Apr 29 2015

Featured Instructor: Paul Swoish

Paul Swoish

Paul Swoish

If you haven’t taken a class with Paul Swoish yet, you are seriously missing out. Most known for his super-sassy Cycle Blackout, Paul embodies the high-energy, funny and encouraging persona that makes for an unforgettable class experience.

Paul has been the Membership Director at VIDA Metropole for the last two years, coming straight to VIDA Fitness from working at a little place called Living Social (you may have heard of it?) At the time, Paul knew he wanted to work in sales but had no idea that he’d soon be leading and creating his own group fitness classes – complete with lasers, glow sticks and all!

Though Paul had always been pretty active growing up, he claims that he hasn’t always been a huge gym-goer. Once he walked through the doors of VIDA, however, he realized it wasn’t as intimidating as he thought. He started working out and taking spin classes regularly – and before he knew it was getting his teaching certification.

“I had taken so many spin classes where I would think of things I wish the instructor would do differently, or think of ideas that would improve the class, and it finally just clicked that maybe I should start doing my own,” explains Paul.

As captain of his college swim team, Paul is pretty used to motivating people. He describes his teaching style as friendly, encouraging, and full of joking around.

“I like to use my friendly sarcastic humor to keep people motivated,” he says.

This is especially true in Cycle Blackout, a format that Paul created himself based on what he felt were the most successful components of a spin class.

“Most cycle instructors don’t turn down the lights, but I feel like most people are more comfortable with the lights off. I decided to bring in some neon to liven things up and call it Cycle Blackout,” he says.

Cycle Blackout

Cycle Blackout

In Cycle Blackout there are two instructors and the room is divided in half with each side assigned to one instructor. Paul and his co-instructor, Jeff, alternate leading the songs and the teams “battle” each other to see which side can rack up the highest collective distance and power output on their bikes. At the end of class, the total numbers are counted and whichever team is highest wins! But don’t worry; everyone gets to celebrate with champagne and chocolate afterwards.

“I really wanted to add a battle aspect to the typical cycle class. People are competitive and I feel like it makes them push themselves harder and really get into it!” says Paul.

His class has been insanely popular at Metropole, with spots filling up almost immediately and constantly having a wait list of 5-10 people hoping for someone to cancel. It was just brought to U Street for the first time last Saturday, and Paul says he looks forward to bringing his Blackout team to more VIDA locations in the future!

In addition to cycle, Paul also teaches RIP 30, RIP 45, VIDA HIIT and Pilates reformer. He developed a love for Pilates shortly after getting his cycle certification, and is a big advocate for getting more people (especially men) to try out the reformer.

“Pilates was created by a man for men. It somehow became feminized when ballerinas began using it for recovery purposes, but it’s a tough class for anyone! It works your small muscle groups in ways that you really can’t on your own,” explains Paul. “Plus, since it’s a small group environment you’re held accountable for every move. The instructor is literally right next to you so there’s no way to escape!”

That may be true, but Paul’s classes are so much fun you won’t even want to escape! His playlists are incredible and keep you engaged and energized the entire time. Think along the lines of Kesha, Britney, a little rap and some 90’s throwbacks, and you’ve got yourself a class with Paul Swoish.

“There is nothing better than a killer playlist. I try to find hot songs but ones that aren’t overplayed – when I get that one person who starts to rock out to a song I’ve picked that’s the best feeling,” he says.

Lucky for group fitness lovers (not so much for the membership team,) Paul has recently stepped down as Membership Director at Metropole in order to focus more on teaching. He’ll be adding more classes to his schedule in the next few months – so you’ll be able to see even more of him!

When Paul isn’t within the walls of VIDA he likes to play tennis, paint, enjoy the DC brunch scene and check out new clubs in the city! (Where he gets his playlist inspiration from, of course!)

“I want people to know even though I’m yelling in class I’m always available for questions or just to talk afterwards! I’ve also lived in DC for about 10 years so I’m happy to introduce people to fun things to do in the city. Especially if they involve bottomless mimosas or bellinis!

Apr 27 2015

Yards Featured Instructor: Justin Jenter

Justin Jenter

Justin Jenter

We’d like to give a warm welcome to one of our newest spin instructors – Justin Jenter! Justin is one of our many member-turned-instructors (special thanks to Tami and Alexx for making that happen) and currently teaches spin twice a week at the Yards and once a week at Verizon.

After graduating from JMU last year with a degree in finance, Justin made the move to DC to work as a Compliance Analyst for Tempus, a foreign exchange solutions consulting firm downtown. He had worked for the campus gym at JMU during college, and quickly began looking for the right gym to join in the city.

“It’s definitely important for me to be in a fitness-minded environment. I had a few friends that recommended VIDA – and as soon as I visited I fell in love. It’s clean, convenient, and such a great community,” he says.

Justin was working out regularly at Verizon when he started chatting with Membership Director and fellow JMU Duke Alumni Alli Phillips about getting his teaching certification. He started training with Tami & Alexx, and with their guidance passed his audition with flying colors! By late February he was teaching his very first spin class at the Yards – an experience he says he’ll never forget.

“It was such a rush at first – kind of intimidating but such a cool experience. It was something I’ve never done before and was great to see people really working hard in my class. Having people say ‘great job’ afterwards was very rewarding,” says Justin.

Spinning has always come pretty naturally to Justin, who has several marathons and triathlons under his belt. He was an avid swimmer growing up and even competed in the Half Iron Man in 2012 (that’s a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run, for those who don’t know.) He’s also done his share of 50k’s – so you could say endurance is kind of his thing.

His current workout routine consists of daily lifting, however, and he uses his spin classes to get in his cardio.

“I want people to know that I’m working right there with them in class. I actually do put on gears and do the same workout as them. I like to challenge people while also challenging myself – I’m always dead by the end of my classes!” he says.

Now that he’s been a spin instructor for a few months, Justin describes his teaching style as more intense and less playful. He wants people to get the best workout possible and focuses on practical, traditional moves that serious outdoor bikers such as himself will actually benefit from.

He also keeps the music fresh every week so his riders don’t get bored.

“I always make sure each week has a new playlist. It’s part of my workout too so new music always helps me feel energized and ready to teach,” he says.

Justin adds that his experience teaching at VIDA has been incredible so far and he loves being able to push people and help them achieve their goals.

“VIDA is a really special place. I’ve met a lot of people and made a lot of friends here,” says Justin.

When Justin isn’t working or teaching spin, he likes to explore DC’s nightlife, visit beer gardens with friends and travel as much as possible. He also loves seeing new faces in his classes – so feel free to pop in for spin this week!


Apr 25 2015

Class Spotlight: RIP 45

RIP 45

RIP 45

From reading the description of RIP 30 or RIP 45, you may not notice a huge difference versus our other HIIT classes, such as VIDA Xtreme or VIDA Circuit.  However the keyword in the RIP 30/45 description is non-stop – and that part is not to be taken lightly!

As with standard High Intensity Interval Training, RIP 45 (RIP 30 is the shortened version with one less circuit and some extra core thrown in) combines strength training with cardiovascular conditioning to give you an intense full body workout in just 30-45 minutes.  Unlike some of our other signature classes, however, the format for RIP 45 stays the same every time.

In RIP 45 you’ll run through six circuits at a fast pace designed to keep your heart rate up for the entire class. Each circuit consists of strength, cardio, and then core. You’ll start with a full three minutes of strength exercises, then jump straight into two minutes of cardio, and then move to 90 seconds of core exercises which double as your active recovery time. There are no breaks in between – and the next set of strength exercises starts right after core, so make sure your water bottle is close by!

While the strength-cardio-core format stays the same in each class, instructors get to be creative with the moves for each section and change things up each week.

In Colleen’s class, for example, the strength portion included single leg deadlifts, overhead presses, reverse flys and lunge/bicep curl combos, just to name a few (and that really is just a few.) For cardio you can expect a mixture of high-knees, jumping jacks, skaters, and other forms of plyometric fun! Once you’re sweaty and out of breath from all that excitement, the core section gives you a chance to catch your breath while doing all kinds of variations of crunches and planks that target your abdominal muscles.

RIP 45Think that sounds easy enough? Good, get ready to do it six times in a row! Luckily the music is fast-tempo and fun and keeps you energized and ready to tackle the next move all through the class. The lack of breaks really makes the class fly by, and before you know it it’ll be time to stretch and cool down.

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in one of Paul Swoish’s RIP 45 classes, be prepared to give it all you’ve got!

“Everyone should be leaving this class sweaty and exhausted. You should be so tired and lightheaded that you can’t talk after, or else I didn’t do my job,” he says.

Although the class is tough, it’s completely customizable to any fitness level based on how much weight you use and how quickly you push yourself through the exercises. Once it’s over and you can breathe again your metabolism will be soaring and will give you that extra boost of energy that only an intense workout can!

Apr 23 2015

What Really Happens When You Cut Out Sugar?

No Sugar Challenge VIDA member Dominic C. made the decision to cut sugar out of his diet after being unsatisfied with his health and fitness progress. Read his story below to learn what drastic improvements he experienced after only a few days!

“I am a monthly client of Cat’s since April 2014.  My primary goal in working with Cat has been to normalize my eating behavior, with the long term goal of losing weight and becoming healthier.  I was sick and tired of all the diet plans and schemes – nothing seemed to work.  During the first six months of our working together, my progress was inconsistent, and I became very frustrated. Cat wasn’t sure what more she could do to help me.  It was then I realized that it was ME that needed to become willing to do the work.  Cat mentioned to me the upcoming No-Added Sugar Challenge that was starting in late-November.  At first, I thought it was odd to try this challenge during the three weeks leading up into the holidays, but I thought, “why not give it a try?”  I started the day after Thanksgiving, even though the official challenge did not start until the following week. The first few days were tough, especially with all the holiday treats and sweets surrounding me at holiday parties and family events. I replaced my cravings for sugar with oranges, blueberries, mangos, etc.  I switched to unsweetened soy milk and chose foods with no/low sugar added wherever possible. I noticed how much better I felt almost instantaneously! My body and mind felt more awake, sharp, and clear.  The challenge got easier, and I didn’t miss the sugar.  Now, when I do crave something sweet, I just grab an orange or raspberries and my sweet tooth is satisfied.  I have been sugar free for more than 20 weeks and am going strong – I like how I feel and the pounds are coming off nicely.   Thanks Cat for being there for me – I can’t do it without you!”

-Dominic C.

If you’d like to join in on our current No Sugar Challenge and start feeling better yourself, contact!

Apr 22 2015

5 Tips for the First-Timer in a Group Fitness Class

Zumba Spring Fling

Zumba Spring Fling

So you’ve never been to a group fitness class? Let’s just start by saying you’re in for a fun time! Group fitness is one of the best ways to dial up the motivation for working out, so if you’re scoping out the schedule thinking you might like to give it a try, we say it’s time to pencil it in and go.

However, if this is your first time working out in a class setting, we know you might be feeling a mix of excitement and uncertainty. As you’ll quickly realize, there are many folks who are group fitness junkies, they take certain classes religiously and have their favorite instructors who often times become good friends, so it can feel a little daunting as the newbie in the group. But fear not.

Group fitness classes are an environment of welcoming with a team mentality, so no need to be nervous, but if you still want to walk in feeling more confident, keep these first-timer tips in mind.

1.) Don’t Overthink It

You’ll need anything you would typically bring for a good sweat sesh on your own: a bottle of water, a hand towel, proper footwear (unless you’re going to barre..bring socks!) and a confident attitude.

Here at VIDA we have all the equipment you need to participate in the class, so no worries about bringing your own yoga mat or anything like that, unless you want to, of course.

2.) Check This at The Door

 One other thing you don’t need for class (and yes, this one needed it’s own category), your phone!

Beyond phones being a potential distractor for other class attendees, it can be a distractor for you, too. If you’re taking the time to go to a class, be 100 percent there and don’t slow down your workout because you’re checking to see who just texted you.

This is your time, guard it fiercely.


VIDA on the Green

VIDA on the Green

3.) Don’t Come Famished

Group fitness is ideal for exercisers who need that extra push to ramp up the effort during their workout.

This means that this class may be tougher than you’re used to, so it’s good to go in with some energy stores. Have a small, but nutrient packed pre-workout snack about a half-hour before your class to ensure you don’t get lightheaded or feel sick in the middle of your workout.

Check out some of these great pre-workout snack options from POPSUGAR Fitness.

4.) Don’t Get Discouraged

Many group fitness classes, for example, Zumba, Pound, and cycle, have a distinctive rhythm you have to get used to, so know that you might not be great at it on your first try and that’s totally okay!

Don’t get discouraged because it took you a few more seconds to switch gears or get situated in a new sequence, you’ll just need to come to the class more than once to get the hang of it.

And if you’re still not feeling it by the time you’ve done your fourth or fifth class, it may not be for you, but we guarantee if you keep trying different classes you’re going to find one you fall in love with.

5.) Own Your Newness

At the beginning of every class the group fitness instructor is going to ask who has never been to their class before. They don’t do this so they can shine a spotlight to embarrass you, they do this because they want to make sure you have everything you need before starting and that you’re set up for success.

Instructors also ask so that they can keep on eye on you during class to make sure you’re keeping proper form and performing the moves correctly.

So don’t be afraid to raise your hand high when they ask if anyone is new, you can even go up to them in the minutes before class starts to double check that you’re set up correctly.

Remember, everyone was a first-timer at some point and instructors are there to instruct!

Now that you’re psyched up and ready to conquer your first class it’s time to put it on your calendar.

Check out our group fitness schedule online along with the class descriptions to see what might be a good fit for you, see you in class!