May 13 2015

Meet VIDA’s New Registered Dietitian, Alayna Markwordt!

Registered Dietitian Alayna Markwordt!

Registered Dietitian Alayna Markwordt!

We’d like to give a warm welcome to the newest addition to our nutrition team here at VIDA Fitness, Registered Dietitian Alayna Markwordt! Alayna received her Masters in Medical Dietetics from Ohio State University and will be joining forces with veteran VIDA RD Cat Taylor to make our nutrition services more accessible to members of all VIDA locations.

Alayna will be starting out stationed at U Street, so U Street and Metropole members will have nutritional counseling options that are a little closer to home! With an athletic background and experience working in both medical and performance nutrition, Alayna has the ideal skill set to offer our members quality guidance for creating healthy lifestyles.

Growing up Alayna was always active and playing sports. She played lacrosse at Ohio State, where she was 2nd time All-American and still holds the record for most career goals in the school’s history! She credits this impressive feat to the fact that proper nutrition has always been a key element in her life.

“Since I was so active growing up I always wanted to eat the right foods that would help me perform my best. Being an athlete allowed to me to see the results firsthand of what good nutrition and taking care of yourself does for your body – I was able to start and play in every game of my college career,” she explains. “That’s the power of good nutrition!”

Registered Dietitian Alayna Markwordt!While working on her Masters in Medical Dietetics at Ohio State, Alayna also worked with the student athletes gaining valuable experience in the sports and performance nutrition field. After graduating, she accepted a position with the IMG Sports Academy in Bradenton, Florida, as one of their in-house Registered Dietitians.

“Our clientele ranged from youth to professional athletes. I worked in the NFL combine training program doing consults for the athletes looking to maximize their performance through nutrition,” she says.

Now that she’s back in DC (Alayna grew up in Woodvine, MD, only an hour away from the city!) she was glad to find a similar atmosphere at VIDA with individuals looking to improve their lives through fitness and wellness.

“I love the mixture of clientele here. Whether you’re training for a triathlon, power lifting or just trying to get in shape, good nutrition is key to all those things,” she says.

Alayna explains that there are common misconceptions and roadblocks people face with nutrition that she looks forward to helping them work through. For instance, she stresses the importance of creating healthy lifestyle habits that will help you achieve long-term results, rather than the short-term results typically seen by following the latest fad diet or myth.

She also specializes in helping people find ways to incorporate healthy choices into their busy day-to-day routines and working with them to find a method that will actually work for their lifestyle.  There’s no one-fix-for-all approach, she explains, and creating a customized plan for your goals and lifestyle is essential to seeing results.

She also provides assistance with navigating those ever-so-tricky food labels with promises that can be misleading.

“The food industry can trick you into thinking something’s healthy for you when it’s really not. I can show you what you should actually be eating instead,” says Alayna.

You won’t have to worry about getting bored with Alayna’s meal suggestions either. She’s currently doing a challenge where she cooks meals from all over the world – one from every culture until she tries them all! She also loves experimenting with ancient grains (quinoa, buckwheat, wheat berries, bulgur, etc.) and creating new dishes with them (recipes that she’s happy to share with her clients!)

The kitchen isn’t the only place Alayna likes to try new things – she’s constantly evolving her fitness routines to keep herself challenged as well.

“My fitness goals have always been about getting outside my comfort zone and pushing my boundaries. I love to try new things,” she says.

Alayna’s favorite activities include biking and tennis, and she’s been getting more into yoga recently. She’s also the proud finisher of two marathons, and has her sights set on doing a triathlon one day. She’s big on the outdoors, too, and completed a month-long backpacking trip through South America last summer!

“I love to travel so two of my friends and I backpacked through the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Peru and Machu Picchu. We stayed in hostels, camped, went surfing, snorkeling, biking, repelled down waterfalls and even hiked a volcano!” she says.

Alayna3Alayna adds that immersing herself in the South American culture during her trip gave her a fresh outlook on nutrition and wellness.

“We would hit all the fresh farmer’s markets and stock up on produce, nuts and seeds. It definitely helped me understand the challenges some people face and how to be resourceful with what you have,” she says.

We believe Alayna will be a valuable resource to the VIDA Fitness team and are excited to welcome her on board. If you’re around our U Street location, stop by to say hello and schedule a Nutrition Fit with our newest Registered Dietitian!

“I’m very excited to get started. Whether you’re looking to lose those last 5 lbs or train for a marathon, nutrition is the vital tool that can do that for you and I’m happy to help!” she says.




May 5 2015

Class Spotlight: VIDA Assets

VIDA Assets

VIDA Assets

Summer is here, which means it’s time to squeeze your booty into a bathing suit. If you want your abs and butt in tip-top shape for pool season, it’s time to add a few VIDA Assets classes to your workout regimen!

VIDA Assets is the class totally dedicated to strengthening and toning your glutes and core muscles. It has some added benefits, like improving your posture and balance thrown in as well. The class consists of a series of three circuits, each repeated twice, that alternate between lower body and core exercises designed to challenge people of all fitness levels.

You’ll usually use any variety of a bench, mat, a weight-loaded barbell and dumbbells in Assets – and it’s up to you how much weight you use. After a brief cardio warm-up (think high-knees, jumping jacks, butt-kicks…moves to get your heart rate up) you’ll move on to the really fun stuff and start feeling the burn!

The circuits consist of three lower body exercises and two core exercises, each performed for one minute with the entire circuit repeated twice. Some examples of lower body exercises to expect are different varieties of dead lifts, squat combos, good mornings, lunges, glute bridges and other moves that target the glutes, hamstrings and quads. Don’t be afraid to go heavy with your weights – it’s always better to have to take some off halfway than going too light and not challenging yourself.

VIDA Assets is also where your love handles go to die – thanks to the two minutes of core built into every circuit. Your instructor will lead you through a series of planks (stationary, twisting, walking, etc,) Russian twists, in and outs on the gliders, mountain climbers and more to bring those abs out to say hello for the summer!

Each of your three circuits will be different, so you’ll get a chance to try a variety of exercises in each class. VIDA Assets is a great way to learn new exercises that you can incorporate into your own routines when you’re not in class. Like in VIDA RX, for example, you’ll receive guidance for how to properly do an exercise with correct form before trying it out on your own. VIDA Assets is great for those just starting out with weight-training and for those who have been doing it for a while looking for a new challenge.

After your circuits are done and your glutes are screaming at you, you’ll finish up with a cool down and a little dynamic stretching before heading out the door. You’ll have burned a ton of calories and will likely be feeling it the next day, but you’ll thank us when you see how great your assets are looking in that bathing suit!

May 4 2015

Featured Instructor: Karen Kina

Karen Kina

Karen Kina

If you’re an avid Zumba goer, you’ll most likely recognize Karen Kina as the spunky, high-energy instructor from City Vista whose classes include hip-hop themed tracks and tons of hair flipping. Karen’s been teaching Zumba at VIDA since 2012, and it’s easy to see her passion for it within seconds of chatting with her or stepping into her class.

Karen has danced most of her life, so Zumba comes pretty naturally. She’s been doing jazz since she was two, and competed on both her high school dance team and the University of Illinois dance team in college. She explains that while she’s always trying new styles of dance – hip-hop is definitely her thing.

“My style is mostly hip-hop but I also stick to the standard Zumba format too. People have been requesting more and more hip-hop though so I’ve been doing a lot of that lately,” she says.

Karen is an IT consultant for Blue Cross/Blue Shield during the day, so Zumba is the perfect outlet for her to relieve stress at the end of a long workday. She adds that she listens to Zumba music all day in her headphones, so by the time class starts she’s pumped and ready to go!

“I’m basically an extrovert trapped in an introvert’s job environment – I stare at a computer screen all day. By the time the day is over I have a ton of energy built up and I need that outlet and interaction with people. It’s really therapeutic for me!” she says.

Karen also looks forward to adding VIDA Barre to her schedule over the summer and says she’d love to teach VIDA RX and VIDA Body in the future. She loves trying new group fitness styles and stresses the importance of trying new things to keep your body challenged.

“I’m all about switching it up. I love the atmosphere of group fitness in general and trying new formats. I always encourage my students to try all types of classes to avoid plateau-ing, which is what I try to do too!” she says.

In addition to teaching Zumba twice a week, Karen keeps up a regular strength training and cardio regimen on her own. She’s big on interval training on the treadmill, even after experiencing a pretty traumatizing treadmill accident a few years ago.

“It was basically my worst fear. I was going really fast and fell off the treadmill and got de-pantsed in the process. It was super embarrassing but I joke about it now,” she says with a laugh.

Not taking yourself too seriously is key for both treadmill accidents and group fitness beginners who may be apprehensive about trying a new class. For instance, Karen encourages people of all coordination-levels to try Zumba and just have fun with it, rather than worrying about getting all the moves right on the first try.

“Trust me, no one is going to be looking at you. Everyone is focusing on himself or herself in the mirror. There’s always a learning curve but once you get it you can really get into the moves and that’s when it becomes most effective,” says Karen.

When Karen isn’t teaching Zumba, she loves watching sports with her boyfriend (she’s a big Chicago fan!) and enjoying the summer weather at Nationals games. She hopes to make the transition into personal training eventually, and says she’s grateful for the opportunities VIDA has provided for her so far.

“I love the fact that we’re not a huge chain. We actually really care about our members, not just their money. As an instructor here we’re given so many opportunities to grow and expand our skillsets that other gyms definitely don’t give you. I used to sub at other gyms here and there but I don’t even do that anymore!” she says.

Karen stresses that she LOVES seeing new people in her classes, and says that the energy she receives from her students in class is what makes teaching so rewarding for her.

“My classes totally make or break my day. The rush of endorphins I get from sharing that energy with my students is amazing. I do it all for them, and I love taking requests so don’t be shy!” she adds.

Next time you’re at City Vista and feel like breaking a sweat to some high-energy tunes, pay Karen’s Zumba class a visit – you’ll be glad you did!




May 1 2015

Cat’s Corner: New Season, New Local Produce!


catscornerThis weeks healthy nutrition inspiration from Cat Taylor, including which veggies & herbs and other local produce you should be stocking up on asap!


Cat’s Quote of the Week

“Don’t stumble over something behind you.”

Nutrition Tip of the Week

New season, New local produce!

  • Asparagus (May-June)
  • Basil (April)
  • Beets (April-November)
  • Bok Choy (May-November)
  • Broccoli Raab (May-June, again Sept-November)
  • Cilantro (April-October)
  • Collards (May-July, again Sept-Dec)
  • Dill (May June, again Sept-Nov)
  • Lettuce (year round)
  • Mesclun Mix (year round)
  • Mushrooms (March-May, again Sept-Nov)
  • Onions (May-Nov)
  • Parsley (May-June, again Sept-Dec)
  • Radishes (May-Dec)
  • Rhubarb (May-June)
  • Sage (May-Dec)
  • Sorrel (April-June, again Sept-Dec)
  • Summer Squash (May-Oct)
  • Swiss Chard (May-July, again Sept-Nov)
  • Turnips (May-June, again Sept-Dec)

May 1 2015

Outdoor Boot Camp at the Yards

Boot campers after a sweaty outdoor session

Boot campers after a sweaty outdoor session

Bummed because you missed the first round of outdoor boot camp? You’re in luck because round two is just around the corner!

Our Yards location will be running two different boot camps starting May 11th – one lead by VIDA Trainer & Group Fitness Instructor Kelly Moyers on Mondays & Wednesdays at 6:30pm, and one lead by VIDA Master Trainer Sam Yousefi  on Tuesdays at 6:30am and Saturdays at 11am.

As always, you’ll have the option of doing once or twice a week sessions, whichever fits your schedule better! Our boot camps are small group style – so you’ll receive individual attention from your instructor while also working out in a group setting that pushes you to challenge yourself in ways difficult to do on your own.

Boot camp instructor Kelly Moyers says group workouts are one of the best ways to stay motivated to reach your goals, and guarantees that you’ll see improvement in your fitness level after completing the program!

“Workouts are 100% more fun when you’re working out as a team. You’re pushing each other, encouraging each other, seeing each other struggle through the same challenges, and it motivates you to all finish together!” says Kelly.

Our boot camp meets in the lobby, and then heads out to the park as a group. Once you’re there, you can expect a combination of all fitness aspects into one sweaty, hour-long session including cardio, strength, flexibility and balance exercises. Expect to learn a ton of new squat and push-up variations, mixed in with lots of running and jogging (sometimes up and down stairs for an added bonus.)

You’ll work frequently with a partner or as a group to complete a workout, which helps give you that extra boost you need to finish an exercise when your body feels like giving up. Kelly stresses that the group camaraderie of boot camp is what makes the format so successful.

“There is something about the group mentality, where going through it alone may seem impossible but going through it with your friends and teammates makes it feel like you can do anything. Working out with others undoubtedly allows students to push themselves to the limit so they can smile and be proud of themselves afterwards,” says Kelly.

Push-up line at one of Kelly's boot camp sessions!"

Push-up line at one of Kelly’s boot camp sessions!

Our outdoor boot camps are tough, but totally customizable to all fitness levels. Modifications to exercises are always offered so whether you’re doing push-ups on your knees or toes, you’re going to get an intense workout no matter what.

Plus, you’ll meet a ton of new people! Bonds form pretty quickly when you’re going through the same burpee-torture together, and especially when you share the same common goals with your teammates.

“Boot camp is a process where you challenge yourself, you learn from your teammates, you struggle together and you get stronger together. The purpose of boot camp is show someone a part of themselves they haven’t seen before. You’ll make lifelong changes through the friendships made in boot camp. No one gets left behind – we work through everything TOGETHER!” Kelly emphasizes.

If you’d like to join in on the boot camp fun, contact to reserve your spot for our May 11th start date. Interested in trying out a session first before committing? We’ll be hosting free demos all next week  (May 4th-9th) so contact Chris to get on board!