Georgetown a playground for the fit (or for getting fit)

Georgetown Waterfront Park is the new crown jewel of the neighborhood. The idea of creating a public park on the old industrial property on the Potomac River was floating around for decades, but it was not until 2008 that the first section of the park was actually built. The second section opened in September 2011.

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The park, run by the National Park Service, now stretches the entire length of Georgetown, from the Washington Harbor Complex in the east to the Key Bridge in the west. A majestic, arcing fountain, which children can run in and out of, greets entrants at the base of Wisconsin Ave.

The park offers a serene oasis for walking and even meditation. A circular maze painted on the ground is designed specifically for meditation, with a sign to give guidance in the art to all comers. On the winding way to the center, one is supposed to release concerns. At the center, one receives the “moment.” On the way back out, meditators are instructed to reflect on the experience and carry it into the rest of their lives.

“Walking is always a good pastime in the park,” said park Ranger Dan Winings. In addition to the lush grass and plant life, walkers are treated to beautiful views of the Potomac and of planes climbing into the sky or gliding to touchdown at nearby Reagan Washington National Airport.

“The park is an excellent spot to bird watch, especially for migratory ducks in the winter,” Winings said.

The park is too small to offer much to bikers, but it connects to several bike routes. At the western edge of Georgetown begins the Capital Crescent bike trail, which winds its way for 11 miles along the border of D.C. and then into Maryland’s Bethesda and Silver Spring. 

Another biking trail runs right through the heart of Georgetown: the C and O Canal towpath. This path follows alongside the C and O Canal, which opened in 1831, and stretches for 184.5 miles from D.C. to Cumberland, Md.

In the other direction, Georgetown Waterfront Park connects by bike path to spacious Rock Creek Park.

It is not always serene for everyone in the park — boot camps, intense workout sessions, have become a theme in the greens. GTown Boot Camp meets in the park on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 6:00 a.m., operating with the slogan, “Lose weight. Gain muscle. Get ripped. Rule the world.”

For those looking for exercise equipment and indoor amenities, there are plenty of gyms in the neighborhood. The Washington Sports Club (3222 M St. NW) offers an open house on the last day of every month, where members can bring a guest for free. Businesses such as VitaminWater and Subway provide free refreshments for participants to enjoy after exercising or watching the special demos held as part of the event. 

“It will probably be Halloween-themed this month since it’s on Halloween,” said Annessa Bontrager, fitness services manager at Washington Sports Club Georgetown.

The gym offers classes in almost every exercise type there is, from Zumba (a combined dance and fitness workout to Latin music) to full body conditioning to yoga. 

“We just want to get people moving,” Bontrager said.

A different workout philosophy finds its home at Dell Fitness (1070 Thomas Jefferson St. NW). There, clients always work either one-on-one or in semi-private three-on-one sessions with an instructor. Exercises center on the use of kettlebells, cast-iron weights from Russia that combine cardiovascular strength and flexibility training.

“Every exercise, every movement is core-related. Everything in your body is inter-related,” said Dell Jeanty, owner of the gym.

Inside or out, if one has the motivation, there are almost endless opportunities for exercise and recreation in Georgetown.