Apr 20 2015

Cat’s Corner: Health(ier) Food Choices @ Nats Park!

catscornerQuote of the Week

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” -Steve Maraboli

Nutrition Tip of the Week

With the arrival of baseball season…. health(ier) food choices @ Nats Park!

* Change Up Chicken
Sections 111, 130
Features buffalo chicken tenders, chicken sandwiches and wraps

* Shawafel
Section 104
Features Shawarma and Falafel Sandwiches

* Capitol Carvery
Section 214
Located in the Norfolk Southern Club, this stand features herb-crusted top round beef and smoked turkey carving stations

* Anacostia Station
Section 218
Located in the Norfolk Southern Club, this stand features, jerk chicken, blackened tuna, Crab Shack Chips and more

Apr 16 2015

Corporate Wellness Spotlight: Trusted Health Plan

VIDA Corporate Wellness

THP employees & VIDA regulars: Kim Dickens, CEO Tommy Duncan, Angelica Alvarado, Kenny Greene and Ahna Milla

Studies have shown that companies with an active corporate wellness program have healthier and happier employees than those who do not provide health and wellness options. It makes sense – people who exercise more get sick less and have fewer long term health issues than those who are inactive.

At VIDA Fitness we strive to provide an environment for DC companies to use as their designated health and fitness facility. One of these companies is Trusted Health Plan (THP), a health insurance company that provides Medicaid and Alliance coverage to over 30,000 people in the DC area.

Located just a few blocks from our Yards location, THP employs approximately 70 people who as of March 1st now have the option to join VIDA at a discounted rate. Employees pay the cost up front, but if they visit VIDA at least 12 times in a month then THP reimburses them for the cost.

Since THP works closely with several wellness initiatives in the city, CEO Tommy Duncan wanted to ensure that his employees were receiving the same quality of life that they offer their members. After hearing about VIDA and taking a tour of our facility, he made the decision to get his office active.

“We had a pretty unhealthy office environment so I wanted to do something that would get us all doing something physical on a regular basis. After our tour with Ali I was very impressed with the facility and how welcoming and friendly everyone was. It’s not just about having the resource there but actually creating a situation that people want to join and be a part of,” says Tommy.

Their partnership with VIDA has shown to be successful so far, with over 20 of their employees now regularly attending VIDA classes, working out on their own, and even some that have started personal training packages in just over a month since the program started.

THP Operations Manager Ahna Millat says that by incorporating fitness into their work day they have created a more health-conscious work environment.

“None of us were really into fitness at first but this has been a great way to find motivation to get to the gym. We use the buddy system which makes it easier knowing your coworkers are waiting on you,” says Ahna.

Ahna is in agreement with several other THP employees that their favorite part of VIDA so far is the group fitness classes.

“For me the classes are the best. I used to just go to my apartment gym occasionally but that doesn’t give you the group camaraderie feeling that the classes do. I love VIDA Barre with Tami, Pilates with Lauren, and VIDA RX with Tami, Timbo and Luke. I’ve gone from someone who rarely worked out to 18 visits just this month!” she says.

Corporate Wellness

Kim’s weekly class schedule at VIDA Yards!

Kim Dickens, Informatics Manager at THP is also a big fan of the group fitness classes offered at the Yards. She’s got a schedule of her weekly can’t-miss classes above her desk, and says her evening ritual of class then steam room is the best part of her day.

“Working in an office it’s easy to do nothing but sit and eat all day. I really look forward to that physical outlet – I won’t go home til after my steam room time. It’s my treat to myself at the end of a long day!” says Kim.

Not only has joining VIDA gotten the THP employees active, but it’s also helped them form closer relationships with their coworkers.

“We have a lot more to talk about with each other now. We share gym experiences, talk about health issues, attend classes together. It’s definitely helped us build relationships,” says Kim.

VIDA has also proven to exceed the expectations of those who prefer to work out on their own, such as THP Vice President of Provider Services Kenny Greene.

Kenny, a retired personal trainer and Army Medical Corps member, was looking for a way to get back in shape after spending some time away from the gym and recovering from various health issues. When the option to join VIDA was presented, he knew that it was the perfect opportunity to get back into fitness.

“This is by far the best gym I have ever worked out in, and I’ve worked out in many gyms. The equipment is everything I was looking for and the staff is so outgoing and friendly. I can’t think of anything missing!” he says.

After speaking with several of the THP employees, it’s clear that they have all had positive experiences at VIDA so far. They go in groups of two or three for early morning workouts, break up their day by doing noon classes, or head over after work together to relieve some stress after the work day.

Accounting Manager Angelica Alvarado even took it a step further by signing up for a personal training package with VIDA trainer Amy Pate. She’s now seeing Amy on a weekly basis and has lost 7 lbs so far!

“Having your company tell you to do something makes you more motivated to do it I think. Working with Amy has given me more energy and I feel great. I couldn’t do any of the moves at first but now I can feel myself getting better and stronger. I just decided to continue my personal training package – she really motivates me!” says Angelica.

One thing all of the employees at THP agree on is that the addition of a corporate wellness plan into their workplace has made the office a much more health-conscious environment. There are healthier food options being chosen for lunch, the stairs being taken more than the elevator (which is quite a feat considering they’re on the 8th floor) and more conversations happening about eating right and getting enough exercise.

THP is a perfect example of all the benefits a company can provide its’ employees by offering a corporate wellness plan. We are so happy to have the Trusted Health Plan team as part of our VIDA family and can’t wait to see more of their employees in the gym!

If you think your company could benefit from a corporate wellness partnership with VIDA, please fill out our inquiry form and a membership consultant will be in touch with you shortly!

Apr 16 2015

Earth Day Grounding Yoga Class at City Vista

Savor the Effects of a Grounded Practice
An Earth Day Celebration

Earth Day YogaAutomaticity comes with training, and the yogic world is not an exception to this rule: the more one practices postures (?sanas), the more common it is to operate on “automatic pilot mode” when stepping on the yoga mat. In the same way that one acquaints oneself with any new activity—stage at which the highest degree of attention is needed—the practice of ?sanas also requests for full concentration. A task like cooking, for example, presents the same challenge. We start with the basics: chopping the ingredients that will be used for a dish, but in order to successfully execute a recipe one must focus on every move of the knife. In a parallel way, remaining grounded in yoga will depend on how focused we are while adopting ?sanas. When automaticity comes along, one begins to wonder how to stay rooted in the here and now.

To be truly grounded in an asana, we must first comprehend what this yogic category really is. Following Iyengar’s translation of Patañjali,[1] “?sana is perfect firmness of body, steadiness of intelligence and benevolence of spirit”. In the execution of Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I pose), for example, this definition prescribes more than merely following physical instructions, such as “bend[ing] the front knee over the ankle and bring[ing] the arms along side the ears”. Physical instructions are not enough to embody a pose; attention of the mind and spiritual presence are also essential components to a good execution, as Patañjali points out.

Below are a few strategies that we will discuss and practice in class on Wednesday April the 22nd, in celebration of Earth Day:

Connecting with the feet: A little over 25% of our bones are located on our feet. The complex structure of each foot is designed to support the weight of the entire body in any kind of upright activity, such as standing and balancing yoga postures. A brief discussion on the 3 arches of the feet will be presented in the opening portion of the session, and how these arches relate to weight bearing and balancing in yoga ?sanas. To cultivate firmness of body a basic understanding of the anatomy and physiology of our feet is necessary.

Observing negative and judgmental thoughts: It is not unusual to encounter mental activity that obstructs one’s learning experience in a yoga class. In doing ?sanas, we will work on letting go of judgmental thinking to root the mind’s attention back into the body. In order to attain steadiness of mind one must release thoughts that interrupt concentration.

Setting an intention before practice: Benevolence of spirit is hard to convey if a higher purpose is lacking from your practice. Setting an intention before doing yoga (i.e., becoming an instrument of peace, offering help to others or yourself, etc.) generates the fuel that feeds a creative and inspiring ?sana session.

Cooking and yoga demand our full attention, to bring flavor and grace to our actions and to keep us grounded along the way.


Santiago Hernández

[1] Light on the Yoga S?tras of Patañjali, S?tra II.46.

Apr 14 2015

Congratulations to our #VIDAresolution Winners!

After three months of intense workouts, daily check-ins via social media, tons of meal-prep and self-discipline, the winners of the VIDA Fitness #VIDAresolution contest have finally been named. We’d like to once again congratulate our first, second and third place winners: Crystal Bradford, Maggie Feldman-Piltch and Aaron Myers!

We received dozens of submissions for this contest, not to mention the huge amount of members who didn’t officially enter but still used the #VIDAresolution tag as a way to keep themselves motivated and accountable for their workouts while sharing their progress with others. Picking the winners was no easy task, as all of the submissions documented incredible transformations including weight loss, body fat % and BMI decreases, lowered blood pressure, more energy throughout the day, healthier eating habits, clothes no longer fitting and overall reports of improved body image and confidence.

Our top three winners demonstrated all of the above in their #VIDAresolution journeys. We sat down with each of them to learn more about how they pushed themselves through the contest, what methods worked best for them, and how they plan to keep up their success through the rest of the year!


Crystal Bradford

1st place winner Crystal Bradford with Gil & Mike

1st Place: Crystal Bradford

Crystal Bradford, our first place winner, lost a total of 25 lbs, 15 inches, and her BMI dropped by 5. She credits the Verizon staff for keeping her motivated every step of the way and shares with us how the #VIDAresolution contest has changed her life.

Crystal explains that she has lost significant amounts of weight before, but with methods that didn’t stick and without making any lasting lifestyle changes, so the weight always came back eventually.

“The first time I lost 50 lbs I was doing all the quick fixes – diet pills, shakes, etc. The weight came off but it wasn’t something that was permanent. A few years later I tried again, but was doing it for all the wrong reasons. I wasn’t doing it for myself and had a lot of emotional issues going on that I was using food as a coping mechanism for, so the weight came back again,” she explains.

At the end of last year, Crystal made a firm decision that she wanted to stop “yo-yoing” and lose the weight once and for all. She set a goal for herself to compete in the World Beauty Fitness & Fashion Transformation division this year (something that she has always wanted to do!) and began hitting up VIDA 5-6 days a week. At the end of December, she learned about the #VIDAresolution contest and knew immediately that it would be the push in the right direction she needed.

Crystal Bradford“I started a Facebook album on January 2nd called ‘Finishing What I Started’ and have uploaded a photo every day of my workouts, what I ate that day, how I’m feeling, how I pushed myself to get to the gym, etc. This contest was a way to challenge myself to see if I could really do it and it could not have been better timing,” says Crystal.

To make sure that this time around was different, Crystal says she had to recognize and admit that she had a food addiction and decided to do something about it. She started seeking counseling that helped her identify root causes and triggers of her emotional eating, and learned how to “just say no” to unhealthy choices that she knew would hinder her weight loss goals.

In addition to changing her relationship with food, Crystal committed to a 5-6 day a week workout regimen that she documented with daily pictures on Facebook. Her workouts were a mix of weight training, cardio and lots of walking all over the city. Plus, her favorite classes: Zumba with George & Tami, iRide with Joel and a little Spin ‘N Sculpt here and there with Timbo!

“I loved the fact that throughout my journey I could feel myself growing stronger. All the trainers and staff here were always asking me how I was doing and cheering me on. Everyone was so supportive and motivating and I couldn’t have done it without them!” she says.

Not only has Crystal documented her #VIDAresolution progress through Facebook, but she has also written a motivational book about her personal journey through fitness! Look for a copy of “Faith Fit” on the shelves in July, and we wish Crystal the best of luck in her first fitness competition this May!

Maggie at March 31st

Maggie at March 31st

2nd Place: Maggie Feldman-Piltch

As a lifelong athlete, Maggie Feldman-Piltch thrives on competition. She knew when starting the #VIDAresolution contest that having a specific deadline and goal in mind would keep her dedicated and focused on reaching her goals – and she was right. Maggie has lost a total of 20 lbs and 16 inches since January, along with a 9% decrease in body fat since the contest began!

Her initial goals starting out were to meet the weight/body fat composition and initial strength test for the USMC, learn how to make healthier food choices, and work towards being able to do unassisted pull-ups.

By training 5 days a week with Maria Bokulich at U Street, Maggie has met the USMC requirements, is sticking to a healthy diet and is now doing five assisted pull-ups at 40 lbs!

“Nutrition is the hardest part for me. I wanted to put more energy into my food choices and do a better job of healthy meal prep rather than coming home starving and ordering gluten-free pizza,” says Maggie. “I had to get in the habit of tracking my food and learning how to count macros. It was hard the first few days but then you get used to it.”

Maggie explains that the constant support she had from not only Maria, but the entire VIDA staff at U Street played a huge role in her success with her #VIDAresolution.

Maggie Feldman-Piltch

Maggie in January 2015

“Everyone knew how into it I was – they would all check in with me every day and ask me where I was if I missed a day. Having that deadline of March 31st really helped me stay focused and not wanting to miss a workout,” she says.

Even though the contest is over, Maggie plans to continue working out with Maria at the same intensity (and just started outdoor boot camp last week!) She’s now working towards her next goal, which is her first Spartan Race in August.

“My goals are less about looking a certain way and more about being able to do certain things. For instance I want to have five unassisted pull-ups by the end of the summer, and want to be able to deadlift like 200 lbs,” she laughs.

If you follow Maggie on Twitter, you know that she’s been super active sharing her #VIDAresolution updates, and we can’t wait to watch her progress as she continues meeting and working towards new goals!

Aaron Myers

Aaron at 20 lbs lighter

3rd Place: Aaron Myers

Aaron Myers, our 3rd place winner and professional jazz singer in DC, was getting tired of ending his shows under the bright lights drenched in sweat and completely exhausted. He knew that something needed to change, and decided to make it his #VIDAresolution to get down to his ideal weight and be able to perform without getting out of breath and winded. Now, at 20 lbs lighter, his blood pressure has lowered significantly and he’s feeling fantastic!

“Since I’m in a very visual industry I felt like my weight was affecting my performances. I was working out here and there but had unhealthy eating habits that were not doing me any good. I was feeling very unhappy back in December, and wanted to utilize that energy into something that would get me social, out of the house and get my endorphins going!” says Aaron.

By using a combination of weight training, cardio, and Liz’s Spin ‘N Sculpt class at U Street, Aaron says the contest helped him form healthy habits that have resulted in 4 inches off his waist. He says his only problem now is that none of his clothes fit anymore (a good problem to have!)

Aaron was another one of our most active #VIDAresolution hashtaggers. He gave steady updates via Twitter and Instagram of his workouts that day and feelings about watching the number on the scale go down.

Aaron Myers

Aaron’s progress from January to March 31st.

“I was never into fitness growing up, so if I can do it anyone can. This contest really helped create healthy habits for me – now I get gym guilt if I don’t go one day,” he says.

Aaron not only shows improvements in his appearance, but also reports feeling much more self-aware of his overall health and says his stamina has improved drastically.

“I remember last December feeling very depressed because a button popped off my shirt while I was on stage. But at my last show a fan came up to me and said how great I look, and I just got asked to do a photo shoot! It feels so empowering. My before and after photo feel like two different people,” says Aaron.

We wish Aaron the best of luck in his upcoming shows, and can’t wait to see those photo shoot results!

Crystal shares her excitement about winning the VIDAresolution contest with us in the video below! Congrats, Crystal!

Once again we’d like to thank ALL of our members who worked their butts off during this contest and for sharing your photos with us. A special shout out to our runner’s up: Evan Alderson and Anne Jamison, who also made significant changes to their bodies and deserve to be recognized for their hard work and dedication.

Congratulations to our winners and here’s to making your #VIDAresolution success last all year!


By: Elise Chretien

Apr 12 2015

The Benefits of Foam Rolling

The Benefits of Foam Rolling

by Erik Strouse, MS


Foam Roller

Foam Rolling

Hey VIDA folks. It’s been a while since I’ve written you an article! I am going to present you with some info on Foam Rolling! I see people do it, and I’m sure there are a ton of you that wonder what the heck it is done for. It is commonly avoided because it “hurts”, and for some, extensively! For those of you that did not know it hurts, just so you know, it definitely can. If it hurts, it’s an indicator that you should probably keep doing it!

Here’s the deal; foam rolling does many things for the body, but to summarize it, it’s like giving yourself a deep tissue massage. To give you a few more details on what it does, I will give you a bit of the cool stuff called exercise science. Thinking back to the idea of a massage, it is often a common statement for your therapist to say “man, you have a big ‘knot’ right here.” They then proceed to work on that location quite a bit. After they are done, you feel so much looser and relaxed. Essentially, a knot is part of the muscle that does not release its contraction. Foam rolling can help relax knots and reduce muscle tension significantly. In turn, it allows that muscle tissue to function the way it is supposed to.

The other area that foam rolling helps is by breaking up what are called “adhesions.” Adhesions are connective tissue that can form for many reasons such as being immobile all day in a certain position. It is the body adapting to a lack of movement! What adhesions can do is interfere with the muscles ability to contract and slide properly.

Both knots and adhesions can pull on the muscle, and over time create soreness. This is one of the reasons foam rolling hurts for some people. Rolling the areas of a tenderness can help work these adhesions and knots out. The more you do it, the less it’ll hurt because it’ll work out all of the bad stuff. There’s a lot of other goodness that comes from rolling your body out such as improved circulation! But in short, it helps get that muscle tissue to slide and move at an optimum level.

Here’s the thing about foam rolling, though. Just rolling back and forth doesn’t cut it. Rolling can help with circulation and some muscle relaxation, but there really is a “best practice” approach to ensure you get the body to respond properly. Think about getting a massage from a professional massage therapist versus a friend. Granted, the friend’s massage may feel great, but the professional’s is outright amazing. The reason this is so has everything to do with technique. Come join me on Saturday, April 18th at 12:30 PM for an hour and a half seminar on foam rolling open to VIDA members. Send me an email to get on my list at! I can only fit so many people! It’s FREE, and will really help you learn how to approach this awesome practice!