Jul 24 2017

Lift Like A Girl: Women & Weightlifting

Why we love seeing women picking up heavy weights, by VIDA Personal Trainer Patrick Merkel. 

Look around the gym and you might notice a common theme—a bunch of males dominating the weight room, and women sticking to the cardio machines. The tides are turning. More and more women are getting involved in strength training and are reaping the benefits! But what’s the motive for women to hit the weights? For years, men have been hitting the gym to pack on as much muscle mass as possible to make them appear (in their minds) more masculine. But with the female population, it’s quite the opposite. As a personal trainer, I hear it all the time from my female clientele: “I don’t want to become the hulk, I just want to tone up.” The fallacy with this request is that it takes years and years of heavy lifting and heavy eating to become a muscular beast. Women, fear not, weight training won’t necessarily turn you into a bodybuilding freak, but it most certainly will benefit your health in more areas than one.

Our bones are constantly undergoing a process of breakdown and build-up. Breakdown, called resorption, happens when our blood-calcium levels drop. Our bodies attempt to maintain homeostasis by drawing calcium from its most abundant source—our bones. Bone cells called osteoclasts begin breaking down our bone for its rich source of calcium in which our blood-calcium levels will be restored. Once restored, bone building cells called osteoblasts, will begin to redeposit calcified bone to the surface of the bone to maintain the density and integrity of the bone. Osteoporosis is a disease in which bone breakdown occurs at a more rapid rate than bone build-up. Thus, the bones become weak and porous and extremely prone to breakage. Why is this significant? 24 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis. Among that population, 80% are women. Roughly 1 in 4 women older than 50 has osteoporosis (Southern Medical Journal). Ladies, we can lower these numbers! Weight training places unnatural stress on our muscles, tendons, and bones. This stress sends a signal to our bodies to strengthen our muscles, bones, and tendons to keep up with, and hold integrity under this stress. Thus, a safe and effective weight training program is a very effective way to prevent and even slightly reverse the effects of bone degeneration.

A large majority of the women that I train mention they’d like to lose some weight, even if they look great and their body fat percentage falls well within the normal range. Many people hold the misconception that cardiovascular exercise, such as running on a treadmill, is the only way to get rid of fat. Willis et. al (2012) found that resistance training, when combined with aerobic exercise (such as running on a treadmill), decreased body fat percentage more than aerobic exercise alone. The takeaway? Yes, our cardio exercise is important, but if you really want to shred that last 5-10 pounds of fat, incorporate a safe and effective weight training routine into your exercise program. Further, Bea et. al (2011) found that a safe and effective resistance training program increased lean body mass while decreasing body fat percentage. This means that not only will you become leaner, you will also become stronger! Who wouldn’t want that?

Not only will you see physical changes, your mental clarity and happiness will improve greatly. “Depression affects roughly 9.5% of the US adult population each year” (Craft and Perna, 2004). Women are 2 times as likely to be diagnosed with depression than men (Mayo Clinic). Why does all this matter? Craft and Perna (2004) studied the effect of weight training on depressed adults and found that those who participated in a weight training regimen had significantly greater reductions in depression, anxiety, and self-concept than a control group over a 12-week training period. Because women are so prone to depression and stress-related anxiety, weight training can be an excellent source of therapy to boost overall mood and happiness.

Even some women who know the benefits still shy away from the weight room because of the intimidation factor. Lots of big guys, big weights, and big machines can be rather intimidating to a beginner. As a personal trainer, I hear it all the time, some people want to hit the weights but are simply just intimidated. My suggestion for this crowd is to find a compatible and friendly personal trainer who will design a safe and effective program to reap the lifelong benefits of weight training. Now that we are pumped up to get healthy, let’s get out there and lift like a girl!


Want to start incorporating weight training into your routine? Email Patrick at! 

Jul 21 2017

Athleta & VIDA Partner for the First “Power to the She” Fitness Party

Power to the SheAre you a fierce badass female? Do you support women empowering themselves to feel strong in their bodies and minds? Do you want to rock out to some killer beats? Do you want to channel your inner KNOCKOUT and POUND goddess? Do you like swag from brands like Athleta, Sephora, Bang Salon, Grape Intentions, Dry Bar and David Yurman? We thought so!  Learn more about “Power to the She” below.

This Sunday is a Sunday Funday of epic proportions. Women and men alike are invited to come get their sweat on and workout with Tami DeVitis to celebrate fierce females and participate in “Power to the She.”  The party kicks off with a 75 minute KNOCKOUT experience at 11:15am Sunday, July 23 at VIDA Verizon and morphs into a POUND-rockout (complete with Ripstix) to release your inner rockstar! Finally, the party closes with swag gifts to treat yourself for a fitness job well done.

If you’ve never experienced a KNOCKOUT or POUND workout, here’s what you can expect:

  • A unique mix of kickboxing, cardio, circuit training
  • Ab work for days
  • Average calorie burn of 500 and up
  • Amazing music you’ll be jamming out to!

Space is limited, RSVP is highly encouraged. If we reach capacity waitlist will be in effect. To RSVP for this Power to the She event please email
By: Guest Blogger Kelly Berry

Jul 17 2017

Three Things to Know About Morning Grind Boot Camp

Matt Coleman’s boot campers take on the Nats stairs!

At VIDA we don’t limit fitness to the confines of the gym. What better place to sweat it out early in the mornings than outdoors during the DC summer! Our VIDA boot campers meet anywhere from once to four times a week across the district near VIDA locations at The Yards, Verizon, U Street, Metropole, and City Vista. For those of you yet to experience a heated DC boot camp workout, we’ve compiled the basics of all you need to know to get ripped this summer.


No Plateaus, Workouts Constantly Changing

Unlike other outdoor exercise like running that focus on repetitive movement, boot camp classes offer tons of variety in exercises and modifications for each exercise depending on strength, endurance, or physical limitations. To ensure workouts never get boring there is always a new challenge accessible for all. Matt Coleman, boot camp leader at the Yards says his favorite part about teaching summer boot camp classes are “the students, the camaraderie, the sense of adventure in turning the city into your own personal gym. Boot camp is an exciting mix of cardio and strength training that includes running on the Waterfront, scaling the stairs at Nats Park, and executing box jumps outside the DoT building.”


Workouts are Results-Driven

VIDA Boot camps have always been results-driven and now with the updated MYZONE heart rate monitor it’s even easier to access instant feedback with customized workout summaries to track goals and share results with other VIDA members. MYZONE belts keep track of and allow you to share your workouts with friends in real time. Participants in Coleman’s boot camp class tracking workouts through MYZONE typically burn 500+ calories per 45 minute session – plus have the ability to monitor their progress over time! This month VIDA is offering a free MYZONE belt with a purchase of 12-pack of boot camp classes. That’s basically $99 for free!


A Fitness-focused Way to Socialize

Yes, summer is a great time for outdoor happy hours (may we also suggest hanging out at the Penthouse Pool Club) but what better way to start your day than outdoors, working out, among friends?! Members remark how not only are they challenged and see results from week to week but also have built strong connections with their fellow members.

“Getting out of bed early to get my workout in before work isn’t always easy, but boot camp gives me something to look forward to. It’s a fun, social workout that brings out my competitive side and challenges me to better, faster, and stronger. Being outside is definitely a nice way to spice up my workout routine, plus I’m done and ready to attack the day, all before 7:00am!” says regular boot camper Desiree Kennedy.

Fellow boot camper and VIDA member Teneshia Sylve added, “Boot camp is a fun and productive start to the day because I’m wide awake and energized by the time I go to work. I get to improve my fitness and hang out with awesome people at the same time.”
Ready to join the boot camp team? Check the VIDA website and search by location for the complete boot camp schedule, and  click here to take advantage of our free MYZONE offer with a 12 pack purchase!

By: Guest Blogger & VIDA Instructor Kelly Berry 

Jul 10 2017

Does Running Out of Mimosas Count as Cardio?

Personal Trainer Joe O’Connor

New Personal Trainer at the Yards, Joe O’Connor, weighs in on how and when you should be doing your cardio!

It’s a question passed down through antiquity; since the times of the gladiatorial battles to the turn of the 20th century strongman popularity. Okay maybe not THAT old, but might as well be; people are always asking when and what kind of cardio should I do?!

As avid weightlifters we know cardio is important for our overall oxygen distribution. As hardcore cardio lovers we know that weightlifting is important in improving muscular strength, but when should we hit the treadmill or jump on the bike? Is before or after weightlifting better? What about morning or night? Fasted? Unfasted? Sprints or steady state? So many options my head’s spinning faster than my spin class.

The answer, my fellow gym goers, lies within your goals *cue heavenly lights from above and powerful voiceover whispering “Goaaals”*

If you’re looking to lose that unwanted belly fat and get that sexy tone in your muscles; studies show that doing cardio post workout is best; and here’s why. Weightlifting, especially lifting heavier, depletes muscle energy stores aka glycogen at a faster rate. By focusing energy on weightlifting you’re more likely to not only see more gains in muscle building but you’ll also be tapping into glycogen when you get on the Stairmaster. When your glycogen levels are lower your body doesn’t have much of a choice but to use that fat you have stored for energy anyway, thus shedding those unwanted pounds.

Now, if your focus is training for that upcoming marathon that you circled on your calendar back on January 1st,  then cardio before weightlifting will suit you better because you want to channel your energy into building stamina for the race.

Okay, but should I do fasted cardio in the morning or eat something beforehand? Again, it depends on your goal. While you sleep your body holds on to the carbs you ate from that acai bowl the day before and begins the process of using fat as fuel; breaking it down more effectively. Now that sounds too good to be true, well because it sort of is. With the breakdown of fat from fasted cardio, also comes the breakdown of amino acids and proteins. So yes, you’ll be burning off that fat, but be warned you may also be burning off the muscle that you want to keep.

Alright, well I’m not a morning person anyway. Do I have to wake up at the ungodly hour of 4 am or can I go about my day and take my nightly spin class? The answer to this is more psychological than physiological. If you prefer morning cardio, then great! Studies show that people who hit cardio in the morning are more apt to make healthy food choices during the day; they also feel much more energized and ready to take on that work presentation that had them worried the night before. Of course, morning cardio might have drawbacks such as a feeling of being rushed before having to get to the office, or you may just not be a morning person and feel more groggy than you would in the evening.

Speaking of evening cardio! Hitting the elliptical after work has its advantages too. Your body is warmed up and studies show that evening gym goers are more relaxed as the afternoon cardio sesh helps you unwind after a long day. Evening cardio has also been shown to curb appetites as you’re less likely to be wanting a tin of salty Pringles while on the rowing machine than if you were sitting on your sectional while on your 4th episode in a row of House of Cards.

Okay, but jogging on a treadmill for 45 min is boring to me, can I sprint? Sprinting and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) has shown to be very promising for fat loss, but again it depends on your goals. It really comes down to how you can fit it into your schedule and what you enjoy. If you hate waking up at 6 AM to run, then don’t do that. If you enjoy a high energy spin class at night; then do that. You would rather jog a slow pace around the National Mall? Awesome, do that. Cardio’s important to any training program, so as long as you can get that heart rate up and stay consistent with it your goals will be waiting with open arms right at the end of the track.


By: Joe O’Connor, Personal Trainer at VIDA at the Yards 

Jul 3 2017

The Importance of Shin Angle and Ankle Mobility

By: VIDA Personal Trainer Jack Baker

I want to start this section off by saying no squat is “perfect”. Squat patterns change on a case to case basis due to differing limb and torso lengths since no two people are the same. That being said, there are definite movements patterns everyone should do to maximize muscle growth, improve strength, and avoid injury when doing mobility squats.

One of the most consistent problems I see, as a trainer, are people squatting with their knees behind their toes. The cause of this can be from a variety of reasons, and could quite possibly be from just plain old bad form, but the most consistent reason I see people squatting behind their toes is from bad information they’ve picked up. A lot of information that has either been moving around the internet and from person to person is from old powerlifting techniques, and where as those are still very relevant, those techniques work best with single and double ply lifters (lifting in a squat suit). If someone is lifting in a squat suit it allows the wearer to sit back into the suit utilizing the posterior chain (low back, glutes, and hamstrings) more so than a raw squatter (no squat suit) who must utilize and rely on their quads more so then their posterior chain.

For a raw squatter, the posterior chain is very helpful but is used mostly in a supporting role to the quads. This is where shin angle and ankle mobility is very important. As the squatter descends their knees need to track over the toes allowing the pelvis to sit in between your hips causing a soft tissue exchange between your hamstrings and calves and the torso to be upright (depending on limb lengths). This positioning allows your quads to take on most of the force and protects your knees from injury. The wrapping effect that happens when the hamstring touches the calf which acts somewhat like an airbag cushioning the knee and lowering sheer forces. This is also considered a full squat which, if done properly, will allow for the most quad growth as well as strengthening your squat.

If one cannot achieve a shin angle that tracks over the toes allowing full depth (hamstrings touching calves) without needing to push the glutes back, it can be because multiple reasons. One possible issue is ankle mobility. Mobility is key because it will allow the lifter to get into optimal positioning so this should always be assessed before squatting. If ankle mobility is poor the knee will not be able to track over the foot comfortably or without the heels raising off the ground forcing the lifter onto their toes. An easy fix to this is elevating the heels, either on a PVC pipe or small plates. This will allow a plethora of ankle mobility that should allow the lifting to squat fully and correctly if there are no other issues, this will have to be determined by a trainer or yourself. Stretching can be done to allow for more ankle mobility. This video from Dr. Quinn Henoch goes over various ankle mobility exercises that can be done to help shin angle which will allow full depth in the squat, allowing bigger and stronger muscles.

Again, this is just one possible issue out of many that could be affecting your squat, this is not the be all end all to squatting properly. Most times trunk mobility issues can affect shin angle and full depth of your squat. If ankle mobility improves but an optimal shin angle is still hard to achieve then other possible issues need to be assessed.


Interested in squatting with Jack? Shoot him an email at! 

Vida Fitness
City Vista 45 K Street, NW Washington D.C. 20001
(202) 289-8432 Facebook Twitter Instagram

City Vista

Open: Mon-Fri: 5:00am – 11:00pm

Open: Sat & Sun: 7:00 am – 9:00pm

Phone: (202) 289-8432

$ 45 K Street, NW Washington D.C. 20001
Vida Fitness
Metropole 1517 15th Street, NW Washington D.C. 20005
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Phone: (202) 588-5559

$ 1517 15th Street, NW Washington D.C. 20005

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Open: Sat & Sun: 7:00 am – 9:00pm

Vida Fitness
Renaissance Hotel 999 9th Street, NW, 3rd Floor Washington D.C. 20001
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Renaissance Hotel

Phone: (202) 742-1940

$ 999 9th Street, NW, 3rd Floor Washington D.C. 20001

Open: Mon-Fri: 5:30am – 10:00pm

Open: Sat & Sun: 6:00 am – 10:00pm

Vida Fitness
U Street 1612 U Street, NW Washington D.C. 20009
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U Street

Phone: (202) 939-2577

$ 1612 U Street, NW Washington D.C. 20009

Open: Mon-Fri: 5:00am – 11:00pm

Open: Sat & Sun: 7:00 am – 9:00pm

Vida Fitness
Verizon 601 F Street, NW Washington D.C. 20004
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Phone: (202) 393-8432

$ 601 F Street, NW Washington D.C. 20004

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Open: Sat & Sun: 7:00 am – 9:00pm

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The Yards 1212 4th Street, SE Washington D.C, 20003
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The Yards

Phone: (202) 554-0444

$ 1212 4th Street, SE Washington D.C, 20003

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Open: Sat & Sun: 7:00 am – 9:00pm