Oct 22 2015

Learn Healthy Holiday Eating Tips at a VIDA Nutrition Seminar

VIDA Dietitians Cat & Alayna are here to help this holiday season!

VIDA Dietitians Cat & Alayna are here to help this holiday season!

We know it can be tricky to stay on track with nutrition during the holidays. Between Thanksgiving dinners, holiday parties and countless sweet treats in the office, this time of year is FILLED with seemingly unavoidable indulgences. Luckily, our qualified nutrition team is here to help you with healthy holiday eating!

There are plenty of ways you can enjoy your holiday meals without totally derailing your nutrition plan. Our registered dietitians Cat Taylor & Alayna Markwordt are ready to share all their hacks, tricks, and favorite ingredients at our upcoming #HealthyHolidays nutrition seminars!

All VIDA members are invited to attend these seminars, regardless of which location you’re a member of. Just rsvp to either Cat ( or Alayna ( with the date and time of the seminar you’d like to attend!

November Workshops (Savvy Substitutions & Holiday Recipe Alternatives)

  • Saturday November 7 at 1:00 PM (Verizon- Inner Fitness Studio) w/ Cat
  • Tuesday November 10 at 6:00 PM (U Street- GM’s Office 3rd Floor) w/ Alayna


December Workshops (December Nutrition Challenge Kickoff)

  • Saturday December 5 at 1:00 PM (Verizon- Inner Fitness Studio) w/ Cat
  • Tuesday December 1 at 6:00 PM (U Street- GM’s Office 3rd Floor) w/ Alayna


Got any specific topics or questions you’d like to see covered at the seminar? Shoot your suggestions to either Cat & Alayna beforehand and we’ll make sure to cover any requested topics!

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Oct 21 2015

Last Chance for Outdoor Boot Camp!

Celebrate Fall Fitness with our outdoor boot camp program!

Celebrate Fall Fitness with our outdoor boot camp program!

2015 is nearing it’s end, and we’re starting the last round of outdoor boot camp on Monday, October 26th!

This 6-week program will keep you on track with your fitness goals straight through Thanksgiving and into the holiday season. Now is the PERFECT time to commit to a fun but challenging training program that will keep you focused on your goals during the time of year where it’s easiest to get distracted.

Boot camp provides an intense but fun workout that improves strength, endurance and cardiovascular performance through body weight movements, partner exercises and conditioning drills. You’ll form friendships with your fellow bootcampers and enjoy seeing the progression in your performance from week one to six.

Worried about the cold? Don’t worry, once we get moving you’ll warm right up! But if temperatures drop to conditions too low to workout in, we’ll move it indoors. Either way, you’re starting off your day with a great workout!

We hope you’ll join our #HealthyHolidays movement and sign up for a boot camp session by emailing Those holiday parties are right around the corner and we want to help you look your best! 🙂

Oct 19 2015

Battling Breast Cancer Through Fitness & Nutrition: One VIDA Member’s Story

Every October we see an influx of pink ribbons decorating cars, storefronts, profile pictures and NFL helmets for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The pink ribbon symbolizes raising awareness for breast cancer research initiatives and showing support for survivors and those currently battling the disease. While the pink ribbon is easily recognizable, the fact that breast cancer can appear in anyone, regardless of age or health level is less well known.

Jo1VIDA member Jo was leading a healthy lifestyle as an NCAA athlete playing water polo at Occidental College in Los Angeles when she noticed a lump in her left breast. She brought it up with her doctor during a routine check-up at her school’s health center but was told it was probably nothing and to keep an eye on it. When the lump started getting bigger she got it checked out again and was this time referred to a local hospital.

After celebrating her 21st birthday in the Fall of 2010, Jo was informed that she had stage two breast cancer and would require immediate surgery and radiation to remove the tumor.

“I didn’t tell anyone at first. I was still in school and playing water polo full time, so I spent a lot of time just going back and forth from practice to the hospital. Not telling anyone made it feel not as ‘real’ for me, and I just focused on staying active to keep myself distracted,” says Jo.

She completed the surgery and radiation over winter break of her junior year, while still letting only a few people know about her diagnosis. Her “ignore it and it will go away” attitude apparently worked well, and she entered remission her senior year!

Jo successfully finished her undergrad in LA, and decided to continue her education at the Institute of World Politics graduate program, or what she calls ‘Spy School,’ here in DC. She made the move across the country in June 2013 and joined VIDA shortly after.

“I was looking for something that wasn’t just a bare bones gym. I loved the variety of locations and amenities VIDA had to offer,” she says.

She quickly fell back into a regular exercise routine here at VIDA, consisting of heavy lifting and cardio 5-6 times a week. She made a lot of new friends and was working on finishing up her Masters this past spring, when she says she started noticing that something didn’t feel right.

“Around February I started feeling like something was wrong. I couldn’t quite figure out what it was, but I wouldn’t let myself think that the cancer was back. Although, I kind of had a gut feeling that’s what it was” says Jo.

She went to see a new doctor in DC and began the long testing and retesting process. After four and half months of uncertainty, she was finally given a diagnosis. Her stage two cancer had returned, she would have to have another surgery and another round of radiation, and they needed to be scheduled right away.

“I didn’t want to believe it at first. I didn’t handle it as well the second time around and wasn’t in a very good place mentally,” she explains. “I kept coming to VIDA and using my workouts as a distraction, telling myself ‘If I can still do this then I must be doing okay,’ but then I started losing too much weight,” she says.Jo2

Jo completed her second surgery and round of radiation over the summer and early fall, where the doctors were confident that they got it all. But despite the positive verdict from the doctors, Jo was having a tough time recovering physically and mentally from the toll the procedures took on her body.

“I had lost over 20 lbs and I felt so weak. I wanted to keep working out but I had lost so much weight I had to stop. I finally got to a point where I didn’t want to feel like that anymore and knew I needed to do something about it. My doctors recommended I see a nutritionist, so I called Alayna immediately and just unloaded,” she says.

Jo met with our Registered Dietitian Alayna Markwordt for the first time in August, and they immediately formulated a nutrition plan that would help Jo put the weight back on, build up her immune system and pack in the nutrients that Jo was missing from her diet.

“My first goal with Jo was to stop the unintentional weight loss. We found some creative ways to help her get the calories she needed in smaller amounts of food since she had lost most of her appetite. Smoothies with healthy ingredients worked really well!” says Alayna.

Jo purchased a 12-pack of nutrition consults with Alayna and began gradually returning to a healthier place, both mentally and physically.

“Alayna saved me.  I’ve started putting weight back on and am making healthier choices, which has allowed me to get back into my workouts. Having these resources at VIDA and someone to talk to made a huge difference – I feel like nutrition brought me back from the dead,” she explains.

As Jo’s health continued to improve, she got good news from the doctors too. All her post-treatment tests came back cancer-free with the verdict that it’s very unlikely to come back again. (yay!)

After going through two cancer scares, Jo says in certain ways she’s grateful for her experience, as it has pushed her to do things she’s always wanted to do.  These include training for the Disney Marathon in January, working on getting a bib at the Boston Marathon next year, and she even went skydiving last week!

Jo skydiving for the first time last week!

Jo skydiving for the first time last week!

“I just want to push myself to take on challenges and do all the things I want to do. I fought this and I won, so I feel like if I can do this I can do anything!” says Jo with a smile.

Jo reminds me that she knows she is luckier than many people who are diagnosed with cancer, and she has dedicated her efforts to raising awareness and helping out others fighting the disease. She stresses the importance of remembering that it can happen to anyone – even those of us leading ultra-healthy lifestyles.

Jo has a message for other who may be fighting diseases and working towards leading a healthy, balanced life.

“You can’t let it consume you or let it be how you identify yourself. You have to control it or it will control you, so you can either sit there and feel bad for yourself or get up and do things that are good for you!” she says.

We are certainly impressed by Jo’s strength and positive outlook, and are lucky to have her as part of the VIDA family! If you’d like to help out breast cancer research, please visit Susan G. Komen’s website to make a donation.

Jo, thank you for sharing your inspiring story and we’ll see you at the VIDA Thrive 5k next month!

Oct 15 2015

Health and Fitness Inspired Halloween Costumes

By: Guest Blogger Danielle Pastula

We’re half-way through October, which means the clock is ticking down on finding your Halloween costume.

And before you chime in on how Halloween costumes should be left to the kids, we think it’s time to loosen up, get creative and embrace the one time of year where it’s perfectly acceptable to go out and have fun with your friends looking like a fool, not that there aren’t other opportunities to do that throughout the year, Halloween just happens to be our favorite.

Why? Because we can channel our favorite fitness icons and athletes to make the best costumes ever! So, if you’re at a loss for who to be this year, feel free to take some inspiration from our favorite health and fitness-themed costumes for All Hallows’ Eve:

Ronda_RouseyRonda Rousey

As arguably the most talked about and inspiring athletes we’ve seen in the spotlight this year, Ronda Rousey makes for a no-brainer choice if you’re wanting to channel a badass athlete this Halloween. You can either go for the in-the-rink Rousey or promo poster Rousey, either way, you’ll look like a knockout.

Jane FondaJane Fonda

If you’re a fan of the 80’s, and let’s be real, who isn’t? Jane Fonda is the obvious choice for channeling the 80’s fitness era. The best part about this costume is that it can mostly be DIY’ed with a leotard that your mom probably still has from her floor aerobics days, dancer socks, and a full can of super strength hairspray.

Wheaties BoxWheaties Athlete

I don’t know anyone who didn’t dream of gracing the front of their very own Wheaties box when they were a kid, but thankfully, even if that dream has long past, you can still make it true for at least one night. This costume can usually be found in your local Halloween Sprit store, but if all else fails, you can make it yourself and put as many accolades on your Wheaties box as you want. Dare to dream big.
Hanz and Franz

Arnold Schwarzenegger is one fitness celeb you might be thinking of as a costume choice, but we guarantee you’ll see a couple other Arnolds at the party, so to avoid costume duplication, and be able to have a costume buddy, we suggest Arnold-wannabes, Hanz and Franz. However, if you’re not ready to pump up the party wherever you go, you might want to reconsider this costume choice.

Billy BlanksBilly Blanks

Not for the faint of heart, this costume requires truly getting in to character, so pull out your best spandex shorts and cut off tanks, and dig out those old Tae-bo tapes to get in the Billy state-of-mind. And if you really want to look legit, fashion yourself a headset microphone piece and work up a good sweat before hitting the town.

Jillian Michaels

This costume is perfect for people who aren’t about to search for the harder-to-find costume pieces, all that’s needed is the obligatory sports bra and black spandex capri pant Jillian always wears, a great blowout, and a fierce bark that will simultaneously instill both fear and inspiration in to everyone you meet on Halloween.


The ultimate display of athleticism and fitness happens at the Olympics, so this costume choice was a must-have on the list, plus, you can take this costume several directions. You could be a specific Olympian (Michael Phelps), a certain type of Olympic athlete (gymnast), or you can simply go the route of being all about repping the stars and stripes while kissing your fake gold medal.

Richard SimmonsRichard Simmons

Finally, we’d be remiss to not mention the ultimate legend and icon in fitness history, Richard Simmons. Sure, his likeness may be overdone, but it never gets old. Also, with as much as he loves everything colorful, glam, pizzaz, there are a ton of outfits you could create to make up your version of Richard Simmons.

Have any previous fitness inspired costumes you’ve donned and want to share? Let us see on Facebook and Twitter!

Oct 10 2015

Avoid Cold Weather Workout Boredom and Have Fun in the Gym

COLD WEATHER WORKOUTSWhile the weather is currently beautiful and crisp, we know we’re quickly headed toward arctic temps, which for some means a huge crimp in your fitness style.

You might be a fan of running down the National Mall taking in all the sights and seasonal changes on the days you’re not hitting the weights, or you might be a boot camp boss who likes breaking a sweat outside with your tribe of weekend warriors. But what are your fitness plans for when the cold takes over the District?

As someone who loves mixing up outside workouts with a few days in the gym, cold weather always leaves me feeling in a slump when I have to move all my workouts inside. Thankfully, with a plan and a gym with plenty of variety and offerings (I’m looking at you, VIDA), cold weather is no longer a seasonal death sentence on my routine, but instead an opportunity to try something new.

Here are some ideas for how to keep cold weather workout boredom from bringing you down, and keep you fit during sweater season.

Explore the World of Group Ex

If you’re someone who dreads the idea of committing hours to the treadmill and elliptical each week to fit in your cardio, have no fear, the group exercise schedule is here.

Between the diversity of class offerings and the number of classes offered per day at all five locations, there’s literally something for everyone. If you’re looking for something a little slower and less intense, but still strengthening, check out one of the several varieties of yoga. If you’re looking for a class where you’ll leave drenched in sweat, may I suggest VIDA M.I.T. (Metabolic Interval Training), VIDA Xtreme, and Knockout. If you’re looking for something with a great beat and a tough workout, Zumba, Cycle, and Pound Rockout are your go to’s.

As you can see, there is no shortage of options for mixing up your workout, and you could easily do a different class every day for a month. So, check out the group exercise class descriptions to see which ones sound intriguing and try them out, you won’t know if you’ll love it until you try!

Get Tough with Training

Are you one of those aforementioned bootcamp bosses? Even though bootcamp is offered year-round, no one’s judging if you’ve got to lay off during the cold weather months, and it doesn’t mean you have to give up your beloved small group training either!

If you love bootcamp, give TRX a try. This training class still gives you that small group feel as well as an intense cardio and strength training workout. Then there’s Pilates Reformer, which is great for toning and getting long, lean muscles, not to mention increased flexibility. After lots of summer and fall running, this is my favorite option for slowing down a bit and refocusing on the areas of flexibility that I tend to neglect.

Finally, working with a personal trainer is a guaranteed way of staying on track when motivation lulls during those months you just want to stay curled up in your warm bed until the very last minute before having to head out for work. Having that workout appointment keeps you accountable, plus, our trainers are pretty awesome and not only will help you take your fitness to the next level, but I bet they’ll become a good friend. Also, if you’re aspiring to complete a big fitness event like a marathon or triathlon in the spring, working with a trainer during the cold months will get you adequately prepared so you can knock your challenge out of the park.

Take Up Laps

The Penthouse Pool might be closed for the cold season, but it doesn’t need to be summer to fit in your laps. Check out the eternity pools that let you enjoy the pool in the middle of the city!

If you’ve never heard of an eternity pool, it’s essentially a pool treadmill of sorts where you can set the water resistance and a motor will circulate the water so you swim against it. It takes a little getting used to, but it’s a great way to keep up with swimming or introduce swimming, which is one of the best workouts you can ever do for your body, in to your routine.

So now that you’ve got some new workout ideas swimming around in your head (no pun intended), what new workout are you thinking you’ll try?

And if you need some more information on group fitness and small group training classes, check out our group fitness schedule, or get in touch with a membership consultant and they can help you navigate all VIDA has to offer!


Oct 5 2015

Get Your Pumpkin Spice Fix the Healthy Way

By Guest Blogger Danielle Michels

Pumpkin RecipesPumpkin flavored everything is everywhere! Therefore, if you’re someone who loves seasonal treats and flavors, it might seem like all hope is lost until New Year’s. First comes the return of Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks then comes the peppermint mocha and before you know it you’ve turned in to a sugar zombie.

However, what most people forget is that you can still have your pumpkin spice and eat it too, without any of the negative effects that come with all the other pumpkin spiced junk that has taken over the shelves. Sure, these pumpkin treats will take you more prep work than simply buying a box of pumpkin-flavored baked Fiber One bars (yes, they exist, and no, they’re not healthy), but you’ll be happy that you still get to enjoy your seasonal flavors without the guilt, and with the addition of some health benefits to boot.

Here are some of our favorite healthy pumpkin recipes that’ll make you feel like you’re having a major splurge:

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of the healthiest breakfasts you can make, but add in a little pumpkin and it’ll be one of the tastiest breakfasts you can make, too. If you’re someone who gets bored with the same breakfast morning after morning, this is a great way to spice up a common pantry staple. Also, if you really don’t want any added sugar, just nix the bit of brown sugar mentioned in the recipe, it’s still just as delicious.

Pumpkin Protein Oat Bars

I love Quest bars as much as the next fitness freak, but sometimes I like to add a little variety to my protein bar selection, and I bet you do too. These bars pack in 15.4 grams of protein and although this recipe lists a higher amount of sugar, you can easily manipulate how much of the sweetening ingredients you add to reduce the overall sugar count. However, no matter how you make these pumpkin protein out bars, they’ll still serve as a good option after a hard-hitting workout session.

Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes

In my house, Sundays are for making pancakes, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Pancakes are my indulgent, slow-down meal that I never get to make during the work week rush, but indulgent doesn’t have to mean bad-for-you. These pancakes aren’t just the perfect level of pumpkin-y goodness, but they’re also fluffy and paleo.

Pumpkin Pie Energy Bites

The concept of energy bites is nothing new, but now pumpkin spice energy bite recipes are popping up all over my newsfeeds, and I have to say, this could be the best food trend combo since PB&J. The best thing about energy balls is they’re pretty easy preparation wise and they’re even easier for guys and gals who are always on the go to. Rather than grabbing a couple pumpkin spice flavored Oreos from the break room at work, chow down on your pumpkin pie energy bites and get the boost your body needs to make it through the afternoon slump.

Pumpkin Greek Yogurt Dip

Almond butter is a good dipping go-to, but swap out your typical nut butter with this pumpkin yogurt dip and you won’t be sorry. Try packing this dip in a Tupperware to eat as a protein-packed mid-morning snack, or for early risers that aren’t a fan of big breakfasts before hitting the gym, this is the perfect solution.

Dairy-Free Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream

Fall doesn’t exactly scream ice scream season, but if I’m being honest, every season is ice cream season in my house. It’s by far my biggest treat temptation, so I’m a huge fan of making nice-cream, which is dairy-free and sugar-free, so I can still get my fix the healthy way. This pumpkin spice ice cream not only tastes like the real deal, but I’m pretty sure I’d think it was tastier compared to real ice-cream that was pumpkin flavored.

Drooling yet? These recipes are proof that you can enjoy your favorite seasonal flavors in ways that are healthy and actually fuel your body instead of slowing it down with tons of added sugar and other junk that just shouldn’t be associated with a flavor based off of a vegetable.

If you try one of these recipes, let us know how you liked it and share any of your healthy seasonal treats with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. We’re always looking for new foods to add to our fit fuel arsenal!



Images and Recipes via: ifoodreal / House of Yumm / Paleo Grubs / The Melrose Family / The Artisan Life / In Sonnet’s Kitchen

Vida Fitness
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