Pumping Up The District

Neighborhoods rely on exercise amenities to attract visitors

August 21, 2012

Sunset yoga at National Harbor helps students see the beauty of the area.

If you walk down Crystal Drive on a Wednesday at noon, it’s impossible to miss the folks shimmying and bouncing. The free outdoor Zumba classes, now in their fourth summer, are part of the Crystal City business improvement district’s plan to distinguish itself. “We’re the neighborhood that cares about health,” says president and CEO Angela Fox.

“It’s a great way to try something,” says Diana Carew, 29, who danced on a recent day off. Even for people sitting nearby eating lunch, it’s a reason to smile. “It motivates me to do something, and it puts everyone in a better mood,” says Michael Burgess, 40.

That kind of energy is contagious, Fox says, which explains why other neighborhoods have begun showcasing their exercise assets.

Park It Here

“We always envisioned this as an activity-centric neighborhood,” says Michael Stevens, executive director of the Capitol Riverfront BID. Since the Yards Park opened in 2010, giving the public access to this slice of the city for the first time in a century, it’s been attracting crowds.

In addition to hosting yoga and boot camp classes, the park welcomes fountain frolickers and runners taking advantage of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. It’s also become the go-to place for quirky fitness events, such as this weekend’s Adult Playdate (details at Thecityvault.com).

Expect even more exercise this fall, when Canal Park opens just a few blocks away with one of the largest ice-skating rinks in the city.

Hot Wheels

NoMa needed an identity beyond being north of Mass Avenue. Its embrace of bikes has given it one.

Not only do its buildings have the best bike amenities around — Archstone’s First and M complex boasts a maintenance facility — but it’s also on the Metropolitan Branch Trail, making riding a cinch.

“It makes the neighborhood seem younger and hipper,” says Robin-Eve Jasper, president of the NoMa BID, which has made biking even easier by putting trail ambassadors on bikes and installing five free tire pumps. Also on the horizon: a free tool station for quick repairs.

Class Action

Several neighborhoods are proving they have class. This summer, that includes National Harbor, which introduced free outdoor yoga Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m.

“Sunset at National Harbor is so magical and we wanted to emphasize that,” marketing director Rocell Viniard says. All of the 100 attendees at each class are getting a better view of the neighborhood while getting into better shape.

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