Sep 26 2017

The Fourth Macronutrient: Booze

Addie ClaireHow to navigate the DC bar & restaurant scene while not wrecking your fitness goals, by VIDA Registered Dietitian Addie Merletti. 

Whenever I ask a new client what their biggest challenge is when it comes to nutrition, more times than not, alcohol is at least mentioned if not blamed entirely. Most people know that protein, carbohydrates and fat are all macronutrients, meaning that they carry energy in the form of calories. It’s never fun to be the bearer of this news: alcohol is the fourth one. Not the carbohydrates in beer, or the sugars in bourbon but the actual chemical compound ethanol (C2H6O). In fact, where carbohydrate and protein both carry 4 calories per gram and fat carries 9 calories per gram, alcohol carries 7! It stinks to be a Debbie Downer and tell clients how many of their calories are coming from alcohol, but it’s important to keep in mind if you want to hit all your fitness, health, performance and aesthetic goals. Here are a few of the tips I share with new and existing clients whose happy hour shenanigans seem to be preventing fat loss, lean mass gain, or both:

Anywhere you stop the cycle is a success. This is usually how it goes: you go out to dinner and have a few drinks. You want to make sure you’re hungry for the yummy dinner so you don’t eat anything before, and therefore catch a buzz relatively quickly. You’re now more likely to reach for one more piece of bread or cheese than usual, or even order dessert when you normally don’t. After dinner, you go to the bar and have some more booze calories and dance your heart out. Fast forward a few hours and you’re ravenous for some jumbo slice. Then you fall asleep, possibly with said jumbo slice crust still in your hand. You wake up in the morning feeling like your mouth is drier than the Sahara Desert and think “you know what sounds so much better than that workout? A bagel.” Back to the original sentence, if you can pause this cycle anywhere along the way, you will be making an improvement! The following are a few ways to hit pause:

  1. Don’t show up hungry. You’ll catch that quick buzz and lose all your “no thank you on the 3rd brie bite” inhibitions. Allowing ourselves to get too hungry in general leads to poor choices and over eating.
  2. Order a “tall” or alternate with water. This will slow the pace of the alcohol calories and prevent hangovers. Ordering a “tall” will be the same amount of liquor and double the amount of water/soda water which will make your drink last longer.
  3. Drink water before bed. When you go home (or wherever your night ends), make yourself take down at least 12 ounces. Ideally you started this before you left the bar, but that one last drink at home is never worth it.
  4. Re-hydrate after you dehydrate. If you do end up feeling like not-a-million-dollars in the morning, try something like a Nuun tablet dissolved in water to save yourself the sugar of Gatorade. Unless you need the extra carbohydrates of course!
  5. Finally, is this a “worth it” drink? Ask yourself this at dinner on weeknights when you are considering ordering another glass of wine, or as you get up to pour another one at home. If it’s a special occasion or an amazing experience, go for it. If not, maybe save those booze calories for next time 🙂

Sep 12 2017

Loosen up! The Importance of a Proper Warm-Ups

By: VIDA Personal Trainer Patrick Merkel

“I walked here, so I’m warmed up and ready to go!”

But are you? Warm ups are essential for all modes of exercise but unfortunately, many people neglect this very important part of their routine. So what are warm ups? It is a common misconception that doing a few arm crosses and quad stretches will get you all ready for your brutal workout that’s to come. The truth is, warm ups and stretching are apples and oranges. A warm-up is “an activity that raises the total body temperature, as well as temperature of the muscles to prepare the body for vigorous exercise” (Coburn and Malek, 2012, p.259). A stretch, on the other hand, is a mode of increasing flexibility over the long term.

Proper warm ups are a key aspect in attaining the intensity needed to achieve optimal results (Coburn and Malek, 2012). Physiologically, many things happen within your body during the warm up period. These changes include:

  • Increase in blood flow to the muscles
  • Increase in sensitivity of nerve receptors
  • Increase in the disassociation of oxygen from hemoglobin and myoglobin
  • Increase in the speed of nerve impulse transmission
  • Reduction in muscle viscosity
  • Lowering of the energy rates of metabolic chemical reactions

(Coburn and Malek, 2012)

What do these changes mean for your performance? Enhanced blood flow to the muscle means that it not only has more oxygen available for use (because oxygen is transported by hemoglobin in the blood), but it also has more nutrients to assist in performance. Another very important bullet point above is the reduction in muscle viscosity. During your warm up, the joints release synovial fluid which acts as a lubricant to lubricate the joints. Doing this lowers the risk of injury and stress on the tendons and ligaments.

Finally, let’s talk biochemistry. By lowering the energy rates of metabolic chemical reactions, you are lowering the amount of energy required for certain reactions to be completed. For example, during exercise (especially weightlifting) our body is rapidly undergoing glycogenolysis, or the break-down of glycogen (our muscles main fuel). This process of breaking down glycogen for use by our body is essential for us to complete any activity involving our muscles. This process happens at a much quicker rate once a warm-up is completed because our body has been “primed” for the metabolic demands that lie ahead. The simple graph below illustrates the result of increased metabolic activity after a warm up. The red line represents someone who has completed a warm up, and the blue line represents someone who has not.

Warm Ups Chart


Now that we have all of the science out of the way, what do proper warm-ups look like? Let’s make one thing clear: static stretching is NOT a proper warm up. In fact, recent research indicates that static stretching prior to dynamic activity (running, jumping, throwing) may have a negative effect on performance (Coburn and Malek, 2012). The National Strength and Conditioning Association suggests three different modes of warming up: passive, general, and specific.

A passive warm up involves warming the body by using methods such as hot showers, heating pads, or massages. Although it may be beneficial, this method is not the most practical in many situations. The general warm up involves basic activities that require movement of the major muscle groups, such as jogging, cycling, or jumping rope (Coburn and Malek, 2012). The method increases the heart rate, blood flow, muscle temperature, and lubricates the joints. Finally, the specific warm up involves movements that are an actual part of the activity that will be performed, such as using a very low weight on squats before performing your working sets. Research suggests that this method is the most effective at boosting exercise performance.

Another widely accepted method of warming up is using dynamic stretching (the method that I often use with my clients). This involves movements that actively stretch the muscle and increase body temperature to prepare one for exercise. Examples of dynamic stretching include lunges or high knees, both of which are featured below.

Warm Ups

Ok, so we understand that  proper warm ups are necessary, but how good is good enough? The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends that warm up involved one of the methods listed above (passive, general, specific, or dynamic) until a light sweat is broken. This usually takes anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to achieve. It’s time to rethink our warm up routine and give our body what it deserves—a proper warm up that will maximize our performance!

Interested in learning more? Email Patrick at to schedule a training session! 



Sep 5 2017

Top 5 Reasons Men Should Take Up Yoga

Yoga for Men

VIDA Yoga Instructor Mario Austin

By: Guest Blogger Kelly Berry 


What is Bro-ga?

We sat down with VIDA yogi, Mario Austin to get his take on yoga and explain why more men should take up the practice. We’ve compiled the essential bits of knowledge for those thinking about starting a practice and ways to get more out of your next group session if you’re already part of the yoga community.


Here Are the Top 5 Things Men Need to Know according to Yoga Instructor Mario Austin:

  1. Yoga helps you build flexibility! So don’t worry that you’re not flexible when you begin.


“A lot of men tell me, ‘I can’t do yoga, I can’t touch my toes’, but what they don’t realize is that everyone has to start somewhere,” says Mario Austin. “When I first started I couldn’t do most of the poses but I had some great VIDA instructors – Chris Parkison, Alfredo Gomez, Todd Dubenzic, Dan McAnally, John Thurman – who told me to keep going and I’m glad I listened! It was hard work and it was humbling.”


  1.  No one is looking at you or judging you. They are too busy focusing on themselves.

“This is a big one,” says Mario. “So often I will hear, ‘I can’t go to yoga until I get good at it.’ Which is funny only because it’s a practice, you’re not going to be amazing at it at the start or everyday, but you keep showing up and working at it and you will see progress! Believe me. It’s a journey some days arm balances are there, sometimes they’re not, it’s always going to be different. If you can enjoy the process, it will make you stronger and allows you to appreciate being good to yourself and putting positivity out in the atmosphere.”


  1. Yoga is one of the best outlets to bring calmness and support mental health.

“Yoga is not only a physical outlet, it brings a mental calm as well. Yoga is a tool to help us grow personally and to develop and nourish. I think it says a lot about a person if they do yoga and what we learn on our mat – how to access a tranquil state of mind, how to share space with others and transmit positive energy to others – we can take that practice outside of the studio. In fact, I would argue that we must accept it’s a responsibility of us all. More men should take up the practice. It says a lot about a man who takes enough pride in himself to put mental and physical health and wellness as a priority.”


  1. Want a workout that builds a killer core, strengthens biceps, triceps and increases hip mobility? Do yoga.

“If you want to have a well rounded fitness program, yoga is it. Just from the foundational poses alone – plank is core! Chaturanga – there’s your ripped arms! When I first started practicing, I had to remind myself to go at my own pace, which sometimes means slowing things down. Often people think you have to keep up. However, sometimes only your body can tell you where you need to go. There’s also a lot of hip mobility involved in yoga, which for men is 100% needed. I love rigorous challenges in a practice everything from arm balances, core work, hip openers, but the important thing is to find a style and approach that works for you. VIDA offers so many styles and variety with our team of instructors, so there is definitely something for everyone,” says Mario.


  1. Real Men Do Yoga. Find a brogi.

“If yoga is something you are interested in find a brogi (bro-gi),” says Mario. “More and more men are doing yoga. Yoga brings people together, promotes brotherly love and let’s face it, we could all use some more love and connection with community in our lives. Having another brogi to keep you on task and help motivate you can make a big difference to sticking with it. I also encourage yogis to ask your VIDA instructor for ways to modify or vary poses to fit your body type, and in that way making yoga poses more accessible and supportive.”  


We want to hear from our fellow VIDA male yogis! Connect with us on social and use the hashtag #VIDABrogi to be part of the conversation. Mario teaches regularly at VIDA Verizon and subs at all VIDA locations. You can find him on the schedule here.

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
(202) 588-5559 Facebook Twitter Instagram


Phone: (202) 588-5559

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

Open: Mon-Fri: 5:00am – 11:00pm

Open: Sat & Sun: 7:00 am – 9:00pm

Vida Fitness
Renaissance Hotel 999 9th Street, NW, 3rd Floor Washington D.C. 20001
(202) 742-1940 Facebook Twitter Instagram

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
(202) 939-2577 Facebook Twitter Instagram

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
(202) 393-8432 Facebook Twitter Instagram


Phone: (202) 393-8432

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

Open: Mon-Fri: 5:00am – 11:00pm

Open: Sat & Sun: 7:00 am – 9:00pm

Vida Fitness
The Yards 1212 4th Street, SE Washington D.C, 20003
(202) 554-0444 Facebook Twitter Instagram

The Yards

Phone: (202) 554-0444

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

Open: Mon-Fri: 5:00am – 11:00pm

Open: Sat & Sun: 7:00 am – 9:00pm