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Photograph of BLAST class courtesy BLAST.

Launched in Atlanta in 2008, BLAST (Balanced Level of Aerobic/Anaerobic and Strength Training) is planning to open their first boutique outside of Georgia in early 2016. Their choice location? Washington, DC.

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Posted at 03:39 PM/ET, 11/17/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Image courtesy Cupid's Undie Run and Runner's World.

There is glory in stripping to your undies and running a mile for charity. The kind of glory that leads to national magazine covers, when it comes to Bobby Gill, co-founder of DC-based Cupid's Undie Run.

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Posted at 11:39 AM/ET, 10/29/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
The MCM lottery may be over, but you can still participate by running for a cause. By Angie Hilsman
Photograph courtesy of Vsevolod33 /

Paralyzed Veterans of America is accepting runners to join its 40th Marine Corps Marathon team on October 25 in Arlington. The charity, headquartered in DC, aims to raise awareness, and $20,000, for veteran programs through its Racing to Empower Veterans—REVolution—initiative.

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Posted at 07:00 AM/ET, 06/17/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph by Wavebreak Media/Alamy

Fertility procedures have come a long way in the 37 years since Louise Brown, the first test-tube baby, was born. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 percent of babies born each year in the US are conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF), a process in which an egg is fertilized outside the womb and then implanted.

Here are three of the most recent advancements in fertility treatments.

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Posted at 07:00 AM/ET, 06/03/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
A May exhibit invites women to submit very personal art and artifacts. By Jenny Rough
"Crib with Meditation Boxes" displays empty pill bottles and other painful memories of a baby that never came to be. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Walker.

After my miscarriage, I wrote a poem. Even though I'm a writer, I'd never written poetry before. But as I faced a barrel of mixed emotions--pain, sadness, shock, grief, fear, shame--I felt drawn to a freer form of expression. In the mysterious way that art works, poetry, like other forms of writing and creative expression, helped me heal.

Elizabeth Walker knows the feeling. When she was unable to conceive, she tried nine cycles of various infertility treatments, which included injectable drugs and artificial insemination. When nothing worked, she opted to undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF), an invasive procedure where a woman's eggs are surgically retrieved from her body and mixed with sperm in a lab. The resulting embryo is then transferred back into the woman's uterus.

The procedure went awry, and Walker wound up at the hospital for emergency surgery. The entire ordeal left her in excruciating pain. “I couldn’t pick up my camera,” says Walker, a professional photographer. “The equipment was too heavy.”

In bed during her recovery, she picked up something lightweight instead: paper. She ripped up solid-colored paper and handmade paper with flowers and pasted the shreds to a canvas. Then she painted the paper to make a collage of images that expressed her disappointment. "I wanted to make a visual representation of what I was going through," she says. "Art was a creative way to make a historical record."

Walker's artwork resonated with others. Infertility is overwhelming and hard to explain, she says, but when she showed her art to friends and family, they seemed to understand what she was going through in a way they hadn’t before. It helped her open up as well. It had taken her two years before she could tell her mom what she was going through, but her artwork eased the lines of communication. "My art served as a conversation piece to share my story," she says.

It didn't take long for Walker to realize that she could not only use her art to help her personal relationships, but to educate entire communities and raise awareness about infertility. She began to encourage other women who were struggling to conceive to paint, write, use mixed media—anything that helped them maintain their well-being. The idea garnered so much positive feedback, Walker held an exhibit, "The ART of IF," at the Ella Sharp Museum in Jackson, Michigan, where she lives. The exhibit is now traveling the country, and it's coming to Busboys & Poets (5th and K streets, DC) on May 15.The exhibit is open to the public from 3 to 7 p.m. with workshops from 3 to 5 (including a workshop I'm voluntarily offering called Journaling Your Fertility Journey; workshops are free but you must preregister).

Here are a few examples of the powerful work various women have contributed:

Crib with Medication Boxes: a crib full of needles, empty medication boxes, and pill bottles, representing the remnants of drugs for a baby who never came to be.

IVF Journal by Sarah Clark Davis: thoughts, drawings, and quotes from a woman who recorded her fertility process in a series of journal entries. At first, only a few selected pages were exhibited behind a glass case, but Davis has since decided that she's willing to share her journal with the world, and an entire reproduction is being made for others to browse through.

Lady in Waiting: a display of tubes and eggs that express the potential for life.

Necklace and Bracelet: jewelry where each bead represents a hormone shot taken during an in vitro fertilization procedure.

The Contribution Tree: a tree that features the different sort of legacies childless women are leaving behind as they contribute to society.

Walker is accepting submissions from Washingtonians for the upcoming exhibit through May 5. She will also be participating in RESOLVE's Advocacy Day on May 13(an event where the infertility community comes together to talk with Congress) where she will feature portraits, hold interviews, and provide facts and figures on infertility.

"You don't have to be a professional artist or even an amateur artist to contribute," Walker says. She simply hopes those who are experiencing infertility will make--and share--anything that is helping them through it.

Posted at 09:53 AM/ET, 04/17/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Georgetown can finally find its soul. By Caroline Cunningham
Image courtesy SoulCycle.

Apparently, the indoor cycling chain's two current locations—one on M Street and one in Bethesda—aren't cutting it for DC's "pack." Late summer 2015, another SoulCycle is scheduled to open in Georgetown.

The young and the restless Georgetown dwellers will be able to "tap it back" in a 56-bike studio, and they'll really look the part after a visit to the attached "lifestyle boutique," which will sell SoulCycle swag. The classes at this studio—as at all DC-area locations—will cost $30.

But if Georgetown still isn't a convenient place for you to squeeze in a sweat session, don't worry—SoulCycle has announced plans to open two additional studios in the area in 2015, so even more Washingtonians can "find their soul."

Posted at 04:20 PM/ET, 03/20/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
The gym’s latest promotional campaign aims to reflect the “consequences of a good workout.” By Caroline Cunningham

Equinox is no stranger to boundary-pushing advertisements. The gym chain’s 2013 campaign, shot by (in)famous photographer Terry Richardson, featured billboards of scantily clad women in poses suggestive enough to spark a public outcry and a petition to get the signs removed that garnered 1,000-plus signatures. Eventually Equinox did pull the ads and cut ties with Richardson, then announced it planned to take future campaigns in a more fitness-focused direction with ad agency Wieden+Kennedy New York.

In 2014, the company launched “Equinox Made Me Do It,” intended to depict the “consequences of a good workout—higher confidence and lowered inhibitions,” and takes that concept to a new level with the new year’s ads. According to the press release, the current images “convey the confidence and empowerment associated with adventure and risk-taking” and attempt to present the gym as an overall lifestyle resource.

While this campaign isn’t as overtly sexualized as the 2013 ad fiasco, the ads' lack of anything exercise-related does leave us with one question: Equinox made you do . . . what, exactly?

Left to fill in the blanks on our own, we’ve decided to do just that. See below for what we think these ads are trying to say.

“Equinox made me marry a much younger man and have his twins, and none of us is happy about any of this.”

“Equinox made me dress in drag so I could trick people into thinking there’s a naked woman in this photo.”

“Equinox made me jump out of a plane in five-inch platform combat boots and a bathing suit.”

“Equinox made me shave my head impulsively, but at least I kind of look like Natalie Portman circa 2005.”

“Equinox made me catch this pig, which I’m just going to hold for the photo because it’s freaking cute.”

Posted at 03:40 PM/ET, 01/05/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
After three years in second place, we’re back on top. By Benjamin Freed
Washington is once again the fittest city in the nation. Image via Shutterstock.

After sagging to second place for the past three years, Washington has reclaimed its place as the fittest of the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, according to an annual report from the American College of Sports Medicine. The American Fitness Index ranks mortality rates, chronic illnesses, and resources and policies that promote healthy living.

The Washington area scored highly on most of the index’s metrics, including low rates of death from cardiovascular disease and diabetes; a high number of parks, pools, and tennis courts per capita; a larger-than-average percentage of residents using non-car transportation; and a preponderance of farmers markets.

But the rankings suggest better “community health” than how individual Washingtonians care for themselves. While 81 percent of Washington-area residents exercise at least once every 30 days, the region still showed worse-than-ideal rates of obesity (24.1 percent), asthma (8.6 percent), and diabetes (8.5 percent). Residents could probably eat a bit better, too, with 16.3 percent eating three or fewer servings of vegetables per day and 34.1 percent consuming two or fewer servings of fruit per day.

As for the segments where Washington excels, the report counted 28.5 farmers markets for every 1 million residents and 14.1 percent of people who rely on public transportation to get to work, far outpacing the target rate of 4.3 percent.

Minneapolis held the top spot from 2011 to 2013, but fell back to second this year. Portland, Oregon, Denver, and San Francisco filled out the top five, while Memphis, Tennessee, bottomed out at No. 50.

See the full breakdown of the report’s Washington statistics online.

Posted at 03:02 PM/ET, 05/28/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Salt therapy is said to relieve symptoms of respiratory ailments such as allergies. By Paulina Kosturos
Maryland’s first Himalayan salt cave is slated to open on May 9. Image via Shutterstock.

On May 9, the first Himalayan salt cave in Maryland opens at Bethesda’s Massage Metta. Salt caves are touted for their healing benefits, which fans say include easing seasonal allergies, stress, eczema, and psoriasis. Himalayan salt is considered the purest salt form in the world, and is packed with natural minerals. When the salt is inhaled, it supposedly loosens mucus and draws water into airways, alleviating sinus issues.

Owner and lead massage practitioner Janine Narayadu first discovered the effects of salt caves after visiting one in Asheville, North Carolina, which she says “recharged” her body. Narayadu’s experience in North Carolina and observation of local children inspired her to open her own cave. “We have so many children in our area that suffer from allergies,” she says. “This is a way for them to find respite from the pollen in the air.”

Narayadu’s cave is made up of about 32 tons of imported salt rock from the Himalayas. It features a halo generator that crushes salt into a fine power and disperses it into the air. Patrons will be able to lounge in the cave for 45 minutes before, during, or after a massage.

Groupon deals for Massage Meta are currently available; Circe of Alexandria (123 N. Washington St., Alexandria) offers similar services.

Posted at 03:25 PM/ET, 04/28/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
This week, the hospital became the first in the area to offer nitrous oxide for pain relief during labor. By Vicky Gan

Nitrous oxide, a.k.a. “laughing gas,” is moving beyond the dentist’s office to the delivery room. Starting this week, moms at MedStar Washington Hospital Center can use the drug for pain relief during labor. The blend is half nitrous oxide, half oxygen, and is less concentrated than the one used by dentists. Patients self-administer the drug by breathing it in through a face mask, putting the mask on and taking it off to adjust the dosage as needed. “It’s controlled by Mom,” says Loral Patchen, the hospital’s director of midwifery. “She makes the decisions about how long she wants to breathe it.”

Nitrous oxide dulls the pain rather than blocking it completely as an epidural does; women will still be able to feel their contractions, which can help them know when to push. Since the drug passes out of the system quickly, there’s little risk to the patient, and side effects are minor, ranging from nausea and dizziness to feelings of loopiness. By allowing patients to retain mobility and sensation, nitrous is an especially attractive option for women seeking a natural birth experience. “Our goal within the practice is to be able to offer women a greater range of options,” Patchen says. “There’s a lot you can’t predict with birth and labor, and it’s nice to have the flexibility that if we need to adjust, we can.”

The use of nitrous oxide during childbirth isn’t new; it’s been administered in other countries for years and is available at about 20 other hospitals in the US, including University of California, San Francisco, Vanderbilt, and Dartmouth. But adaptation in the states has been slow due to cultural taboos and a lack of appropriate equipment. According to Mike Civitello, a product sales manager for Porter Instrument, which manufactures MedStar’s nitrous apparatus: “It takes hospitals a long time to adopt new things.” MedStar Washington Hospital Center is the first in the Washington area to offer the drug. For now, the option will be limited to patients in MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s midwifery practice, but Patchen says if demand is sufficiently high, the hospital may add it to the general obstetrics program in the future.

Posted at 10:01 AM/ET, 04/01/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()