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It's time to shake off your old routine and try something new. By Elissa Miolene
Lace up and get going. Image via Shutterstock.

Exercising is not always fun. And let’s face it, workout routines can be boring. Fortunately, Washington is full of unique (and fun!) ways to get moving.

1. The National Zoo

Run along Sumatran tigers as you make your way through the sprawling grounds of the zoo. Photograph by Joe Ravi/Shutterstock.

The Smithsonian National Zoo (3001 Connecticut Avenue, NW) sprawls across 163 acres of land in Northwest DC. With so much ground to cover, you'll have your choice of lots of different paths to run, walk or hike. Plus, you’ll be so distracted by the zoo’s 1,800 animals that you’ll barely notice that you’ve been working up a sweat.

Grounds are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., last admittance at 7 p.m.

2. Exorcist Stairway

Photograph by Flickr user Natalie Maguire.

Goodbye, Father Merrin, and hello, exercise! Georgetown hosts the backdrop of one of the most famous movie scenes in history, 97 steps and all. A run up and down this outdoor flight of stairs will get your heart pumping and your blood flowing, and you probably won't need much goading to run faster.

At the corner of Prospect and 36th streets, Northwest, leading down to M Street, Northwest.

3. Kayak and Paddleboard Rentals

Photograph by Flickr user Michael Cisneros.

Kayaking, paddleboarding, and canoeing are great for burning calories and strengthening your core. There are lots of different spots for water sports in the DC area, like the Key Bridge Boathouse, Ballpark Boathouse, and National Harbor. All offer lessons and rentals and, if you get really serious, season passes.

Ballpark Boathouse: Potomac Avenue, Southeast, and First Street, Southeast

Key Bridge Boathouse: 3500 Water Street, Northwest

National Harbor: 165 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, MD 20745

For more infromation email: boatinginfo@boatingindc.com

4. Dance classes

Photograph by Dragon Images/Shutterstock.

Studies have shown that some dance classes burn up to 400 calories an hour. With that kind of result, why not take advantage of some of DC’s dance studios as a fun way to get fit? At Dance Place (3225 8th Street, NE), for example, adults can drop in to any class for $15 on weekends, or $10 on weekdays, and choose from modern dance, jazz, hip-hop, Afro-Cuban, African, salsa, and balance harmony dance classes, among others.

Full schedule can be found here: http://www.danceplace.org/classes/adult-classes/

5. Mount Vernon Trail

Photograph by Flickr user ScotchBroom.

The Mount Vernon Trail winds along the Potomac's Virginia shore and is used by cyclists, runners, hikers, and walkers. The trail is mostly paved but some sections are boardwalk. Open year-round, the 18-mile stretch is filled with scenic views, history, and educational opportunities. The terrain varies from easy to difficult, providing the perfect opportunity for interval exercise.

6. Wipeout Run

A participant of the Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge, an event put on by the partners of Wipeout Run. Since the event, ROC and Wipeout have teamed up to create the Wipeout Run. Photograph by BluIz60/Shutterstock.

On June 20, fans of the show Wipeout will finally be able to prove whether or not they can do better than people on TV. The Wipeout Run (Festival Grounds at RFK, Lot 6; 2400 East Capitol Street, SE) is a 5K course laid with 12 thrilling obstacles. Vendors, food, and refreshments will be available after participants fight to be the last one standing

7. Spartan Race and Tough Mudder

A Tough Mudder participant tackles a Pennsylvania obstacle course in 2012. Photograph by Glynnis Jones/Shutterstock.

For those who are bored with their regular routines, Spartan Race and Tough Mudder offer upcoming events for those who are (thoroughly) prepared.

On August 1, the Spartan Sprint (27861 Budds Creek Road, Mechanicsville, Md.) will come to the Washington area. The Sprint is one of a number of races offered by Spartan Race—this one in particular encompasses three to five miles of distance and over 20 challenging obstacles. The obstacles are obscure and difficult to get through, and participants will have to train well before the day of the sprint.

The Tough Mudder (13112 Dawn Boulevard, Doswell, Va.) comes to Virginia on June 13 and 14, about an hour and 45 minutes from DC. Tough Mudder participants will go through obstacles as fast as they can, navigating rough terrain, mud and water, and pits of ice, among other challenges. Both the Spartan Race and the Tough Mudder are intended to be both a physical and mental challenge and require physical training.

Posted at 09:22 AM/ET, 06/05/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Fitness studios and gyms are welcoming the fall season with fun and free events that will work up a sweat. By Melissa Romero
This week marks the start and end of local fitness classes in Washington, from yoga standup paddleboarding with Key Bridge Boathouse to Downtown DC BID's final free outdoor workout in Franklin Park. Photograph by Melissa Romero.

Local fitness studios and gyms are going all out this week with some pretty epic events planned to say goodbye to summer and hello to fall. From free indoor cycling classes to yoga and hiking through Dupont Circle, there’s something every day of the week.

Monday: Yoga Standup Paddleboarding
Just because summer’s over doesn’t mean you can’t hit the water for a relaxing workout. Head to Key Bridge Boathouse at 6 for yoga standup paddleboarding at sunset before the boathouse closes in late October. $35.

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Posted at 01:00 PM/ET, 09/23/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Despite the rain, the “happiest 5K on the planet” once again goes off without a hitch at National Harbor. By Melissa Romero
Despite the rain, the Color Run drew 5,000 runners to National Harbor this past Sunday. Photograph by Melissa Romero.

Sunday morning brought drizzle, foggy skies, and a whole bunch of colorful runners to National Harbor for the Color Run, dubbed the happiest 5K on the planet. Approximately 5,000 runners and walkers braved the potential rain to be doused instead with a downpour of yellow, orange, pink, and blue powder for 3.1 miles.

Since being founded a little more than a year ago, in January 2012, the Color Run series has become the single largest running event in the country, involving more than 1 million participants and 100 events in 2013 alone. Participants, from toddlers to grandparents, are drawn to the Color Run’s untimed 5K, which has only two requirements: to wear white and finish splattered in color from head to toe. With even more color-blasting at the finish line, plus free Kind bars, Slurpees, Chipotle, water, and a dance pit, the Color Run feels more like one big party than an actual run.

Posted at 02:15 PM/ET, 05/20/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
From yoga on the Mall to CrossFit classes, there are tons of free events to check out. By Melissa Romero
From free outdoor yoga classes to donation-based indoor cycling fundraisers, there are tons of fitness events happening in Washington this weekend. Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

Happy Friday! There are so many fitness events happening this weekend we had to share them all. Even better: Tons of them are free! The launch party of fitness company FitDC will be hosting lots of free classes, and other studios will be donating proceeds from their classes to certain organizations. 

And don’t forget to take a snapshot of your workout this weekend. Send it to wellbeing@washingtonian.com and you could win free workout gear and tickets to Jillian Michaels’s show at the Warner Theatre later this month. 

FRIDAY

Date Night at Bar Method 
If you and your significant other are out of date ideas, why not stay fit together for a good cause? Tonight Bar Method DC in Chinatown is hosting a date night to raise money for the National MS Society. 7:30 PM. $50 per couple.

Bender Barre at Rock Creek Sports Club 
Head straight to Rock Creek Sports Club in Silver Spring for their one-hour happy hour Bender Barre class, a mix of ballet, strength, yoga, and Pilates. 6:30 PM. Free for non-members.

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Posted at 02:00 PM/ET, 04/12/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
The “happiest race on earth” is likely to sell out again. By Melissa Romero
The Color Run returns to DC and Baltimore this year. Registration opens Friday, February 15. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Angry Julie Monday.

Mark your calendars, people—registration for the Color Run in both DC and Baltimore opens tomorrow, and if the last run is any indication, both events will sell out in record time.

The inaugural race in DC was so popular last year that organizers decided to offer two chances for locals to take part in what they call “the happiest race on earth” in 2013. While DC’s May 11 race is already sold out, the run will return on September 22. Like last year, the 5K will take place around National Harbor.

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Posted at 03:00 PM/ET, 02/14/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every month gyms and studios will offer a free class for Sweetgreen members. By Melissa Romero

Health-focused salad chain Sweetgreen is a favorite among local athletes and fitness experts for its nutritious and tasty offerings. So it makes sense that the two worlds should combine for the salad company’s new initiative: Sweetgreen Passport.

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Posted at 01:55 PM/ET, 01/17/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Throughout September, local studios will offer deals and special events in honor of National Yoga Month. By Melissa Romero
September is National Yoga Month. Local yoga studios will be accepting free week passes for new students. Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

Here are two words we love to hear together: free yoga. 

And for the next several weeks, there will be plenty of it. September is National Yoga Month, which means local studios offer lots of deals to encourage and educate people about the health benefits of yoga. 

Here’s how it works: Head to the Yoga Health Foundation’s website and sign up for a Yoga Month card. That will get you one free week of yoga at participating local studios. (Call the studio ahead of time to make sure the card will be accepted.) Georgetown Yoga, Yoga Chai, and Down Dog Yoga have already confirmed they are participating. 

The following studios will also be offering specials and discounts throughout September. 

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Posted at 12:30 PM/ET, 09/04/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Run a race—then reward yourself with a burger afterward.
By Melissa Romero
Start your July Fourth celebrations early this year with a morning race in Washington. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user artrckr.

Plans for July Fourth typically include the following: sun, barbecue, beer, and fireworks—then more beer. But what if we told you that you could start the celebrations super early with free food and massages? The following races take place the morning of July Fourth, so not only will you get in a good workout before the heat sets in, but you’ll have plenty of hours to chow down on good eats sans guilt for the rest of the day.

Run for Independence 8K
601 Catoctin Circ., NE, Leesburg
For those who want to keep July Fourth a day of barbecue and fireworks, you can still race a few days earlier at Potomac River Running’s Run for Independence 8K on June 30. The course runs through Leesburg and will end with music, food, and awards. Breakfast will also be provided. $30 to register. Race begins at 8 AM.

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Posted at 02:50 PM/ET, 06/25/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
To celebrate the summer solstice, do yoga with more than 9,000 yogis across the nation. By Melissa Romero
Athleta is celebrating the summer solstice on Wednesday, June 20 by offering free indoor and outdoor yoga classes at its stores. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user The Cosmopolitan.

Here in Washington, we sure do love our yoga. But what do we love even more? Free yoga classes.

Tomorrow, Athleta will be offering free yoga classes at its Georgetown and Reston locations to celebrate the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. The free sessions are part of the store’s main event, Solstice in Times Square: Athleta Mind Over Madness.

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Posted at 03:40 PM/ET, 06/19/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
This neighborhood scavenger hunt offers goodie bags, beer, and a chance at the grand prize. By Melissa Romero

Who doesn’t love scavenger hunts that end with awesome prizes and beer? That’s exactly what you can expect at next week’s Georgetown Dash, a scavenger hunt throughout Georgetown that will raise money for Girls on the Run DC, a nonprofit organization that teaches girls about health, community service, and self-esteem.

Here’s how the race works: Teams of four will aim to complete physical or mental challenges and tests to receive the next clue and destination. The team with the most stars collected at each location in the least amount of time will win a grand prize package worth more than $2,000: 

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Posted at 01:00 PM/ET, 06/15/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()