Top 12 Local Health and Fitness Controversies of 2012

From racing drama to breastfeeding in a classroom, the craziest health stories in Washington this year.

By: Melissa Romero

Whoever said health and fitness was all fun and games wasn’t paying enough attention this year. We couldn’t believe some of the stories we reported on in 2012, from a man being paralyzed during a local mud run to finding out that naked yoga for men in DC is a real thing. Read on for our craziest health and fitness controversies of the year, in no particular order. We can’t even begin to imagine what 2013 will bring.

1. L Street Cycle Track Installation 
It was a win for the cycling community, but motorists remain up in arms about the newest cycle track to be installed in the District. The track gives cyclists a protected bike lane along one of the busiest streets in DC, but it also took away 150 parking spaces. The headaches likely won’t stop for drivers next year, when the city plans to install an M Street cycle track headed westbound toward Georgetown.

2. Breastfeeding at American University 
Students didn’t know whether to look away or stare after their sex and gender culture professor started breastfeeding her sick baby while teaching the class. After a number of students complained, the situation became a national conversation about public breastfeeding, with fellow university professionals both defending and frowning upon Adrienne Pine’s actions.

3. Banning Oversized Sugary Drinks 
Much to the dismay of 7-Eleven Big Gulp lovers, New York City approved a measure to ban sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. The question is, will other major cities like DC follow suit in 2013?

4. 5-Hour Energy Shot Deaths 
It just wasn’t the year for caffeinated drinks. Less than one month after the FDA launched an investigation into several deaths associated with Monster Energy, it also reported 13 deaths linked to 5-Hour Energy Shots. The FDA will likely seek outside experts’ help to determine if energy drinks pose a direct health risk to teenagers and others.

5. Revised DSM-5 
After two decades, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders experienced a huge revision. The approximately 1,000-page manual now includes extensive information on post-tramautic stress disorder and eating disorders and, perhaps most notably, got rid of the term “Asperger’s,” placing it under the umbrella term “autism spectrum disorder.” How this change will effect the Asperger’s and autism community will be closely monitored once the manual is published in 2013.

6. Running With David Petraeus 
Okay, so going on long runs with former CIA director general David Petraeus isn’t exactly controversial—except when you happen to be his married mistress. In an interview with Jon Stewart—that’s filled with humorous innuendos now that we know the real story—author Paula Broadwell said that running was the foundation of her relationship with Petraeus. She may have even taken a jog through Rock Creek Park to relieve some stress—her wallet was found in the park just days after news broke of the affair. 

7. Hot Chocolate Race Won’t Return 
The worst-organized race of 2011 kept quiet in 2012. In fact, the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K didn’t even bother to return to DC after its disastrous debut. The good news is that other creatively themed races graced our city, including the Color Run, dubbed “the happiest race on earth,” and LivingSocial’s first-ever Glow-in-the-Dark Dance Party 5K

8. NYC Marathon Vs. Hurricane Sandy
After Hurricane Sandy pretty much wiped out the entire East Coast, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the NYC Marathon would still go on just days later. But after an outcry of protests from runners to Sandy victims alike, including dozens of local residents who weren’t sure whether to make the trek up to the Big Apple or not, Bloomberg took back his words and canceled the race. Runners still did the 26.2 miles in Central Park that Sunday.

9. Birth Control Is Free 
The health-care overhaul caused a lot of heated discussions, whether about the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the law or the mind-boggling comments various politicians had to say about women’s rights. One thing plenty of women rejoiced about? Free birth control. Also free: annual visits to the gynecologists, HIV screening and counseling, HPV DNA testing, and more.

10. Race Crashing 
After a Virginia runner ran a Mud Run unregistered and then became paralyzed during the race, the issue of race crashing sparked a heated debate among the running community. Robert A. Fecteau II is now suing Richmond Sports Backers, Venture Richmond, and the Road Runners Club of America for $30 million. The case is still active, and the next hearing is February 19, 2013. We’ll be keeping close tabs on this one.

11. Naked Yoga 
Who knew tightly-wound Washingtonians had it in them? Apparently, naked yoga for men in DC has been around for years—long enough for 2,000 men to be signed up for on the e-mail listserv—but we just found out about it this year. Next up, naked women’s yoga? We’ll see.

12. Michael Joel Hall 
The local yoga and gay communities were shocked to hear that beloved instructor Michael Joel Hall and his partner were assaulted on their way home in Eckington one night in July. Hall suffered a broken jaw and had no health insurance. The yoga community was at its best when virtually every single studio donated proceeds from their classes to cover Hall’s expenses.