Walk up to the front desk of Vida, press your finger on a biometric reader, and youll be welcomed by name to D.C.s newest gym. The high-tech entrance fits the cutting-edge vibe owner David von Storch and partner Chris Carnecchia are aiming for with their first loca¬tion of the local chain (the second Vida will open near Logan Circle next year).
It helps that Vida has moved into a stunning three-story space once filled by a Discovery Channel Store. Although its healthier just to walk up the stairs, you may be tempted to ride in the $2 million elevator, shaped like a spherical spaceship (it used to shake to simulate takeoff, but theyve dis¬abled that feature). The cycling classroom resembles a wildly tiled cavern -- and its being out¬fitted so that everyone can wear headsets that will play music and let the instructors voice break in when necessary, replacing confus¬ing shouts.
Pumping tunes reverberate throughout the gym at all hours, and Vidas DJ booth will soon house live entertainment, so exercisers can listen to spinning while spinning. If youre not into their selections, you can watch anything from cable or a feed from the Verizon Center on one of the many cardio machines. Although you probably wouldnt want to distract yourself while attempting one of their high-speed treadmills, which can handle up to 3:45-minute miles. (Theyre so fast you can hear the engines panting.)
Once youve worked up a sweat on a machine, in their 10,000-square-foot strength area or in one of the cornucopia of classes (everything ranging from water aerobics to cardio strip tease to martial arts-tinged yoga), you may want to relax.
So head to the Zen Spa, a coed sauna and steam room -- its more European, as Storch puts it. It also features two Japanese soaking tubs with aroma and chromotherapy (that means you can change the color of the lights diffused into the water), and two infinity pools, which are basi¬cally aquatic treadmills. You can adjust the current and track your speed and distance.
Finish up in the locker rooms, which feature gold-hued basins with joystick-esque faucets, rain¬fall showerheads and lemongrass-scented hair and body products from Bang, which operates the first-floor salon.
--Vicky Hallett (Express, Sept. 26, 2007)