VIDA Blog
May 31 2015

VIDA Instructor of the Month: Christine Kontra

Christine KontraMeet avid marathon runner, gym rat and certified VIDA group fitness instructor, Christine Kontra! Christine teaches both yoga and cycle at our Metropole and City Vista locations, and you’ll be able to see her sporting a VIDA Personal Trainer tshirt in the very near future!

Christine pretty much grew up in the gym and began running marathons while in college at Ohio State University. She’s done five marathons total, including the Boston Marathon in 2008 and the Marine Corps Marathon in 2010. Despite having a great passion and respect for running, she knew that it was hard on her body and took up yoga to give her muscles a little TLC.

“My muscles were always super tight – I knew I needed to slow down and stretch and take care of my body. Once I started doing yoga it actually improved my running ability,” says Christine.

In the midst of her yoga practice she took up another hobby while in college: teaching cycle classes! It was then that her group fitness career was born and she’s been teaching ever since.

Christine moved to DC in 2008 for a job on Capitol Hill (she studied political science at Ohio State) and has been teaching yoga and cycle in the city for the past three years. She joined the VIDA team a little over a year ago as a yoga instructor and added cycle to her schedule back in January.

“I had some friends that taught here and they finally convinced me to do the same. I immediately found it a great place to work out – the energy here is extremely motivating and the students are awesome!” she says.

Aside from teaching classes, Christine has also been training clients privately for years. She just got certified to train here at VIDA and will be coming on board as a Personal Trainer very soon! She explains that her own personal love for working out is what motivated her to start helping others reach their fitness goals.

Christine Kontra“I really enjoy getting to work with people one-on-one and helping them grow. I’ve been in the gym my whole life and I love getting to share that passion with others. Helping people see results in both their body and mind is very rewarding,” she says.

Christine works out regularly at VIDA and uses a combination of strength training, cardio, yoga and meditation to keep her mind and body in shape. Her current favorite exercises include power moves (such as jump squats) and anything with a medicine ball!

“I like to have as much variety as possible in my workouts. I’m always trying new things not only for myself but so I’ll have new material for my clients too,” she says.

Not only does Christine share her passion through health and fitness by teaching and training clients, she’s also a holistic health counselor too! She became certified by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as a health coach several years ago and has been building her own coaching business ever since (visit www.christinekontrahealth.com to check her out!)

As a health counselor Christine works with people to reach their health and wellness goals in all aspects of their life (career, relationships, home environment and spirituality, in addition to fitness and nutrition.)

“When you’re able to find balance in all of these areas it really improves your overall health and fitness level. I help people look at which areas of their lives might need more or less attention in order to find that balance,” says Christine.

It’s pretty easy for Christine’s two occupations to blend together as many of her yoga students become her health clients and vice versa. She explains that being able to motivate and inspire people has always been the most rewarding part of her career, and that being part of the VIDA community continues to do both.

Some of Christine’s other hobbies include attending live music shows, watching her Buckeyes during college football season, and playing softball and flag football in OSU alumni leagues! Oh, and she sells homemade bath products on Etsy in her free time (?) – you can find her shop under the name Gaia Collective.

Come out and try a class with Christine if you haven’t yet!

 

 

May 28 2015

Class Spotlight: Power Yoga

Power YogaWe offer a variety of different yoga classes here at VIDA ranging from Vinyasa to athletic and heated to candlelight. One of our most popular, however, (and my personal favorite!) is Power Yoga – available at all VIDA locations.

Power Yoga differs from the typical Vinyasa class in that it’s less flowy and more strength-based. You’ll probably sweat a little more than you would in a typical yoga class, so come prepared to need to freshen up after. Those who enjoy the stress relief and relaxation that yoga provides but also want a chance to push themselves with challenging moves will love the combination of strength and flexibility exercises that Power Yoga offers.

In this class you’ll try more advanced postures, hold poses for longer and have the opportunity to really push yourself deeper into each stretch. You can expect more planks, push-ups and challenging isometric holds and less of the meditative chants and gentle stretching found in other yoga classes. This is your chance to work on your inversions, arm balances and headstands – for those of us that love to be upside-down!

Athletes and fitness enthusiasts of all levels can get a quality workout from Power Yoga. This class offers a fresh approach to strength training that builds body awareness – a vital tool for fitness lovers looking to improve their performance.

“Power Yoga allows you to challenge yourself in a new way and learn to respect and care for your body. It’s important to slow down sometimes and be mindful of your movements. Paying attention to these things allows us to have the greatest growth as athletes – and it’s just fun!” says Power Yoga Instructor Christine Kontra.

poweryoga2I loved that this class followed a series of poses but we also had a chance in the end to work on headstands and inversions on our own. You’ll get to work at your individual level instead of having to follow along with the rest of the class the entire time, which is great for those looking to really perfect their form and technique.

While this class does give you an intense workout, you’ll also get the calming release that yoga provides and leave the class feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Shavasana feels very rewarding at the end of Power Yoga since you’ve been sweating for the last hour. This is the perfect yoga class for those looking for a more intense workout and for experienced yogis looking to advance their practice. If you’ve ever thought yoga wasn’t challenging enough, take this class and we guarantee you’ll change your mind!

 

May 27 2015

Show Us Your Selfies, It’s Time For #VIDAWorld2015!

whereGot any fun trips planned this summer?

Don’t forget to pack your VIDA shirts! The start of summer means the launch of our third annual Where In The World is VIDA Fitness contest. The directions are simple, just snap a photo of you wearing your VIDA shirt while travelling to an exotic (or not so exotic) location and share it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #VIDAWorld2015!

This contest runs until Labor Day, so you’ve got all summer to take as many awesome photos (just one entry per location) as possible! We’ll post some of our favorites on our Facebook page throughout the summer to show off the exciting places our members are visiting and keep people engaged in the contest.

At the end of the summer we’ll pick our favorites and hand out the prizes! The best overall photo activity + location wins ONE YEAR of free membership! Second place will receive 6 months free and third place will receive a $150 Aura spa gift card. Get creative with your photos, the more unique and fun the better!

We can’t wait to see where this summer takes you for #VIDAWorld2015. Happy travelling!

May 21 2015

VIDA’s Guide to DC Farmers Markets

DC Farmers MarketWell, it’s official, all of the DC farmers markets are now open for business! Here at VIDA we’re big fans of keeping it local and supporting small businesses, which also includes our farmers.

In addition to supporting local business owners, we also value knowing where our food comes from and what’s been done to it before it hits our plates.

We know many of our members like to shop at farmer’s markets as well, but for those of you who may be new to DC, or even new to a different neighborhood within the district, we wanted to pull together a guide of all the best farmer’s markets near our five VIDA locations to make shopping locally easier this summer.

All the farmer’s markets we’ve listed are ones that have a great selection, food vendors and some have entertainment as well, but the real plus side is they’re all a short jog away from your neighborhood VIDA, so get shopping (and chopping)!

U Street

Union Market

  • Location: 1309 5th St. NE
  • Distance from gym: 2.4 miles
  • When you can go: year-round, Sundays, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

14th & U St. Farmer’s Market

  • Location: In front of the Reeves Center, at the corner of 14th and U Streets, NW
  • Distance from gym: 0.3 miles
  • When you can go: Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Mount Pleasant Farmer’s Market DC

  • Location: 3200 Mt Pleasant St. NW (between Park Road and Lamont Street)
  • Distance from gym: 1.3 miles
  • When you can go: Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

 

Metropole

 Glover Park and Burleith Farmers’ Market

  • Location: 1819 35th St. NW
  • Distance from gym: 2.4 miles
  • When you can go: Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Foggy Bottom Farmer’s Market

  • Location: 23rd and I Street NW walkway
  • Distance from gym: 1.5 miles
  • When you can go: Wednesdays, 3 to 7 p.m.

Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market

  • Location: 20th Street NW (PNC Bank parking lot)
  • Distance from gym: 0.7 miles
  • When you can go: Open year-round, Sundays, 8:30 a.m to 1:30 p.m.

 

Verizon

Capital Harvest on the Plaza

  • Location: 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW
  • Distance from gym: 0.2 miles
  • When you can go: Fridays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

FRESHFARM Market by the White House

  • Location: Vermont Avenue NW between H and I streets NW
  • Distance from gym: 0.9 miles
  • When you can go: Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Penn Quarter Farmer’s Market

  • Location: 8th Street NW between D and E streets NW
  • Distance from gym: 0.1 miles
  • When you can go: Thursdays, 3 to 7 p.m.

 

Navy Yards

USDA Farmer’s Market at Night

  • Location: Independence Avenue and 12th Street SW
  • Distance from gym: 2.3 miles
  • When you can go: from 5 to 8 p.m. on the third Friday of the month through October

USDA Farmer’s Market (regular market)

  • Location: Independence Avenue and 12th Street SW
  • Distance from gym: 2.3 miles
  • When you can go: Fridays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Eastern Market

  • Location: 225 Seventh St. SE
  • Distance from gym: 0.9 miles
  • When you can go: Open year-round, Tuesdays, 3 to 7 p.m.; Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sundays, 9 a.m to 5 p.m.

 

City Vista

Bloomingdale Farmer’s Market

  • Location: 1st and R streets NW
  • Distance from gym: 1.3 miles
  • When you can go: Sundays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Columbia Heights Farmer’s Market

  • Location: Columbia Heights Civic Plaza at 14th Street and Park Road NW
  • Distance from gym: 2.6 miles
  • When you can go: Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

FRESHFARM Market by the White House

  • Location: Vermont Avenue NW between H and I streets NW
  • Distance from gym: 0.9 miles
  • When you can go: Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

What are your favorite farmer’s markets? Did we leave any off the list? Let us know!

 

 

 

May 18 2015

A Look Beyond the “Sexiness” of the Dad Body

Dad BodyA Look Beyond the “Sexiness” of the Dad Bod

If you’re one to follow the latest hot topics in the media you’ve probably heard about the body trend that’s been taking over newsfeeds and girls’ night out conversations in the past few weeks: the topic of “The Dad Bod.”

In case you’re not clued in, here’s the back story:

A Clemson student wrote an article titled, “Why Girls Love the Dad Bod” for The Odyssey, a publication for college students involved in sororities and fraternities (and if that’s not your first clue on literary merit I don’t know what is, but I digress), and the piece went viral.

According to the article, “The dad bod says, “I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time.” It’s not an overweight guy, but it isn’t one with washboard abs, either.”

Some of the listed reasons for women loving the Dad Bod include better cuddling, we won’t feel intimidated when we inhale a whole pizza in one sitting next to our Dad Bod boyfriend, and it allows women to be “the hot one” in the relationship.

Needless to say, there’s an entire spectrum of responses on social media ranging from those hailing Dad Bods to others foaming at the mouth that men with beer guts are receiving affection when women are constantly being ripped apart in the media for their bodies.

Personally, I think it’s equal parts appalling, confusing, judgmental, but most of all, it’s just weird.

Because I write about health and fitness it was only a matter of time before someone asked my opinion on it, so here we go. Reasons why the Dad Bod is just plain ridiculous:

It’s not necessarily that the Dad Bod look is unhealthy, it’s the mentality that’s unhealthy

Strip away the actual look of the Dad Bod for a second and let’s focus on the greater Dad Bod concept. The Dad Bod is described as a guy who regularly participates in unhealthy habits such as over-eating, over-boozing and minimal exercise.

This type of activity for anyone at any age and of any gender is unhealthy. We know that it’s a normal part of life to over-eat and drink as well as it is to be lax on workouts sparingly, but we also know it’s unhealthy when these things become habits, meaning you do these things more than you don’t do them.

What I find weird isn’t that some people like men who don’t possess a six-pack, it’s that they are equating an overall unhealthy lifestyle with sexiness. If you think smoking is gross in a partner, the “Dad Bod” lifestyle of regular beer guzzling and pizza gorging should be equally unsettling.

Take the whole physical attractiveness factor away and the mentality of unhealthy Dad Bod lifestyle equating to sexy just doesn’t make sense.

The Dad Bod has nothing to do with being a dad

Scientifically, becoming a father results in 0% body changes because your child never actually took up space inside your body. (I don’t have a medical study to cite on this one, but just take my word for it.)

So, until men have the ability to carry, grow and produce a human from their bodies, there is no such thing as a Dad Bod.

Also, I think this is an odd stage-of-life category to fit men in to. Yes, men lose muscle with age (just like women do), but being a dad (or a mom) does not excuse one from living a healthy lifestyle. Again, it goes back to the twisted mentality of unhealthy habits equals sexiness.

dad bod When my dad became….a dad, his biceps were so big you can barely see little infant me in his arms in my baby pictures. Yeah, he was a young dude who hadn’t fully settled in to his dad-ness yet, but flash forward 24 years and my 60-year-old dad rides his bike everyday and still paddles half a mile out in to the ocean to surf 10 to 12-foot waves. So tell me, what’s a dad bod again?

Praising guys in their twenties for their keg stand time and pizza problem isn’t cluing society in to their sexiness, it’s setting these guys up for full blown obesity, and it most definitely isn’t setting them up for being future awesome dads who can run, jump, explore and be active with their kids.

Let’s stop judging looks and start judging health

Listen, as a woman, it is a true battle to go through life ignoring everything that the media is telling you your body should look like. And I don’t know what it’s like to feel body confidence issues from a man’s perspective, but if we’re looking at this from a truly neutral (i.e. human) perspective, we shouldn’t be touting or bashing ANY body shape or type regardless of it’s a man or a woman, parent or non-parent, someone in their twenties versus someone in their forties.

Now let’s bring back the actual look of the Dad Bod. The Dad Bod is described as not being “overweight”, but also not having a rock hard body.

This is where I find the whole thing confusing. I bet we can all think of someone we know who we can label as “healthy” because they eat well and stay active, but how many of those people have a six-pack? How many of them don’t look like fitness models? I’m going to guess you can think of a few people.

The point I’m making is that we already know healthy bodies don’t all look the same. Therefore, we shouldn’t be touting the way one body looks, but the way one lives with their body because we only get one of these bodies to live in, folks. We have to take care of it.

So please, for love of all that is sexy, can we please stop talking about what body type we think is most attractive? Everyone’s got different tastes, quirks and preferences, let’s all just agree that living healthyfully is sexy, whatever that looks like to you.

What do you think of the Dad Bod trend? Let us know in the comments or on social media!