Arlington is once again “America’s Fittest City,” according to the annual American Fitness Index rankings.
The new 2021 rankings were released this morning by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Anthem Foundation. It’s at least the third year in a row that Arlington ranked No. 1 on the list.
“Arlington, Virginia, earned its #1 designation by ranking first in eight indicators and scoring among the top 10 cities in 18 of the 34 categories,” the organizations said in a press release. “Residents reported the most physical activity with 85.7% exercising in the previous month. In the lowest-ranked city, Lubbock, Texas, only 64.2% of residents exercised in the previous month.”
Being a healthier place has benefits beyond just wellness, experts say.
“Beyond the health and wellness benefits of being a fit city, we know there are many economic advantages as well,” Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., the chief health officer for Anthem, said in a statement. “Cities designed to encourage physical activity have enjoyed higher home values, business and job growth, and more robust retail activity — leading to overall improved social drivers of health for our communities.
Separately, Virginia was again named America’s Top State for Business this morning by CNBC.
Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti is scheduled to be presented with an award by ACSM members at county government headquarters in Courthouse later this morning.
Rounding out the top 25 on the latest “fit” list were:
- Arlington, VA
- Minneapolis, MN
- Seattle, WA
- Denver, CO
- Madison, WI
- Washington, D.C.
- St. Paul, MN
- Irvine, CA
- Portland, OR
- Atlanta, GA
- Oakland, CA
- Boston, MA
- San Francisco, CA
- Chicago, IL
- San Diego, CA
- Buffalo, NY
- Boise, ID
- Sacramento, CA
- Austin, TX
- San Jose, CA
- New York, NY
- Lincoln, NE
- Honolulu, HI
- Pittsburgh, PA
- Miami, FL
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn.
The finish line is in sight for a Clarendon-based startup that has developed a wearable breathing sensor called Respa.
Zansors, located at 3100 Clarendon Blvd, has created an inch-square device that connects to a mobile app, showing wearers their breathing patterns. Originally created to help people screen themselves for sleep apnea from the comfort of their home, Zansors has also tailored the product to fit the needs of fitness enthusiasts who want additional data on their exercise.
The company has been around nearly nine years, during which time the product has gone through research and development and has been beset by engineering and developmental delays, said co-founder Abhijit Dasgupta. Now, Zansors is in the final stages of developing the app and connecting it to the device.
“We’re looking forward to ramping up this spring and getting out the door in the summer,” Dasgupta said. “It’s obviously a good feeling that we’re in the final stretch. It’s a lot of work, effort and sweat equity. The hiccups have been frustrating, but we’re just trying to hammer it home.”
Dasgupta, who has a doctorate in biostatistics and previously worked in medical research, said the idea for a wearable breathing sensor came from seeing how common — but under-detected — sleep apnea is.
“To create a device that can allow you to detect it at home, you wouldn’t have to get wired up, and spend the night in a foreign bed,” Dasgupta said. “We felt sleep studies weren’t reflective of your own sleep experience.”
The wearable sensor detects how sleepers move and breathe and warns doctors of abnormal patterns, he said. But Respa is a screening product, not a diagnostic one, he said.
Over time, Zansors started looking into other areas where breath and motion are synced, and made it work for athletes and fitness buffs.
“It’s the same device, leveraged in different ways,” he said.
Dasgupta and his team have other ideas for repurposing the product for respiratory diseases, something at the forefront of their minds due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Although it has become fodder for future development, the pandemic has also hurt Zansors’ ability to travel, meet buyers and clients and raise investment money, Dasgupta said. When personal protective equipment was hard to come by, Zansors pivoted to selling high-quality masks with filters, which it sold to several U.S. Army and Air Force bases, he said. Now that PPE is easier to find again, Zansors has refocused on the Respa.
The company is also in active talks about possible military usage of the device, Dasgupta said.
“There are plenty of ideas out there but we need to get this out the door so that we can put this in the ‘done’ column,” he said.
Initially, most of Zansors’ work was funded by the National Institutes of Health, through its Small Business Innovation Research grant program, as well as a few investors in Northern Virginia. The Arlington community specifically has been supportive of Zansors, Dasgupta said.
“I think it’s great that we’re in Arlington,” Dasgupta said. “Arlington is a great place to center a business because there’s so much going on: There’s so much networking and the business development groups are good.”
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring Shirlington Gateway. The new 2800 Shirlington recently delivered a brand-new lobby and upgraded fitness center, and is adding spec suites with bright open plans and modern finishes. Experience a prime location and enjoy being steps from Shirlington Village.
BASH Boxing, a boutique boxing gym founded in Arlington, has announced plans to franchise its model across the country.
“There’s so much uncertainty because people lost jobs, or stepped out of corporate jobs,” co-owner and founder Alexandra Trakas told ARLnow. “This is an amazing opportunity for people who want a fresh start to own their own business.”
Trakas and her investment team, which includes Washington Capitals player Tom Wilson, plan to help open hundreds of locations “in the coming years,” locally and nationally.
Trakas, who turns 32 this March and entered the fitness industry at 24, opened her first location in Rosslyn in November 2018 and her second in Ballston in October 2019. A graduate of Shenandoah University with a bachelor’s in fine arts and a concentration in dance, she said she came out of the womb with an entrepreneurial mind.
“It’s the way I’ve always been,” she said.
After working for franchise outposts of The Bar Method and Orangetheory Fitness, she said was ready to discuss with partners the possibility of franchising a new boutique gym.
“Give me the playbook — I’ll add a few things to bring camaraderie — but stick to the playbook and it works,” she said.
She announced to staff early last year that the business will be franchising and that more information would come soon. For front desk staff and sales associates, she said, the news would mean more opportunities to view the job as a career path.
Although Trakas had to lay off some staff and regroup as a result of the pandemic, she never fully closed BASH. Instead, she said her team always pivoted to meet changing regulations for staying open. During the spring shutdowns, coaches taught free Instagram Live classes almost every day, before reopening on June 13. Today, they can only coach nine members at a time, despite having 1,000 members and a capacity of up to 44.
“The only reason we made it through the coronavirus is because of our community,” Trakas said. “I have an incredible team with me.”
She pressed pause on franchising work for about five months, but by July, Trakas could sit and wait no longer. She wanted agreements with franchisees and properties in hand for when the country fully reopened.
“We want to be ready to grow,” she said.
Trakas is looking to expand into what she calls “sub-cities” — suburbs of large metropolises that are also cities in their own right. Her first choice is not the sprawling, fitness-obsessed Los Angeles, but rather a place like Arlington, or Reston, she said.
The first 5-10 franchisees will get the most favorable terms and hands-on support.
“If you have the means and the commitment, it’s time to get in,” Trakas said
Images via BASH Boxing
You can now, sip, stroll and get swole in Shirlington.
The gym is taking a 1,800 square foot space next to the new Stellina Pizzeria, which is expected to open by the end of the year at 2800 S. Randolph Street. F45 is set to open in the spring, according to an announcement this afternoon.
There are existing F45 locations in Ballston, at Pentagon Row, and on Columbia Pike. Another is planned at 1550 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. The international fitness company was founded in Australia and specializes in high-intensity group workouts.
More from a press release, below.
The Village at Shirlington in Arlington, Virginia announces that F45 Training (F45), a global fitness community specializing in innovative, high-intensity group workouts, will open in early spring 2021. The 1,800-square-foot F45 will be located between Stellina Pizzeria and the Studio Salon and Spa.
“We chose the Village at Shirlington because it is a beloved neighborhood,” said Jennifer Grillo of F45. “F45 is all about community and teamwork, and the Village at Shirlington is the kind of place that nurtures that atmosphere.”
The “F” in F45 stands for functional training or exercises that mimic everyday movement — lifting, squatting, jumping, twisting, pulling, pushing, punching, kicking, rowing, and biking — which build lean, functional muscle. The “45” represents the length of the workouts — 45 minutes each. Classes that focus on cardio are offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; classes that focus on resistance training are scheduled on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays; and a mix of cardio and strength training sessions are available on Saturdays.
F45 workouts combine elements of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), circuit training and functional training, with more than 2,700 exercises and 36 workouts in its database. HIIT speeds up a person’s heart rate to increase metabolism and helps burn fat more effectively than slow, steady-state exercise.
“The Village at Shirlington features a vibrant assortment of entertainment, dining and retail merchants and we look forward to F45’s ability to offer our customers a unique fitness experience in the neighborhood,” said Dan Corwin, Director, Asset Management — Mixed Use at Federal Realty. “We are excited for the group-training studio to join our long-standing community, which includes a mix of many merchants who have been with us for over 15 years, like the award-winning Signature Theater, Carlyle, Guapo’s, THAI in Shirlington, as well as contemporary concepts including the popular Taco + Pina and the soon-to-open Stellina, a Washington, D.C. favorite.”
(Updated on 6/30/21 at 1:45 p.m.)
The future is uncertain for the boutique barre fitness studio LavaBarre in Rosslyn.
The gym at 1528 Clarendon Blvd announced on Instagram earlier this week that it would no longer be providing in-person classes at the studio. On Thursday, the studio’s storefront appeared closed and empty, with a lock on the door.
The founders of LavaBarre did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The fitness studio reopened at reduced capacity on June 26, after shutting down when the state went into lockdown in response to the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, we must again take a step back from in studio classes,” this week’s social media post said.
Although the brick-and-mortar location is empty, the post invited members to contact the gym about in-person indoor 0r outdoor classes, as well as Zoom classes, “during this closure.”
View this post on Instagram
We first shared our LavaCode with you on August 17th, 2012. We are sharing it with you again because over 8 years later, we hold each of these truths dear to our hearts. On March 17th 2020, we were forced to shut the doors to LavaBarre due to the pandemic and we reopened them to you with reduced capacity and increased precautions on Friday, June 26th. Unfortunately we must again take a step back from in studio classes. Please DM @laurenelizabethprice if you are interested in taking in person indoor or outdoor barre or zoom classes during this closure.
LavaBarre offers high-intensity workouts that blend ballet, interval training, cardio, pilates and the use of props.
In the last five years, gyms offering ballet-inspired barre classes have proliferated in Arlington. Among them are Xtend Barre, Neighborhood Barre, Pure Barre, and Barre3 in Clarendon, as well as a Pure Barre in Pentagon City.
Since VIDA Fitness Ballston opened on June 27, about 500 members have had the 30,000 square feet to themselves.
The regional, high-end fitness chain usually sees up to four times that many people join before opening day and in the first three months. But the coronavirus has hurt the boutique gym’s ability to attract members.
After overcoming construction and pandemic-related delays earlier this year, VIDA Ballston’s biggest challenge is getting people to walk in the door, VIDA Fitness Director of Operations Aaron Moore said.
The rate of new memberships is lagging compared to other locations, since many are not comfortable with going to the gym. In response, the company has spent “tens of thousands of dollars” on cleaning equipment and takes state regulations a step further to keep the space sanitary and to follow precautions.
“Our primary motivation is how are we going to keep people safe, because if they feel safe, they’re going to feel confident keeping their memberships and telling their friends about it,” Moore said.
Typically, about 1,400 people will sign up before opening day, and another 600 to 700 will join within the first 90 days, he said.
At VIDA Ballston, 420 members signed up before June 27, and by Sept. 29, membership grew to 511, Moore said. Memberships cost $140 a month, and grant access to group workout classes and studios, personal trainers, individual equipment, a proprietary high intensity interval training studio called Sweat Box, a spa and smoothie bar.
Once people experience the check-in process and see what precautions the gym is taking, Moore said patrons feel comfortable.
The state permits gym patrons to take off their masks while exercising, but VIDA requires masks stay on. Double-layered cloth masks and 3-ply disposable masks are allowed, but gators, bandanas and masks with valves are not.
Members reserve a time on the gym’s app before arriving and go through the gym’s check-in and check-out process for record-keeping. If patrons alert staff that they tested positive for COVID-19, staff know who to contact.
“There is some honor system involved,” Moore said. “If someone doesn’t tell us they tested positive, then disappears, we’re not going to know.”
The gym has not yet had a positive case, but has told several people to stay home because they came in contact with someone who later tested positive, he said.
On an early August morning in Rosslyn, fast-paced dance music played in the shopping center parking lot outside Good Sweat.
A group of ten, sitting on gray and black stationary bikes spaced over six parking spots, pedaled to the beat while coach Edgar Hernandez gave encouragement through a microphone.
“We’re gonna wake up Rosslyn this morning,” Hernandez said to the group. “Come on!”
This scene has become common for Good Sweat, an indoor cycling studio that now holds all its classes in its parking lot.
Like many other small businesses, Good Sweat has been forced to adapt how it serves customers amid the pandemic. For founder and owner Alessandra “Ali” Hashemi, moving classes outdoors was the only way to safely still conduct group exercise.
“We knew that we wanted to keep the community in the forefront,” Hashemi said. “Health and wellness are our core mission, so we want to honor that by providing people with the safest option possible for in-person group fitness.”
Good Sweat originally stopped all in-person operations in March when Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered non-essential businesses to close.
Shortly after, the studio began offering virtual classes. Customers could buy access to daily Zoom live streams and pre-recorded workouts for both on and off the bike. Good Sweat also started renting out its 30 Stages SC3 bikes for at-home use.
Hashemi said the virtual option had a lot of initial participation, but riders logged off as the realities of a solo workout set in.
“It’s so hard to recreate [the feeling of a group workout],” Hashemi said. “[Good Sweat’s customers] feed off the energy of others… If you’re a group fitness person, and that’s your personality, you’re going to just do much better when you’re around others versus through a screen.”
During this virtual period, Hashemi also began negotiating with Good Sweat’s landlord to use part of the parking lot for classes. Good Sweat, like other Northern Virginia gyms, could open indoors at 30% capacity on June 12 and 75% capacity on July 1, but Hashemi chose to forgo that and have all operations outdoors starting July 4.
“Just because we can doesn’t mean we should,” Hashemi said. “Even though we can be inside, we’re really committed to staying outside as long as possible. We know that’s the safest way to [reopen].”
Good Sweat now holds 2-3 classes a day with ten riders and a coach. A majority of these classes are sold out as regular customers return and a few new ones join each day, according to Hashemi.
Another core part of Good Sweat’s business that has continued despite the hardship caused by the pandemic is its charitable giving.
Hashemi describes Good Sweat as a place where people can “sweat it out while giving back.” The business, which Hashemi said is not currently profitable, donates up to 5% of its monthly revenue to a select charity. That did not change during the virtual period, Hashemi said.
“[Charitable giving] has been something that wasn’t an afterthought and is something that is so consistent and just baked into what we do that it is not something we start and stop,” Hashemi said.
According to Hashemi, Good Sweat has donated to charities like AFAC, A-SPAN and Martha’s Table since March. Following George Floyd’s killing by police, Good Sweat gave to Black Lives Matter D.C. and the Center for Black Equity.
Recently, Good Sweat coaches have organized classes meant to raise money for timely causes. Larger portions of the proceeds go to chosen groups, which have included the Lebanese Red Cross in Beirut and Fair Fight.
“We couple [events] with action. We try to do what we can to give back. Giving money is extremely important, but also what are we doing as a community actively to support these causes?” said Hashemi.
Photo (1) courtesy Good Sweat
Virtual County Fair Starts Today at Noon — “August 14-16, the Arlington County Fair will be hosting a variety of LIVE events on our Facebook page (via Facebook Live) to share the magic of the Fair even during unsure times. Check out our exciting schedule that includes fan favorites and some brand-new fun.” [Facebook]
County Considering More Early Voting Locations — “Arlington County Board members will hold a special session Aug. 25 to act on a request from county election officials doubling the number of ‘satellite’ early-voting centers across the county this fall. In addition to Madison and Walter Reed community centers, which had been used for early voting in recent presidential elections, the Electoral Board aims to add the Aurora Hills Community Center and Langston-Brown Community Center.” [InsideNova]
Local Movie Theaters to Open Soon — “Arlington’s two AMC Theatres are set to reopen on Aug. 27: AMC Courthouse Plaza 8 [and] AMC Shirlington 7… the movie theater chain said guests will pay just 15 cents per movie on that day.” [Patch]
Inside PBS NewsHour HQ in Arlington — Updated at 9:40 a.m. — From a magazine feature written pre-pandemic: “This is how PBS NewsHour happens every weekday: with a 9:45 a.m. meeting that feels, already, like midday. Each morning, some 30 people fit into a tight conference room in a low-slung brick building on the outskirts of Shirlington to discuss what the longtime public television fixture will air that evening at 6 p.m.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Fundraiser for Local Fitness Instructor — “Chris Green is one of the DMV’s finest fitness instructors. A Lululemon and South Block ambassador, he is a coach and mentor to so many… He recently ruptured his Achilles and has an incredibly long and tough journey ahead. As if COVID hadn’t impacted fitness professionals enough, throw this in the mix and it’s a double, even triple whammy.” [Community Post]
Marymount Ditches SAT/ACT Requirement — “Beginning with applicants for the Fall 2021 semester, Marymount University will adopt a complete test-optional policy for submission of SAT and ACT scores. This decision builds off of the University’s longstanding commitment to a holistic review of applications, as Marymount has been test-optional for select students for a number of years already.” [Press Release]
Ballston Business Improvement District (BID) is hoping to help locals shed their Quarantine 15, keep Arlington as the fittest “city” in the U.S., and provided some timely assistance to local businesses.
BallstonMOVES Fitness Week is a new initiative running this week from the BID that provides free access or certain discounts to the many gyms and fitness centers around Ballston — like the newly opened VIDA Fitness. The program started on Saturday, Aug. 1, and is scheduled to run until Sunday, Aug. 9.
“The health and well-being of the community is the Ballston BID’s highest priority,” stated Tina Leone, CEO, Ballston BID. “Many gyms are currently offering virtual class options, and all are ensuring proper distancing through reduced class sizes, in addition to maintaining enhanced hygiene practices for in-person classes and visits.”
Many local gyms have been taking health precautions as they start to reopen, but going to a gym — or anywhere indoors where people are congregating — still remains a fairly risky pandemic activity. Those who are feeling unwell or uneasy are encouraged to take advantage of some of the virtual training programs offered, the BID said.
Free classes are available at:
- Ballston CrossFit (1110 N. Glebe Road): Free trial classes are scheduled today (Monday) at 6:45 p.m. and Saturday, Aug 8 at 12 p.m. Online registration is required. The gym is also offering six beginning classes for $99.
- F45 Training (3865 Wilson Blvd): One free class to anyone who signs up with the code BALLSTONBID, with three more classes available for $10 per class and a 45% discount on the first two months of membership. The first 25 who sign up are also eligible for a free F45 water bottle and sweat towel.
- Studio Body Logic (4600 N. Fairfax Drive): the pilates studio is offering free virtual classes on Thursday, Aug. 6, from 7-7:50 p.m. and Friday, Aug. 7, from 12-12:50 p.m. with 24-hour advance registration required. In-person, masked tours are also available this week by contacting [email protected]
- Praxi Pilates (4141 N. Henderson Road): a pilates program in a condo building is offering 30-minute free sessions this week, featuring an orientation to equipment-based pilates. Sessions are held Monday, Aug. 3, at 5 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 6, at 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7 at 12 p.m., and Saturday, Aug. 8 at 11:30 p.m. Sessions are limited to one per person, but special discounts on future classes are offered.
- Onelife Fitness (4238 Wilson Blvd): the Ballston Quarter gym is offering free Zone4 classes from Aug. 1 to Aug. 8. Class sizes are limited to eight people.
- Orange Theory Fitness (4201 Wilson Blvd): the training program is offering a free first class, available to be scheduled by contacting 571-257-0050 or emailing [email protected]
- VIDA Fitness (4040 Wilson Blvd): a complementary SweatBox class at the newly-opened gym, the first of its kind outside of D.C.
Other programs are offering discounts, but not free first classes to the general public.
- BASH Boxing (700 N. Randolph Street): the boxing workout program is offering free first classes, but only to those who sign up for a discounted ten-class pack during their first class.
- Gold’s Gym Ballston (3910 Wilson Blvd): the popular Ballston Gold’s Gym is offering discounted monthly dues of $29.99 per month for those who sign up this week.
Photo via VIDA Fitness/Facebook
Ballston’s newest fitness concept, Training Ground Arlington, provides personal trainers with high-end fitness equipment and exclusive gym space for operating their own programs while bringing some of the best trainers to local clients for truly personalized training. Most importantly, clients can workout in an exclusive, appointment-based facility without the worry of an uncontrolled gym environment.
Training Ground Arlington is an exclusive shared workspace where trainers can run their own businesses without the hassle of maintaining overhead. Trainers can focus their time and talents on developing personal programs that best benefit their clients. Clients benefit from improved programming, flexible schedules and no cumbersome gym memberships.
Training Ground Arlington is readying its state-of-the-art facility for a soft opening in the coming weeks, but now is the time for clients to get in on the ground floor by taking advantage of grand opening specials, and for trainers to sign on while space is still available!
A few spaces remain in the schedule for trainers who want to take advantage of the Training Ground Arlington shared workspace concept.
Discount packages for clients in search of personal training are also available.
Training Ground Arlington is located at 850 N. Randolph Street in Ballston. For more information email [email protected].
Arlington has again claimed the title of “America’s Fittest City.”
The results of the annual ACSM American Fitness Index, published by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem Foundation, were released this morning. Arlington topped the list of the 100 fittest localities in the U.S. for the third year in a row.
Rounding out the top 10 are:
- Arlington, Va.
- Seattle, Wash.
- Minneapolis, Minn.
- Madison, Wis.
- San Francisco, Calif.
- Washington, D.C.
- Irvine, Calif.
- Denver, Colo.
- Boise, Idaho
- Boston, Mass.
“The science-based ACSM/Anthem Fitness Index evaluated America’s 100 largest cities using 33 health behaviors, chronic diseases and community infrastructure indicators,” the organization said in a press release. The indicators include access to athletic facilities, parks, and bike/pedestrian infrastructure; exercise frequency; healthy eating habits; and prevalence of chronic health conditions.
“Arlington’s balance of healthy behaviors and community infrastructure earned it the #1 overall rank,” the press release continues. “Arlington ranked in the top 10 cities for 19 of the 33 indicators in the ACSM/Anthem Fitness Index. Two indicators ranked #1, including lowest rate of adults with obesity and highest rate of residents meeting aerobic and strength activity guidelines.”
Congratulations to Arlington, VA, the fittest city in America for the 3rd year in a row! #100FitCities
— ACSM American Fitness Index (@ACSMFitIndex) July 14, 2020