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March 18, 2020: Waiting to work out at Gold’s Gym in Ballston (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington was just named the fittest “city” in America for a record-setting fifth year in row.

The ranking included incredible stats, like 93.8% of Arlington residents reporting that they exercised at some point over the past 30 days.

This morning we wanted to drill down on the fitness level of local residents and ask: how does your current level of fitness compare to your fitness before the pandemic?

For some of us, the pandemic disrupted workout routines and, even worse, Covid infections might have produced longer-term symptoms that made regaining one’s prior level of fitness difficult. For others, a time of working from home and participating in fewer social activities might have been an opportunity to work out more or start a new fitness routine.

Let’s see which of those two scenarios is more prevalent in the fittest place in the U.S.

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Runners in Long Bridge Park in Crystal City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington has ranked No. 1 on the American Fitness Index for a record fifth year in a row.

The county topped the list, published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Elevance Health Foundation, after placing first in the nation in six separate fitness and health categories. The new rankings were announced this morning.

“Arlington, Virginia, earned its No. 1 designation for the fifth time, a Fitness Index record, by ranking first in six indicators and scoring among the top 10 cities in 19 of the 34 categories,” ACSM said in a press release. “Arlington was ranked No. 1 in both the personal health and community/environment sub-scores.”

The categories for which Arlington received top marks, out of the 100 U.S. localities indexed by ACSM, are below.

  • % exercising in the last 30 days (Arlington 93.8%, city average 77.6%)
  • % in excellent or very good health (Arlington 70.1%, city average 55.9%)
  • % physical health not good during the past 30 days (Arlington 16.1%, city average 27.5%)
  • % with high blood pressure (Arlington 15.2%, city average 30.4%)
  • % with stroke (Arlington 0.4%, city average 3.2%)
  • % with diabetes (Arlington 5.2%, city average 10.3%)

Arlington’s overall rank was 85, compared to an average of 51.7, while the county’s personal health rank was 86.8, compared to an average of 50.5.

2022 Fitness Index Top 10 Infographic (courtesy ACSM)

There was good news for a nation in as a whole in this year’s rankings, with ACSM reporting an “increase in the percentage of Americans exercising in the previous month (77.6%); sleeping 7+ hours/day (68%); and reporting excellent/very good health (55.9%), since last year’s Fitness Index.”

An excerpt from this morning’s press release is below.

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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 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

During the pandemic, people relied on technology for everything from food delivery to working from home. And now, people want that kind of convenience for fitness, says a Ballston-based startup.

The past couple of years have put a spotlight on what SweatWorks has been working toward, company spokeswoman Claire Evans says.

“It kind of highlighted how much everyone needed to do more outside of the gym, how connected fitness, how that whole ecosystem came together and we’ve been working with brands on that whole omnichannel approach to connected fitness,” she said. “So everything from how do you keep your members engaged when they’re at home but also at the gym, what are those touch points and what does that look like for a business.”

SweatWorks CEO Mohammed Iqbal often says that a workout lasts for an hour a day but there are 23 other hours to consider how to improve fitness and wellness, Evans said.

SweatWorks CEO Mohammed Iqbal (courtesy of SweatWorks)

Working with brands like SoulCycle, Equinox, CityRow and others, SweatWorks tailors tech for fitness companies, providing everything from membership insights to connected fitness software.

“We don’t want to be a one box solution,” Evans said. “We don’t just want to say ‘this is the answer’… That is what really makes us really unique.”

SweatWorks has built everything from software to analyze membership data, like how often someone is using a fitness program and how to improve those numbers, to providing technology that gives users real-time workout data, like heart rate and recovery information. It builds everything from hardware to software, like the tablet on Beachbody bike by Myx, where the device and all its content was created by SweatWorks, Evans said.

“We often say [clients] come to us and they think they know what they want and they’re like ‘we need this,'” Evans said, but they go through a process with the company to figure out their needs. “Then we will deliver on an output and it’s not always what they really think they need and then we can actually pick lots of other elements they might require.”

The completely remote company just celebrated its 10th anniversary, and has grown to 165 employees internationally, working with about 15 clients, Evans said. SweatWorks has seen 3% revenue growth over last year and 60% compounding growth since 2018, she said.

And it was recently named a finalist for DCA Live’s Red Hot Companies 2022, which recognizes the region’s fastest growing companies. (An event recognizing the Red Hot honorees is scheduled for next Wednesday, July 20, in Rosslyn.)

“For us being on the list is awesome, I mean it’s the recognition on a very local level,” Evans said. “It means a lot, Moh lives in Arlington, he loves living there. He’s really passionate about being in that area.”

Iqbal started the company through his passion for health and fitness and is “totally driven by how you can use data to make meaningful change in your health and wellness,” Evans said.

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Vast, a rentable fitness and wellness space, is set to open in Clarendon this weekend.

The unique co-working concept is preparing for its grand opening at 3240 Wilson Blvd, in Suite 100, on Sunday (July 10). It’s moving into the space a few steps from Silver Diner which was formerly occupied by Lady Octopus Tattoos, before it moved up the street.

Vast is a “co-working space for fitness, movement, artists, and wellness professionals,” according to its website. It provides three studio spaces for rent, for as low as $17.50 for 30 minutes. The spaces can be used for dance practice, workout classes, and by artists who are in need of open areas.

“It allows professionals to control their schedule, have reliable space, and generate more revenue,” says a press release. “Ultimately, Vast gives freedom to the freelancer by renting space at reasonable rates.”

Vast will also hold its own classes and workshops, including a Sunday tap dance class for adults, a dance teacher workshop, and a conditioning and stretch class on Thursdays.

The co-owners of Vast, Joye Thomas and Sarah Bayne, are both dancers from Northern Virginia. Bayne founded Arlington-based DHH Dance Collaborative in 2015, which the website describes as “‘intramural dance’ for adults in the DMV.”

That’s the main reason why Thomas and Bayne decided to open Vast in Arlington, Thomas told ARLnow via email.

“Vast has a resident dance company named DHH Dance Collaborative. They are based out of Arlington and a lot of our contacts (people who would benefit from using Vast) are located in or near Arlington,” she said.

For its grand opening on Sunday, the co-working concept will host a series of classes and performances from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. That’s set to include a drum circle, a Broadway Jazz class, and a singer/songwriter performance.

Vast, a rentable fitness and wellness space, is opening in Clarendon (image via Instagram)

There’s been plenty of new happenings in Clarendon recently. In May, B Live opened in the former Whitlow’s space with Coco B’s not far behind. Expansive outdoor bar and cafe Bar Ivy started serving just last month as well. There could be another buzzy business opening soon as well with rumors that Michael Darby is perhaps working on something new in the former Clarendon Ballroom space.

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Morning Notes

Reuben Tucker (@blurredriff) plays guitar in Long Bridge Park at sunset (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Decal Fee Officially Dead — “Arlington County Board members on May 14 followed through on a promise made last month and eliminated the ‘decal fee’ that has been imposed for decades as part of residents’ car-tax bills. And while the action will save residents a collective $6 million this year, it’s something of a rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul situation, as higher assessments on used vehicles in these inflationary times likely will eat up all the savings for some vehicle owners.” [Sun Gazette]

Wild Rosslyn Press Conference in the Works — “WHAT: Jack Burkman to give press conference from wheelchair, after losing more than 65 ibs, and all his hair. WHEN: Monday May 23, 2022 High Noon. WHERE… N Colonial Terrace, Arlington VA 22209.” [Twitter]

Free Fitness Class Tonight — “Join HUSTLE at Long Bridge Park in National Landing for a weekly sweaty and fun outdoor HIIT class. Arlington, VA has been named one of the fittest cities in the country, so get your heart pumping at an outdoor HIIT class with local fitness instructors.” [Twitter, National Landing BID]

Historical Marker for Eden Center — “The Virginia Historical Commission (VHC) has recognized Vietnamese Immigrants in Northern Virginia as a significant part of Virginia history by awarding it an Official Virginia Historical Marker… A dedication ceremony to commemorate the event will be held on May 24, 2022 at Eden Center at 3:30PM.” [City of Falls Church]

It’s Wednesday — Sunny during the day, with rain possible at night. High of 74 and low of 54. Sunrise at 5:55 am and sunset at 8:18 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Good Sweat in Rosslyn in 2020 (staff photo)

An independent spin studio in Rosslyn that opened in 2019 with the help of donations has closed.

Good Sweat was an indoor cycling studio that temporarily became an outdoor cycling studio during the pandemic. It also tried virtual classes, but those quickly faded in popularity, owner Alessandra “Ali” Hashemi previously told ARLnow.

The business closed its doors over the weekend and is now selling its equipment.

Located at 1711 Wilson Blvd, in the low-slung strip mall that also houses Pho 75, Good Sweat sought to differentiate itself through its own charitable donations and commitment to social justice. But that was apparently not enough to overcome the challenging business environment for small fitness studios.

The following note about the closing was posted on its website.

Dear Good Sweat Fam,

We never thought this heartbreaking day would come: Good Sweat will be closing on April 30, 2022.

When we opened in April 2019, we were beyond excited to bring a community-oriented, positive fitness experience to the neighborhood. We knew the first few years open as a small business would be challenging, but we had no way of knowing a global pandemic was on the horizon. Before we were able to celebrate our one year anniversary, the pandemic forced us to temporarily close and since we reopened, we have never been able to fully recover.

While countless other small spin studios and local businesses closed in the area, we never thought we would be the next pandemic casualty. The past two years have been a rollercoaster and caused us to resuscitate the business multiple times. After numerous pivots from online to outdoors to indoors to outdoors, we have hung on for as long as we could. At this juncture, we have come to the difficult decision that we cannot revive Good Sweat another time.

We know that Good Sweat has become a safe space for so many, and we are immeasurably sad to see this day come.Thankfully, there is so much to be grateful for in spending three amazing years together. Good Sweat has been a beacon of light through some of our darkest days. We are so proud of all we have been able to accomplish in such a short period of time, including, but not limited to, raising over $21,000 to donate to local nonprofits as well as being named NOVA’s Best Cycling Studio, NOVA’s Best Outdoor Workout, and Best of Arlington.

Please know how much we wanted to stay open for you – for our riders and our squad who are the heart and soul of Good Sweat. We hope you understand that the fitness industry has been hit so hard and we were so young when this pandemic began that we constantly struggled.

We are trying to not cry because it’s over, but to smile because Good Sweat was so good to us. It carried us through these difficult last few years, and made us all a family. The relationships formed and the personal growth are priceless, and we have all changed for the better because of this studio.

We encourage you to keep in touch and to keep spinning. We highly recommend two other local woman-owned studios, New Trail and Cycled, which both have amazing missions that align with the Good Sweat way.

We will be sharing more on logistics and memberships in the coming days regarding our final 5 weeks of operations, but if you have any questions, please email us directly [email protected]

With Gratitude,
The Good Sweat Squad

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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.

OxiWear, an Arlington-based company developing a wearable oxygen monitoring device, has raised a pre-seed funding round of $1.25 million, exceeding its goal of $750,000.

This funding will allow the medical- and sports-technology startup to finish developing its product and start beta testing it before releasing the device by mid-year 2022.

OxiWear was started by Shavini Fernando, who lives with severe pulmonary hypertension: a condition in which the heart has trouble pumping blood through the lungs. It leaves her vulnerable to sudden and undetected drops in oxygen, known as silent hypoxia.

Rather than let the disease rule her life, she decided to develop an ear-wearable pulse oximeter that offers 24-hour, continuous oxygen monitoring and low-oxygen alerting. She invented the device in Georgetown University’s maker’s hub while a graduate student.

“OxiWear is a product that I developed to help patients like me — those living with pulmonary hypertension,” Fernando said. “Through our research, we learned that there is a larger market for oxygen monitoring including elite athletes, high-altitude travelers and patients with diseases such as [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], sleep apnea and COVID-19.”

OxiWear founder Shavini Fernando (courtesy of Shavini Fernando)

The ear is one of the most accurate body parts for measuring oxygen saturation levels and detecting when they begin to drop, according to the company.

But the device is not just suitable for those prone to silent hypoxia. Performance athletes and high-altitude travelers can use it to receive non-intrusive and accurate oxygen monitoring 24 hours a day, according to the company.

In anticipation of launching the product next year, OxiWear is meeting with the Food and Drug Administration to earn its medical device designation and is participating in the leAD Sports & Health Tech accelerator program.

Leading the pre-seed round was GAP Funds, an investment program of the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation — formerly CIT — that previously invested in the company this summer.

“OxiWear is a game changer for those affected by the complications of pulmonary hypertension, and could be the difference between safety and danger,” said Tom Weithman, VIPC’s Managing Director of GAP Funds.

The startup received re-investments from previous supporters Ted Leonsis and The Paul & Rose Carter Foundation.

“I’ve been a proud, early supporter of Shavini and her life-saving work and I congratulate her on not only meeting her pre-seed funding round target — but decisively beating it,” Leonsis said. “It’s a testament to how in-demand her product is and how smartly she has built her company around it. I expect she will only continue to grow, and I happily stand by her to offer advice whenever she needs it.”

Paul Caicedo, Future Communities Capital, Gaingels, Halcyon Fund, Hourglass Venture Partners, TiE’s D.C. and Boston chapters and Tysons Angel Group funded this round.

Halcyon Fund is tied to a flagship residency fellowship for entrepreneurs at Georgetown, the Washington Business Journal reports. The fund has been building up an investment strategy, including an angel investment network and a microloan fund, with the goal of improving access to capital for women and people of color starting their own companies.

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Former Paralympian Alyssa Gialamas models a side plank (courtesy of Adapt, Move & Gain Fitness)

When 26-year-old Paralympic swimmer and Arlington local Alyssa Gialamas retired after 10 years as a competitive athlete, she decided to devote her newfound time to helping other people with disabilities get fit.

After competing in London and Rio for the U.S. Paralympic Team, she found inspiration for her next venture closer to home, where she saw few accessible workout opportunities.

“I started going to the gym and noticing there weren’t a lot of resources for people with disabilities,” said Gialamas, who was born with arthrogryposis, a condition that keeps some of the joints in her leg from moving easily.

The athlete drew on her expertise adapting workouts intended for able-bodied people to put together exercises and classes for people with different physical limitations. Last month, she launched a nonprofit organization called Adapt, Move & Gain Fitness to bring her exercises to people with differing abilities.

Gialamas aims to hold her first class in early November, with one class per month after that while the organization gets off the ground.

“There definitely are not adaptive classes here in Arlington, so I think it’ll be really cool to start here,” she said.

Gialamas said her organization taps into a pressing need in the local disability community, which includes more than 8,700 people under 65, according to the 2020 census.

“People with disabilities are three times more likely to have health issues like diabetes and heart disease,” said Gialamas. “There’s such a need for it. That’s why I started it.”

She developed three types of workouts: fully seated “Adapt” workouts, seated or standing “Move” workouts, and fully standing “Gain” workouts. The exercises are free to access.

“I don’t want people to not use these resources due to price,” said Gialamas. “Money will come through strategic partnerships and donations. There are some partners in the works. It’s been really cool to have so many people be excited about it.”

As for where the classes will be located, Gialamas said she hopes to one day operate her nonprofit from her own space. For now, she plans to host events at gyms around Arlington.

Folks can try her approximately 30-minute workouts at home, too.

“All of the workouts right now are on my website so you can do them anywhere, which is super cool,” said Gialamas. “There’s also a community page so if you do a workout you can post about it.”

Gialamas says it’s important for people with disabilities to have classes tailored to them and places to exercise with each other.

“I think there’s a really cool aspect of seeing other people like you, in any sense, and being able to base it [workouts] off of each other is really cool,” she said. “You don’t have to be a Paralympian to feel good in your body and about your disability.”

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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:

  1. Arlington, VA
  2. Minneapolis, MN
  3. Seattle, WA
  4. Denver, CO
  5. Madison, WI
  6. Washington, D.C.
  7. St. Paul, MN
  8. Irvine, CA
  9. Portland, OR
  10. Atlanta, GA
  11. Oakland, CA
  12. Boston, MA
  13. San Francisco, CA
  14. Chicago, IL
  15. San Diego, CA
  16. Buffalo, NY
  17. Boise, ID
  18. Sacramento, CA
  19. Austin, TX
  20. San Jose, CA
  21. New York, NY
  22. Lincoln, NE
  23. Honolulu, HI
  24. Pittsburgh, PA
  25. Miami, FL
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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.”

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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

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