Mar 16 2014

The Truth About Flexibility And Why You Are Likely Wasting Your Efforts Part 3

Erik Strouse, MS
VIDA Fitness Trainer

Welcome back VIDA members. Last month I started on the idea of flexibility and how there’s far more to it than just static stretching. The last article posted talked about Self-Myofascial Release (SMFR) being the first step to any sound flexibility program. Again, the Fascia is the thin membranous tissue around the actual muscle that provides us our structure; it is something that can easily limit our range of motion, thus needs to be targeted first.

Step #2 to a sound flexibility program still pertains to the Fascial system, but also to the idea of muscular dysfunction that was discussed in Part 1. Remember, muscles tighten up because they are inactive or shortened for extended periods of time like when we sit down all day. This has to do with the central nervous system and it’s ability to activate muscle tissue, as well as the shortened length not allowing proper muscle force development after having adapted to the shortened length. In other words, it creates muscular dysfunction through the entire system where certain muscles simply don’t operate as designed.

In order to re-lengthen the muscles back to an optimal length, you have to “stretch” them, but more importantly, you also have to train the dysfunction out of them. Static stretching does not train the dysfunction out of the system! All it will do is lengthen in a single plain of movement. If you do not train the dysfunction out of the body, even though that muscle tissue has lengthened, you will find your body tightening itself back up.

So how do you train away the dysfunction? Our body is designed to move in THREE Dimensions. We bend, twist, and move in an infinite number of ways. Static stretching is a ONE Dimensional process. You can literally only stretch that muscle tissue one specific way when holding a static stretch. In order to start training that dysfunction away, you have to start moving and training the body in three dimensions. Officially, step #2 is Dynamic Flexibility.


Dynamic flexibility is 100% related to the movement you are trying to gain or improve. For example, let’s say you have really tight calves, and it is altering the way you run. In order to improve your flexibility specific to running, you would have to position your body in the three stances that are found in the gait cycle. They are the Load Stance, Midstance, and Terminal stance. The picture included shows theses stances, but also includes Initial Contact, which is more or less the Load Stance. You can use a few stairs and bench to get in these positions with relative ease.
When in these stances, you are then going to maneuver the body around using what are called “drivers”. Drivers are when you pick a body part, such as your hips, shoulders, or hands, and then move them forward and back, side to side, and then rotate them. The movement at the selected driver will then translate down to the feet and up to the head through a chain of movements all linked together. This will start to train the muscles throughout the entire length of the body to fire when needed through the aforementioned chain of movements. Over time, the more you do this, the more you will train the dysfunction away. This is somewhat hard to conceptualize without seeing an example; so I would love to show you a quick walk through should you have interest. Again, you can always send me an email at

Stay tuned later this month for another post on flexibility. There are two more phases to proper flexibility training! In the mean time, get to that SMFR!

Mar 13 2014

VIDA Fitness Group Instructor Profile — Juliet Stovall

_DSC0057 VIDA Fitness instructor Juliet Stovall has the knowledge, enthusiasm, and physique of a woman who has been working out for her entire life. But she hadn’t stepped foot in a gym, nor participated in official group sports, until her late 20s – and not necessarily by choice.

“When I was coming up, Richmond was just integrating its schools,” she said, explaining why she hadn’t participated in team sports in high school. “I went from a black environment to all-white environment, where it was just 20 blacks and 1500 whites. So there was still a lot of segregation and discrimination, and we couldn’t play on different teams, and we couldn’t use the equipment at school.”

She said she’d pass around a basketball with her friends after-hours on the courts, and in her early 20s, participate on office softball teams. But she didn’t enter a gym until age 27, after receiving a 2-week free trial. She fell in love with it, and has “been in the gym ever since” – mostly doing group fitness.

“I always liked group fitness, I always liked being in a group,” she said. “You can feed off the energy, and people talking back and forth.”

Juliet started teaching at VIDA Fitness when it opened, a little over seven years ago. After serving as the group fitness manager, she realized she “didn’t want to work at a desk” and wanted to devote her time to being in the classroom.

“I found that teaching was my heart,” she said.

Currently, Juliet teaches VIDA Body, VIDA Rx, cycling, and yoga classes; and for each of them, she emphasizes that anyone with any background can join.

“One reason why I do feel that I’m all-inclusive is that I couldn’t do these things before,” she said. “And I can see when people come into a class if they’re feeling like, I’m not a part of this. You can actually see it on their face: I don’t belong. I have to get in shape before I come into this class. And I try to dispel that as soon as they walk in the door.”

It’s tricky to facilitate a feeling of belonging, but Juliet has a strategy. “A woman was like that today, she was sort of hanging out by the door looking around, and I grabbed her a mat and said, ‘Ok, come over here in the front!’ I didn’t give her time to get nervous. I grabbed her weights, and told her to start on her own, take her time. And of course two minutes in she was fine. Nobody’s paying attention because they’re all doing their own thing.”

“Mine was a black-white issue,” she says of the discriminatory and non-inclusive environment where she grew up. But that doesn’t mean that divides don’t still exist between gender, age, and athletic abilities; and Juliet strives to bring down these barriers in her classroom.

“You have old women in here that want to be a part, and they can stand right next to a 21-year-old guy who’s pushing it, and they can all do their thing,” she said. “Just include everybody. Deconditioned women, from whatever age, they want to be there too. So it’s like, can I teach to everybody? That’s what I want to do.”

Mar 11 2014

Healthy Lifestyle Tip: Trendy Proteins

Sick and tired of the usual protein suspects? These up-and-coming protein foods will help liven up your menus and surprise your taste buds.

Black Lentils. Black quinoa, black rice, and black lentils; just a half cup of cooked black lentils packs in about 12 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber, a powerful nutritious combo that helps keep you full and energized.

Low-fat or Nonfat Kefir. Kefir is a cultured milk drink that’s thick and tangy (sort of like a drinkable yogurt) – and like other dairy products, it crams a lot of good nutrition into a small package. One cup of plain, nonfat kefir (90 calories) provides 11 grams of high-quality protein, 30 percent of the recommend daily value for calcium and a blast of tummy-friendly probiotics.

Chia Seeds. They are especially rich in plant omega-3 fats, like the more popular flaxseeds and ounce for ounce, chia seeds contain more fiber and calcium than flax. Use chia seeds just as you would other seeds or chopped nuts; try them sprinkled on oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, or cottage cheese, or mixed into dips or salad dressings. Unlike flax, you don’t need to grind them first because they’re completely digestible in whole form.

Tempeh. Tempeh is a fermented soy food made from cooked whole soybeans that have been treated with cultures and formed into a dense, chewy cake. Though traditional tempeh contains only soybeans, many brands on the market today also incorporate grains, vegetables, and seasonings. A four-ounce serving of tempeh provides about 18 grams of vegetarian protein, along with an impressive 8 to 10 grams of fiber. It has a firmer, meatier texture and a stronger flavor than its more popular “soy sister”, tofu. Create tasty meatless meals by substituting chopped tempeh for ground meat in tacos or chili recipes or adding sliced tempeh to a vegetable stir-fry.

Quinoa. Considered a whole grain, quinoa is actually a protein-rich seed with an impressive nutritional profile. A cup of quinoa provides 8 grams of protein, which is twice the amount found in other starches like brown rice or oats. It is also loaded with fiber, magnesium, and iron. The best news about quinoa: It’s as easy to make as rice and cooks up in just 15 minutes (prepare with low-sodium broth instead of water to add more flavor). Use quinoa as a base for stir-fries, add veggies or chopped nuts to make a pilaf, or layer it with nonfat yogurt and chopped fruit for a chic parfait.

Protein is the golden child of the nutrition world right now, thanks to plenty of research showing that including protein at meals helps suppress appetite and aids in weight loss. And the benefits don’t stop there: This multitasking nutrient also helps to improve focus, regulate blood sugar, and maximize strength.

Mar 10 2014

Bright Beginnings 5k at Hains Point

brightWe have a VIDA team for this year’s Bright Beginnings 5k that takes place on Sunday, March 23rd at 8:00am at Hains Point. Please join us for this local charity run to support DC’s homeless children. Here’s some additional information about the charity and the race.

Put your feet in motion on Sunday, March 23 at the 2014 Bright Beginnings 5K for homeless children and families in DC.

Bright Beginnings, Inc. is a 501(c)3 organization that provides educational, therapeutic, health and family services free of charge to homeless infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, and their families.

All proceeds from the 5K directly support Bright Beginnings’ programming that prepares young children for kindergarten and helps their families get back on their feet. Run, walk, or join the stroller brigade!

Here’s the link to register, or if you’re not interested in running you can donate for the cause. When you go to register, select “register/join a team” and type in “VIDA” when it prompts you. It’s $30 to sign up. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions, and I hope to see you out there!!


Mar 8 2014

VIDA Fitness Member Profiles — Johnnie and Matt

jonmatt This month we profile VIDA Fitness Members Johnnie and Matt. Johnnie and Matt frequent VIDA Fitness Group Fitness Instructor Juliet Stovall’s Saturday morning classes (VIDA Body and VIDA RX). We sat down with Johnnie and Matt to learn about how Juliet’s classes fit into their fitness plans.

So why do you wake up early on Saturday morning to come to Juliet’s classes?

Johnnie: I do it in competition with him [pointing to Matt] because if I don’t show up I’ll never hear the end of it!

Matt: I think I started looking for something different to do to break up the monotony of everyday workouts. Juliet’s energy and excitement really what attracts people to the class and having that dynamic really pushes you to wake up on a Saturday morning to spend 2 hours here at the gym sweating your week off basically. We get up early, we do class for 2 hours and we get brunch and we’re done and it’s only noon on a Saturday morning. So we like that routine and we’ve attracted a group of 10 friends that join us.

Johnnie: Any fitness level can do these classes, too. I was much heavier when Matt made me start these classes. I don’t even live in DC. I get up every Saturday and Sunday morning to commute 10 miles over here. It’s Juliet’s classes, she’s just so encouraging.

How long have you been doing this?

Johnny: Let’s see, every Saturday for about a year and a half now…

Matt: I mean what’s the alternative – you’re laying in bed Saturday morning and being lazy for a couple of hours and then you look at the clock and you go, “Wow, it’s noon already and I’ve done nothing.” And at least getting up and having a group that forces you to come to the gym every Saturday morning –

Johnnie: – because there’s accountability, because if you don’t show they let you know.

Matt: We have a very competitive group for it that one, motivates you to get here, and if you’re not here and you’re not performing –

Johnnie: – If one person is missing the singing’s not the same.

Matt: – Yes and we sing in the class, too. It’s a lot of fun, and you’re done by noon and you can enjoy the rest of the day.

Johnnie: We really will take any class that Juliet teaches, we’ve started taking Vinyasa and even though we look like baby elephants it’s fun and encouraging. We don’t’ feel like we’re being judged.

Matt: To Johnnie’s point, any fitness level can do this class and if you look at the class every Saturday there’s every age from your young 20-somethings to people in their 60s. And part of it is that it’s designed so that it’s fit for any age and every fitness level –

Johnnie: And you can be successful. Because I’ve lost 65 pounds since I started doing it.

You’ve lost 65 pounds? And you think it’s because of Juliet’s classes?

Johnnie: Oh, I know it’s because of Juliet’s classes. It’s a big motivator, it’s always positive. Sometimes you might think, “I’m going to die,” but in a very positive way.

What do you do when you’re not at VIDA Fitness?

Matt: We live here! Just kidding. Johnnie and I both worked at Capitol Hill, so that’s how we became friends. So we’ve got a great group of people that work out with us that represent everyone from Capitol Hill to the administration to the media world.

Johnnie: But we never really talk about work.

Matt: Yeah, we’ve actually really never talked about work. It’s all competitive and making fun of each other and really pushing each other. And we have a lot of fun doing it!

Mar 3 2014

Vida Fitness trainer Jeff Horowitz is Ethiopia Marathon’s race director

Vida Fitness personal trainer and running coach Jeff Horowitz has signed on as the race director for the Ethiopia Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5K to benefit HIV orphans in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Jeff has run over 170 marathons around the world, and has been involved with race management for over 5 years.  He became involved when Ethiopian national and DC-based businessman Bereket Waldu approached him with an idea for finding a way to
help these impovershed children and to bring attention to their plight.


Mar 1 2014

VIDA Fitness Personal Trainer Highlight – Craig Davenport

personal-trainerTell us about yourself.

As a graduate with a degree in nutrition, I didn’t want to stop there. I wanted to combine that with other health aspects and make it part of an entire wellness program. Since then I have been personal training for 10 years at various local gyms emphasizing fitness and the importance of proper nutrition.

Why did you become a personal trainer?

I became a personal trainer to help individuals reach a certain fitness level whether it be fitness development from someone just starting to work out, or helping someone to maintain and improve their current fitness level. I also enjoy helping a person improve their fitness level to the point that they have literally experienced changes in their lives be it physically, professionally, or socially!

Exercise tip.

My exercise tip would be a very general one. Start small with what feels comfortable for you and gradually increase the movement or weight accordingly. And the most important aspect of any exercise is the proper FORM!

Nutrition tip.

A very general nutrition tip is to eat small meals throughout the day and keep the meals full of variety. It is better that the body not be taken through series of drastic dietary changes and should stick closer to a recommended well balanced meal plan.

Tell us about one of your success stories.

One success story is form a client who I’ve trained for 3 years. She has worked through a series of challenges including law school at night and several ankle surgeries to repair a displaced tendon. She was so determined to continue with her training that each time following surgery, as soon as her doctor gave her the ok to begin working out we did and we would modify exercises to take stress off of the surgically repaired ankle which included exercises with one foot elevated or standing on one leg, which has really improved her balance. As of now she has lost 75 pounds and is on her way to reaching her goal of another 30 pounds lost!

Vida Fitness
City Vista 45 K Street, NW Washington D.C. 20001
(202) 289-8432 Facebook Twitter Instagram

City Vista

Open: Mon-Fri: 5:00am – 11:00pm

Open: Sat & Sun: 7:00 am – 9:00pm

Phone: (202) 289-8432

$ 45 K Street, NW Washington D.C. 20001
Vida Fitness
Metropole 1517 15th Street, NW Washington D.C. 20005
(202) 588-5559 Facebook Twitter Instagram


Phone: (202) 588-5559

$ 1517 15th Street, NW Washington D.C. 20005

Open: Mon-Fri: 5:00am – 11:00pm

Open: Sat & Sun: 7:00 am – 9:00pm

Vida Fitness
Renaissance Hotel 999 9th Street, NW, 3rd Floor Washington D.C. 20001
(202) 742-1940 Facebook Twitter Instagram

Renaissance Hotel

Phone: (202) 742-1940

$ 999 9th Street, NW, 3rd Floor Washington D.C. 20001

Open: Mon-Fri: 5:30am – 10:00pm

Open: Sat & Sun: 6:00 am – 10:00pm

Vida Fitness
U Street 1612 U Street, NW Washington D.C. 20009
(202) 939-2577 Facebook Twitter Instagram

U Street

Phone: (202) 939-2577

$ 1612 U Street, NW Washington D.C. 20009

Open: Mon-Fri: 5:00am – 11:00pm

Open: Sat & Sun: 7:00 am – 9:00pm

Vida Fitness
Verizon 601 F Street, NW Washington D.C. 20004
(202) 393-8432 Facebook Twitter Instagram


Phone: (202) 393-8432

$ 601 F Street, NW Washington D.C. 20004

Open: Mon-Fri: 5:00am – 11:00pm

Open: Sat & Sun: 7:00 am – 9:00pm

Vida Fitness
The Yards 1212 4th Street, SE Washington D.C, 20003
(202) 554-0444 Facebook Twitter Instagram

The Yards

Phone: (202) 554-0444

$ 1212 4th Street, SE Washington D.C, 20003

Open: Mon-Fri: 5:00am – 11:00pm

Open: Sat & Sun: 7:00 am – 9:00pm