Exception to the Pools

Vida Fitness opens its huge rooftop deck for members looking to lounge and take a dip


Vida’s Penthouse Pool Club aims to provide an oasis away from the city — while smack in the middle of it.

The fire pits aren’t the only thing smoking hot at Vida’s Penthouse Pool Club, which is finally set to open April 1 atop the gym’s building at 1612 U St. People who’ve been waiting since August — when the rooftop oasis was originally supposed to debut — for the chance to take a dip in the 60-foot pool will also be greeted by rows of cushy chairs, a full-service bar, a floor blanketed in fake grass, and views of the Washington Monument and the Capitol.

It’s more exclusive than the health club below, which has 3,000-plus members. At least for now, the Penthouse membership ($199/month), which also includes access to all five Vida facilities, is capped at 1,000 — and all of those slots are already taken, with another 200 on the waiting list. Typically, members will be allowed to bring only one guest, although they can have more friends come along if they rent a cabana. “The last thing we want to do is overcrowd the pool,” says owner David von Storch, who’s been wishing for a spot like this for his 25 years in Washington.

“There isn’t a place to go with friends on a hot summer day,” he says. Some hotel pools sell day passes, but you can get kicked out for events, von Storch complains. Apartment pools have no service. And at most other area pools, kids take over. “This is an adult experience,” von Storch says.

The plan was to create a place just to relax. “These people are very active. They’ve worked hard, worked out hard,” von Storch says. But because there was so much interest in having aquatics classes, water aerobics will be offered most mornings. Don’t think about working on your freestyle, however — von Storch has decreed that it’s not a lap pool. (There are two endless pools inside the club for people looking to swim long distances.)

“Healthy as well as scrumptious food” is how von Storch describes the Penthouse menu items. If you opt for too scrumptious, you can head downstairs to burn off extra calories. Working out will also help keep the pool at a welcoming temperature of 82 degrees, thanks to a heating system that uses energy created in the club. The more people trying to look better in a bathing suit, the better for people in bathing suits.

Class Act

Don’t have a pal to take you to the pool? Vida members can pay — in money and sweat — for the Penthouse Swim Challenge ($25 for Penthouse members, $35 for Vida members). The 10-person classes, at 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. on Saturdays, begin April 7. “It’s basically surf and turf,” says instructor Kevin Ford, a former Division 1 swimmer who’s developed a boot camp-style workout that takes advantage of the pool as a training tool. Half of the time students will be doing high-intensity calisthenics on land, with the help of dumbbells and gym equipment. Those drills will be broken up by cardio intervals of treading water (no pretty technique required). “At least if you’re hurting, you have a great view,” Ford says.

Vicky Hallett is a MisFits columnist and the Fit editor for Express.
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