Washington is getting a slew of area Pure Barre studios with the recent opening of the company’s first-ever Bethesda location, followed by another in Alexandria next week.
Pure Barre opened in Bethesda on January 20 at 4930 Hampden Lane. Owners Katie Shearin and Marybeth Coleman will open a second location at 429 John Carlyle Street in Alexandria on February 3.
Pure Barre is a national franchise that first came to Washington in spring 2013 with locations in Fairfax and Dupont Circle. The 55-minute workouts involve isometric exercises performed at the barre—think pulsing squats—and on the mat that target the arms, core, and thighs.
The opening of the two studios will bring the number of Pure Barre studios in Washington to five (a Rockville location opened in early January). According to Pure Barre’s website, barre fiends can expect locations in Capitol Hill, McLean, and Reston in the near future.
Bethesda residents no longer have to schlep to DC for a Megaformer workout when Sculpt Studio opens there on Saturday.
When it opens just a half mile from the Bethesda Metro station, Sculpt will become the first fitness studio in Bethesda to offer the Lagree Fitness Method, a full-body workout performed on the Megaformer machine. The studio features ten Megaformers and a variety of 50-minute workouts.
The Lagree Fitness Method rose to popularity in Los Angeles in 2001 before spreading to New York. It’s been gaining popularity in Washington lately thanks to the opening of Solidcore in Adams Morgan last November.
Sculpt Studio will offer four types of Megaformer classes, including an all-levels Sculpt class, a 60-minute “mega-workout,” and Megaformer Pilates for new and expectant mothers.
First time on the Megaformer? There’s also a class for newbies and injured athletes called Gentle Sculpt. It’s probably a good idea to start with this intro class, as we can attest that the slow, calculated, full-body workout is likely to leave you sore for days.
“How do I get rid of cellulite?”
It’s a question dermatologists and plastic surgeons get asked a lot. Unfortunately, most admit there’s no simple answer.
“If there was some easy way to get rid of cellulite, we’d all be doing it by now,” says Maral Kibarian Skelsey, director of dermatologic surgery at Georgetown University Medical Center.
The silver lining is that you’re not alone in the fight against the lumps and bumps that can cover thighs, hips, even arms and the stomach. Some 90 percent of women have cellulite—most just don’t care to admit it.
What Is It?
“Cellulite is, unfortunately, very much of a female condition,” says Fairfax plastic surgeon George Bitar. The key to understanding why it discriminates against women lies deep beneath the skin.
Although cellulite appears on the surface, it’s found in the layer of fat below the epidermis and dermis. That’s where pockets of fat sit sandwiched between septae, fibrous bands that connect to the skin and penetrate down to the muscle.
In men, septae are crisscrossed and act like mesh, keeping the fat in place. In women, however, not only do the bands run vertically and less frequently, but they’re weaker.
“In women, the bands pull down in such a way that causes dimples on the surface of the skin,” says dermatologist Melda Isaac of MI-Skin Dermatology Center in DC. “In between the bands are fat cells that accumulate and get trapped, then push up into the skin and cause the bumpiness.”
Genetics also play a role. Our genes determine how much fat we have to begin with, Skelsey says, as well as the thickness of our skin. Thick skin masks the appearance of cellulite more than thin skin. “You can’t do much about that unless you change your parents,” she says.
While cellulite can develop at any age—even among teenagers—its appearance worsens as we grow older and lose skin elasticity and muscle tone. The skin weakens over the years, Isaac says, “so there’s no spring to it, and cellulite looks even more accentuated.”
Why is cellulite so hard to treat? Until now, efforts to banish the condition have been futile because the focus of treatment was misguided, Isaac suspects. “For a long time, I think we were addressing the wrong pathology,” she says. “We weren’t focusing on the architecture of cellulite.”
Skelsey agrees, pointing out that the first thing to come to terms with is that cellulite can’t be completely cured: “It’s not a disease,” she says. “It’s an anatomic variation.”
Be wary of creams and compression clothes that claim to get rid of cellulite. “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is,” Bitar warns.
One tried-and-true method of reducing the appearance of cellulite is strength training. While there’s no research on the role of exercise with cellulite, Isaac says to keep in mind that the septae connect to muscle under the fat layer. Therefore, resistance training will not only burn excess fat but also promote muscle definition and smoother skin. “You can improve the appearance by making muscles leaner and stronger,” she says.
The same goes for healthy eating. While nutrition alone won’t reduce cellulite, it’s a good idea to eat a balanced diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, and protein and to avoid crash diets, which aim for rapid weight loss over a short time. While a diet can reduce fat, “it doesn’t reduce dimpling,” writes Dr. Howard Murad in The Cellulite Solution. And extreme weight loss, Isaac adds, can make the appearance of cellulite worse.
“Diet and exercise are terrific for health and staying in good shape,” says Fairfax plastic surgeon Robert F. Centeno, “but there are millions of women who are in extremely good physical condition who still have cellulite. You can do everything right—have completely normal weight and a terrific diet—and still have cellulite because anatomical issues predispose you to it.”
One promising treatment is a form of laser therapy that addresses the inner workings of cellulite, says Skelsey, who is a consultant on the Food and Drug Administration’s general-and-plastic-surgery-devices panel. These devices, such as the recently FDA-approved Cellulaze, aim to get rid of cellulite by zapping the septae and melting the fat in one session. The goal is for the fibrous bands to reform in a different pattern that’s less cellulite-prone.
Even then, it’s likely that patients would need annual touchups. Still, laser therapy is “as close to a magic bullet as we have,” says Bitar, whose practice is one of 22 medical centers in the country that use CelluSmooth, a similar laser device.
Until that magic bullet appears, Skelsey says there’s one thing to keep in mind about cellulite: “It’s normal. But if it’s something that’s really bothersome to a person, there are a few things out there—a very few. The best thing you can do is do your research and have realistic expectations about what kind of results your investment is going to make.”
This article appears in the December 2013 issue of Washingtonian.
How it works: A plastic surgeon makes small incisions to the cellulite-laden area. A probe placed through the incisions and under the skin emits a laser, melting fat bulges and cutting through the fibrous bands that pull on and cause dimples in the skin. New lasers, such as FDA-approved Cellulaze and CelluSmooth, require one-time treatments.
Cost: $4,000 to $7,500, depending on the size of the treated area. (Rondi Kathleen Walker, a plastic surgeon on Washingtonian’s most recent Top Doctors list, offers Cellulaze, while George Bitar, another top plastic surgeon, offers CelluSmooth.)
The verdict: Experts say that the new minimally invasive lasers are revolutionary because they require only one session and show immediate results. However, the treatments do cause bruising and swelling and sometimes require patients to wear compression clothing during the recovery period, which can be up to two weeks. Patients may need touchups once a year. Maral Kibarian Skelsey, director of dermatologic surgery at Georgetown University Medical Center, says Cellulaze is the best thing on the market but cautions that because the laser treatments are relatively new, there’s no data on long-term effects.
How they work: Areas affected by cellulite aren’t only dimpled but also dehydrated, says Dr. Howard Murad, author of The Cellulite Solution. Applying creams or lotions that contain such active ingredients as retinol or caffeine increases blood flow to the area, temporarily reducing the appearance of cellulite.
Cost: $5 to $50 and up.
The verdict: “Don’t waste your money” on expensive lotions that advertise cellulite reduction, says Skelsey, who serves on the FDA’s general-and-plastic-surgery-devices panel. Using them is usually harmless, she adds, but “although there may be a short-term improvement [in appearance], it’s not scientifically possible that it will make an impact.”
How it works: A dermatologist or plastic surgeon uses a hand-held machine that suctions and kneads the patient’s skin, increasing circulation and loosening connective tissue. The treatment lasts approximately 30 minutes. It’s recommended that a patient undergo multiple sessions.
Cost: $100 and up per session.
The verdict: This type of deep-tissue massage may improve lymphatic drainage (which rids the area of waste and excess fluids) and reduce the appearance of cellulite, but only for a short time, says Dr. Melda Isaac of MI-Skin Dermatology Center: “It’s basically equivalent to fluffing up a pillow. It’ll look good in the meantime but won’t have long-lasting results.”
How it works: Radiofrequency devices apply heat to the surface of the skin, causing temporary swelling and thickening of the area, thereby smoothing the skin and minimizing the appearance of cellulite. For best results, patients are encouraged to undergo one or two sessions a week for a month or longer.
Cost: About $400 a session.
The verdict: A 2012 study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology found that 89 percent of women who underwent radiofrequency therapy reduced their cellulite. Isaac, who offers radiofrequency in her office, says the treatment works well for mild cases. For severe cases, she says, “where you can see the shadows, peaks, and valleys,” radiofrequency alone won’t work.
How it works: A thin, hollow tube is inserted through small incisions and moved back and forth to loosen fat. The fat is then suctioned out using a vacuum or syringe.
Cost: An average of $2,852.
The verdict: Although patients used to think liposuction could get rid of cellulite, today the American Society of Plastic Surgeons says it’s not effective for that use. In some cases, liposuction can make the appearance of cellulite worse by creating more dimples in the skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
This article appears in the December 2013 issue of Washingtonian.
Here’s the good news about cellulite: With the right exercise regimen and a healthy diet, its unsightly appearance can be reduced. Even better: It doesn’t require hours at the gym performing lunges, says personal trainer Allyn Blind.
The key to reducing the appearance of cellulite? Short bursts—as little as five minutes—of high-intensity exercise, which research shows is as effective as continuous, moderate exercise and which helps the body burn more fat and calories after a workout.
“And don’t just include lower-body movements,” Blind says. “You want full-body movements that are quick and effective.”
Next time you’re at the gym, try Blind’s cellulite-reducing workout, which takes six minutes three times a week and needs little equipment.
Do these for 30 seconds each. Repeat the entire set twice. Once you feel comfortable with the workout, bump it up to three sets and do each exercise for 60 seconds.
For this exercise named after physical-education expert Royal H. Burpee, who developed it, squat and kick your legs back into a pushup position. Do a pushup, then jump up into a standing position. Repeat in one fluid motion.
Begin in a squat position and jump to standing, then in one fluid motion return to a squat and repeat.
Sprint on the treadmill for 60 seconds. If a treadmill isn’t available, jump-rope instead.
Squat to Press
While holding lightweight dumbbells at your sides, squat. As you return to a standing position, extend your arms, pressing the weights above your head.
Standing straight, lunge to your right, bending your right knee 90 degrees with your left leg straight. Return to starting position and repeat on the other side. For more challenge, hold free weights.
Illustrations by Pete Sucheski.
There are cycling and barre studios, yoga and TRX boutique gyms—and then there’s Dancing Mind studio.
Dancing Mind Yoga is reopening Friday, January 10, as Dancing Mind. The newly renovated 8,000-square-foot space offers not only just yoga, but also indoor cycling and CrossFit. The expansion makes it the first boutique fitness studio to offer all three workouts in the Washington metro region.
Although owner Paula Baake says yoga will continue to be Dancing Mind’s “bread and butter,” she added cycling and CrossFit to the mix to allow members to build up endurance and expand their athletic abilities, as well.
The seven-year-old studio now features three yoga studios, a cycling studio with 20 bikes that measure your heart rate, and a CrossFit Box that will fit 30 students. After studio-goers sweat it out during a CrossFit Workout of the Day or on the bike, they can shower up in the men’s and women’s locker rooms or relax by the fireplace.
Check out Dancing Mind at its grand reopening event on Saturday, January 11, from
8 to noon 9 AM to 2 PM. You’ll be able to take a tour of the studios or try free 15-minute classes with instructors.
Dancing Mind Studio. 929 W. Broad St., Falls Church; 703-237-9642. New members can purchase a membership for unlimited yoga, CrossFit, and cycling classes for $135.
Letting out some work frustration at the gym during your lunch break is pretty rewarding. Not so great: the hassle of showering, blow-drying your hair, and changing back into work clothes. Make the process easier by stashing these essential beauty products in your gym bag. The best part? They’re all less than $13 and can be found at your local drugstore.
1) Secret Clinical Strength Antiperspirant ($9.99)
This prescription-strength deodorant keeps working long after you have.
2) Pond’s Wet Cleansing Towelettes ($6.99)
No time to shower? These refreshing face and body wipes will keep you smelling fresh. (Your coworkers will thank you.)
3) Clean & Clear Oil-Absorbing Sheets ($4.99)
Rid your face of excess oil and sweat with these shine-eliminating sheets.
4) Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner ($9.95)
Redness-reducing rose-petal water in this alcohol-free toner helps calm Santa-flushed cheeks to a healthy glow.
5) Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream ($12.99)
Streamline your beauty routine with this all-in-one foundation formula that hydrates and brightens your complexion.
6) PSSSSST Dry Shampoo Spray ($6.79)
An oldie but a goody, this dry shampoo refreshes your locks with an unscented formula designed to absorb excess oil.
7) Almay Wake Up Under-Eye Concealer ($7.19)
Bring new light to tired post-workout eyes with this refreshing under-eye concealer.
Do you have a favorite beauty product to use after a workout? Share it with us in the comments.
The Dancer: Doonya
Channel your inner Bollywood star at this high-energy cardio class. The routines, inspired by traditional Indian dances such as Bolly-pop and bhangra, target all major muscle groups. $20. DC, Arlington, Vienna, and Silver Spring; 703-828-4319.
The Adventure Seeker: Roam Fitness
The Glover Park gym takes its cross-training sessions outdoors during OutRun, three-to-five-mile runs through DC neighborhoods, interspersed with pit stops for strength-training exercises. Longer OutRun Adventures combine such activities as kayaking, cycling, and running. $25. 2505 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-813-9555.
The Hardcore Fitness Buff: Solidcore
At the first studio in Washington to offer Megaformer workouts on machines, class-goers lunge, plank, and work their muscles to the point of failure in each 50-minute session. The total-body exercises are performed in a slow, controlled manner. $35; $19 for the first class. 1841 Columbia Rd., NW; 267-455-6457.
The Music Lover: ZenGo Cycle
With the opening of its Logan Circle outpost, scheduled for January 1, this indoor cycling studio now offers two places to work up a sweat. Instructors double as deejays as they coach you through hills and sprints on the bike to the beat of heart-pumping music. $21. 4866 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, 301-312-6658; 1508 14th St., NW, no phone yet.
The Yogi: Spark Yoga
Take your practice to new heights at this Clarendon studio’s aerial-yoga class. Students hang from silks as they bend and twist their bodies into various poses. Hot vinyasa, ashtanga, barre, and Pilates classes are also available. $20 to $30. 2201-G N. Pershing Dr., Arlington; 703-248-9642.
The Budget-conscious: BMarchai Studios
No membership, no reservation, no problem. This boutique gym with two locations on Capitol Hill offers 30-minute, low-impact, high-intensity circuit training for $10. Drop by at your convenience and a personal trainer will get you started. 650 Pennsylvania Ave., SE; 877-657-0004.
This article appears in the January 2014 issue of Washingtonian.
In 2012 we looked into our crystal ball and checked out what was in store for health and fitness in 2013. Our predictions were right on the mark, from the explosion of more themed races to the growth of Paleo dieters. Here, we anticipate seven trends to expect next year, from new exotic flavors in healthy dishes, to even more stylish workout clothes, to a new crop of running shoes that could change the face of the minimalist movement.
More exotic flavors
Step aside, Sriracha, there's a new spicy sauce in town. A recent survey conducted by Sensient Flavors says gochujang, a fermented Korean condiment, is going to be popular in 2014. Other flavors expected to rise in the ranks: rhubarb, green coconut, and burnt calamansi.
High-intensity interval training
The workout that involves short, high-intensity bursts of exercise is going to be the top workout of 2014, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. However, health professionals surveyed cautioned that with the rise of this type of training comes high injury rates.
A boutique gym for every neighborhood
Goodbye gym chains, hello boutique studios. We love that almost every neighborhood in Washington has become home to small gyms that offer group fitness classes in intimate settings. And there are plenty more studios on the way for 2014.
I’ve never been one for scare tactics, but when a friend had a particularly nasty run-in blocks from my apartment, I began to look for ways to keep safe during my solo runs through DC.
One way was to try out Road ID, a free smartphone app that sends friends real-time location updates during your outdoor activity. Contacts can follow your route from start to finish, tracking any suspicious pauses or lapse in activity along the way. Here’s how it works:
1. Start your Road ID session by setting an estimated workout time and choosing up to five emergency contacts. Don’t worry about exceeding this pre-set time—you can add more in 10 minute increments if you’re feeling especially ambitious mid-jog.
2. Select a message to be sent via text to your contacts once you begin, or create your own.