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Personal trainer Ingrid Nelson gives her insights on the workout trend. By Angie Hilsman
Photograph courtesy of Ingrid Nelson

High-Intensity Interval Training is currently one of the biggest fads in fitness, and, according to personal trainer Ingrid Nelson, that's because it works.

"It is a greatway to boost weight loss— it burns fat faster and for longer—it's a short workout, it preserves muscle mass, it helps endurance athletes, and you can do it anywhere," said Nelson.

Nelson, who will lead a 40-minute bootcamp at Washingtonian Fit Fest this Saturday, dished out her top five HIIT moves, why they work, and how to do them correctly.

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Posted at 04:10 PM/ET, 06/17/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Personal trainer Errick McAdams gives his 6 favorite moves. By Angie Hilsman
Photography and .gifs by Angie Hilsman

Bikini season has already started, and although you're finally seeing results from working out, you may not have the definition you've been craving. We caught up with personal trainer Errick McAdams to get his advice for toning up before the beach.

"The best exercise for any given muscle group is the exercise you don't normally do," McAdams says, before sharing a six-step circuit. That means if you don't normally run stairs, you should run stairs. "Whenever you get your body out of its comfort zone, that's when it starts to change."

Try McAdams's 20-minute, full-body, toning routine before unveiling the beach bod this weekend, but don't hesitate to mix it up if you're already familiar with these moves.

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Posted at 10:17 AM/ET, 06/12/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Trainer Michelle Risinger shares her method for lean, mean limbs.  By Caroline Cunningham
Image courtesy Michelle Risinger.

With the season of sleeveless shirts upon us, there’s few things women want more than the secret to well-defined arms. Piloxing, an exercise that fuses the high-energy and intensity of boxing with the controlled toning movements of Pilates, is a full-body workout that involves a number of moves to transform triceps.

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Posted at 10:36 AM/ET, 06/11/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
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:

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:

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 ()
Amanda Polk shares how she got into the sport, and why she loves exercise tights so much. By Caroline Cunningham
Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

“My world revolved around my daughter and her schedule. When she left for college, I thought, ‘What now?’ ” That’s when Amanda Polk of Potomac discovered bodybuilding. Bikini bodybuilding.

“Don’t let the name fool you,” Polk says. “It’s a tough sport.”

Last March, she attended a friend’s bikini-bodybuilding competition and was hooked. Unlike traditional bodybuilding, which aims for extreme bulk, the bikini version highlights leaner muscles to create a toned hourglass shape. Polk joined a team coached by Michelle Johnson, a renowned competitor who lives in Washington.

Polk placed fifth at the national championship last July. To transform her body, she completely changed her diet and exercise regimens: “I thought all you needed for a great shape was cardio and light weights a few days a week. Boy, was I wrong.” She focuses on heavy lifting and high-intensity interval training, also trading alcohol and empty carbs for protein-packed foods.

To Polk, all the sweating is worth it. “Watching your gluteus improve is a huge motivator,” she says, adding that she bought more tights from Better Bodies so she could see her muscles during workouts. “When you look in the mirror and like what you see, it changes your whole outlook on life.”

Sweat in style with these eight trendy finds:

Vera Wang Simple Breathe mesh sweatshirt, $68

Speedform Gemini running shoes, $129.99

Athleta Pacifica UPF Tee 2, $49

Text Active Tee, $16

Adidas by Stella McCartney gym tote, $170

Withings Activité activity tracker, $450

Contrast short top in aqua and lime, $59

Revitalize watercolor tights, $58

This article appears in our April 2015 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 10:00 AM/ET, 04/17/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Think running would be better if it involved more drinking? There's a sport for you. By Hannah Lauterback
Photographs courtesy Jim Howard.

The first rule of hashing is there aren’t really any rules.

Enthusiasts of the alternate-universe running clubs insist there’s no one correct way to hash. There are, however, some constants: crude nicknames, invented terminology, devoted friendships, and a healthy dose of debauchery.

But the basics go something like this:

A lead runner—known as a “hare”—lays out a trail in flour or chalk. Participants then run, jog, and sometimes crawl along this trail until they reach their ultimate destination—typically a local pub, street corner, or private residence—where drinking ensues. One hasher described a trail that required the group to swim across the Potomac. Twice.

No two hashes are alike. Some are punctuated by mid-run pitstops at a “check,” a spot to drink (beer or water), catch your breath, and figure out the trail. Others require unusual dress or themes. All require uninhibited revelry. Male runners are called harriers; female runners, harriettes.

Though it may sound a bit fratlike, hashing is intended to be inclusive. “We don’t care what you do or what car you drive,” says Jim Howard, a member of two DC kennels, or hashing clubs, including the White House Hash House Harriers. “What we care about is that you’re genuine and have a good sense of humor.”

Suitably for an athletic activity that involves drinking, you can take part even if you’re not in top shape. There’s always a walking trail along with the running route, and the hares take great care to plan trails so that the two intersect at end at similar times. Because of this, the walking route is usually shorter than the running route, or the running route is more complicated and keeps the hashers running around in circles longer.

Hashing in DC has been around for decades. Though it has roots in Kuala Lumpur, the American version was pioneered by William “Tumbling Bill” Panton, a hashing legend who founded the DC Hash House Harriers in 1972 and still participates today in his 80s.

There are hashes most days of the year. (Here's a full schedule.) If you’re interested in trying out hashing, get in touch one of the dozen-plus clubs scattered throughout the city. Make sure to wear sneakers and bring a change of clothes (and shoes), as well as a little cash.

Howard has been hashing since 2001. He first learned about hashing while stationed abroad with the Navy, but he didn’t end up experiencing his first race until he had moved back to the States and was looking for a 5k run while training for the Marine Corps Marathon.

What he got instead was 14 years worth of friendships and rollicking memories. His favorite? A hash through Great Falls during a “driving rain” that ended with a splash in one of his fellow runner’s swimming pools.

One local runner who asked to be identified by her hashing name, Little Spermaid, said one of the most appealing aspects of hashing is the ability to assume a new identity. What you do and where you live doesn’t matter, what matters is who you are.

"Hashing is kind of democratic,” Little Spermaid says. “You could be running next to a guy who just bought a one million dollar apartment in Arlington and you're a student, and you'll be side by side sharing a beer. It's just a great way to go outside your usual social circle." 
Like many DC newcomers, she moved to the area and joined a social kickball league to make friends. A teammate introduced her to hashing, and she described her initial hash as magical. “I tried it and immediately fell in love. It was just this moment of 'where have you people been all my life.' We're just strangely dependable, or dependably strange.”

Posted at 08:01 AM/ET, 04/15/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Two running coaches share how to transition from the treadmill to the great outdoors, and why it's good for you. By Ryan Weisser
Photograph courtesy of Julie Sapper, Run Farther & Faster.

"They don't call the treadmill the 'dread-mill' for nothing," says Lisa Reichmann, a running coach for Run Farther & Faster.

With the warmer weather, people are breaking a monotonous routine of running on a conveyor belt and making the switch to outdoor running. However, this transition can be discouraging for some. When you first start running outside, your pace can slow down, you may get tired faster, and you can push yourself too hard, ending up with an injury.

To make the switch easier, Run Farther & Faster coaches Reichmann and Julie Sapper tell runners to run for time, not miles.

“Do no more than 20 to 40 minutes on your first few outings,” Sapper says. “If you’re not used to outdoor running, start off slow with a running and walking combination and gradually build up from there.”

Reichmann emphasizes running at a conversational pace: “If you can’t talk comfortably and get out of breath when you’re running, you’re going too fast.”

Lisa Reichmann (left) and Julie Sapper (right), coaches and cofounders of Run Farther & Faster. Photograph courtesy of Julie Sapper, Run Farther & Faster.

To moderate your pace, Reichmann and Sapper suggest running with a friend. “Not only will you be able to tell when you’re going too fast,” Sapper says, “but you won’t be hyper-focused on the time or how many miles you’re running.”

Reichmann and Sapper also listed off five ways outdoor running is a healthier alternative to running on a treadmill:

Running outside is more realistic.

Races tend to be outdoors, regardless of the weather, so Reichmann and Sapper believe that outdoor running can better prepare you for unexpected obstacles.

“If you’re not used to running up hills, rain, or even a trail,” Sapper says, “then it can make races a lot harder on you. Running on a treadmill can’t prepare you for those race day surprises.”

Braving the elements can boost your confidence.

“Unless it’s not safe outside—like it’s icy, too cold, or it’s dark—then I actually encourage people to get outside in less-than-ideal weather,” Rechimann says.

Going for a run outside when it’s raining or beginning to flurry may not seem like fun, but it can actually boost your morale.

“If I know I can run through the rain or snow, then know I can do anything I set my mind to,” Sapper explains. “It’s the no excuse sort of attitude than can keep you going.”

You’ll get a healthy dose of vitamin D.

If you don’t get around 15 minutes of sun exposure each day, chances are, you might not be getting enough vitamin D. Even on a cloudy day, you can boost your vitamin D levels with a 15-minute run or walk outside.

It’s a good way to get some strength training in.

“You can get a great leg and core workout from running outside,” Reichmann says. “Because a treadmill is a flat surface, you don’t give your muscles a variety of ways to work. But when you’re running on different inclines, your legs and core need to work harder to keep your balance and pace.”

If you’re stuck inside and have to run on the treadmill, Reichmann and Sapper suggest gradually changing the incline settings on your treadmill. “If you run at a zero percent incline all the time, increase it to one percent for a few minutes, and then bring it back down,” Sapper says. “Sometimes people think they can do a high incline on the treadmill, but you can hurt yourself if you don’t take it slow.”

Outdoor running is prime thinking time.

“Running is very peaceful for me,” Sapper says, who began running during law school as a way to relieve stress. “I can think and relax. I tend to come up with some of my best ideas when I’m out for a run.”

Posted at 01:00 PM/ET, 03/16/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Celebrity trainer Obi Obadike shares how to begin living a healthier lifestyle. Plus—a 5-minute workout to help you get started. By Ryan Weisser
Image via Shutterstock.

Spring is creeping up—peak cherry blossom times have been announced and DC style-setters are prepping their wardrobes for warmer weather. It’s also that time of year to shed some winter weight.

Celebrity fitness trainer Obi Obadike, who is also a cohost on Lifestyle Magazine's health show and contributes workout videos to OWNZONES, shares 5 tips to begin living a healthier lifestyle and lose weight in the process.

Get a physical.

Obadike recommends getting a full physical and blood work every year. “A lot of people are afraid of going to the doctor because they don’t want to hear bad news,” Obadike says. “You need to know where you’re starting at in order to make any improvements.” Checking your cholesterol, vitamin levels, and blood pressure are all important in order to figure out a fitness routine that will work for you.

Start walking.

“The recommended minimum amount of cardio is 25 minutes, three times a week,” Obadike says. “But start off slow.”

According to the American Heart Association, those 25 minutes of cardio need to be "vigorous." But if you’re not used to exercising regularly, walking is a good way to get started. From there, Obadike says you can build up to a walking-jogging combo, and then begin a running routine (30 minutes a day for three to five days). Eventually, you can work up to 45 minutes of cardio, three to five times a week, to see faster results.

If you're short on time, Obadike recommends doing other cardiovascular exercises that get your heart rate up, such as jumping jacks or jumping rope.

Begin strength training.

“All you really need for strength training is your body,” Obadike says. “There’s no need for machines or weights—there’s really no need to even leave your home.” Obadike recommends a mash-up of basic exercises to work all of your muscles: sit-ups, push-ups, planks, lunges, and squats, 20 of each, and repeat two to three times for two to three days a week.

Follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to your diet.

“Eat well 80 percent of the time, and then splurge 20 percent of the time,” Obadike says. “This will keep you from binge-eating unhealthy foods, because you’re treating yourself now and then.”

If you’re a smoker—quit.

“These fitness routines can be much more difficult if you’re smoking,” Obadike says, “so I ask my clients to cut back or quit smoking entirely.”

Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of lung diseases and respiratory complications within one to two years, according to the American Lung Association, and after two weeks, the lungs begin to repair themselves.

"A healthy heart and cardiovascular system will make exercising and following a routine much easier," Obadike says. "Exercise can help you get through the stress of quitting and help you make healthier choices."

5-Minute Home Workout

Posted at 11:30 AM/ET, 03/09/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Expert advice to make those long workdays less taxing on your body. By Torie Foster
Image via Shutterstock.

It can have serious ill effects on your health, and yet almost all of us have succumbed to it: poor posture.

Bad posture can lead to a higher risk of arthritis, faster joint deterioration, and decreased lung capacity. Those who sit at a desk and on a computer all day—a.k.a. most of us—are particularly at risk, since your head is tilted, you’re leaning over, and you’re sitting, which strains your head and back muscles. Bad posture can also impair your sleeping patterns, your ability to exercise healthily, and your mood.

“Everything comes from your spinal column,” says Sheila Amon, a chiropractor in Kensington who has more than 29 years of experience. “You get fatigued because your muscles are holding you up in the wrong posture.”

Here are Amon’s tips for keeping your posture aligned throughout the workday—even while at a desk.

1. Replace your office chair with an exercise ball.

It might sound a little silly, but it works wonders, says Amon. Sitting on a ball requires a tight core and straight posture. If using one, be sure to avoid sitting “Buddha style” with your thighs spread out. Instead, make sure both knees are directly in front of you, and keep the ball from moving by tightening your stomach muscles.

2. Perform a few simple exercises at your desk throughout the day.

Amon recommends doing the “chicken wing,” which involves putting your arms parallel to the floor and doing a rowing movement while squeezing your shoulder blades. “The turkey” is another suggested exercise—jut your head forward, keeping your jaw parallel to the floor, and then bring your head back. This exercise “re-educates and strengthens the neck and upper back muscles to proper posture,” Amon explains. A third exercise to open up your chest cavity is to bring your arms behind your back, grab one wrist, squeeze your shoulder blades, and then move your arms away from your back.

3. Make sure your desk is set up properly.

Place your monitor at eye level to align your head with your shoulders, and adjust your chin so it’s parallel to the floor. Keep your knees at hip height and a 90-degree angle to your thighs, and both your feet on the ground. Place your mouse close to you to avoid problems in your shoulders, wrist, and neck. If you use a standing desk, elevate one foot about six inches, using a phone book or a box, to take pressure off your lower back.

4. Get up every 45 to 60 minutes.

Whether it’s to step outside, walk down to a colleague’s office, or make a quick trip to the water fountain, it’s a good idea to take a break from sitting. Keep Amon’s analogy in mind: “The body is 80 percent water. Moving water is healthy water; we’re not stagnant water with mosquitos running all over it.”

5. Practice confidence.

When we feel good about ourselves, we open up our chests, sit up straighter, and breathe more deeply, Amon says. To keep these practices top of mind, she recommends using an egg timer, an alarm, or sticky notes. She also suggests putting reminders in other places, such as on the refrigerator door and TV remote, to prompt yourself to sit up, even after you’ve clocked out for the day.

Posted at 10:47 AM/ET, 01/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Don't let cold weather resign you to the treadmill. By John Scarpinato
Image via Shutterstock.

With winter temperatures officially upon us, it’s important to take all the necessary steps to ensure your outdoor workout isn’t doing more harm than good. We talked with a few local running coaches for tips to running in the frigid weather.

Wear the right ensemble

The base to any winter workout is clothing. Most runners know that layering is important, but it is possible to overdo it. According to George Buckheit of Capital Area Runners, “The best approach is to accept the fact that you’re going to be cold for the first five to ten minutes of your run and to make sure you’re wearing enough layers to keep you warm mid-run, but not so many that you’re drowning in sweat.” Most technical running gear proves to be the perfect option as it is designed to wick away sweat and keep you warm without being bulky.

Terry Weir, head cross-country and track coach at George Washington University, says long sleeves, a jacket, and leggings may be obvious, but it’s just as important to cover your feet with the right gear. “Compression socks are big these days and are great for the winter,” he says. American University’s head track and cross country coach, Matt Centrowitz, suggests mittens rather than gloves, as they allow your fingers to stay warmer.

Rethink your warmup

When approaching a new routine for the winter, the biggest change to keep in mind is the warmup. Spending a few extra minutes on it will help prepare your muscles for the cold and get your respiratory system acclimated to the cold air. Weir suggests a routine that keeps you constantly moving: “You don’t want to stretch cold muscles and should keep moving the whole time. Try faster repeats just to get warmed up.” If you prefer to warm up indoors, jumping jacks or a jump-rope routine can also help prepare your muscles before heading out.

Plan your route

Thankfully, the District doesn’t get hit too hard with frigid sub-zero temperatures—but the wind can still make running outside uncomfortable. Centrowitz suggests never starting with the wind at your back on an out-and-back run. Instead, go into the wind to start so that it’s at your back on the return, when you’re more fatigued.

When it comes to top routes, every coach we asked suggested running along the covered portion of K Street under the Whitehurst Freeway. There will never be snow, and the length makes for good speed workouts. Rock Creek Park is another top spot. “Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park is closed to traffic on the weekends, and the roadway is very well-maintained and kept clear of snow and ice, so it’s a good go-to location for weekend runs in the winter,” says Buckheit. The trees also serve as a good barrier to the wind. Weir suggests trying out West Potomac Park and Hains Point; he says it’s usually one of the first areas to get plowed and doesn’t have much traffic.

Bring a friend

Staying motivated is one of the toughest obstacles when confronting winter running. Grab a workout buddy who can help keep you accountable for a regular schedule (and vice versa).

Posted at 09:00 AM/ET, 01/21/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()