talked about how her confidence has greatly increased and she feels more energized throughout the day. Ginny started adding workouts from Beach Body, another workout program that is formatted to be done from home. She added that she will do the yoga or Pilates workouts in addition to BBG — either on her days off or as her cool down.


“It’s all about improvising and using those creative juices,” McNulty said. “I didn’t do any research I just go around my house and pick up things to see what’s heavy to use in my workouts.”

In order to stay motivated, McNulty shared how she keeps a calendar where she writes out all of her workouts. She also sets weekly and monthly goals and talked about how she always pushes herself, so that she feels sore the next morning.

Workout Wednesdays: A Run For Everyone



As I see it, there are two types of runners in this world: hard-core nature lovers and snack-loving people watchers.

I’m most definitely the latter, so you can imagine my surprise when my fiancé, an avid trail runner, agreed to lace up his sneakers and head over to Rosslyn with me for a jog.

I make it sound really exotic, but the truth is that Roosevelt Island is only a 10 minute drive from downtown D.C. Nestled on the Potomac between Rosslyn and Georgetown, the Island is a tiny wooded oasis of tall leafy trees, pebble beaches and attractive couples walking their dogs. It’s also the perfect place for anyone looking to get out of the city and get back to nature.

The route:Roosevelt Island pic

Park your car (for free) and run over the foot bridge to Roosevelt Island.

Take the wooded path that runs along the perimeter of the Island and complete one round-trip.

Once you’ve returned to the parking lot, hang a right, and you’ll see a steep path leading to the Francis Scott Key Bridge. Run across the bridge and take in some spectacular views of the DC skyline.

Continue along the board walk until you hit Fiola Mare restaurant (or you get bored of people watching). Then reverse your course back to your car!

Total Distance: 4.5 miles


Workout Wednesdays Are Here!


Welcome to the first edition of “Workout Wednesday” – a chance for us to share our favorite workouts that you can do in the comfort of your apartment, school or office gym!

The workout this week comes courtesy of District Crossfit (DCF) located at 1525 Half Street SW. DCF’s slim fit  program is designed to be less intimidating and more accessible than its regular classes, making it a perfect fit for people who don’t have regular access to Olympic style weight-lifting equipment.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Crossfit (or the lingo) their website is a great resource and explains all of the basic movements featured in this workout through a series of 45 second instructional videos.

The best part? This workout can be adapted to fit whatever equipment you have on hand; for instance, you can do step-ups on a bench rather than box jumps, and bent over rows instead of ring curls.

Let us know what you think!



Does a Pricier Class Mean a Better Workout? We Compare the Cost Per Calorie Burned at D.C.’s Most Popular Boutique Cycling Gyms to Find Out


We spend a lot of time at On The Glow talking about fitness on a budget because – let’s face it – most young professionals in DC can barely afford their parking space, let alone a $30 drop-in fee at their favorite gym.

That said, it takes a lot less motivation to complete a prescribed workout as part of a group fitness class than it does to go for a 5 mile run by yourself. Not to mention that the structure of most fitness classes ensures that you spend your time at the gym being active (and not just sitting on a stationary bike reading US Weekly).

The demand for efficient, high energy workouts is part of the reason that spinning has become so popular with cardio-lovers in the District. The movements are simple, the pace is fast and virtually every class promises a 45-60 minute all-you-can-sweat-fest.

With the wealth of cycling studios around the city, there’s a membership to fit every budget – but what kind of workout are you really getting for your money?

With the help of our trusty heart rate monitors and smart watches, we took spin classes at 3 of the city’s most popular boutique cycling studios to see which gym offers the most bang for your buck.

The Answer? Biker Barre if you’re a frequent spinner, FlyWheel if you’re high on energy, but short on time and Off-Road if you’re feeling technical.

Biker Barre – 738 7th Street SE


Biker Barre is a locally owned spin and barre studio that has earned a cult following with the Hill crowd for its unpretentious feel and music driven classes.

Tucked away in an unassuming row home on 7th street SE, owners Jane Brodsky & Katie Geffken have embraced a pared down approach to fitness that focuses less on technology and more on technique.

The spin studio itself is similarly understated, dimly lit by a handful of candles beneath the instructor’s podium, giving the room a relaxing, almost meditative quality; but don’t be fooled – the lighting is the only relaxing part of spin classes at Biker Barre.

Given that there’s no torque or RPM sensor on these bikes, riders are encouraged to push themselves as hard as they can over the course of a 45 minute class. Since 100% effort is different for every rider, we pushed ourselves harder than we do following a normal class.

The instructor wasn’t afraid to go heavy on the torque herself, which – combined with a great workout playlist that wasn’t exclusively EDM – motivated us to reach a record high heart rate of 181 bpm.

Fair warning, the bikes are older and more basic than most other studios in the District, and the sound system leaves a lot to be desired – but, weirdly enough, that’s part of Biker Barre’s charm.

Our two cents: If you’re looking for a community driven studio where you can break a sweat without breaking the bank, Biker Barre should be number one on your list.

$25 per class / 354 cals = 7cents per cal

$150 unlimited spin and barre (assuming 2 classes per week) / 354 cals = 5 cents per cal

$15 student/military/teacher class = 4 cents per cal

FlyWheel Sports – 824 9th Street NW


Walk into FlyWheel and you might think you’ve been magically transported to a cycling studio in the year 2030. Located at CityCentre in the heart of D.C., the modern space has been optimized for convenience and efficiency in order to better serve its corporate clientele.

IPad log-in stations, complimentary shoe rentals and RPM/torque sensors on each bike are just a few of the perks of membership. No more lines – especially great for people short on time or patience – and no more toting around those sweaty sneakers in your gym bag for the rest of the afternoon.

Enter the stadium (FlyWheel’s name for its futuristic spin room) and you’ll immediately feel as if you’re in a Miami nightclub. Uplighting and the latest hits from your favorite artists set the tone for a high energy class, which is matched from start to finish by the intensity of the hard-bodied instructor.

Unlike some other studios, the instructors at FlyWheel cue their classes using the RPM and torque sensors on each bike. If you’re remotely competitive (which we are) then you’ll love ‘The Leader Board’ – a running scoreboard which ranks your power output relative to your fellow FlyWheelers.

The class was one of the toughest we’ve been to in the city – but a few things need to be said.

First off, for all of its conveniences, FlyWheel doesn’t have an adequate number of showers to serve the morning and lunch rush crowds. Yesterday morning, the line-up to get a rinse was 8 deep! Forget trying to put your makeup on either, because space in the bathroom is at a premium during peak hours.

Second, while rental shoes are really convenient, they’re also really gross. Who wants to put on someone else’s used footwear?

Our two cents: Regardless of where you stand on the issue of sweaty sneakers, we can all agree that FlyWheel offers an unparalleled riding experience. If you love gadgets and integrating the latest technology into your workouts, then you need to try FlyWheel.

$28 per class / 405 cals = 7 cents per cal

$350 unlimited spin and barre (assuming 2 classes per week) / 405 cals = 11 cents per cal

$18 student class = 4 cents per cal

Off Road DC – 637 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

offroad.pngOff-Road DC is a homegrown fitness studio that specializes in the three B’s: Bike, Box and Build. By including a mix of cycling and cross training classes in their weekly schedule, they claim to offer one of the most effective full body workouts in the District.

If their popularity is anything to go on, Off-Road’s claims aren’t far from the truth; in fact, the flagship studio located in the U-street corridor has performed so well that they’ve recently opened a second location on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Their newest studio is located in the shadow of Capitol Hill and has an old-world, industrial feel – think exposed brick walls, duct work and surgical steel light fixtures. This aesthetic is in stark contrast to the spin studio, which is packed with high-performance Stages bikes and a blank screen for virtual rides.

At the beginning of each workout, the instructor explains that an image mirroring the power output from your bike will be projected onto the wall in front of the class – allowing you to keep your head up, rather than fixated on the torque meter.  5 minutes into class, the instructor leads you through a 5 minute test, which allows the computer software to determine your relative maximum power output, which is also projected on the wall and helps you pace your ride.

Sound complicated?

We thought so too.

There was so much explanation involved that our heart rate stayed conspicuously low relative to other studios. While it was certainly helpful for our first class, the mere thought of being a regular here and listening to the same spiel every day made us want to poke our eyes out with rusty spoons.

Our two cents: Great equipment, cool space, and one of the most affordable boutique spin studios out there – just try to go after you’ve had a cup of coffee.

$22 per class / 371 cals = 6 cents

$199 unlimited bike, box and build / 371 cals = 7 cents