Blogs, apps, and experts to follow for healthy-living in D.C.

BY DANIEL GOMEZ

Finding a good and inexpensive workout in Washington isn’t easy, and combing through the internet for the best deal presents an even bigger headache. That’s why for this post, we are going to introduce you to some local fitness blogs, experts, and mobile apps that make finding the right gym quick and easy.

Follow one or all of them, and the next time you learn a new way to sweat in the District, share your experience with us and let us know how you fared.

Blogs

  1. Eat Pray Run DC

What it’s about: Courtney was a high school sprinter who stopped running and years later returned to it as a form of stress relief and self-confidence, participating in marathons and half-marathons all over the United States. Her blog chronicles her competitions, provides tips for runners, and shares the ingredients of her favorite food recipes.

  1. Fannetastic Food

What it’s about: Anne is a registered dietician with dozens of recipes for breakfast, baked goods, soups, seafood, desserts, etc. A DC resident, she also has a passion for running and traveling. She started Fannetastic Food in 2009 as way to help others “lead happier, healthier lives.” As of April 2017, she has been featured on CNN, the Huffington Post, and BuzzFeed.

    3TheFitCrasher

What it’s about: Meaghan is a former collegiate athlete and “fitness fanatic” who started her own blog to review the best boutique gyms, gear, and fitness trends in Washington, D.C. She now lives in New York City, where she works with a team of “sweat connoisseurs” in different cities to review the best fitness options nationwide.

Instagram Accounts

  1. Thefitdistrict

fitdistrict

Thefitdistrict shares photos of Washingtonians all over the District, finding different and exciting ways to sweat and stay motivated.

  1. Ingrid Nelson

ingrid nelson

A local Nike master trainer, Ingrid Nelson was named D.C.’s best personal trainer by Washingtonian Magazine in 2013. She offers private one-on-one training and group training classes at the Nike Store in Georgetown. Her Instagram page has garnered 4,310 followers, displaying photos of some of her exciting adventures.

  1. DistrictCrossFit

district crossfit

District CrossFit remains one of the best CrossFit gyms in D.C. Their approach to working out redefines strength training and is extremely popular amongst men and women who are serious about getting in shape.

Mobile Apps

  1. ClassPass

What is it? ClassPass is a monthly fitness membership that lets you work out at the best studios and gyms near you. The mobile app is free and is perfect for anyone in the District who wants to venture outside their comfort zone. It gives you access to countless gyms and gives you the freedom to choose where you want to train.

  1. 7 Minute Workout by Wahoo Fitness

What is it? The 7-minute workout app is a free fitness app designed for anyone who cannot afford, does not have access to, or does not have enough time to go the gym. The app has a 4.8 rating on iTunes and offers in-app purchases for cardio, core, and Pilates training. Great for any Washingtonians who are looking for a time-saving alternative to traditional gyms.

  1. TrainGo

What is it? TrainGo is another free fitness app that offers people access to trainers, gyms, and classes, working around their schedules to provide them with the most options possible. Another app that’s great for working professionals.

Hopefully, you enjoyed our list and discovered some places where you can look for motivation or find your latest fix. Feel free to tell us what you think in the comments section down below.

Workout Wednesdays: Is SoulCycle Really Worth the $34 Drop-in? We Saddled up to Find Out!

BY MARSALIE MACKENZIE, DANIEL GOMEZ, MARIBEL PADIAL AND DOMINIQUE YOUNGBLOOD

SoulCycle is one of the hottest fitness chains in the U.S. right now, but at $34 a class, it’s as well known for its star studded clientele as it is for its outrageous drop-in fees.

Still, with frequent waitlists at each of SoulCycle’s 4 D.C. locations, we couldn’t help but wonder: Are we missing out on the best workout of our lives?

To put our curiosity to rest, we saddled up at SoulCycle locations across the city to see for ourselves what the hype is about. The reviews are in, and let’s just say that some of us weren’t quite “soul’d” on this new fitness craze.

MARSALIE: I like to think of myself as a spin enthusiast. I cycle an average of 5 days a week and have sampled 90% of the boutique spin studios in the District. That’s probably why my friends were shocked when I mentioned that I’d never been to SoulCycle before; although, I was quick to point out that I’d also never been offered a free pass before (which matters when you’re paying $34 a session after shoe rental).

Before I start my review, I’ve got to say this: guys – I wanted to love this class. I really, really did – but no matter how many times you tell me that Oprah and Lady Gaga are clients, it won’t change the fact that it’s just a normal spin class. Well, a normal class that costs as much as a full tank of gas.

In case you think I’m being totally unfair here, let me break it down into 3 categories for you: the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good: Don’t get me wrong, I see the appeal of SoulCycle. It’s modern, clean and totally elitist.  It’s also the fitness home of Washington’s most beautiful people, which makes it a place to see and be seen.

On top of the superficial reasons to like SoulCycle, the teacher was incredibly talented. He brought a ton of energy and provided clear instruction over some very loud music. He’s the biggest reason that I’m giving the class three stars instead of one.

The Bad: The studio felt reminiscent of an experience I had in my early twenties in an Eastern European discotheque: sweaty bodies crammed in a room like sardines, the smell of heavy, stale air doing its best to muffle the very loud, pulsating techno music….

The workout definitely got my heart rate up, but I’m pretty sure it was just my anxiety. They offer ear plugs at the front desk, which in hindsight would have been really helpful.

The Ugly: What kind of sadist has 60 bikes in a 400 sq ft space with NO FANS. Actually, I’m lying- there were 4 tiny fans, but you’d never know because they were never switched on.

I was covered in sweat at the end of class and I’m pretty sure only half of it was mine. This is especially gross because I’m sweating in someone else’s rental shoes. It actually makes me want to throw out my socks just thinking about it…..

Rating: crop three star

DANNY: As a 24-year old male who had never attended a spinning class before, I was not disappointed with my first experience at SoulCycle Georgetown. My 7:30 p.m. class was led by a spirited instructor named DJ who encouraged first-time riders to find their form and focus on pace, playing hip-hop songs while the studio was almost pitch black.

Although the class lasted roughly 45 minutes, it took me less than 10 to work up a full sweat considering the crammed space inside the studio and the fact that only four small fans were used to regulate air periodically throughout the workout. The session and shoe rental cost about $34, which is a lot considering I pay $30 a month for my membership at WSC.

Now, was it worth the money? Yes, but after your first session (which covers the shoe rental) it is difficult gauge the value of training at SoulCycle.

The Good: 1. Great atmosphere-openness to both men and women, friendly staff, proactive instructors; 2. It makes you sweat A LOT (which as my 11th grade phys ed coach used say is the point of a good workout); 3. Loud Hip-Hop Music + Lights Off + Bike = Fun, energizing workout.

If it works for Bradley Cooper and Tyler Perry, it can work for men everywhere. That being said, it is an expensive workout. But it is also one that with the right amount of practice and dedication can easily tone your body and quickly burn calories.

The Bad: It is pricey at $34 a session for just 45 minutes. Most guys I know could do without the loud music and fancy equipment, and put that money to better use.

But it is not a complete waste of time because there is some method to their madness. Still, finding people in the District who are willing to throw down that much money for a 45-minute workout is unrealistic.

The Ugly: Although I felt great after I left, the actual workout inside the studio was one big, stuffy, sweaty mess. The bikes were crammed together, the doors were closed, and the fans were turned off for a majority of the workout. I have never tried Zengo or Flywheel, but I imagine there more focused on making you sweat through exercise instead of conditioning.

But as someone who’s played team sports his whole life, the sweatiness didn’t bother me as much as it bothered some of the others in the class.

Overall, I give SoulCycle 4 stars out 5. It didn’t live up to all my expectations, but it did teach me something: men shouldn’t feel intimidated to enter a cycling studio. It’s a great and invigorating workout. Was it worth the price? Not to me, but the experience was worth the curiosity, and I definitely recommend everyone try it at least once.

Rating: fourstar

MARIBEL: Spinning is one of my favorite exercises. I have tried Soul Cycle, Fly Wheel, and Zengo. When Soul Cycle first began opening studios in New York City a few years back, I bought a package and was a regular there. Now I typically go to spin classes at Zengo because it’s cheaper and I like the classes better. In my opinion, the instructors are better, classes are harder, and the bikes are more sturdy.

I hadn’t been to a Soul Cycle class in almost a year and I thought I would enjoy it. I took the class with Dominique and Danny. I went into this class excited and with an open mind but I left disappointed. Let’s just say you won’t be seeing me at another Soul Cycle class.

The Good: Spinning is a great form of cardio. Your heart is pumping and your legs burning from all the sprints, hills, and dance moves you do on the bike.  I came out of the class  looking like I had just done laps in a swimming pool, which is typically a good indicator that it was tough workout. The instructor does a good job of motivating you throughout the class by screaming encouraging words through sprints and counting down until you sit back in your seat to get a sip of water. I also like that the room is dark, so you don’t feel self-conscious if you need to take a break or struggle keeping up with the other cyclists. Another plus, is that the studio is well kept and the bikes are clean as well.

The music was also very upbeat, which especially helps during an intense workout class.

The Bad: My biggest complaint is the instructor. I thought he did a poor job of directing the class. The class did not seem to have any flow. He just bounced around from song to song and wasn’t even on his bike, so the cyclists could mirror him. Especially if you are new to Soul Cycle, it would have been especially hard to follow the class.

The previous classes I have done the instructor would mix it up making the class more engaging and time went by quicker.

The Ugly: Another big thing I didn’t like were the bikes. They felt so flimsy and my back hurt a lot after my workout. The bikes at the other studios I go to are in much better condition and sturdier. I also feel like the studios are too crammed. It is obvious that the set up of the room is aimed at trying to fit as many spin bikes as possible. I felt crammed in the room as you can have someone next to you in a four directions.

I hope my review doesn’t completely deter you from trying a class out. I think spinning is a great exercise and everyone should try it at least once. There are so many spin studios in D.C. I recommend going to one because the classes are usually free!

Rating: twostar

Upcoming Events for Fitness Lovers

BY DOMINIQUE YOUNGBLOOD

Here it is – the best fitness events coming to the DMV this summer! This is a great way to get out and be active in this beautiful sun. These events are all cheap, and sometimes even free. Grab a friend, grab a partner and get those bodies right.

  1. Here’s a free event for the ladies! Go ahead and get your cute tanks and spanks out for the Women’s Health and Fitness Expo. This is not only an opportunity to learn new exercises, but also a great networking opportunity. The expo will be filled with health screenings, nutrition workshops, demos, shopping, personal trainers, and a lot more. Of course, this is not an event we can show up to in our pumps, but we can still make a statement. I am always looking for new fun classes to take. Meet me there! Free registry here!
  2. There’s no event that’s more powerful or inspiring for just five bucks than the “Nurture your W.E.A.L.T.H.” Health & Wellness Dance Expo. This event is also for the ladies, and is perfect for getting tips on how to manage and balance your personal life with your fitness life; It IS possible! Ladies, this event is on Mother’s Day Weekend, so this is the perfect idea for an outing with your mom. This is not about intense workouts! For Zumba, Hip Hop, Dancehall, African, Belly Dancing, GoGo and Line Dancing in a fun atmosphere, you can’t beat this event! $5 registry here!
  3. Here is an event for the fitness and music lovers out there! Add some spice and rhythm to your fitness routines. Learn about all dance classes, exercises, and new moves. You can even meet some dance groups and network. Silver Spring Health and Wellness Expo at The Dance Fitness Festival will be a load of fun. There will be raffle drawings for prizes – and this event is totally in our budget at just five bucks a ticket! $5 registry here!
  4. Here’s a free event for the whole family. Bring your kids, friends, parents, grandparents and anyone else you know who’s ever wanted to live a healthier lifestyle! Staying on top of our health is extremely important. We must know our bodies and stay on top of our health care needs. This comes before fitness! Come check out healthcare professionals, practitioners, fitness gurus, and health service providers at The PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY Family, Health, and Home EXPO! Free registration here!
  5. Ladies, here’s a Zumbathon you don’t want to miss! The Positive Sisterhood 6th Annual Zumbathon in Capitol Heights, MD will have health screenings, Zumba Demos, Cardio Fitness Demos, Chair Dancing Demos, Mixxedfit Demos, and personal training info. Of course, there will be great music as well! Come ready to break a sweat! $15 early bird registration here!

Take advantage of these wallet friendly events this summer. Being broke is no excuse not stay on top of your health and stay fit. None of these events require expensive membership or contracts. Plus, this is a great way to network with fitness lovers in our area! Get out and have some fun!

 

 

Which ‘Best Gym’ in DC is Right for You

BY DANIEL GOMEZ

Now, even though here at On the Glow we promote a savvy fitness lifestyle, we’re aware that saving money all the time isn’t a practical option for working professionals who prefer to go the gym instead of exercising outdoors, or people who enjoy buying smoothies instead of recreating them at home with grocery store items. That’s why for this post I am going to review and rate some of the most popular gyms in DC, places where you can maximize your spending dollars and find the workout that works best for you.

For the sake of this post, I won’t be reviewing boutique gyms (CrossFit, cycling, yoga studios, etc.), just those that offer monthly memberships and have become part of the lifestyle of many Washingtonians: Washington Sports Clubs, VIDA Fitness, and Balance Gym. I will break down what each gym offers, assess their accessibility, outline their pros and cons, and determine which is the best based on their value.

Balance Gym

Balance. It’s a word you hear a lot on Capitol Hill. It does not all have to do with balancing budgets as much as it has to do with Balance Gym, the workout place of many congressional staffers and DC residents. Balance has been consistently rated DC’s top gym because of its numerous classes, convenient locations, and community-like atmosphere, and we find no reason to disagree with others’ assessment.

Hours: Weekdays 6:00 a.m.- 10:00 p.m., Weekends 8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.

Locations: Four: Thomas Circle, Glover Park, Foggy Bottom, and Capitol Hill.

Amenities: Crossfit, Pilates, Dance Trance, and Physical Therapy (one of the only gyms in DC with in-house physical therapy services)

Offers memberships ranging from: $64- $89 per month

Pros: Reasonable pricing, great locations, Zumba, barre, and Piloxing (Pilates-boxing-dancing combo), high customer satisfaction

Cons: Only four locations, can get overcrowded

Grade: A

Balance is DC’s best gym for a variety of reasons, and at the end of the day it all comes down to customer satisfaction. How many gyms do you know with a weekly barbell club where its members routinely schedule happy hour together? Or a gym that offers a slew of classes in yoga, pilates, Crossfit, barre, and Zumba, and is also reasonably priced per month? Balance just proves how committed Washingtonians are to fitness, and how much they’re willing to throw down to get the most bang for their buck.

VIDA Fitness

While I have heard mixed reviews about VIDA, I tend to meet more satisfied than dissatisfied members from the popular gym. Memberships don’t come cheap here, but you won’t hear a lot of complaints from members in a gym that offers candlelight yoga, scenic ride cycling, kaishido kickboxing, and an hour-long boot camp program. The Yards location looks like something out of a Ridley Scott movie, and the intensity and liveliness of group classes are enough to keep anyone from leaving.

Hours: Weekdays 5:00 a.m. – 11 p.m., Weekends 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Locations: Six: City Vista, Metropole, Renaissance Hotel, U Street, Verizon, The Yards

Amenities: Studios, Aura Spa, Smoothie Bar, pool, quality weights and machines

Offers memberships ranging from: $70- $129 per month

Pros: Top-notch amenities, highly rated group classes, current members receive discounts at several businesses in D.C., including Bike Rack DC, Chop’t, and U Street Music Hall.

Cons: Pricey memberships, can get crowded

Grade: B+

Although VIDA is one of the pricier gyms in DC, many of its members love everything it has to offer. Many young professionals frequent the gym’s six locations and remain extremely loyal to the brand VIDA’s built in DC. If you can afford $70 a month and are serious about getting a good workout 4 to 5 days a week, this gym will definitely be one of your better options.

Washington Sports Clubs

When I first moved to D.C., I did not have the luxury of weighing the benefits between a $70/month or a $250/month gym membership. I did what most people do; I explored nearby gyms and found the one that was not too fancy, not too expensive, and allowed me to get a good workout every day. The winner was Washington Sports Clubs, a neighborhood gym with several locations in DC.

Hours: Weekdays 5:00 a.m. – 11 p.m., Weekends (Varies, usually 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.)

Locations: Seven, including Columbia Heights, Downtown, Dupont Circle, F Street, Gallery Place, Georgetown, Glover Park

Amenities: Sauna, Spinning Studio, 24/7 Personal Trainers (with fee), Pool (depends on the location), 59 different types of classes

Offers memberships ranging from: $29.99- $69.99 per month

Pros: Multiple locations, easy accessible, friendly environment, reasonable pricing.

Cons: Not fully loaded like other gyms, some locations lack enough space, staff-friendliness varies from gym to gym.

Grade: B

WSC is one of the more reasonably priced gyms in DC. It has the essentials, but not some of the fancier stuff you might see at VIDA or Balance. Its multiple locations and numerous classes make it extremely accessible. And although the club is not universally loved by Washingtonians, it is still a great option for anyone who wants to save a few extra bucks on a monthly membership.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree/disagree with my grades? What are your favorite gyms in DC and why? Leave your comments down below.

My Newest Shopping Picks for Summer Workouts

By DOMINIQUE YOUNGBLOOD

I love to be comfortable during my workouts and especially while attending body pump classes at Gold’s Gym. Of course leggings or spanks are the best to get the best workout. As much as I would love to throw on one of my oversized t-shirts that are stashed in my drawers, that may not be the best idea. Big t-shirts actually get in the way of machines at the gym. Cotton absorbs too much sweat, and that would be a bit nasty.

As a young working professional, I’d prefer to put my money into professional attire, meaning workout clothes should be the least of my worries. However, I do still like to match all the time just to be stylish. There are all types to save on clothing and remain within a strict budget.

More do’s and don’ts about workout wear can be found one of my many favorite USA Today articles!

Summer time is right around the corner and I know the ladies will be shopping for cute, and colorful workout clothes. Here some of my new favorite picks for the season:

  1. Ladies, we can never go wrong with a great sports bra. They are the most important investment. This can be worn with or without a shirt or tank over it. The ideal budget for a great sports bra should be no more than $18.00. Remember, the goal is to save your bucks and still be stylish. This sports bra is priced at $14.99.
  2. Here are great leggings, referred to as mesh capris from one of my favorites, TX Maxx! The best part about this material is that it sucks the moisture away from your skin, and keeps you feeling dry. Pink is a great color when attempting to workout in style. The mesh bottom and colored strip add a fun look. These are priced at $14.99! Great deal. My ideal limit to spend on quality leggings is $20.00.
  3. These great pearl performance running sneakers are colorful and good quality! They come in five different bright color combinations and are definitely full of life. They are priced at $34.99. My ideal limit to spend on great sneakers is $50-60.
  4. Here are a pair of Active Now chic bike shorts that also have the option of a matching sports bra top. This allows us to show off our shape and legs. These can also be worn during winter workouts with sweatpants over them. My favorite workout class is Body Pump, so biker shorts work for me while I do my squat exercises. These shorts are priced at $12.90. My ideal budget for shorts is $14.00.
  5. This Active Crisscross back jumpsuit is stylish and convenient! This will definitely make a statement and easy to move around in. This is ideal for outdoor workouts and great for intense stretching. I love the crisscross back and the trendy appearance. This is priced at $27.90. My ideal budget for a jumpsuit would be $25-$30.
  6. You can never have too many graphic tanks to workout in. They can go great with leggings or shorts, and often coordinate with your sneakers. This “Beat You to It” tank is also bright and very motivational. This is priced at $7.90. My ideal budget for tank tops are $5-$10.
  7. Here are some skinny color block leggings that can be worn for both working out or just running errands on a comfy day. They are very stylish, firm fitting, and stretchable. They are priced at $15.88.

Here’s a challenge! Try setting a budget for your workout clothes. Whether it is $20-$50, try to see what you can get when you squeeze your coins. Remember, it IS possible to shop for cute and STYLE!

My Secret to Maintaining Natural Hair While Being a Gym Rat

By DOMINIQUE YOUNGBLOOD

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.

Convenience

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.

Workout Wednesdays: Smoothie Tasting Day

BY DOMINIQUE YOUNGBLOOD, MARSALIE MACKENZIE, MARIBEL PADIAL, AND DANIEL GOMEZ

Today at the On the Glow, we joined forces to recreate our favorite smoothies and sample each others favorites. The result was one big, tasty, and healthy success. Our recipes are listed below:

Danny’s Smoothie:

  • 1/2 cup of pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup frozen peaches

Marsalie’s Smoothie:

  • 1/3 cup ground oats
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp. nut butter
  • 1/2 cup ripe mango
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 150g coconut yogurt

Maribel’s Smoothie:

  • 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup of kale
  • 1/2 cup of almond milk

Video credit to Danny, Marsalie, Maribel, and Dominique, and a special editing credit to Dominique.