IS IT ME, OR IS THERE A NICHE FITNESS OPERATION IN EVERY STRIP MALL IN LOUDOUN COUNTY? EACH OFFERS SOMETHING DIFFERENT BUT HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHAT WILL WORK FOR US UNLESS WE TRY THEM ALL? GUESS WHAT. I TRIED THEM ALL AND HERE’S HOW THAT WENT.
Ashburn & Leesburg
SMALL MOVEMENTS, BIG RESULTS Pure Barre pairs ballet, pilates and yoga into the ultimate full-body, low-impact workout. You work your muscles to fatigue using small isometric movements. If you’re hesitant to sign up because of the learning curve, they offer a fundamentals intro class once a week so you learn the basic movements before your first class.
MY EXPERIENCE: As I enter the studio, the instructor hands me 3 lb. dumbbells. I chuckle inside. I mean, surely, I can handle heavier weights than this. I could not. Ten minutes later, I would’ve slipped the instructor a $20 to take these weights away. I underestimated them. The class begins and I catch myself questioning whether this is still the “warm-up.” This is gonna be more intense than I thought. My arms have caught fire from the insides. My body looks like it’s having a seizure, but I’m told this is good. I was complimented on my “shakes” a handful of times. The focus remains on tiny isometric movements, and I am acutely reminded of muscles I obviously haven’t used in awhile. At one point, the instructor tells us to “meet her at the bar” and I think we’re done and will be rewarded with cocktails, but she just meant the ballet barre in the front of the room. There was more. As we start our leg work, I conclude that this is why ballet dancers have a “dancer’s body.” I’m gonna feel this tomorrow. As we move on to core exercises, I can feel my abs engaging and trying to poke through my skin. Why didn’t I start this class before pool season? I decide to return for their new Empower class. The only reason I haven’t tried Pure Barre before now is I feared I’d miss my sacred cardio…then came EMPOWER. This class incorporates short bursts of cardio (think running man, push-ups, crunches) with short periods of active rest (think slow squats). The intensity is taken up a notch, and it felt completely different than their classic Pure Barre class. I left feeling sweaty, accomplished and my abs were on fire. According to Pure Barre Leesburg owner, Lauren Jebsen, “Your height, flexibility, athletic ability or age won’t prevent you from getting a killer full-body workout at Pure Barre.”
TRY IT IF YOU’RE LOOKING TO: Lengthen and tone muscles in a low-impact environment.
A NO-IMPACT, HIGH-ENERGY, LOWER BODY SWEAT SESH CycleLuv offers stationary cycling classes set to high-energy music. The ride is carefully choreographed so that when the beat gets faster, you ride faster and push harder. Don’t get this confused with SoulCycle. CycleLuv stays true to the general philosophy of indoor cycling where dancing and bike push-ups are frowned upon.
MY EXPERIENCE: I walk in and immediately notice a plaque for “Loudoun County’s Favorite Fitness Center-2017.” How have I not heard about this place? We’re about to start our ride in a quiet, brightly-lit room and I question whether this class is for me. But then the lights dim, the disco ball glistens and the music drops. Yes. Yes, it is. In my experience, if a spinning instructor is not entertaining, it’s gonna be a long hour. Iris Kotmel, the owner of CycleLuv, has infectious energy. She’s part personal trainer, part life coach and part stand-up comedian. When she announced: “your hamstrings are angry” (mine were) and that we’d made it to the “happy side of halftime, ” I couldn’t help but smile. She commanded my attention for the entire ride. If you’re intimidated by ads for classes where an instructor is screaming in your face, fear not. She’s motivating, not intimidating. During the last few minutes of our class, she pushed us to reach a speed we hadn’t yet accomplished, saying, “I need you to just TRY.” P!nk’s “Try” blasted through the speakers as we pedaled for our lives. Awesome. Unlike many group fitness classes I’ve survived through, I honestly didn’t want this one to end. I was smiling. I was rocking out to *NSYNC. I wanted more. According to Iris, “The secret to CycleLuv’s success is quite simple: kindness.” They foster a community built on inclusiveness, respect, and luv. They make fitness “a fun and lighthearted experience so that it’s the hour of your day you look forward to, not dread.” CycleLuv features theme rides (80’s class, boy band class), and Freestyle Fridays with club music (18+ only). They even have a ladies night one Sunday a month, complete with wine and snacks. Where do I sign up for this?
TRY IT IF YOU’RE LOOKING TO: Shed pounds and tone your lower body. Indoor cycling is a zero impact, yet greatly effective workout for all fitness levels. More luv for CycleLuv- They’re currently raising money to buy custom rickshaws. Their goal is to bring joy to elderly citizens by giving them the opportunity to experience a scenic, outdoor adventure with the wind in their hair. Their drivers will be volunteers from the Loudoun County community. Interested in contributing? Go to gofundme.com/CLrickshaws.
TAKE YOUR WORKOUT TO THE NEXT LEVEL Crossfit is an intense, core strength and conditioning program. They incorporate elements of track & field, gymnastics, weightlifting, and strongman in daily workouts that maximize results for every individual. I’ve seen so many group fitness operations sign up anyone and everyone and just throw them into the mix. This is not the case at LoCo Crossfit. Each prospective client gets a “no sweat intro,” a 20-minute goal setting session to map out a plan specifically for them. Owner, Josh Price, explained it saying, “When new members come to us, we start working with them, individually, to customize a program regardless of where they are on their fitness journey. We continue to support them in that journey, without judgement.”
MY EXPERIENCE: I enter the workout area, slightly (ok, greatly) intimidated. I’ve always pictured Crossfit being large men lifting heavy weights and yelling. But that’s not what’s happening in here (and there’s actually more women than men). We started out with pull-ups (they let me put my feet in straps), each of us just working at our own level. Next, we touched on flexibility. Each person strives to graduate to different levels of fitness, with their results boasting on a prominently displayed, personal-record board. I didn’t expect much of a cardio element but found myself chasing a fellow crossfitter in a 400 m race (followed by 50 sit-ups and 50 squats).
IT MAY BE FOR YOU IF: You’re ready to take your workout up a notch. It’s super competitive and results-driven. You’re constantly pushing yourself to get better. And they’re not just focused on putting on muscle. LoCo Crossfit recently put on a formula and diaper drive for Hurricane Harvey victims and held a 9/11 memorial stair climb to honor the FDNY firefighters who selflessly gave their lives to save others.
LOOKING FOR SOMETHING TO KEEP YOUR KIDS ACTIVE? They offer programs that work on physical, social and cognitive development (4-6 year olds), teaching good motor patterns for functional movement (7-10 year olds), and coaching character and team development while targeting specific athlete goals (11-15 year olds). There’s something for kids of all ages.
I can spot a Pilates body from a mile away. The tone, the long, lean muscle- it’s a thing of beauty. The program is named for its creator, Joseph Pilates, who constructed a work out focused on the body’s core — abs, obliques, lower back, inner and outer thighs, and glutes. I’ve never tried a class but can honestly say that I’ve never seen a Pilates devotee that didn’t have a body I would trade mine for on the spot. Originally founded in San Diego, Club Pilates has expanded across the country and recently into Potomac Station.
Why try Pilates when there are so many other fitness options? You’ll strengthen and lengthen muscles simultaneously. Pilates focuses on strength, flexibility, muscular endurance, coordination, balance and good posture.
Unlike other Pilates studios in the area, Club Pilates provides each of their members with their own station and equipment. They offer 9 different class types ranging from their most-popular, CP Reformer Flow (which decompresses your body so there’s no weight on your spine) to CP F.I.T., a fast-paced, bootcamp-style interval training class. Members can choose from any class format they want and some members even take multiple classes in the same day!
The goal is to constantly challenge their members. Club Pilates offers a free, no pressure, intro class to help you get your bearings and from there, there’s a class for every fitness level. You’ll never hit a plateau because you move up through different levels as you progress in your fitness journey. Level 1 teaches you to build a solid Pilates foundation while level 2.5 is offered to those who have already mastered form and alignment. They even offer private sessions.
Club Pilates instructors have taken a minimum of 500 hours of proper training before becoming certified to teach and some of their students have even become instructors. If you’ve ever thought of becoming a fitness instructor, call Club Pilates to inquire about their in-house teacher training program.
Head trainer, Amber Yancey, has been teaching Pilates for 18 years. “Club Pilates has made what was an elitist training program, accessible to the masses,” she explains. “The best part of my job is watching the rapid transformation of the clients-from getting stronger, to losing inches, to healing and getting out of chronic pain.”
Looking for a healthy outlet for your teen? Club Pilates offers classes for 14-19 year olds to help them build healthy habits and earn a competitive edge in their favorite sport.
TRY IT IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR: A full-body workout that’s completely safe. Pilates can help with the aches and pains of current injuries and builds strength to prevent future injuries.
RISE, REGAIN, RECOVER Exsurgo is a strength and conditioning facility operating out of Q Athletics in Ashburn. You haven’t heard of them because they recently relocated their business from California. They focus on a total 360 degree view of health and fitness, wherein lifting weights is only one facet of being fit and healthy. As owner, Greg Lutton, describes, “There’s resistance training, endurance training, nutrition, and there’s a recovery and mobility component as well.” They offer personal training and small group training (capped at 8 clients per class). Their trainers meet with each client to perform a movement assessment and discuss their medical history. They use this to customize each individual’s workout to better their lifestyle.
Greg and his business partner, Immie Cross, recently launched “Level Up,” a program designed to take each individual to the next level, regardless of where they are starting from. The program includes nutrition coaching, meal plans and seminars, in addition to small group training, 3-4 times per week.
What sets them apart from the competition? “We pride ourselves in taking the time to really get a solid understanding of the client’s current level of fitness,” explains Immie. “This helps us to deliver quality training tailored to the individual.”
“We’re not just trainers,” Greg adds. “We’re students of life. We help unlock things that may be blockages inside of you that you don’t know you have. When you pick up a weight in here, if it’s something that you’ve never done before, you carry that (accomplishment) with you for the remainder of your day. It sets a tone.”
TRY THIS IF YOU’RE LOOKING TO: Recover from an injury, bounce back from a pregnancy or just want to get fit and reclaim your life.
MY EXPERIENCE: Immie is an Elite Spartan Racer (I should’ve assumed this when I first saw her). When I bring this up, she reveals that Exsurgo offers obstacle course race prep classes and encourages me to take the classes. I’m suddenly determined to be a Spartan Racer (and get a body like Immie’s!).
Greg starts my movement assessment and can pinpoint my weak areas within seconds. I mention a problem area that I don’t typically like to point out publicly (ok, fine, my flabby armpit area-and all of you ladies know exactly what I’m talking about). Greg comes up with a circuit that targets that area from a multitude of angles. He makes small corrections, and I feel like I actually learned something. Immie explains that they want their clients to feel educated and not just go through exercises and not understand why they are doing them.
Upon leaving, I mention that I would love to have a personal trainer, but as a stay-athome mom, I don’t have childcare for my daughter. It was then that Greg’s response almost knocked the wind out of me. “Bring her with you,” he suggested (although he may rescind his offer once he meets the whirling, little ball of energy that is my two-year-old daughter). I was stunned. I have this conversation with other moms on a weekly basis-we would all work out more often if we had somewhere to bring our kids. Until now, I haven’t come across a facility that offered this option. I will return to Exsurgo with my daughter in tow. She can run around and play, and I can set an example for her of what a healthy, fit woman looks like.
ERIN WASHINGTON is a mommy blogger from Leesburg. She is a recent contributor for popular websites that include, Scary Mommy and Chowhound. She is passionate about wine, toddler fashion and naps. See more from Erin by visiting her blog, rookieinthismomgame.com.