Washingtonian is spending the day exploring Crystal City. Read all of our Crystal City Day coverage here.
Last April, a New York Times article that included a comparison of Virginia’s Crystal City to New York’s Brooklyn brought down the ire of the internet. And while, sure, Crystal City is nothing like Brooklyn—the area is still a sea of office buildings and chain hotels—if you’re a health and fitness junkie, this isn’t such a bad place to live.
According to Angela Fox, president of the Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID), when they set to create the Crystal City community, they prioritized making it “active, artful, accessible and green.” On the active side, the BID has invested in many public programs to bring workouts and outdoor fitness events to the community. Combined with the neighborhood’s bike trails, gyms, and Long Bridge Park, and there’s quite a bit to promote a healthy lifestyle for residents. While other neighborhoods might have the free outdoor events (such as the Georgetown waterfront or the Park at CityCenterDC) and others might have great gyms nearby (there’s a dense cluster of them in West End) and others might have access to parks and bike paths (like the Georgetown Waterfront or Navy Yard), Crystal City combines all of the above. Here’s a few of the area’s best fitness-related amenities.
With access to the Mt. Vernon Trail and the Four Mile Run Trail, Crystal City connects to two paved bike paths that are perfect for a weekend ride or even a commute. Additionally, Crystal City turns Bike to Work Day into Bike to Work Week each year, encouraging drivers to change up their commute by partnering with local gyms to offer showers to riders and setting up a pit stop with bagels and bananas, says Fox. Considering that biking as part of your commute is an awesome way to boost your health, Crystal City’s bike friendliness is a plus for wellness addicts.
Crystal City is home to an impressive collection of gyms—most significantly, the 45,000-square-foot Earth Treks indoor climbing gym. With its weight and workout machine room and yoga studio, Earth Treks also serves as a multipurpose gym, featuring yoga and cross training classes every week. Add that to the Crystal City Sport and Health, and the CorePower Yoga, Orangetheory Fitness, and PureBarre gym—which are technically in Pentagon City, but close enough to Crystal City to count—and the Mind Body Oasis yoga studio, and you’ve got a full fleet of workout options.
The relatively new Long Bridge Park features some seriously top-notch soccer fields, which locals use to play midday pickup games. When I swung by at 11 AM on a Friday morning, a pick-up game was well underway, which one of the players, Dana Johnson, tells me occurs every day of the week at lunchtime. Though Johnson says he knows a lot of people complain about the taxes in Northern Virginia, he’s impressed with the amenities like Long Bridge Park that come out of his tax dollars. Plus, good parks mean he doesn’t have to spend money on gyms to stay fit: “You don’t have to pay anyone to stay in shape—you can come out here and take a walk, and so this is my preferred means of exercise, to come outside and play.”
In addition to Bike to Work Week, Crystal City hosts “Wednesday Night Spins”—bike races that take place in a parking garage—every Wednesday night in March. In April, the city has 5K runs every Friday night, and in May, a whole host of events kick off. On Mondays at 7 AM, Mind Your Body Oasis leads free yoga at the Crystal City Water Park; on Mondays at noon, Natalie Sigmund Wellness leads outdoor meditation; and on Wednesdays at noon, Sport and Health hosts free outdoor Zumba. Additionally, there’s a weekly $15 yoga brunch at Crystal City Sports Pub, which starts with vinyasa yoga and ends with a drink at the bar.