Feb 24 2015

New Kettle Bells Program at U Street!

Kettle BallsLooking for a new way to increase strength, stamina, coordination, balance and overall power while building muscle and torching fat? Kettle bells provide an entire body workout using dozens of different exercises and techniques to target both large and small muscle groups while engaging your core constantly. If you haven’t tried them out yet, now is your chance!

We’re excited to announce the start of our new small group training program focused entirely on kettle bells this month at U Street. This class will teach the basics of proper form when using kettle bells and will guide you through a series of all the different exercises you can do with different weights and motions.

The class will meet Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:30 pm in the Gravity Studio with Master Trainer Liz Warner-Osborne, starting on March 16th. If you’re interested to see what the class will be like before signing up, come out for our free hands-on demo this Wednesday March 4th at 6:30 in the Gravity Studio. Kettle bells are extremely versatile, so you’ll be able to challenge yourself no matter what level of fitness you are.

Kettle BallsTo sign up or to learn more about the program, contact We hope to see you there!

Feb 24 2015

Class Spotlight: VIDA Knockout

VIDA KnockoutIf you’re looking for a fun way to relieve stress while breaking a serious sweat to energizing and uplifting music – VIDA Knockout is the class for you!

I just took this class with Gitanjali for the first time and fell in love with it immediately. I was expecting a typical kickboxing class but Knockout is so much more than that. All the tracks consist of a combination of punches, kicks and twists that are musically driven and choreographed in a way that gives you a total body aerobic workout.

The choreography in Knockout builds on itself and does incorporate a dance facet into the class, but the moves are straightforward and super easy for anyone to follow along with. As someone who is rhythmically challenged to say the least, I loved that I could join right in and feel like I was keeping up with the rest of the class and getting a great workout at the same time! Some fast-paced, choreography based classes can be discouraging for first-timers, but Knockout is definitely not one of them.

From the warm-up to the cool-down, your heart rate will stay up for the entire duration of the class. Your instructor will guide you through a series of punches, jabs and kicks while moving forward, backward and side to side, adding on a new move every few minutes. As the music gets faster, the pace picks up and you’re getting a full blast cardio workout while still engaging every muscle in your body. Plus, the music is so overpowering and fun that you won’t even realize 45 minutes is up at the end of class!

VIDA Knockout instructor Gitanjali Borkar says she loves being able to put her own spin on the class and that you should come prepared to sweat.

VIDA Knockout“It’s an all original class, the moves are simple, sharp and basic so it’s easy for the crowd to follow and have fun. But it’s also tough – it’s a perfect combination of cardio and strength with a dance aspect too. I find it very cathartic, a great release of stress!” says Gitanjali.

This class is ideal for people of all fitness levels because it’s so easy to follow along with. As Gitanjali explained, the moves are uncomplicated but very effective. You’ll learn valuable self defense skills with proper form and technique in a fun environment that makes it easy to give it all you’ve got.

VIDA Knockout is available at multiple locations, and should certainly be added to your workout regimen as a fun way to let off some steam at the end (or beginning!) of your work day. Gitanjali’s class will definitely be added to my schedule as much as possible!

Feb 24 2015

VIDA Instructor Profile: Gitanjali Borkar

GitanjaliGitanjali Borkar describes her teaching style as focused, direct, tough and fun. The University of California, Berkeley graduate began teaching group fitness classes after trying out a cardio kickboxing class in college and falling in love immediately.

“I had this beautiful, charismatic instructor and I just decided I wanted to be like her,” says Gitanjali. “I started teaching cardio kickboxing at different gyms in California and just started at VIDA in April!”

Gitanjali moved to DC in 2012 to pursue a Master’s in Public Policy at Georgetown and for a job at the Department of Transportation. Even with a hectic school and work schedule, she manages to find time to teach VIDA Knockout, VIDA Circuit, VIDA RX and KillerCore several times a week at our Verizon, City Vista and Yards locations.

After teaching classes at several different gyms, Gitanjali says that being a VIDA instructor has been the most rewarding thus far.

“I never feel like just a random instructor here. They allow me to use my own format and skill set for classes to deliver the best workouts I can that are still tailored to my style. Being able to create your own class is very empowering,” she says.

She feels that the effort VIDA makes to respond to member requests and find quality instructors is what sets VIDA apart.

“Instructors that love what they do really transmit their energy to their members. When I know people are enjoying my workouts it makes me want to be even better for them,” she says.

Gitanjali explains that as a fitness leader she likes to push people past their perceived limitations in an environment that’s welcoming and easy for people to get into and have fun.

“I do emphasize form and technique very heavily, but I’m also not that instructor that’s just barking orders. I don’t want people to be intimidated,” she says.
Something that she emphasizes and tries to incorporate into her classes is that working out should be fun! She’s a strong believer in eating and working out to feel good and not denying yourself small pleasures by following crazy fad diets and cleanses. As a food and wine lover, Gitanjali says balance is key when living a healthy lifestyle.

“I love food – so I’ve always tried to stay active to regulate that. My favorites are dark chocolate, cheese, wine, Mexican, and I love trying new restaurants. Everything in moderation!” she says.

When Gitanjali isn’t teaching, working or going to school, she loves to spend quality time at home with friends and a bottle of wine, or watching March Madness! She’s also a big hip-hop fan (something you’ll learn quickly by taking her classes) and loves to lift heavy while blasting hip-hop.

When asked what she thinks makes VIDA unique, she says the member involvement here and sense of family is something you can’t find at most gyms.

“I love that the members here aren’t just get-in, get-out. They tweet about classes, share pictures, and are just more invested in the lifestyle,” she says. “And with the variety of classes there’s something for everyone. Variety is the spice of life – you’ve got to keep trying new things!”

You can follow Gitanjali on Twitter & Instagram at @ItsGitanjali, and be sure to check the schedule to join her for class!

Feb 20 2015

VIDA Instructor Profile: Christa Aiken

Christa AikenEver since a young age, Christa Aiken has been fitness-oriented. She remembers being five years old following along to her mom’s home workout videos and knowing from early on that she wanted to work in the health and fitness industry. When it came time to choose a major in college, Exercise Science at Roanoke College was an easy decision for Christa.

At Roanoke College she cheered and played tennis, and eventually began teaching Zumba and other fitness classes at school. After graduating and starting an office job back in DC, Christa started taking Pilates classes on her lunch breaks and quickly fell in love with it.
“I decided training and teaching Pilates was what I really wanted to do, so I left the office and started training full time in 2009” she says.

In addition to her training hours at the gym, Christa has another slightly time consuming job on the side – cheering for the Washington Redskins!

Christac heerAs a Redskins cheerleader, Christa performs on the field for every Redskins home game of the season. She also recently returned from an experience of a lifetime, she says, from the 49th Armed Forces Tour in Southwest Asia.

After working for several other fitness clubs over the past couple years, Christa joined us as the Assistant Fitness Manager at our City Vista location last month. When asked what made her switch to VIDA, she explains that ‘VIDA Family’ feel is what sets us apart from other gyms.

“It’s such a different experience. It’s much more of a family here – the way we interact with all locations, host social events and really care about our members,” she says.

Christa currently teaches power Pilates, VIDA Barre, VIDA Assets and Cardio Dance at City Vista. When she’s not teaching, her favorite exercises include kettle bells and lifting heavy!

“I love the sense of community at VIDA. People don’t just come in for their workout and leave. They want to stay and hang out, and we make it social and fun!” she says.

If you haven’t met Christa yet, stop by the office and say hello! You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @dcfitchick, and join her for the next Barre to Brunch event at Busboys & Poets next door!

By: Elise Chretien

Feb 19 2015

8 Lifestyle Changes Your Heart Will Thank You For

With as many uncontrollable things that life throws at us, you would think we would be jumping for joy over one of the best things we can control, right?

Well, despite the fact that we can control the majority of our overall health, there are many lifestyle factors that become bad habits, thus keeping us from being our healthiest selves.

Here are some lifestyle factors you can take the reigns on that will not only benefit your heart in the long run, but will also make you feel great right now:

1.) Adopting lunch-time activity

One of the biggest contributors to our country’s rate of heart disease and other health issues is our sedentary lifestyles.

Being sedentary is built in to our culture, and many times we can’t avoid sitting for hours on end because many jobs take place behind a computer.

In an effort to add more movement to your day, one of the best opportunities to get more activity is taking control of your lunch hour by going for a 15 to 20 minute walk, standing while you eat or going up and down a few flights of stairs for 10 minutes during these super cold months.

Sure, you might feel a little ridiculous for repeatedly climbing the stairwell, but your heart will thank you.

sleep2.) Catch more zzz’s

I’m embarrassed to say that “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” actually used to be my life motto less than three years ago. Eventually I realized that skipping out on important rest hours was actually going to send me to my final destination of “dead” a lot quicker than if I just took the time to sleep.

A 2008 University of Chicago study found a link between shortened sleep and increased calcium deposits in the heart, which is a strong predictor of subsequent coronary artery disease.

And in case you were thinking you could just “catch up on sleep” to prevent the damage, that doesn’t work. You’re better off taking a serious look at how you fill your hours of the day, reprioritize, and adjust your schedule to go to bed and wake up earlier to get everything done that you need to in a day.

3.) Switching to Red Wine

Although this isn’t an excuse to start chugging cabernet, it is a way to at least benefit from your after-work libation.

According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s the antioxidant, resveratrol, in red wine that might be a heart-healthy ingredient. Some studies have show that resveratrol can help to prevent damage to blood vessels, reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and prevents blood clots.

When looking for a heart-healthy red, stick to the drier varieties such as pinot noirs, cabernets and syrahs.

stress less4.) Stress Less

Easier said than done, but important to work on none-the-less. Our bodies are not meant to be in a constant state of stress, yet with the hustle of living in the city, being a professional and trying to maintain a social life often keeps us there.

The main link between excessive levels of stress is increased blood pressure, which can increase your risk for heart disease. However, stress also brings forth other consequences such as lack of motivation to exercise, overeating and/or over-consuming alcohol, which are also harmful to your heart health.

I don’t need to tell you how you can relieve stress, you already know the ways to do that, this is just another reminder to make “you time” a priority.

5.) Stop smoking…yes, even socially

According to the American Heart Association, smoking reduces the amount of oxygen your heart receives, raises your blood pressure, speeds up your heart rate, makes blood clots more likely, all of which can lead to heart attacks or strokes.

Most people know these facts, but choose to ignore them for a variety of reasons, one of them being that “I only smoke occasionally when I’m out.”

It may be occasional now, but you’re still actively harming your body and putting your self at risk for nicotine addiction and more frequent smoking. It’s just not worth it.

6.) Trim your Waistline

A recent article from the Huffington Post stated that researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that people who have higher amounts of abdominal fat, versus other parts of the body, have higher risks of cancer and heart disease.

This is because higher levels of fat around the middle indicate more fat around the internal organs.

I doubt that getting rid of any lumps around the middle is something you’ll object to, but as we all know…it’s not easy to get a six-pack. The best part is, you don’t need to have washboard abs, you just need to reduce fat and in the process build up your abdominal musculature to create a strong and lean core. This can be done a variety of ways including HIIT, cycling, strength training, and some of these other cardio workouts. (link to other article about 5 Non-Treadmill Workout to Get Your Blood Pumping)

7.) Go to Your Doctor

Listen, I get not wanting to go to the doctor. I would actually think you’re a little weird if you enjoyed it, but it’s important to know about your baseline levels of health by getting a annual physical.

Knowing things like your blood pressure, for example, are important should you ever experience a problem where your doctor could benefit from knowing your normal levels. Without having a baseline, it may take much longer for a physician to figure out your problem and find a solution.

8.) Soak Up the Sun

While this may be difficult to do in the dead of winter, as soon as it starts warming up and we can expose our arms and legs to the open air, lay off the sunscreen for a bit.

Obviously if you’re sunbathing in the summer you’ll want to lather up, but for brief trips outside, don’t let SPF interfere with the Vitamin D boost you can get.

According to John Hopkins Medicine, “A growing number of studies point to vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for heart attacks, congestive heart failure, peripheral arterial disease (PAD), strokes, and the conditions associated with cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.”

Needless to say, try to get out and soak up some rays when you can.