Plenty of choices for fitness

5100 Wisconsin Ave. NW


Crunch Fitness’s Chevy Chase location is slightly less than a year old. About to celebrate its first anniversary — on New Year’s Eve — the club is an import from other cities, including New York and Los Angeles.

Its motto: “No judgments.”

“We don’t cater to bodyguards,” said TJ Spence, general manager at Crunch Chevy Chase. “There’s just regular, everyday people coming to work out here.”

While most urban gyms have a typical pre- and post-work crowd, Crunch features more of a neighborhood feel. Spence said there is a mid-morning and late-night group who tend to visit the workout facilities daily.

The gym also maintains its homey feel, as staff decided to have a Halloween party, complete with a costume contest. Spence and his wife, Autumn, who runs the personal training program at Crunch, dressed as Dog the Bounty Hunter and Lady Gaga, respectively.

Having a husband-wife team greet you at the door most days also makes for a wonderful sense of community. The Spences met while working at the front desk of their gym at the University of Minnesota.

“It’s nice to have the opportunity to have lunch with your wife most days,” Spence said.

Crunch also has a Metro Center location, and is looking at opening additional gyms in the D.C. area. Come January, new and innovative classes will be added to the schedule, which already features popular Zumba, Boxing Bootcamp and Diesel classes.


4905 Elm St.


Equinox is your Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons of health clubs. Its motto, “It’s not fitness, it’s life,” jibes perfectly with the hectic workaday schedules of many Washington denizens. What makes Equinox special, said area manager Adin Alai, is that it caters to all needs.

The health club is a bit pricier than some gyms, but for what you pay you also get a spa, affordable child care for young children ($9 for two hours) that features interactive programming, and the only saltwater lap pool in the area. Towels are fresh and redolent of eucalyptus, and the gym is impeccably clean.

Offering 90 classes per week, Equinox has personalized membership websites for all those who choose to join. Many can log in and reserve spaces in spinning classes up to 24 hours in advance, and soon digital scales will allow patrons to log their weight and body-fat progress. Oh, and you can swipe into Equinox using an iPhone app. A claimant to the title of “Gym of the Future,” Equinox aims to please the tech-savvy D.C. area.

“We try to reiterate that fitness is not optional, it’s necessary,” Alai said.

The Mindfulness Center


Like Crunch in Chevy Chase, the Mindfulness Center is a family-owned and -operated business. Debbie Norris runs the wellness center with daughters Jessie and Jackie. Jackie deals with all administrative duties for the center, and Jackie is the creative director, using feng shui techniques for the entire studio.

“It’s such a blessing in life to work with my two daughters,” Norris said.

The Mindfulness Center just celebrated its two-year anniversary in September. The nonprofit wellness center offers yoga classes, meditation, Reiki and transitional breathing, all said to bring a sense of healing.

Norris recalled the story of a man in his 70s who came in with his wife. The man had pancreatic cancer and the woman, rheumatoid arthritis.

“He was put on a raw-foods diet, and his wife began meditating,” Norris said.

The husband lived an additional two and a half years, and the wife said she should have been visiting The Mindfulness Center all along, Norris added.

Norris recommends the center for anyone who senses stress in his or her environment, yet doesn’t know what to do with it.

“We’re about eliminating stress, not necessarily managing it — learning to relax and figuring out what to let go of,” she said.

Yoga Fusion


In a space formerly occupied by another yoga studio lies Yoga Fusion. The studio is highly community-oriented in that it offers free open-flow yoga classes on the first and third Sundays of every month and a prenatal yoga class the first Saturday of every month.

The studio is owned by Laura Urgelles, a former ballet dancer who after 20 years decided to cease pliés in favor of downward-dogging.

Instructor David Anderson is a former Capitol Hill staffer-turned-yogi. He just started at Yoga Fusion this year and “loves the neighborhood feeling” of what he calls a “warm/hot yoga studio.” Warm/hot studios are not as hot as the popular Bikram style, which is typically kept at around 100 degrees.

“We have teachers with an extremely high quality in a safe environment,” Anderson said.

Yoga Fusion also offers massage and Reiki packages for those who need a bit more relaxation with their classes.

This post has been updated to correctly reflect the child care offerings at Equinox.