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.


My Secret to Maintaining Natural Hair While Being a Gym Rat


Here’s my secret to maintaining natural hair as a gym-rat: PROTECTIVE STYLES! When I say “protective” styles, I am referring to hairstyles that I wear to protect my natural hair against any heat, sun, or chemicals. Heat was a huge factor behind my previous hair damage and I am now proud to say that I do not use flat irons or blow dryers anymore. In fact, I got rid of them. I am all for any style that I see that doesn’t include any source of heat! My best advice to everyone is to not be afraid of braids, twists, or buns. You can pull off almost hundreds of different looks from any of those three categories. Of course you have many other options such as weaves, wig/customized units, simple ponytails, or afros, but these three are my go-to styles.

My pictures below are just a few of the styles that I’ve rocked in the past six months that have done wonders for me:

Hitting the gym three to four times a week with natural hair and no protective style can almost be a nightmare. As you know, once opting out of relaxers (for me since 2008), keeping those roots under control becomes one of your biggest priorities! The amount of sweat and secretions our bodies release during a workout is very high, and they come straight through our pores and roots of our hair.


While working and being a graduate student, time is never in my favor. My day to day life is filled with hustle and bustle, and I often do not have time or energy to deal with hair during the week. Besides heat and chemical protecting, CONVENIENCE is the second most important reason why protective styles are now my way to go. I get wear out of my styles for 2-3 weeks, sometimes even a month at a time! Hair is rarely ever in my morning routine (besides snatching my scarf off on my way out). This makes my life so simple. No matter how much I sweat during my workouts, all it takes is a quick brush for my buns. With my braids or twists, it takes nothing at all! Buns are also very professional and simple for those who work in an office setting. My hair style for the week or next two to three weeks, does not have to be ruined every time I go to the gym. Surprisingly, I prefer braided styles and twists over weaves, simply because weave maintenance can sometimes take just as much time, money, and energy as natural hair.

Healthiness and Growth Through the Sweat

Between my protective styles, I make sure to get my protein treatments and my ends trimmed every 6-8 weeks. This helps to even out any dead ends or shedding. My natural hair grows faster when my ends are trimmed and I keep my Marley Twist styles in for about three to four weeks. I double up on my green vegetables to maintain the strength of my hair. My love for greens is almost insane. Every chance I get to add a salad to my meal, extra spinach to my pizza, or drink a green smoothie, I take it. This makes up for my lack of time to actually make home cooked meals often. I still make sure to get those greens in! Buns are essential between braided and twisted styles to give your hair and edges a break from tension. Be sure to constantly drink water during your workout!

Check out my previous green smoothie blog post to get my insight in-depth about how important greens are to my life.

I also take my daily hair vitamins; click here for more info.

Since I’ve began my journey with Mielle Organic vitamins, I’ve seen the difference in the strength of my hair and the constant new growth. This is a great source to amino acids and minerals. It also strengthens the immune system. I always make sure to stay stocked with these vitamins, in addition to chugging down as much water and green smoothies as possible.

My Stylist:

Shawntia Barringer

District Heights, MD

Natural Hair and Weave Stylist

6316 Marlboro Pike

Check out another exclusive video I’ve done featuring Shawntia, addressing the challenges of African American women with natural hair.